Car Ownership Transfer Guide – What to do When Buying or Selling?


transfer car ownership

Part of every sale, either privately or as a dealer, requires DVLA to change the car’s ownership. Buying or selling a used car involves a lot of effort, including correctly transferring the car’s ownership. This guide stipulates the step you must take to correctly assign the car’s ownership and understand the difference between a car owner and a registered keeper.

Are you a registered keeper or car owner?

Generally, car owners and registered keepers are considered the same persons, but that’s not true; the car’s owner and the registered keeper are two different people. The car’s owner is the person who legally owns the vehicle and has the right to sell it anytime. On the other hand, the registered keeper is a person who drives the car.

For instance, if you are driving a company’s car, you are a registered keeper, whereas the company is the car’s legal owner. So, when buying a vehicle, you must run a car’s previous owner check to know that you are dealing with the car’s legal owner. Note that you can’t find this information in the car’s V5C logbook because it contains the registered keeper’s name. Therefore, you should run a vehicle history check where you will get a detailed report from car analytics to know that the car is not the property of any finance company.

How to transfer ownership when selling a car?

All UK-registered vehicles have a V5C, also known as logbook or V5. This document displays the name of the car’s registered keeper, although you should know that it is not proof of ownership. The V5C document contains a section called the V5C/2, which sole purpose is to change the car’s ownership. If you are selling a car, you must fill it in, tear it off, and give it to the buyer. Now when you have sorted the V5C/2 form, it’s time you log in to the DVLA website to inform them of the car’s new keeper.

To inform the DVLA, you will require the 11-digit V5C logbook reference number and the name and address of the new owner. When the DVLA confirms the changes, they will instantly send you an email confirmation, showing that the changes are approved. Also, you will receive a follow-up letter from them at your postal address.

After you have sold the vehicle, you will receive a road tax rebate on any outstanding VED (Vehicle Excise Duty) showing that you have paid the road tax for that year or not. Because as per the current VED system, the road tax can’t be transferred with the vehicle’s ownership. When have you completed all these steps, the DVLA says you can destroy the current V5C because they will send a fresh copy to the new owner.

Recommended for you: Find Owner of a Vehicle by License Plate Number

Is it necessary to transfer a personalized number plate?

No, it’s not required to transfer your personalized number plate if you don’t want to. However, if you wish to share the customized number plate, the buyer must take the following documents to Transport and Motoring Customer Service Centre:

  • A completed personalized number plate transfer application signed by the seller and the buyer.
  • Identity evidence
  • Transfer fee receipt, unless an exemption applies.


When buying a used vehicle, you must know that you are dealing with the legal owner of the car, not the registered keeper. Since the car’s V5C document has a registered keeper’s name, you can find the lawful owner by ordering a vehicle history check from car analytics.

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