Table of Contents:

  • Everything you need to change car ownership
  • Who can transfer car ownership?
  • Who needs to complete the V5C?
  • What to do on the car’s V5C?
  • How to transfer car ownership online
  • Transferring car ownership by post
  • How to transfer the ownership of a car to a dealer or a scrapyard
  • How to transfer car ownership to a family member
  • Can I transfer my tax?
  • Fines for failing to notify the DVLA of a car transfer
  • FAQs for changing car ownership

Transferring ownership of your car is a key step when you’re buying, selling or part-exchanging a car. It’s vital because you need to follow an official process so that everything is registered by UK law, even if no money is changing hands.

The thing is, you always need to log any change of ownership with the DVLA. And this guide will help you in the process. It’s not difficult, we promise.

Everything you need to change car ownership

Although it may seem a bit of a faff, transferring car ownership is quite straightforward and easy once you’ve got the right documents and know where to go. Remember you must notify the DVLA about the new owner of the car. It’s a legal requiring and failing to do so can involve fines of up to £1,000.

In short, to transfer car ownership you will need:

  • The V5C or logbook – it’s a vital piece of paperwork that you’ll need to sell your car. It has all the important information about the vehicle that is held by the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) on its database, and it proves that you are the registered keeper. If you’re selling your car you’ll need to complete the ‘new keeper’ section of V5C – also called V5C/2 – and give that to the new owner. It’s proof that now they own the vehicle.
  • An Internet connection – you’ll need that if you’re transferring the car’s ownership using the DVLA Website. It’s quick and simple. The DVLA will send you an email confirmation and then a follow-up letter in the post to indicate that the changes have been made. The new owner of the car will then receive a new V5C certificate through their letterbox.
  • A Post Office – If you’d rather transfer ownership of your car by post you’ll still need the V5C document. Fill in the V5C section for ‘new keeper’, give the ‘new keeper’ slip to the new owner and post the remainder of the V5C to the DVLA (Swansea, SA99 IBA).

Who can transfer car ownership?

Only a vehicle’s registered keeper can legally transfer a car and its logbook into another name. Bear in mind that the keeper of a car doesn’t necessarily have to be its owner. Although sometimes these two can be the same person, they can also be different people or companies. Plus, the V5C is not proof of ownership.

The Owner is the person or company that paid for that car and legally owns it. If you drive a company car, then the company is the owner and you’re the keeper. Or if the car is a family car, the owner may be one of the parents – or both -, even if they don’t drive the vehicle.

The Keeper of a vehicle is the person named on the V5C, also called ‘registration document’ or ‘log book’. The keeper is legally responsible for the car and the one that could be pursued by the law if they do something illegal.

Even if someone else paid for the car, the legal keeper is the person in charge of insuring and taxing the vehicle, keeping it roadworthy and obtaining an MOT if it’s more than three years old.

As the legal keeper, if your car is involved in any motoring offence, you’ll be the one contacted by the authorities and responsible for any fines. Even if you weren’t the one driving the car when the infraction happened.

Who needs to complete the V5C

The person who is the current keeper of the car being sold is the one responsible for completing the V5C and sending it to the DVLA to transfer ownership. However, it’s important that the buyer – the new keeper – checks that all the information is correct and walks away with the ‘new keeper slip’. That little bit of paper is proof that they are the new owners of the car.

Completing the V5C is a really important step when you are changing the ownership of a car. That is particularly true for the seller because by filling the logbook in with the new owner’s details and notifying the DVLA you’ll no longer be held responsible for a car you don’t own anymore.

If you are the new keeper of the vehicle you just have to wait for the old keeper to complete the transfer. Then, in a matter of five working days, you’ll get a new V5C sent to your inbox naming you as the new legal keeper of the car.

What to do on the car’s V5C?

If you’re selling or buying a used car, have a pen handy, because you will need it to transfer car ownership on the logbook. This legal document that names the keeper is vital and needs to be completed and sent back to the DVLA every time a vehicle changes hands. Then, a new one is issued in the new owner’s name.

From 15 April 2019, the V5C registration certificate was changed. Regardless of which version of the logbook you have, you should always fill it out in block capitals with a black ballpoint pen.

V5C issued after 15 April 2019:

  • Seller – Complete section two, ‘selling or transferring my vehicle to a new keeper’
  • Seller – Fill in the date of sale in section six ‘new keeper slip’. Tear it and give it to the buyer

V5C issued before 15 April 2019

  • Seller – Complete section six, called ‘new keeper details’
  • Both – Sign the declaration in section eight.
  • Seller – Fill in section 10, called V5C/2. Give the ‘new keeper supplement’s the buyer.

Photo by Hareez Hussaini on Unsplash

How to transfer car ownership online

Forget about lots of paperwork and lengthy processes. Transferring car ownership online is faster and easier than ever. These are the steps to follow:

  • STEP 1 – Get the details for the new owner – and make sure they are correct. Include the new owner’s email address, home address, full name.
  • STEP 2 – Get the 11-digit reference number from the car’s V5C
  • STEP 3 – Go online and complete the official form on the DVLA website.
    • Confirm that you’re not a motor trader
    • Select the options to confirm you’ve sold or transferred your vehicle
    • State whether the sale or transfer was to a private individual or a motor trader
    • Enter the car’s registration number
    • Confirm the vehicle details are correct
    • Enter the full name, postcode and address of the new owner and the date of sale
    • Enter your email address – and that of the new owner if you want
    • Declare that all the details you have entered are correct.
    • Hit the ‘Confirm’ button
  • STEP 4 – You’ll receive an email confirmation. And so will the new owner if you’ve included their email in the form.
  • STEP 5 – A brand new physical V5C or logbook will be sent to the new owner within five working days.

Once this is done, it’s advisable to tear up and dispose of the old V5C since you are no longer the legal keeper of the car you’ve sold.

Transferring car ownership by post

If for some reason you prefer to use the V5C document to let the DVLA know you’ve transferred ownership of your old car the old fashioned way, you will need to visit a post office. It may take longer than changing it online, but it’s still a valid way of doing it.

  1. Enter the new owner’s name and address in the right boxes (they may be different depending on when your V5C was issued as we’ve explained above).
  2. Tear off the New Keeper slip, fill out the date of Sale/Transfer and hand the slip to the new owner.
  3. Post the remainder of the V5C to the ‘DVLA, Swansea, SA99 IBA’.
  4. A brand new physical logbook will be sent to the new keeper in a matter of weeks.

How to transfer car ownership to a family member

Transferring car ownership to a family member is not any different than doing so with a private seller. You can do it online or by post following all the steps listed above.

How to transfer the ownership of a car to a dealer or a scrapyard

In the case you’re selling or part-exchanging your car to a dealer or a trader the process is a bit different, although not complicated. The process is the same if you’re selling your car for scrap.

You can do this online, on the DVLA website, simply by selecting the relevant options. To do it by post, this is the process:

  1. Fill in section 9 (instead of section 6, the one you need when selling your car privately), separate it from the rest of the V5C registration document and send it to the DVLA.
  2. Give the remaining parts of the V5C to the trader/scrapyard.
  3. The dealer will notify the DVLA of the change of ownership and the seller should receive a notification within four weeks.

Can I transfer my tax?

No. Road tax cannot be transferred between owners of a car. The new rules that came into force in 2014 put an end to issuing tax discs and allowed car sellers to get a full refund on the sold car’s remaining month’s tax. For that reason, you’ll need to tax the new car you’ve just bought before driving away with it. It’s a legal requirement.

To tax the car you need to:

  • The green ‘new keeper’ slip from your new car’s logbook
  • Go to the official Car Tax page on Gov.uk or
  • Call the DVLA over the phone (lines are open 24 hours a day) or
  • Find a Post Office that deals with vehicle tax
  • Pay for it

Fines for failing to notify the DVLA of a car transfer

If you’ve sold your car to a new owner, you still need to record the transfer of ownership with the DVLA. As the previous owner, you’re legally required to do that. If you don’t, you’re very likely to receive a penalty. That is usually an Out of Court Settlement letter demanding that you pay the DVLA £55 – reduced to £35 if you pay it in 17 days. Don’t ignore the letter, as you could end up in a magistrate’s court with a fine of up to £1,000.

FAQs about changing car ownership

It’s very important to transfer legally a vehicle to a new owner and it’s something you always need to remember to do. But it’s not as daunting as you may have thought. If you’ve got any questions or issues, let us know and we’ll be happy to explain.