V5C Registered Keeper v Legal Owner of a Vehicle

Published Date: 30th Jan 2023

The V5C is the official document issued by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) of the United Kingdom that serves as a reference point for the Police to show who is the registered keeper of a vehicle. It is commonly known as a "car registration document" or the "car logbook". The V5C document contains important information about a vehicle, including its registration number, make and model, date of first registration, engine size, and VIN number. It also states who is currently registered as the keeper of the vehicle.


Understanding the difference between the registered keeper and the legal owner of a vehicle is important for car owners and those considering purchasing one. The registered keeper should be considered to be the primary user of a vehicle. This person will be responsible for keeping it roadworthy, insured and taxed, and may be liable for any traffic offences or parking tickets while driving it. This person can also be different from the legal owner; for example, when a company owns a car but an employee is responsible for its day-to-day use. In instances like this, it’s important to ensure that both parties’ details are up to date with DVLA in order to avoid potential liability issues further down the line.


If you have purchased or are considering buying a vehicle, then you may wish to look up who is currently listed as its registered keeper (as well as any previous keepers) via an online service offered by DVLA. They now offer V5C documents in a new format too – with ‘document reference number’ being moved to a more prominent position (top right on front) and the acquisition date just below it - plus other features such as a multi-coloured guidance section at the bottom area and enforcement message on front cover. Older V5C documents are still valid, so there’s no need to switch to a new design though you may choose to do so if desired.


It’s also wise for owners of vehicles (whether they are using them themselves or not) to keep copies of any original invoices/receipts when they bought their car – even if it was gifted - in case potential buyers later ask for evidence of ownership before they purchase. It is essential that you do not accept V5C documents alone as sufficient proof. Furthermore, if somebody has lost their V5C document, then they can order another one online through DVLA at a cost of £25 but should note the details on your V62 application must match DVLA records otherwise, your request may be rejected or delayed in processing/issuing.


In summary, understanding what exactly constitutes ownership versus day-to-day responsibility for cars is essential for both current owners and those looking into buying; V5C documents provide evidence of a registered keeper, but additional paperwork may be needed in certain instances when selling or gifting vehicles, too - plus opportunities exist through online services provided by DVLA in examining who has been previously listed as registered keeper(s).


New Car Keeper v New Car Owner Summary


• The registered keeper of a vehicle is not necessarily the owner, and the V5C document is not proof of ownership.

• The DVLA has made it clear this document does not prove ownership by printing 'this document is not proof of ownership' on all new V5C documents issued from April 2019.

• If you are concerned about authenticity, you can use the DVLA online service to look up current/previous registered keepers.

• The owner may be different than the registered keeper; for example, if an employee uses a company car or one family member owns it while another keeps and drives it day-to-day.

• Owners should ensure that their details are correct with DVLA and keep any purchase receipts in case they need to prove legal possession later down the line when selling or gifting away their vehicle.


More detailed information is in the link below, or call the Sales Team on 0161 946 3500, and we will be happy to explain this to you.


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