V5C (Logbook) – Explained

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The V5C is the cars equivalent of your birth certificate

Unfortunately, buying a car isn’t as simple as a quick bank transfer and getting behind the wheel.

Before you get to the fun part, there are some checks to be done! One of the most important things you have to do is make sure you get a legit V5C logbook.

If you buy a car without a vehicle registration certificate, you could be purchasing a stolen vehicle. Having the V5C proves that the seller is the registered keeper of a car and that they have the right to sell it.

You’ll likely have no problem when buying from a franchised dealer or an independent dealer, but be extra cautious when purchasing from a private seller!

Here’s a quick rundown of everything you need to know about this vital document.

What is the V5C document?

The V5C document is a way for the government to keep track of all of the cars in the UK.

Every single car sold has a unique V5C number, the DVLA issues that. Known as a logbook. It’ll contain all the essential details about the car, and the keeper, such as:

  • Vehicle registration number
  • Date of first registration
  • Manufacturer and Model
  • VIN Vehicle Identification Number
  • Body details including colour
  • Engine Specification
  • Exhaust Emissions
  • The Registered Keeper

Hey did you know?

While the V5C is still a physical document, you can do many of the steps (like demonstrating the sale of a vehicle) online.

Who is the registered keeper?

Simply put, the registered keeper is the person who is responsible for communicating with official authorities (i.e. the police or DVLA). It’s not necessarily the owner! For instance, if you take out a PCP deal, the finance provider is the legal owner of the car – but you are the registered keeper.

I’ve lost my V5C

You must keep your V5C safe and secure. However, sometimes things happen, and you might have misplaced or damaged your document. Don’t worry! You can apply for a new V5C online. Of course, its the DVLA and nothing is free, so you’ll need to pay a fee of £25 for a new logbook to be sent out to you.


Check your logbook is legit. It should have a serial number on the top right-hand corner of the certificate, and a DVLA watermark.

What happens to the V5C when buying a car?

Whether you’re buying or selling a car, it’s crucial that you properly transfer ownership of a vehicle this is done using the V5C. Usually, the buyer doesn’t need to do much. When buying a car, make sure that:

  • The seller completes the New Keeper Part of the registration certificate, with both parties signing before sending to DVLA.
  • The seller gives you the Green V5C/2 Part.
  • The DVLA will send you a new V5C logbook in the post. Make sure you double-check that all the details are correct, and then store it somewhere safe.

Apart from when selling the vehicle, DVLA will reissue a new registration certificate when the car is:

  • Exported
  • Scrapped
  • Significantly modified (i.e. new engine)

Can I buy a car without a V5C?

No! Never buy a car without seeing the V5C. If you buy a car without seeing the logbook, you could be purchasing a vehicle that’s stolen, or that has outstanding finance.

Make sure that you check that the seller is the person named on the V5C. If not, don’t buy the car, unless you can confirm that they have the legal right to sell the vehicle. You also can’t pay road tax on a car without the V5C.

How do I change the address on my V5C vehicle log book?

You can change the address on your V5C at Gov.UK and it’s usually free to update it.

Before you start you need your:

  • Registration number of your vehicle.
  • V5C logbook reference number.
  • UK address.