Your V5C log book is an important part of owning a car. It’s a document that contains valuable information about your vehicle and any changes it may have gone through over the years.
Let’s take you through all you need to know about your V5C log book.
What is a V5C log book exactly?
Your car’s V5C is known by various names, such as its registration document, vehicle log book, or registration certificate.
Previously V5C log books featured a blue cover, but this changed to red between 2012 and 2019, and has changed again since. Newer log books issued from 2019 onwards are still red but now have a multicoloured section at the bottom of the front page. This directs you to the information and forms that apply to you.
While the older books are still valid, the DVLA recommends replacing older V5C books with the newer multicoloured version, free of charge.
Your V5C registration document includes important information about your vehicle, namely:
- The name and details of the car’s present registered keeper
- Information on its previous registered keeper
- The date of the car’s first registration
- Details of the vehicle model, tax class, engine size, and colour, as well as its VIN/chassis/frame number
- The reference number to pay your Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), also known as road tax
- Forms to alert the DVLA to changes in the registered keeper or to the car itself. This applies to major modifications, classic car restorations, or if it’s sold, permanently exported, or scrapped
It’s important to note the difference between a car’s registered keeper and its owner. While in most cases they are the same person, there are exceptions to this rule.
For example, if you drive a company vehicle for work, the vehicle’s owner may be your employer and you its registered keeper. Or a car may be owned by one family member and driven by another, who could then be its registered keeper.
It’s the car’s registered keeper who is obliged to register and tax the car.
Why should I have a V5C?
A V5C is not a legally required document, but it’s certainly worth having, especially if you’re selling your car.
Even if you are in the process of buying a car, a V5C can give you valuable information that’s useful to know.
If you’re selling
It’s always advisable to have a V5C when selling your vehicle. It legitimises your ownership of the car and can even affect the sale price. If you have misplaced your V5C, it’s a good idea to get a replacement before you sell it.
Having a V5C allows you to complete section V5C/2: “Selling or transferring my vehicle to a new keeper (not a trader)” on the physical document. This green slip tears off and provides the new owner with proof of transfer of ownership. Once you’ve done this you can destroy the rest of the log book.
You will also need to inform the DVLA of this transfer. There are two ways to do this.
- After filling in the “new keeper” section of your V5C log book, you can then post it to the DVLA at the following address: DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1BA. We recommend you use tracked post so that you can be sure it doesn’t get lost en route.
If you don’t have a V5C log book, or you’ve misplaced it, you can write to the DVLA with the following information:
- Your name and address
- The vehicle registration number
- The vehicles make and model
- The date of sale
- The name and address of the new keeper
- If you choose to notify the DVLA of the sale electronically, all you have to do is complete a simple online form. You’ll need your 11-digit document reference number from your V5C log book, as well as the full name and address of the new keeper.
Once done, you’ll get instant confirmation via email. You’ll also automatically receive a refund for any full remaining months of vehicle tax.
If you’re buying
As a buyer, having a V5C can give you peace of mind regarding the legitimacy of the sale.
While the registered keeper and the owner may not be the same person, in the vast majority of private sales they tend to be. So it’s good practice to ensure the name and address of the owner is correctly listed on the V5C, as well as the VIN number, make, colour, engine size, and so on.
If there are any discrepancies, you may want to hold off on the sale just in case. The DVLA always recommends checking a used vehicle to make sure it is not stolen or unsafe.
Make sure you are given the green “new keeper’s details” slip and that you tax the car as soon as you take ownership. You can do this via debit or credit card as well as by direct debit.
Once the previous owner has alerted the DVLA to the car’s change of ownership, you’ll be sent the new V5C.
Where can I find my V5C?
It’s not unusual for important documents to get lost, misplaced or damaged. Maybe your V5C became a casualty of that big move or burst water pipe.
This leads many of us to ask, “Can I view my V5C online?” Unfortunately not.
While much of our daily admin is now available digitally, the V5C is still issued in paper form, partly because the unique watermark on the actual document helps to prevent fraud.
This means you won’t find a copy of your V5C online. However, you can register a car’s change of ownership, a change of address, as well as request a replacement electronically.
Replacing your V5C
In the event of a V5C being lost, stolen, damaged, or destroyed, getting a replacement is easier than you might think if all your details remain the same.
You can apply for a duplicate V5C either online or by telephone as long as you are the vehicle’s registered keeper. The service usually costs £25 and your replacement V5C will generally arrive within five working days.
All you’ll need is the registration number of the vehicle, the VIN or chassis number, and the name and postcode registered on your previous V5C.
Should your new V5C take longer than two weeks to arrive, contact the DVLA.
Find out more here: Lost V5C: How to get a replacement log book
Changing your details on your V5C
If you need to change any of your details listed on your current V5C, it is usually free to do so, and you’re still able to drive while you wait for your new documents.
These changes are important. Failing to update your name or address with the DVLA can see you fined up to £1,000. Road tax reminder letters and speeding fines are sent to the address on record, and missing these notifications could result in even bigger penalties and administrative headaches.
V5C address changes
If you are the vehicle’s registered keeper, you can change your address online or by post.
- The registration number of your vehicle
- Your log book reference number
- Your UK address
It’s also vital you check if your vehicle needs taxing in the next four weeks to ensure you remain up to date and legally compliant.
The address on record at the DVLA is the one used to send reminder notices. As changes at the DVLA may take a few weeks, you don’t want to unintentionally end up on the wrong side of the law.
To apply by post, car owners with the newer red V5C log book should fill in their new address in section 3 (not a PO box address) and send off the log book to the DVLA address listed in section 3.
For those with the older style blue V5C book, write your new address in section 6, sign it, and send the whole log book to the DVLA address listed in section 8.
Be sure to leave the “new keeper” box blank and remember to update the details on your driver’s licence, too.
Your new log book should arrive within four weeks.
V5C name changes
V5C name changes need to be done by post.
If you have the older log book, fill in section 6 with your full name. Sign it and send it off to the DVLA, together with a letter detailing why the name in the book needs to change, as well as proof of your legal name change. Be sure not to tick the “new keeper” box.
If your V5C is one of the newer red books, fill in section 3 with your full name and send it off to the DVLA, together with a letter of explanation and proof of your legal name change.
In both cases, if you are changing your name because you have recently married or divorced, or your name was incorrectly spelt in the log book, you do not need to send explanation letters or supporting documents.
Your new corrected log book should arrive within six weeks. If it takes any longer be sure to check in with the DVLA.
While a V5C log book isn’t a legal requirement, it’s a useful document to have, and will likely be especially handy when you buy or sell a car.
If you need to replace your V5C or update your details on it, this is relatively easy to do, and shouldn’t stop you from having a valid log book in hand.
So, before you hit the road, be sure you have an up-to-date V5C in your possession. It’s simple to do and just makes sense!