It is a common misconception that the registered keeper of a vehicle as listed on the vehicle’s V5C registration document is the legal owner of the vehicle. In fact the registered keeper is not necessarily the owner of the vehicle and the V5C document is not proof of ownership.
The DVLA make it clear that the V5C registration document is not proof of ownership, with the words 'this document is not proof of ownership' clearly printed on the document in large, bold letters.
All new V5C documents issued from April 2019 will be in the new revised format (pictured right) which is designed to display key information more clearly on the front and allows for more key information to be entered.
Notable changes to the new V5C document include; the ‘document reference number’ being moved to a more prominent position (top right on the front), with the date of acquisition just below. There’s also a multi-coloured guidance section at the bottom and a new enforcement message on the front. Older style V5C documents are still valid so there's no need to change to the new format although you may wish to.
If you have bought or are in the process of purchasing a vehicle and have concerns about the authenticity of the V5C document you can use the DVLA online service to look up the current registered keeper as well as previous registered keepers.
The Registered Keeper Of A Vehicle/Car
The registered keeper of a vehicle should be the person that ‘keeps’ the car on a day to day basis and would normally be the primary user. They will be the first point of contact for the police for any offences or queries relating to the use of the vehicle. They will also be the initial recipient for parking tickets, motoring offences, fines etc and are also responsible for making sure the vehicle is taxed, insured, is road-worthy and has a valid MOT.
The Register Keeper should also be mindful of giving third party's permission to drive the vehicle without first checking they have adequate insurance and a valid driving license as they may be liable should either not be valid.
If you have misplaced your V5C document and wish to check who the registered keeper is, or would like a new format V5C document you can order one via the DVLA online service at a cost of £25.
The Owner Of A Vehicle/Car
The owner of a vehicle is the person or company that bought the vehicle or somebody who was given the vehicle as a gift. The owner is not necessarily and does not have to be the registered keeper or be the day to day user/driver of the car.
A common scenario is where a company owns the vehicle but an employee is the registered keeper and the day to day user of the vehicle. Other scenarios can be where one family member is the owner whilst a different family member is the registered keeper of the car.
If you are the owner of a vehicle but not responsible for the day to keep or the regular driver of the car you should ensure the registered keeper details are correct and up to date with the DVLA, otherwise you may be legally liable for offences linked to the vehicle, parking fines etc.
If you are the owner of the vehicle it is also prudent to keep a copy of the original invoice/receipt when you originally purchased the vehicle. If you buy a vehicle privately always make sure you get some form of written receipt/agreement from the seller including information like the date, amount paid, method pf payment, sold by (person or company) sold to (your full name), the vehicle make, model and importantly; the vehicle registration number. Ensure you keep this paperwork in a safe place for the lifetime of your ownership of the vehicle.
Even if the car is gifted to someone it is a good idea to make sure the new owner has something in writing to confirm ownership, as further down the line if/when they sell the car, would-be buyers may ask for proof of ownership and are well within their rights to NOT accept the V5C document as proof that you legally own the car.