How to: sell a car without a V5C

It’s entirely possible, and legal, to sell a car without a V5C document. After all, the vehicle logbook is a record of the registered keeper, not proof of ownership. And details can be checked directly from the DVLA database.

Once a car has been sold or changed ownership, you can also notify the DVLA without needing the V5 if it’s unavailable. In fact, you can now do that online. And you’ll then get an automatic refund on any tax left on the vehicle as it no longer transfers to the new buyer.

You’ll need to provide a bill of sale which includes all information for the new buyer to apply for a new logbook. That includes:

  • Vehicle make and model
  • Registration Number
  • VIN Plate number
  • Buyer’s full name
  • Date of Sale
  • Signature of Buyer and Seller
  • Price and payment terms
  • The fact that the vehicle is ‘sold as seen’

But it’s not recommended to sell your car until you have all the paperwork in place. Even if you have a legitimate reason for not having a V5C, it will still raise suspicion in the mind of any potential buyer whether that’s a private individual or a professional car buyer.

The lack of a V5C logbook could indicate that a car is likely to have been stolen or written off at some point in the past. And if you’re not willing to wait for a replacement document, then it shows any purchaser that you’re obviously in a hurry to sell your car.

Without a V5, buyers may try to haggle the price down even further than normal. This is especially extreme if you are looking to sell a car to a dealer rather than privately, as dealerships (especially franchised dealers offering part exchange) are particularly picky about documentation.

Another reason for a seller to not have the V5 document is if they’ve taken out a logbook loan. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, it’s possible to borrow money based on the value and ownership of your car as collateral. And this normally means you will need to give the lender your V5 document, along with signing a credit agreement and a bill of sale.

DVLA and Selling Your Car - Update Your V5C
It’s important to keep your VC5 form, but you can sell your car without it.

With logbook loans, your lender temporarily owns your car, but you’re able to use it while you meet repayments. This is not the case with a car on finance, where traditional ownership rules apply.

Obviously this is a big concern for any potential car buyer. If they purchase your car without a V5C document, they could then discover outstanding finance on it. That means they take the risk of losing their car and the money they paid you for it.

So it’s understandable that most people will be extremely wary of buying a car without a V5C logbook. You can still demonstrate the original sale receipt for the vehicle and suggest any buyer goes through a finance check. But anything that causes doubt in the mind of a potential purchaser means another risk they’ll decide against buying your car.

If you have taken out a logbook loan and do want to sell your car, then you’ll need to ensure it covers the cost of your original loan. Or you’ll still have to pay the shortfall.

Again, it’s another indication that you might be selling your car because the money is needed quickly. And gives potential buyers more leverage in negotiating your price down.

Trade buyers will generally be slightly more understanding, but many car dealers won’t accept a second-hand vehicle without a V5C document. That even includes some scrap yards.

Legally, you’re not required to have a logbook to sell your car to be dismantled by a scrap buyer, as you can notify the DVLA online, but even then, scrap metal dealers prefer to have documentation in place for end of life vehicles.

Ultimately it’s quick and simple to keep your V5C vehicle logbook current, as our ultimate V5 guide shows. Address changes are free, and replacing a lost example is just £25. That’s cheap compared to the potential problems caused by outdated information, or losing money when it comes to selling your car.

So take a moment to find your V5, check the details are up-to-date and store it somewhere safe!

Looking for more information on V5C, see our ultimate guide.