How to change the registered keeper of a car

As the official keeper of a vehicle, you need to have documentation to prove that it's your responsibility for insuring and taxing it. This is usually referred to as the V5C document or logbook, and it is registered with the DVLA.

It's worth remembering that being a registered keeper is not to be confused with being the owner of the car.

For example, if you have a company car or a car on finance, the company itself will be the owner. The registered keeper is responsible for any driving offences and fines they incur, as well as those responsibilities above.

When you sell, or even simply transfer the vehicle on to a new individual, you have to take steps to replace your details on the V5C with the new keeper's in order to make it official that it's now their responsibility.

Changing the registered keeper of a car is not meant to be a difficult process. There are about 9.5 million transfers every year, so, here at Parkers we’ve put together this simple guide to ensure the transition of keepers is as stress-free as possible.

Your V5C certificate or logbook

Any vehicle you buy should be accompanied with a V5C certificate, or logbook. This is in the form of a red paper document, with older versions in blue. Anyone selling the vehicle has to inform the DVLA of the transfer as a legal requirement, and failure to do so can result in a fine or prosecution.

It's in your best interests to transfer ownership as until you do, you remain responsible for any driving offences linked to the car.

This is a straightforward process that can be completed either by sending completed V5C documents by post, or online via the DVLA website. The online option is pretty much the default choice these days, and document turnaround is very quick this way. The details of how to transfer the registered keeper differ depending on who is involved in the process.

How to change registered keeper of a car privately

Private deals will need to be handled differently to if you’re are trading with a car dealer. If the car is changing hands privately, once you have agreed on a deal, you must legally transfer the registered keeper. Every car should be accompanied by a V5C certificate that contains details of the current registered keeper of the car. To change this, the new person buying the car must complete section six of the certificate: this is known as a V5 transfer.

Do not forget to tick the new keeper box. You can also add date of birth, driver licence number and current mileage if you wish; this is optional, but helps the DVLA maintain records to prevent fraud such as clocking.

Both the outgoing registered keeper and the new keeper must sign and date the certificate before sending it to the DVLA. The new keeper should also complete the green slip on section 10 of the certificate, also known as a V5C/2, and should keep hold of this until they have received a new V5C stating their details.

You can change these details online, using the V5C reference number in order to do this. This process is by far the quickest way of changing ownership, with the DVLA's records being updated instantly during office hours.

If you are a buyer who does not have a UK address, the person you bought the vehicle from should give you the whole V5C log book to register in another country.

Changing the registered keeper to a dealer

If, however, the transfer involves selling to a car dealer, then the process will require both parties to sign section 9 of the V5C certificate, also known as the V5C/3. At this point, the dealer will take possession of the V5C.

The dealer then notifies the DVLA of the change of ownership, and the seller should receive an acknowledgement within four weeks. Tax direct debits, if you have them, will be cancelled by the DVLA and you will receive any tax refunds you are due.

Can I transfer my car registration online?

If you buy a new car, but you want to keep your old registration number, you can complete a V317 application which is available to download online. This should be done before the process to transfer car ownership is completed.

Transfer you registration online

It will enable you to keep your current registration number and transfer it to your new car, or you can apply to keep the number registered to your name for up to 10 years, even if you don’t transfer it.

What about transferring my car tax?

You can’t transfer existing road tax to a new owner, nor can you transfer your tax from one car to another. Once the V5C details have been transferred, the car must be taxed under the name of the new keeper, and therefore it’s important that the car is taxed on the day of purchase, either online or by taking your V5C/2 to a Post Office that can file car tax applications.

Once you have sold or transferred your vehicle on to its new owner, you can simply cancel your VED road tax online, receiving a refund for any remaining months left.

How to transfer car ownership to a family member

This works in very much the same way as it would if you were selling the vehicle. You will need to notify the DVLA of the new registered keeper and ensure the car is taxed in the name of the new owner.

Taking your new car home

Bear in mind, if you intend to drive the car home on the day of purchase, you will need to have valid road tax and car insurance for the new car.

Further reading