Register a car: how to record change of ownership

Here’s what to do when you buy a new car and you need to record a change of ownership. You can even do it online

Ben Custard
Dec 3, 2021

Buying a car online is a relatively new phenomenon which has become the norm for many of us in the wake of the pandemic, but it has also made the whole car buying process a more pleasurable experience, because you can buy your dream car from the comfort of your sofa. In fact, the ability to buy a car on the internet has all but killed off the days of traipsing round dealerships in the cold, getting pressured by salespeople and drinking coffee granules out of polystyrene cups.

While the process to buy a car has been made quicker, more streamlined, and easier thanks to online car sales sites like BuyaCar, it’s important not to forget about the other aspects you'll need to attend to when you complete your purchase.

One of the most important things to remember after you’ve bought a car is to register it in your name. Registering a car is an essential job because it proves that you’re the rightful keeper of the car, although it’s not proof that you own the car.

Below, we outline how to register a car after you’ve bought it.

Is the car registered to use?

If it’s a brand-new car, the dealership will usually register it for you and you won’t need to do anything. You will then get your V5C (commonly known as a logbook, although it is just a piece of paper and not actually a book) from the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) in the subsequent weeks after buying the car.

If it’s a used car, it will have been previously registered, so the registration needs to switch to you.

Some dealers will do this for you. However, if you’re buying from a private buyer, or a small dealer, you’ll have to register this yourself.

How to register a car

When you buy a used car, the seller must complete section 6 (new keeper section) of the V5C form. You and the seller must then both sign the declaration in section 8 of this form. If a V5C form isn’t available, we would recommend walking away from buying that specific car.

The new keeper supplement, also known as the V5C/2 form, needs to be pulled out and completed with your details. The seller will then give this form to you. Then, finally, the seller will send the V5C to the DVLA.

You will then receive a new V5C form (log book), stating that you are the registered keeper of the car. This usually takes up to four weeks.

Is the car insured?

Some dealers will include driveaway insurance. This typically insures you for a week, giving you enough time to sort out your own insurance.

It’s a good idea to shop round for some quotes before buying the car though, just so you’re aware of how much money it will be to insure. If you’re thinking about moving house any time soon, make sure you check how much insurance will cost in your new location.

Make sure you are insured to drive a car before you drive it away from a dealership - either on your own policy or on the driveaway insurance. Or if you are getting the car delivered to you, make sure it is insured before you drive it away.

Is it taxed?

If you haven’t bought a car in a while, you might be unaware of a fairly recent law change. As of 1st October 2014, it’s no longer possible to inherit any tax left on a car.

Therefore, you need to purchase tax before you drive the car. You still need to tax the car, even if the car is tax free. On brand-new cars, the first year’s tax is included in the price.

This can be done here:


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