What is a V5C document?

  • What is your V5C document?
  • When do I need a new V5C log book?
  • Is your V5C digital yet? 

Registration of a vehicle is documented on a V5C form. Issued by the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), the official body for managing car and driver documentation, the V5C confirms the vehicle details, such as the number plate, the make and model and the contact details of the registered keeper. The V5C is one of the pieces of documentation you’ll need if you want to sell your car.

It’s worth noting that the registered keeper isn’t necessarily the owner. However, whomever is named on the V5C document will receive any correspondence from the DVLA and also the police, if the driver of a vehicle commits an offence.

Is a V5C a log book?

The name ‘log book’ comes from times when the original documents carried a history of the previous owners or changes of registration. The V5C now only shows the number of former keepers. But to be clear, if someone asks for the log book, they mean the V5C.

With a new car, it is normal for the dealer to register the car for you, before the document arrives in the post from the DVLA. In some circumstances you may want to register the car yourself.

When buying used, do not buy a vehicle that doesn’t have a V5C document. It’s illegal for a vendor or private seller to sell a vehicle without the V5C.

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

The V5C can also be referred to as the V5 form. But again, like log book, it’s all means the same thing.

Is the V5C proof of ownership?

Not necessarily. Like we’ve mentioned, an owner and the registered keeper could be two different parties. A company car is a really good example. While your name might be on the V5C as the registered keeper, the company own the vehicle.

Conversely, in a divorce, if one spouse has both vehicles in their name, then those vehicles will be considered assets of the spouse who is registered as the keeper, not the one who considers themselves the owner, primary driver and makes the payments for fuel, tax and insurance.

The owner/registered keeper designation isn’t always clear and can very much depend on the situation, legally. The bottom line is the log book shows who is responsible for registering and taxing the car, but not who owns it.

What does the V5C show?

The V5C document shows who the car is registered to and the address they’ve given for correspondence. It also shows the make and model of car (but not always the exact trim), the date of registration, VIN/chassis number, engine number and colour.

It will also confirm the body style, taxation class and fuel type. If the vehicle is Cat S (originally Cat C)—that is a structural write-off—then that information is legally required to be recorded on the V5 form.

On more recent cars it carries the full type approval information such as emissions standard, dimensions, towing capacities and so forth. This may be lacking if the car is a personal import, as type approval information is disregarded on cars over 10 years old when imported.

Completing a V5C document when you buy a used car

If you’re buying a used car, the seller must:

> Complete Section Six of the V5C (‘new keeper or new name/new address details’)

> Sign the declaration in Section Eight (you must do this too)

> Fill in Section 10 (the green ‘new keeper supplement’) and give it to you – this section is also known as the V5C/2Send the V5C to the DVLA

You should receive your new V5C log book within two to four weeks from the DVLA.

It is possible for private sellers to complete a transfer of registration online.

If you don’t receive the V5C for a car you have bought, you can use the green new keeper slip and form V62 to apply for a replacement. If you don’t have the new keeper slip, you must pay for the new V5C and wait for the change of keeper to be verified. If you have lost your V5C, it’s pretty straightforward to replace. For a lost V5C, or more information about your V5C document, visit the gov.uk website

When do I need to update my V5C log book?

You’ll need to register your car and send the forms to the DVLA as soon as you’ve:

> Bought it

> Built it

> Rebuilt or altered it, referred to as modifications

> Changed the taxation class, such as for historic or disabled categories

The DVLA will issue you with a new V5C for some changes made online, such as transferring a registration number.

Can you view your V5C online?

Although you’re able to make changes online, the V5C is still a tangible paper form. Though there are plans to digitise driver licences to join digitised MOT and licence checks, the V5C is old-school. Much of this is because of fraud. It’s got a special watermark in it in an attempt to stop forgeries. The design of the V5C log book changed in 2010 in an attempt to prevent car crime. A number of blank versions of the old document were stolen in 2006 and used to sell on stolen cars.

Nowadays, the V5C is red, not blue. The red papers also make it clearer that this is not proof of ownership and there are also details of where to get advice if you’re a victim of car crime

The blue version will still be valid for drivers to tax their vehicle, sell the vehicle and notify the DVLA of any change of details of the owner or car.

More recent changes to the V5C have removed the details of the previous keeper for data protection.

Get a car history check

Any document that you get with the car should have the DVLA watermark when you hold it up to the light, but there are also other ways to protect yourself against buying a stolen car. Always ask to see other documents from the owner such as MOT and servicing receipts.

To ensure any car that you own or are thinking about buying hasn’t been stolen, get a car history check.

Looking for more jargon-busting motoring meanings? Head over to our Parkers Car Glossary page and take a look at our other definitions