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Changing ownership of a car

  • Need to change your car's ownership? 
  • Find out all the details you need to know
  • Who owns your car? 

Changing ownership of a car is not meant to be a difficult process - there are about 9.5 million changes of registered keeper every year. Here at Parkers we’ve put together this simple guide to ensure your transfer of car ownership is as stress-free as possible.

Your V5C certificate or logbook

Any transfer of ownership will require a V5C certificate or logbook. This is considered as your proof of ownership for the car. Anyone buying or selling a car will have to inform the DVLA of any such transfer of ownership as a legal requirement.

This is a straightforward process that can be completed either on the DVLA website or by sending completed V5C documents by post. 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 car ownership will differ depending on who is involved in the process. Private deals will need to be handled differently to if you’re are trading with a car dealer.

How to change ownership of a car

If the car is changing hands privately, once you have agreed on a deal, you must legally transfer ownership. Every car should be accompanied by a V5C certificate that contains details of the registered keeper, the current owner of the car. To change the registered keeper, the new keeper - the person buying the car - must complete section six of the certificate: this is known as a V5 transfer.

Both the registered keeper and the new keeper must sign the certificate before sending it to the DVLA. The new keeper should also complete section 10 of the certificate, also known as a V5C/2. As the person taking on ownership of the car, you should keep hold of this until you have received a new V5C stating that you are the registered keeper of the car.

You can change the ownership of a car online, but you will need 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.

Changing car ownership through a dealer

If, however, the transfer involves 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 receiving the car should notify 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?

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. 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 transfer of ownership has been completed, 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.

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.