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What documents do I need to sell my car?

It’s often hard to keep track of all those bits of paper that come with car ownership, and when it comes to selling most owners are left asking the question – what documents do I need to sell my car?

If you aren’t an organised person you’ll end up with bits of car paperwork everywhere, MOT copies in the bin, original purchase invoice shredded long ago, service history book somewhere in the boot and maybe even the V5C kept in your car – a big no-no.

Selling a car can be complicated, keeping your paperwork in order is key.

From the start of ownership, it’s a good idea to keep all this stuff together in a folder, somewhere safe indoors. Then, whenever you get a new invoice or receipt, it goes straight into that folder when you get home.

Not only does it keep everything all together but having such fastidious documentation will help increase the price of your motor when it comes to sell.

The documents you need to sell a car are as follows:

  1. V5C – Log book
  2. Four receipts
  3. Service history
  4. MOT certificates
  5. Insurance repairs
  6. Parts receipts
  7. How to avoid fraud when selling a car

V5C – V5 Log book

Your cars V5C or log book as it’s known is the most crucial part of the paperwork puzzle when it comes to selling your car.

Yes, you can sell a car without a V5C, but it looks incredibly dodgy and will put off many buyers.

V5C or Logbook to sell your car
The V5C or Logbook holds all the ownership info for your vehicle.

You used to have to fill in Section 6 of the form and send it back to the DVLA to sign the ownership over to the purchaser. While you can still do this, there’s now a far easier way by completing this part online.

In a week or so the new owner will receive a fresh V5C in their name.

Four receipts

Now this title may sound strange, but it’s not often you’ll go to view a car and buy it there and then.

Usually, you’ll have to get funds in place then return a few days later with the rest of the money. In the meantime, you place a deposit to make sure the car is yours, typically 10% should suffice.

If you place a deposit, make sure you get a receipt; otherwise you could be conned out of a few hundred pounds.

A written receipt should include:

  • Sellers full name
  • Buyers full name
  • Vehicle details – make, model, mileage, registration number, VIN number
  • Deposit paid
  • Date
  • Signatures for both parties

Some buyers will stipulate that you must return by a specific date with the rest of the money or the car will be put up for sale and you’ll lose your deposit. If this is the case, make sure that is written down on the receipt.

You need two copies of the deposit receipt, one for you and one for them.

When you return to purchase the car you’ll need to write out the same receipt again, but this time with the outstanding amount less the deposit. One copy for you, one copy for them, so in total four receipts if you’ve placed a deposit.

Service history

Do you remember that book that sits in your glovebox, not the manual, the other one. Well, that should be stamped by the dealership whenever you take your car in for a service.

Remember this, and check to make sure it’s been stamped whenever they hand the keys back to you. A full-service history is a big selling point, it shows that a car has been well looked after and will help to increase its value.

Car buyers
Make sure the book has been stamped before grabbing those keys and going.

If your service book hasn’t been stamped, try and find the receipts for the services. That will either prove you’ve had the work done, or if you still want the book stamped you could go back to the garage or dealership, receipts in hand, and ask for the book to be filled out.

MOT certificates

This is more of a ‘nice to have’ as all your MOT tests since around 2006 are now available online. But if you’re selling an older car, then it’s worth keeping or finding the physical copies.

Having your paper MOT certificates, again, shows that you care and look after your car. It goes with the whole dossier of ownership you should have collected over the years.

Insurance repairs

It’s a sad fact, but most cars at some point in their life are likely to have been knocked, hit, or damaged.

If you can get hold of a copy of the work carried out, either privately or through an insurance company, it can go a long way to reassure a potential buyer.

The same goes for any remedial repair work you’ve had carried out before putting your car up for sale.

Again, both show a meticulous nature and your honesty will help sell your vehicle without the buyer having any nagging doubts creeping in.

Parts receipts

As above, it’s worth keeping any and all parts receipts you have. This especially applies to older cars where you’re more likely to have had work carried out at an independent dealership.

Or, for example, if you purchase and fit your own parts. Knowing what’s been fitted to the car they’re about to buy and how long ago it was put on can help seal a sale.

How to avoid fraud when selling your car

When it comes to selling a car, there are a lot of potential ways you could be scammed out of money, or your car entirely.

Follow these brief bullet points, and you should be able to keep yourself safe:

  • Only accept cash in full or a CHAPS bank transfer
  • If accepting a cheque arrange a date for the buyer to collect once funds have cleared
  • Don’t allow payment via PayPal, Western Union or other money transfer services
  • Always accompany test drives
  • Never give the buyer your keys, until you’ve had full payment
  • Have a family or friend present when buyers come to view your car
  • Make sure the person has a valid driving licence
  • Check that the buyer has insurance cover to test drive your car
  • Ask for the buyers’ full address, anyone legitimate wouldn’t worry about giving you this information
  • Don’t entertain anyone posing as an ‘exporter’, they’ll expect you to pay for the ‘shipping fees’ to have your car sent abroad

Selling your car is relatively straightforward, no matter if you choose a private sale, trade-in, online or a comparison site like Motorway.

Just make sure you keep all your paperwork together and follow our fraud prevention tips, over 7 million cars are sold in the UK each year, the vast majority without an issue.

Need more info on buying and selling your car?

If you need more help or advice when it comes to buying a new car, or selling your old one, take a look at our handy guides for more information.