What Is a V5C?

Ellie Dyer-Brown, 2 months ago

4 min read

  • Car ownership
Holding a car key

WhoCanFixMyCar explains what a V5C is and what it's used for.

The V5C - also known as the vehicle logbook, registration document or V5 form - is the most important document you have as a car owner. Whether you’re buying or selling a car or already own one, it’s vital you understand what the V5C is used for, especially since you can be fined for failing to keep it up to date. This guide covers everything you need to know.


What does a V5C look like?

What is a V5C?

What does a V5C logbook include?

How to get a V5C

Can you tax a car without a V5C?

How to transfer ownership of a car using a V5C

How to change the address on your V5C logbook

2019 V5C logbook changes


What does a V5C look like?

The image below demonstrates what the front of a V5C logbook looks like. The information in this guide is based on the most recent V5C format, introduced in April 2019. However, there is a section later on how this format differs from the pre-2019 version.

V5C car logbook

What is a V5C?

The V5C logbook records the registered keeper of a vehicle - meaning the person responsible for registering and taxing it, not necessarily the owner. Most of the time, the owner and registered keeper are the same, but exceptions exist. 

In addition to recording the registered keeper, the V5C contains all the essential details about a vehicle, including its manufacturer, engine size, colour, and the date it was first registered. This information is not just for record-keeping, but also for legal and administrative purposes. It is stored by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) to ensure accurate and up-to-date information about vehicles on the road.

Usually, you shouldn’t need to contact the DVLA to amend the details of your V5C. But if the document contains a mistake or you change address, it’s essential to contact them.

Buying or selling a car

When you sell a car, you must inform the DVLA immediately by filling in the relevant section of your V5C. This guide discusses the documents you need to sell your vehicle online.

Selling a car with documents.

Private sales

If it’s a private sale, fill in Section 6 for the new keeper, including their address (if they live in Great Britain) and name. You then need to duplicate this information in Section 2. 

The buyer keeps Section 6, and Section 2 needs posting to the following address:

DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1BA

Non-private sales

If you’re selling your car to a motor trader, dismantler or insurer, you need to fill in Section 4 instead and post it to the DVLA (address above). The trader keeps the rest of the logbook.

Rather than sending the completed sections of your logbook by post, you can inform the DVLA that you have sold, bought or transferred a vehicle online using the UK Government website. This service is available between 7am and 7pm. You will still need your V5C logbook.

Buying a vehicle

When you buy a car from a garage or dealership, they'll tell the DVLA about the change of ownership, and you'll be sent a new V5C. However, when you buy a car privately, there are a few more things to consider. One of the most important is that the seller should always be able to show you a valid V5C.

Here are the things you should check:

  • Look for the DVLA watermark on the V5C by holding it up to the light. If you can't see it, the document might be forged.

  • The registered keeper's name should match the person selling the car.

  • You should be able to view the vehicle at the address on the V5C.

  • Do not buy the car if the serial number on the logbook appears to have been altered or part of the document is missing.

  • The vehicle identification number (VIN) on the car should match the one in the logbook.

What does a V5C logbook include?

It includes the following information:

  • Current registered keeper

  • Previous registered keeper

  • Date of registration

  • Vehicle details, such as the model, engine size and tax class

  • Forms to send to the DVLA if any information changes or the vehicle is scrapped or permanently exported

Where to find the V5C number

The V5C serial number is located in a white circle at the top of the front page on the left-hand side. It usually consists of two letters and seven numbers.

The V5C reference number is also in a clearly labelled white box on the front page and appears in several other places throughout the document. It usually contains 11 digits and is used for various transactions related to your car, such as paying road tax.

How to get a V5C

You should be sent a new V5C logbook after purchasing a vehicle. However, you'll need to get a new one if your logbook has been lost, stolen, damaged or destroyed. You can request a duplicate copy online or by phone if the details can stay the same - the DVLA will post it to the same address they have on record.

Alternatively, you can apply online for a V5C if your details have changed or you bought, sold or transferred a vehicle.

Can you tax a car without a V5C?

To tax your vehicle online, you must have:

  • The reference number from your V5C if you’re the registered keeper.

  • The reference number from the new keeper slip if you’ve just bought the vehicle and don’t yet have a V5C.

Vehicle tax reminder

In some situations, you can tax a car without a V5C or new keeper slip by using one of the following documents instead:

  • Your V11 tax reminder.

  • The V62 application for a registration certificate if you’re the current keeper.

If you don’t have a V5C, you'll have to tax your vehicle at a local post office. Remember to bring your V11 reminder and a valid MOT certificate.

Taxing your car without a V5C or V11

You need to apply for a replacement for both of these documents, which you can do online.

How to transfer ownership of a car using a V5C

There are many situations where people want to transfer the ownership of a vehicle without selling it - for instance, giving it to a family member. If you do this, you must switch the legal ownership to the car’s new owner.

The process is simple. As the car’s current registered keeper, you must fill in Section 2 and Section 6 of the V5C. Give Section 6 to the new keeper and send the rest to the DVLA. Alternatively, complete this process online.

Handing over car keys during a sale

How to change the address on your V5C logbook

Keeping your address updated on your V5C logbook is incredibly important. If you forget, the DVLA could prosecute you with a fine of up to £1,000. Things could get much worse than that because it isn't just reminders and car tax forms sent to the address on your logbook - it's also speeding fines and other conviction notices.

You could discover you have convictions for speeding and no insurance after you've tried to claim for a theft or accident.

Fortunately, checking your driving licence online is free and easy - we'd recommend doing it before updating your V5C.

To update your address, complete Section 3 of the V5C and send the logbook to the DVLA. Alternatively, you can update your address online - this service is available between 7am and 8pm.

2019 V5C logbook changes

The DVLA introduced a new V5C logbook format in 2019. The old version had three bands of red across it and said “United Kingdom” in the middle of the front page. The new version has a band of pink towards the bottom half of the front page and instructions for filling it in.

There are other significant differences:

  • The reference number is now at the top of the front page.

  • A colour-coded guidance section has been added.

  • A reference number has been added to each section of the document.

  • The green new keeper slip is the only perforated section.

  • Instructions are simplified.

  • You can now add contact details.

  • Vehicle details have been rearranged to make more room for data.

Frequently asked questions

Who’s legally responsible for ensuring that a V5C is updated?

The registered keeper of a vehicle is responsible for ensuring that its V5C logbook is up to date. The DVLA should be notified of any changes as soon as they occur.

Can I get a replacement V5C?

You can get a replacement V5C online or by phone. Visit the Government website to apply.

Can I sell my car without a V5C?

It’s legal to sell your car without a V5C. However, we wouldn’t recommend it for several reasons:

  • It can negatively impact your car’s value.

  • It looks suspicious to buyers.

  • It makes it much harder to sell your vehicle.

Applying for a new V5C is easy and only costs £25.

What’s the difference between a V5 and a V5C?

V5 and V5C are two names for the same thing. They are used interchangeably, though the V5C logbook is the most accurate way to describe this document.

Can you view your V5C online?

The V5C is currently a paper document - you can’t view it online, though this may change in the future. You can, however, make changes to the details of your logbook online, as discussed in this guide.

Looking for affordable car repairs or maintenance? Whatever you need, WhoCanFixMyCar can help you find the right garage at the right price.

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