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A guide to your car's V5C logbook

heycar editorial team

Written by

heycar editorial team

V5C log book and key
  • What is a V5C and what information does it show
  • Find out the difference between a registered keeper and owner
  • What to do with a V5C when buying or selling a car

Think of a car’s log book as its passport. Also known as the V5C or simply V5, the log book shows your car’s life story. But it’ll probably spend 99% of its life at the bottom of a drawer, and you’ll usually only need it when it’s time to buy or sell your car.

Here’s all you need to know about the V5 log book, why it’s so important and what to do if you’ve lost yours.

What does a car log book look like?

The log book is actually two sheets of paper, joined and folded in half so that it has four A4 sides. The front cover is red and pink with blue strips. On page one it says: UK REGISTRATION CERTIFICATE. Inside are the details of your car. There are also four slips, one each for selling, transferring to a new keeper, scrapping or exporting the car.

What is a log book?

A log book features all sorts of information about your car. It shows that it is recognised by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), and a list of who it has belonged to in the past. Assuming the car is taxed, insured and hasn’t been illegally modified, the V5C indicates it has a right to be on the road.

It also shows who your car’s registered keeper is. This is the person who is responsible for registering and taxing the car.

It’s important to remember that if any seller doesn’t have the car’s log book, don’t buy the vehicle from them.

What’s the difference between keeper and owner?

The V5C shows the vehicle’s registered keeper, which is different to its owner. If you buy a car using certain types of finance, you will be its registered keeper and have the V5C. However, sometimes the finance company could be the vehicle’s owner. This depends on the type of finance deal you have.

This is important because if you’re buying a used car, the seller might have the V5C but it’s no guarantee that they can legally sell the car. That’s why having a history check to find out the real owner of a car is important.

What information is on a vehicle registration document?

The log book has a wealth of information about your car. This includes its colour and body shape, the fuel it uses, engine size and even how noisy it is.

It also contains important information such as the car’s engine number and its Vehicle Identification Number, otherwise known as VIN or chassis number.

How to use a V5 log book when buying a car

You can use the log book to ensure the registered details of the car are the same as the car itself. This is particularly important if you decide to buy a car privately. It’s actually quite simple for crooks to take a car and change its keys. It’s not so easy to alter its identity.

Check that the VIN is the same on the car as on the log book and that the car’s the same colour in the metal as on paper. And be sure to verify that the seller lives at the registered keeper’s address on the log book.

When should you update your V5C?

The only time your car’s log book needs updating is when any details about you or the car change. This applies if you change your address, name or vehicle details, or buy or sell a car. You can do this online at the DVLA website.

If you prefer, you can do it all by post. You would need to sign the declaration part of the form and return the whole V5C document to the DVLA.

If you sell your car you should fill in the details of the new keeper and, again, send the log book to the DVLA. The new keeper of the car will keep Section 10 of the form. This is to show that they are now responsible for the car. This is valid until the proper log book featuring their details comes in the post.

How do you know if the V5C is real?

Although a V5C is difficult to tamper with and forge without it being instantly obvious, criminals tend to be resourceful people. Hold the document up to the light and the letters DVL should be running through it as a watermark. This is impossible to forge. But there is another way.

In 2006, a collection of blank log books was stolen from the DVLA. And then, in 2010, the V5 log book was redesigned to ensure the stolen ones were useless. If a seller has a blue V5 with no red on the front page, be wary. It might be one of the stolen ones.

How do you get a log book?

You might have lost your car log book, had it stolen or accidentally spilled your morning coffee on it.. Don’t worry, it’s simple to get another. It will cost you around £25.

If your name, address or vehicle details have changed, you would need to apply in writing. You can download a V62 log book application or get one from the Post Office.

If none of your details have changed, you can apply in writing or over the phone and use a credit or debit card to pay. If you apply over the phone, it could arrive within five days. It may take up to six weeks if you apply in writing.

Sometimes, when you’ve bought a car, the new V5C with your details simply doesn’t arrive. You could send the V62 form to the DVLA with your green new keeper’s details slip and you don’t have to pay. But, if you don’t have the new keeper’s slip, it’ll cost around £25.


See also: 

Tips for buying a used car

How the number plate system works

A complete guide to test driving