A Guide to the V5C
If you’ve ever owned a car, you’ll likely be familiar with a V5C, otherwise known as a V5 form. Your V5C is your car’s log book and is one of the most important documents you need for your car. It not only serves as a record of your vehicle, but it will be vital when it comes to selling, modifying or scrapping your car.
For now, the V5C is a physical document, which is why it’s important that you keep hold of it, and store it in a safe place. While you are able to change some information online, you will need the V5C if you decide to sell or scrap your car.
This guide will talk you through everything you need to know about your V5C log book, including what to do when you’re selling or buying a car, as well as what to do when you change address, and what to do if you lose your form.
What is a V5C?
The V5C is an official document that ensures your car is registered with the DVLA (the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency). The V5C serves as the log book for your car and contains information such as:
- The date your car was first registered
- The car’s manufacturer
- Details about the car such as the make and model, colour and engine size
- Details about the ‘registered keeper’ of the car
It’s important to understand that the registered keeper of the car is not always the same as the car’s owner. For example, you might have bought a car for a member of your family, or your car is actually a company car. The registered keeper is usually the main driver of the car, and the person responsible for it. The registered keeper will be the one who would receive parking fines, etc., so if you’re the owner but not the registered keeper, it’s important to make sure these details are up to date.
Make sure you retain proof of ownership of the car, such as a receipt or invoice, as some buyers won’t complete the sale if the seller can’t prove ownership.
Changing the address and other details on your V5C
One of the most important records your log book holds is your address. It’s important that your address is kept up to date with the DVLA, as you could be issued a £1,000 fine.
Car tax reminders and other letters are sent to this address, so if you change yours, update the form as soon as possible. You can review your driving licence information at any time on the Government’s website.
There are two ways to change the address on your log book. You can do it online if you’re only changing your address, or you can do it by post if you’d prefer or if you have to change your name too (such as after marriage). If you choose to do it by post, you’ll need to fill in Section 3 for newer log books, or Section 6 for older versions.
Selling your car
When it comes to selling your car, you’ll need to make sure you have your log book ready. It should be intact and undamaged - otherwise you should order a replacement.
It’ll save you hassle and worry if you find your log book before you put your car up for sale. This means you won’t experience delays while you try to find it or wait for your replacement to arrive.
If you’re selling your car online, you can provide their email address to the DVLA (between 7 am and 7 pm each day). You will also need to complete Section 2 and tear it off to give to the new owner. You’ll receive an instant confirmation from the DVLA, and a letter in the post with further confirmation. Alternatively, you can send your V5C form by post (see ‘Completing your V5C by hand’).
After completing this process, you could also be refunded for any excess road tax you’ve paid, and any direct debits you have will also be cancelled. Road tax is non-transferable, so the new owner will have immediate responsibility for this.
Buying a car
When it comes to buying a car, you should do your research carefully to make sure you’re entering into a legitimate deal. This is more of an issue with private sales than it is with buying a car through a garage.
When you buy a car from a dealer, they will take care of the V5C for you, and you’ll then receive a log book from the DVLA. But if you’re buying a car privately, you’ll need to take some additional steps to make sure that everything is in order.
Firstly, you should always check the V5C for a watermark. You can do this by holding the form up to the light. No watermark can indicate a fraudulent transaction, so it’s important you don’t skip this step.
Next, verify the details that are on the form. The name of the registered keeper should match that of the person who’s selling you the car. You should also be able to check their address, and you could request a viewing at said address to give you further peace of mind.
If the seller can’t produce their V5C form, or you suspect it has been altered in any way, walk away from the sale. It’s simply not worth the risk.
The good news is that the DVLA has plenty of resources to help you check the status of the vehicle you’re buying. This will allow you to check that the details of the car, including the make and model, when it was manufactured, it’s road tax status, etc. This can be very useful for verifying the details of the sale, and is something you should always carry out. You should also check the MOT status of the vehicle to verify that the information provided by the buyer is correct.
When completing the sale, you should confirm with the seller how they will complete the V5C (online or post). You should provide them with an email address for them to enter on the government’s website. They should also give you the tear-off portion to serve as temporary proof of car ownership. You’ll receive an email from the DVLA immediately confirming the proof of ownership, and you will receive a log book in the post.
Don’t forget to tax your new car immediately, as you’re now liable for road tax - it doesn’t transfer with the car.
Completing your V5C by hand
The V5C form was altered in April 2019, which means the process for filling in the form varies slightly when a change is needed.
For V5C forms issued before 15 April 2019:
- The seller will need to fill in Section 6, ‘New Keeper Details’.
- Both the seller and buyer will need to sign the declaration in Section 8.
- The seller will need to fill in Section 10 with the buyer’s details. This then needs to be given to the buyer.
For V5C forms issued after 15 April 2019:
- The seller needs to complete Section 2, ‘Selling or transferring my vehicle to a new keeper’.
- The seller will also need to complete the details of the ‘New Keeper’ slip, in Section 6 including the date of the sale, and give this to the buyer.
For both types of V5C form, the seller will need to send it to the DVLA at the following address:
Scrapping or writing off your car
If you’ve decided to scrap your car, or you’ve written it off as the result of an accident, you can inform the DVLA via their 'Tell DVLA your vehicle has been written off' section of the website (open from 7 am - 7 pm).
You’ll need to make sure that all of your details are correct, and provide details of your insurer. It’s possible that your insurance company will want your V5C, so make sure you let the DVLA know by post and provide them with your insurance details.
What to do if you lose your V5C
It’s easy to misplace your V5C - many of us are guilty of losing important paperwork. You can order a replacement log book through the DVLA for a cost of £25. You have to be the registered keeper to apply, and you can usually expect your new log book in around five days.
To be able to request a new log book, you’ll need:
- The registration number of the vehicle
- The VIN/chassis number of your vehicle
- The name and postcode registered on your log book
Try to keep your V5C with your other paperwork related to your car, house and other property. It’s an important document, and it could become expensive if you need to replace yours multiple times.
Making sure your V5C is up to date is important, you never know when you might need it. Your V5C contains a lot of valuable information, including your vehicle’s energy emissions, tax status and more. Keep it somewhere safe and easy to access, and contact the DVLA if you have any questions.