V5C – The Ultimate Guide to the V5

The V5C is also known as the vehicle logbook or simply the V5 form. It is the most important document you will possess as a car owner in the UK and it is essential to keep hold of it.

If you’re buying, selling, or already own a car, knowing about the V5C registration certificate is essential. Not having one for your vehicle can have serious implications for the value of your car when you want to sell it.

v5c guide
Issued by the DVLA, your V5C registration certificate (or logbook) is the most important document you will own for your car

Your V5C explained:

V5C or V5 form
The V5C document, also known as your car’s logbook or simply ‘the V5’

You can end up receiving a substantial fine when the V5 isn’t kept updated with your current information. It’s may also be worth bookmarking this guide to avoid any problems now, or in the future. The V5C is a straightforward document, but it’s worth knowing everything about it.

What is the V5C document?

The V5C document (also known as the V5 form or logbook) records the Registered Keeper (or Keepers) of the vehicle. Legally, that’s the person registering and taxing the vehicle, not necessarily the owner.

Normally the owner and registered keeper will be the same, but there are occasions where they might differ.

When you purchase a vehicle it’s always worth checking a bill of sale or receipt, or using an ownership checking service to see if the person you are buying it from is actually the legal owner.

When you have performed that check, and when you actually buy a car (and take possession of it), the owner must legally give you the green ‘new keeper’s details’ slip (V5C/2) of their V5 form.

Similarly, if you are selling a car, the buyer will expect you to have your V5C/2 form ready to hand over so they can become the new keeper.

If you do buy a car without being given the V5C/2, you can apply for a new logbook, but the DVLA and other organisations tend not to recommend this as it suggests the car you have bought was not from the official owner.

Usually, you’ll normally only register your vehicle and get your V5C in the post when you buy, build, alter or import a car.

If you’ve created a kit car, made radical modifications or restored a classic, the application will have specific conditions, including a ‘Built Up Vehicle Inspection report’ (form V627/1).

You’ll usually have to keep all the official receipts for the parts you’ve used. You’ll also need to go through the Type Approval process, and classic car owners generally have to join a recognised owners club who can then inspect the vehicle and approve it for use.

V5 Form Guide for Buying, Selling or Owning a Car
The V5 – every car on the road should have one. It’s an essential paper document in a paperless world. Make sure you get your V5C/2 form when you buy a car

You’ll also need your V5C form if you decide to invest in a personalised registration plate.

The V5C itself is a four page document that was blue in colour until 2012. Since then, all V5 documents are red, due to the theft of a number of blank certificates in 2006. So the DVLA recommends owners update to the red version, and that’s the version now automatically issued.

If you’re buying a car and the owner has a blue document, the recommendation is to ask them to replace it with the newer, red version before paying any money for the vehicle.

What does a V5C document include?

A V5 document includes the following information:

  • Date of first registration
  • Current Registered Keeper
  • The Previous Registered Keeper
  • Vehicle Details including the model, vehicle tax class, engine size, VIN/Chassis/Frame number and the colour.
  • The forms to fill out and send to the DVLA if the registered keeper or the vehicle itself undergoes a change. It also has sections to complete if the car is scrapped, or if it’s permanently exported.

How do I change the address on my V5C?

It’s vital to keep your address current on your V5 vehicle logbook. If you forget, you can potentially be prosecuted by the DVLA and fined up to £1,000. But it could be even worse.

Not only do reminders and forms for car tax get sent to the registered address for the vehicle, but so do speeding fines and other conviction notices. And it also invalidates your car insurance if the registered address is incorrect.

That means you might only discover you have no insurance and have convictions for speeding after you’ve tried to claim for an accident or theft!

Fortunately, you can check your driving licence online, including for any current convictions, before updating your V5 documents. And there’s no cost to change your details.

To change your address on the V5, you need to complete your new House Number and Address in Section 6 of the document. Then send the complete logbook to:

SA99 1BA

Make sure you don’t tick the box for ‘New Keeper’, or fill in your name before sending it off. Don’t forget, you also need to keep the details of your Driving Licence updated with your current address as well. Fortunately you can do that online and your new licence should arrive within one to two weeks.

For a new V5 document after changing an address, it can take up to 6 weeks to arrive in the post. If your car tax is coming up for renewal in the next four weeks, it’s best to complete that first and then send off your V5C.

Alternatively, if your tax is due within the next month, you can take your V5C to a post office which handles vehicle tax, and then update your address details at the same time. You’ll need to take a copy or photocopy of your MOT certificate along with you.

Lost V5 – what do to if you lose your V5C?

It’s not unusual to have lost or misplaced your vehicle logbook in the chaos of life – especially if you move house. So you might need to order a completely new replacement. You might also need one if you have bought a car and didn’t receive the V5C in your name within a minimum of at least four weeks.

There’s a £25 cost to be issued with a new V5C vehicle logbook, unless you’re a new keeper and still have the relevant section from the previous logbook, or it was destroyed by an insurance company as the vehicle has been categorised as C or S salvage. And you’ll need to complete a V62 Form to ‘Apply for a Vehicle Registration Form’, available here.

Fortunately it’s a fairly short form to fill out. Once complete you’ll then need to send it to the DVLA with a cheque or postal order payable to ‘DVLA, Swansea’. Or with the relevant section of the old V5 for new keepers.

You can also contact the DVLA for a replacement by phone on 0300 790 6802, or via their email service as long as your name, address or vehicle details haven’t changed.

How do I get a replacement V5C?

The most common reason to need a new V5C document is if the original has been lost. However, you might also need a replacement if the original has been damaged, stolen or destroyed.

To get a replacement V5 document, you just need to follow the same process as if the logbook had been lost. You can either apply by phone or post, and there’s a £25 charge.

It can take up to 5 days to get a replacement if you apply by phone, and up to six weeks via the postal service. You can find further details on how to apply for a replacement V5 on the Government’s website.

And if your tax is also due you might also be able to order a new logbook via a Post Office that deals with vehicle tax if you take a completed V62 application and the £25 fee with you. But they’ll need to check when you supply your details whether you can tax your vehicle without your V5 and order a new logbook for you.


How to apply for a V5C

When you buy a car, the previous owner or dealer will register you as the new owner and your V5 document will arrive in the post a couple of weeks later. However, you might need to know how to apply for a V5 for a number of other reasons.

We’ve covered the possibility of buying a new vehicle without a logbook, or it not arriving as expected earlier in our ultimate V5 guide. Just follow the information on lost and replacement V5C documents above.

You also need to apply for a V5 if your car has been built, modified, rebuilt or imported. The main difference in the process is if you’re registering a vintage or classic vehicle. This has slightly different steps to the process for a kit car or something radically altered.

Government's website to apply for a V5 document
Use the Government’s website to apply for a V5 document

The first process is for kit cars, radically altered, or kit-converted vehicles. All three examples will require the form V627/1 for a “Built up vehicle inspection report”. That document will ask you to list the details of all major components, and additional information.

You’ll also need the V5C registration certificate of the original vehicle, evidence of Vehicle Type Approval where required, official receipts for the vehicle and parts, build plans and photographs of the car.

There’s a slightly different process for an old or classic vehicle. A reconstructed classic is determined as built from genuine period components from more than one vehicle and all over 25 years old. And it has to be a true reflection of the marque. Meanwhile an old vehicle is one that hasn’t been taxed since 1983, and therefore might never have been registered with the DVLA.

In both cases, you’ll need to apply for a V5 using the normal procedure. But also have the V765 form endorsed by a vehicle owners’ club for an old car, or a full written report and inspection for a reconstructed classic.

In both cases, part of the process may enable you to list your car under an original or age-related registration number if possible.

How 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.

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 useful tips?

Read some of our other guides below – all these mention the V5C form. It’s THE document for an easy car ownership journey…