Car registered keeper vs owner: what's the difference?

The registered keeper and owner of a car don’t have to be the same person and each has different responsibilities.

v5c document

A car’s owner and registered keeper are often assumed to be the same thing, because they are usually the same person, but in fact they can be different people. The owner is the person who bought the car or the person who has been gifted the vehicle. The registered keeper is the main user of the car. 

A company car is a common example of when a registered keeper and owner are different. The company owns the car and the employee who drives the car is the registered keeper. 

Both have responsibilities. The owner must make sure that the car is fully insured if they give someone else permission to drive it. Meanwhile, the registered keeper has to make sure the vehicle is taxed, has a valid MoT certificate and is insured and roadworthy. 

The registered keeper will be sent any parking fines or speeding violations associated with the car, as well as queries about traffic collisions or incidents the car might be involved in. This is why the owner of the car must make sure all paperwork regarding the vehicle is up to date with the registered keeper’s details. These details will be printed on the vehicle’s V5C registration document, which is known informally as the logbook. 

When it comes to buying the car the owner should ensure they’ve retained a receipt of purchase. The receipt should detail the date of purchase, the exact amount paid and the payment method, the name or company name of the seller, and the make, model and registration number of the car. If the car is a gift it’s important to give the receipt to the recipient of the vehicle so when they come to sell the car they can prove ownership. 

Looking to buy a used car? Check out our used-car checklist

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