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What is a V5C?

A V5C, or logbook, is an important document that you’ll encounter when buying or selling a car. Here’s everything you need to know about your V5C.

Phill Tromans Cazoo

By Phill Tromans

Published: 1 September 2023

If you’re buying or selling a car, the key piece of paperwork you’ll need to take care of is called the V5C. This is the car’s registration document, also referred to as the logbook. It’s vital to the transfer of car ownership and contains important details about the car and identifies its registered keeper.

This guide tells you everything you need to know about the V5C  and what you need to do with it when you buy a car or sell your car.

What is the V5C logbook?

The V5C is a document that proves who is the registered keeper of a particular vehicle. The details of the keeper are registered with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) along with various details about the car itself. Because the V5C is such an important document when buying or selling a car, you have to keep it safe. Note, however, that it’s not legal proof of ownership of a car – only of who the car’s keeper is.

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What information does a V5C include?

The V5C shows the date the car was first registered  and lists its current and previous registered keepers. On top of that, it includes information about the car itself – its model, colour, tax class, engine size and Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), often called the chassis number or frame number. The V5C also includes forms to send to the DVLA if the vehicle has a new keeper or if details about the vehicle itself change, such as its colour or engine.

What does a V5C look like?

The V5C is a large four-page paper document with a red cover, marked with blue stripes.

How do I change my details on V5C?

You’ll need to contact the DVLA to change details on your V5C, either about the car or the registered keeper. If you’re buying or selling the car, then you can fill out the relevant form on the V5C and post it or update it online.

If you’ve moved house then you must inform the DVLA of your new address or face a fine of up to £1,000. You do that by filling in your new details on Section 6 of the V5C and posting it to the DVLA. If you need to pay your car tax within a month of moving, then you can also update your V5C address at a Post Office that handles vehicle tax.

For vehicle changes, such as its colour or engine, write to the DVLA with evidence of the changes you’ve made. You can find more information on the DVLA website.

What happens if I lose the V5C?

If you lose your V5C, or if it’s stolen or destroyed, you can order a duplicate from the DVLA, either online or by  phone, for £25. The replacement will be sent to the address that the DVLA has on record. 

Note that you can’t update any details at the same time and you can’t order a replacement if the vehicle is not in your possession.

Do you need a V5C to sell a car?

Technically, it’s possible to sell your car without a V5C, but we wouldn't recommend it.

Many buyers will be put off if you don’t have a V5C when you sell your car, because it could indicate that the car has been written off, stolen in the past or has a loan against it with the logbook used as collateral (known as a logbook loan). 

A buyer may question why you are selling the car without having either an original V5C or a replacement. Some dealers won’t buy your car without a V5C and other potential buyers may well use the lack of V5C to haggle for a lower price.

What should I do with the V5C when I sell my car?

When you sell your car, there are two ways to inform the DVLA that the registered keeper has changed. The first is to go online to the DVLA website. But you must first  give Section 2 of the V5C to the buyer so that person can prove they are the car’s new keeper until their new V5C arrives.

If you can’t, or don’t want to, complete the process online, you can use the V5C and inform the DVLA by post. We explain how to do that in more detail below.

What should I do with the V5C if I sell my car to a dealer or an insurance company?

If you’ve sold the car to a dealer, an insurance company or a scrappage firm, you need to fill in Section 9 of the V5C and post it to the DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1BA. Give the rest of the V5C to the dealer.

What should I do with the V5C if I sell my car to a private buyer?

If you sell to a private buyer, the process is  slightly different. If the current V5C was issued after 15 April 2019, you fill in Section 2 of the V5C with the buyer’s name and address (as long as they live in the UK). Fill in Section 6 with the same information and give it to the buyer. Then send the rest of your V5C to the DVLA address above.

If the current V5C was issued before 15 April 2019, then you need to complete Sections 6 and 10, then both you and the buyer need to sign Section 8. Then send your V5C to the DVLA address above.

What should I do with the V5C when I buy a car?

If you’re buying a car, you need to make sure the seller follows the processes above. Make sure the seller gives you Section 2 of their V5C and updates the DVLA online. The DVLA will then post your new V5C to you.

If you don’t want to update the DVLA online, make sure the seller gives you Section 10 or Section 2 of the V5C, depending on how old the car is and make sure you both sign Section 8 if necessary. The seller should then send the V5C to the DVLA, which will send you an updated version.

If your car comes from a dealer, it should sort out the V5C for you. If you are buying a new car,  you should get a V5C from the DVLA through the post after four weeks.

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