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Everything You Need to Know About Your Car Log Book

If you want to buy a vehicle in the UK, you will need to update the car log book to become its registered operator. Far from being a book, per se, the V5C (as it is known) is more like a certificate, but it contains essential information about the vehicle and its registered keeper. What do you need to know about this document?

What's the Difference between the Registered Keeper and the Owner? 

First, you should understand the difference between the legal owner of the vehicle and its registered keeper. Ordinarily, these are the same, but this is not necessarily the case. For example, a company might buy a car and give it to an employee for everyday use. In this case, the company itself might be the legal owner, but the employee (as the registered keeper) would be legally responsible for its operation. While it's certainly true to say that some companies will tax, insure and maintain a vehicle like this, they may otherwise pass on that responsibility to the employee instead.

Buying a Car 

Whenever you buy a used car on the open market, you will need to exercise a degree of caution and understand the difference between the registered keeper and owner. In an ideal world, you should ask the seller for proof of ownership, and this could be in the form of an invoice or receipt. This evidence would prove that they had purchased the vehicle from its previous owner or a dealer and would give you peace of mind.

You should then check this information against the V5C car log book, as you'd expect the name on the invoice to match the details on this form.

When you are happy and want to proceed, the seller has to give you the second part of the V5C, a green slip with details about the new keeper. Be very cautious if the seller is unable or unwilling to give you the relevant part of the form. You should perform additional checks to ensure that they are the official owner and have the right to sell the vehicle to you.

What Is a Car Log Book? - Understanding the V5C

There is a lot of information contained within the V5C document. You can:

  • find out when the vehicle was first registered,
  • check the VIN against the actual number on the dashboard, 
  • doublecheck the make, model, tax class and engine size, as well as the predominant colour.

You can also see the name of the current registered keeper, as well as the previous keeper (if applicable).

After the Sale

Once the transaction is complete, the seller must notify the DVLA and register you as the new owner. When the process is complete, you will receive the new V5C in the mail.

What Happens If You Don't Keep Your Address Information Up-To-Date? 

If you move house, you will need to update the address by sending information to the DVLA, located in Swansea. This process is quite simple, but you should not forget to do it, as you may receive a hefty fine of up to £1,000 if you do not.

Bear in mind, as well, that you will not receive any legal notices relating to the use of the vehicle if you do not update your address. In other words, if a roadside camera catches you speeding and an automatic fine goes out in the post, you will be unaware. This oversight could undoubtedly lead to complications if the police stopped you for any reason.

Can You Tax the Car While Waiting for the Log Book? 

Once you have sent the address change information to Swansea, you will eventually get a new V5C document in the mail. Ensure that you always renew the car tax before you send off the form if it is up for renewal in the immediate future.

Dealing with a Lost Car Log Book 

You should always keep the V5C in a safe place, as you will certainly need it if you want to sell the vehicle in the future. If you misplace it, however, you can get a replacement from the DVLA. You can complete this process by mail, or over the phone and the authority has recently introduced an online replacement service as well.

However, you cannot get a replacement car log book through the online service if any vehicle details have changed, or if your name and address have changed. If the vehicle is not in your possession, you need to contact the DVLA instead directly, but you can pay the fee of £25 by debit or credit card.

You need to know the VIN or chassis number, registration number and the name/postcode shown on the logbook to use this service.

Selling Your Vehicle

If you sell a vehicle, you must inform the DVLA and make sure that you are no longer the registered keeper or owner. Fortunately, you can do this online. You can then tell the authority if you have either sold the car or want to register it in someone else's name. This might be an option if you gave the vehicle to another member of your family, for example. 

To do this properly, you will need the 11 digit reference number shown on the V5C. You should then give the green slip to the buyer and retain or destroy the rest of the document.

Once you have finished sending this information through to the DVLA, you'll get an email confirmation of receipt, as well as a letter to confirm that you are no longer the keeper. If there is any outstanding vehicle tax, you'll get a refund, as well.

If you do not have the V5C for any reason, you can still notify the DVLA, but you must post all the information to them in the mail. You need to give them your name and address, the VIN, the make and model, the new keeper's details, and the sale date.

In Closing

Remember, the V5C is not proof of ownership but simply identifies the registered keeper. Bear in mind, as well, that these forms are predominantly red in colour these days, and no longer blue.