The V5C document: all you need to know about the log book

The V5C, sometimes called the logbook, is often considered your car’s birth certificate. Here’s what you need to know

By Stuart Milne

The logbook - officially known as the V5C - is a paper document that’s issued to a vehicle’s registered keeper by the DVLA. It contains key information about your car, and it’s something you should keep safe.

For most of us, it’s a document you’ll only need to concern yourself with when you’re buying or selling the car, or when you’re paying your Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) - also called road tax.

The V5C sets out who is the ‘registered keeper’, which is the person or business responsible for registering and taxing the vehicle. In many cases that’s the owner, but not always.

Despite the rise of digitised documentation, the V5C remains a paper document, although you can register a change of ownership or address online. It’s a quicker alternative than updating the document in ink, tearing off the relevant panels and posting to the DVLA, though that’s still an option many drivers prefer.

Read on to find out the information a V5C log book contains and how to update the document.

V5C logbook

The V5C contains information about the car and its registered keeper, but can be a goldmine of other information, too.

The cover page outlines the car’s registration number, the name and address of the current registered keeper, the previous keeper and the number of previous owners the car has had.

Open the document and you’ll find more detail, but remember that not all the points are relevant and may be left blank. Working from the top, you’ll find the vehicle’s registration number, the make and model and the date of first registration, bodystyle, engine size and fuel type.

It’s important to cross-reference the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on the document with that on the car.

There are also tear-out sections to complete when you transfer ownership or if you export the car.

V5C new keeper

When you sell a car, you should make sure you have the V5C to hand. If you can’t find it, you can order a replacement. The buyer will need to see a copy to help assess whether you have the legal right to sell the car, and they’ll need some of the information within it to tax the car.

As the seller, you can register the change of ownership online or by post, bearing in mind the process outlined below is slightly different for drivers in the Channel Islands, Isle of Man, or Northern Ireland.

To complete the process online, you must complete the process at, fill in the green ‘new keeper’ part of the V5C, hand it to the buyer, and then destroy the rest of the V5C. The DVLA should send out a V5C to the new owner in three to five days.

The process for doing this by post is more long-winded, but still straightforward. You must complete the green section 2 in the latest format of the V5C or section 6 in older versions, and must sign where instructed. You’ll also need to fill in the new keeper slip and hand it to the new owner before sending the V5C to the DVLA at the address shown on the document. The new keeper should receive an updated V5C in around four weeks - if not, they’ll need to complete form V62 to apply for a replacement certificate.

V5C check

There are myriad checks to make when you’re buying a used car, but when it comes to the V5C, make sure the seller can produce it when you view the car. It’s a good idea to meet them at their house; that way you can verify that it matches the address on the logbook.

When you see the car, check the document has ‘DVL’ watermarks running though, and check the quality of printing. You should also ensure the VIN number listed on the V5C matches the one on the car, and the car’s colour, engine size and other attributes tally with the car as it stands in front of you.

You should agree on how the change of ownership will be communicated to the DVLA. If the seller is doing it online, you should provide them with your email address. Make sure you’re given the tear-off new keepers’ strip to prove your ownership, and keep an eye on the post for your new V5C.

It’s worth noting that cars can no longer be sold with remaining tax; you’ll need to use the 12-digit reference number on the V5C to either purchase road tax or register the car on a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) - but should you do the latter, you’ll not be able to drive the car on the road until it’s properly taxed.

V5C change of address

It's important to make sure your V5C is kept up to date; failure to do so can result in a fine of up to £1,000. Tax reminders and other letters, including refunds, will be sent to the wrong address if you move house without informing the DVLA.

You can change your address either online or by post, but changing your name or changing your name and address at the same time must be done online.