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V5C log book rules: full guide for car buyers and sellers

Understanding the V5C log book and the rules around it, whether you're buying or selling a car

New V5C document

Own a car, and you'll have a registration document that proves it. This is called the V5C, and it shows that you're the registered keeper of the car and your address for any correspondence relating to the car (it doesn't need to be where the car is kept). The V5C - which can also be known as the log book or by its old name, V5 - is a vital piece of paperwork that is often forgotten about in the back of a drawer until it comes time to sell your car on. Here we explain what you must do with our V5C when you sell your car.

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The V5C contains all of the important information about your car that is held by the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) on its database, and it proves that you are the registered keeper. This information includes the make, model, colour and chassis number of your car, the engine size, the type of vehicle it is (all vehicles have the same style of V5C, whether it's a moped or a 44-tonne truck), and a number of other fields of information that will or will not be filled out according to the type of vehicle the V5C relates to. Also included is information on past keepers of the vehicle.

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While VED road tax and the driving licence have both switched to a digital system, the V5C vehicle licence largely remains a paper-based system. If you need to make amendments to the car's details, then the V5C features a number of sections that you need to fill out and send back to the DVLA's head office in Swansea. However, if you sell the car on, you can now let the DVLA know online.

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It's important to keep this information up to date, so if any changes occur, whether you scrap it, move house, repaint the car or replace the engine, then you need to fill out the relevant section of the V5C and post it back to the DVLA. There's no excuse for not knowing where to send it, either, because the DVLA's address is on the V5C, and if you fail to keep the information up to date, you could face a fine of up to £1,000 if it comes to light that the information on it is incorrect.

If you sell your car, then you can inform the DVLA online, so there's no need to post the V5C back to the DVLA. The online system is straightforward to use, so its simple to amend the information, and means the information is up-to-date as soon as possible. All you need is access to a computer or mobile device that’s connected to the internet.

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Scroll down for more details of how to notify the DVLA of a change of ownership, without sending off the DVLA V5.

What you need to do with the V5 when selling a car

When you sell a car, either online, through a dealer or at an auction, it's useful to have a service history and other documentation about the car's life. But the most vital piece of paperwork is the V5C logbook. It will have the information about the car that your potential buyer will want to know, including proof that you are the owner and are authorised to sell the car. Once they have bought your car, you will need to fill out the V5C/2 new keeper supplement of the V5C. This section then tears off as a slip that you give to the buyer as proof that they now own the vehicle. 

• Guide to road tax bands

After that, it's time to go online. Instead of filling out sections of the V5C logbook and sending it off to the DVLA, you can simply log on to the DVLA website to inform it of the change of ownership.

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The DVLA will send you email confirmation instantly, which will indicate that the changes have been made, while a follow-up letter will be sent in the post. It's worth noting that if you sell a car back into the motor trade that the procedure is exactly the same as if you were selling the car privately.

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• Guide to buying a new car

Once you've sold the vehicle, you'll get a road tax rebate on any outstanding VED that you may have paid. That's because, under the current Vehicle Excise Duty system, road tax is no longer transferable with the vehicle.  

The V5 process for car buyers

If you’re buying a car and the seller intends to update the information online, then make sure you give them your email address. The seller can then enter this online when making the declaration of change of ownership to the DVLA and you will also receive email confirmation that the information has been processed by the DVLA. Whether you provide an email address to the seller or not – it’s not compulsory - a new V5C certificate should arrive through your letterbox within five working days.

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Remember too, that the car's road tax doesn't transfer when you buy a vehicle. You must pay road tax or declare SORN immediately when your new V5C arrives.

What happens if you don’t have Internet access?

If computers aren’t your thing, the DVLA still accepts changes to the V5C document by post, although this will take longer to process and transact than with the electronic system.  

What are the changes to the V5C document?

The V5C document itself will remain in paper format – unlike tax discs and the driving licence paper counterpart. However, once you’ve exchanged the V5C/2, informed the DVLA electronically of the registered keeper changes, and received confirmation of the change, the DVLA advises you to destroy the old V5C document. We'd recommend shredding the old V5C just to be sure it won't get into somebody else's hands. 

What if you've lost your V5 log book?

If your car's V5C logbook document has been lost, damaged or destroyed, there's a straightforward process for getting a new one. You can apply by calling the DVLA or by filling out a V62 form and sending it to the DVLA. There's a £25 fee and it can take up to six weeks to get the new V5C. 

When should I update my V5C?

It is common knowledge that you need to update your V5C when buying or selling a car. However it is also important to update your vehicles V5C whenever you change your address or your name. If you fail to inform the DVLA that you have moved house or are now married then you could be liable for a fine of £1,000. 

Can I change the address on my V5C online?

The DVLA has recently updated the V5C to allow drivers to change their recorded address online. It takes less than two minutes for motorists to inform the DVLA of a change of address using the online system, and a new log book will be sent out within five working days - down from the six weeks drivers previously had to wait.

All a driver needs to use the online system is their vehicle registration number, log book document reference number and their postcode.

Have you used the online system for the V5C document? Let us know how it went in the comments section below... 

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