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Tips & advice

A car’s registered keeper and owner isn’t always the same person, here’s why…

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

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When buying or selling a car, it’s important to understand what it means to be that car’s registered keeper or the owner and the differences between the two. It is often assumed that the registered keeper and owner are the same, but they can in fact be very different people. 

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The roles of ‘registered keeper’ and ‘owner’ also have different legal obligations and responsibilities attached to them when it comes to cars. This guide will clearly define and explain the terms and responsibilities held by either party.

So, what is the difference between the owner and registered keeper of a vehicle? Put simply, the owner is the person who has purchased the car or a person who has been gifted the vehicle. The registered keeper is the main, primary user of the car. 

Common examples of different owners and registered keepers include company car where the companies own the vehicles and the employees are the registered keepers, or parents who buy cars for their children. The parents are the owners and the children are the primary, registered keepers. Cars leased on a Personal Contract Hire (PCH) deal are also owned by the leasing company while the driver is the registered keeper. But what are the different legal obligations and responsibilities?

Responsibilities of the owner

If you’re the owner of a car but not its registered keeper you want to make sure all the paperwork reflects this. While the owner won’t be responsible for things like parking tickets or speeding tickets, you could be held responsible for other offences:

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  • You must make sure anyone permitted to drive the car is fit, competent and holds the correct licence.
  • Make sure every driver is fully insured at all times, whoever is behind the wheel.
  • Ensure any changes in details or circumstances are reflected in the paperwork and is always kept up-to-date.

It is important to retain a receipt from the purchase of the car with details of the vehicle, as it will come in handy when transferring ownership if you come to sell your car later. The receipt should include the date of purchase, the exact amount paid and payment method, the name of the company or seller and the make, model and registration number of the car. 

If the car is a gift, it is important to give the receipt to the recipient of the vehicle so they have proof of ownership when they come to sell the car. 

Responsibilities of the registered keeper

The owner of a car must make sure all the paperwork regarding a vehicle is up to date with the registered keeper’s details. These will be the details printed on the vehicle’s V5C registration document, also known as the logbook. If you are the registered keeper, you will be responsible for:

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  • You will be the first point of contact regarding any speeding tickets, traffic violations or parking fines. 
  • Making sure the car or van is taxed.
  • Ensuring the car or van has a valid MOT.
  • Keep the vehicle in a safe and roadworthy condition.

If your details or the registered keeper’s details change, all you need to do is inform the DVLA, but remember, the V5C is not proof of ownership.

How can I change the registered keeper of my car?

When you intend to change the registered keeper of your car, you’ll need to notify the DVLA. 

The process can differ slightly depending on whether you are changing to a private individual or car dealer. If you are changing the registered keeper to a private individual you’ll need to complete section 6 of the V5C certificate, or section 9 if you’re transferring to a dealer. For a more in-depth outline on how to change the registered keeper, our V5C logbook guide or transferring vehicle ownership guide has all the information you need.

How can I change the owner of my car?

You can transfer the ownership of a car by completing a form on the DVLA website or by post. It’s fairly straightforward and all you’ll need is the new owner’s details, the 11-digit reference number on the vehicle’s V5C. 

Auto Express has partnered with our parent company Carwow to bring you a fast and easy way to sell your car. Sell your car here..

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Content editor

Ryan is responsible for looking after the day-to-day running of the Auto Express website and social media channels. Prior to joining Auto Express in 2023, he worked at a global OEM automotive manufacturer, as well as a specialist automotive PR and marketing agency.

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