How to change the ownership of a car

When it comes to passing the torch of car ownership to someone else, it’s not as simple as handing over the keys and bidding farewell. The legal aspect of transferring ownership requires proper documentation and notification to the DVLA.

So whether you’re selling your car or gifting it to a family member, this guide will walk you through the necessary steps to ensure a seamless transition.

Let’s dive in and navigate the process together, so you can confidently transfer the ownership of your car and embrace the next chapter of your automotive adventure.

Where do I start?!

Unlike most other possessions, the ownership of a car has to be registered by law.

So if you are selling your car to someone else, the DVLA need to update the record of ownership. As the current owner it is your responsibility to tell the DVLA that someone else now owns the car. There is an official way of doing this, which we’ll explain in this guide.

The main way that cars change ownership in the UK is via the process of selling it.

However there are cases where no money changes hands, and the same rules still apply.

So whether you’re selling your car to someone you’ve never met, or giving the car to a member of your family you’ll have to record the transfer of ownership to the DVLA. To make sure that you do this seamlessly, there are a few steps to take.

Are you the owner, keeper or both?

The first thing you need to do is: ascertain whether you are the owner of the vehicle.

This may sound obvious, but don’t just assume: you may in fact just be the keeper.

In many cases the owner and keeper are the same person, but sometimes there are situations where one person or business can own a car, and someone else can be the registered keeper. A good example of this is if you lease your vehicle: you are the keeper, but the lease company will be the owner.

Generally, the keeper of a car is person who’s name is on the V5C, also known as the registration document or simply as the logbook.

The keeper named on the V5C is the person who is legally responsible for the vehicle and ultimately the person who will be pursued for motoring infringements such as getting caught speeding or receiving a parking fine. Even if the keeper wasn’t driving the car at the time, they are the ones solely responsible for paying any fines.

The person named on the V5C is also the legal keeper of the car regardless of who may have paid for the car. And it’s ultimately the keeper’s responsibility to make sure that they tax and insure the car, as well as make sure to keep it in a roadworthy condition.

V5C sections


How do I change the details on the logbook?

The “logbook” is how us folk in the UK commonly refer to the registration document, which is officially known as the V5C.

The V5C is issued by the DVLA when the car is first registered – either when it is brand new or when it is imported to the UK.

Every time the owner of a vehicle changes, the V5C must be sent back to the DVLA so that they can update their records. Each time the owner changes, the DVLA will print a new V5C that supersedes the previous one, and they will then send this to the new owner of the car.

When changing the ownership of a car, the current keeper’s details are already on the V5C form.

There is a section for providing the details of the new keeper of the car (section 2). As well as the name and address of the new keeper you are encouraged to provide the current mileage of the vehicle. Why? So to make it more difficult for someone to commit fraud in the future, although this is not mandatory.

How to change the ownership of a car

Who fills in the logbook?

Legally, it’s the person who is currently named as the keeper on the V5C who is responsible for the car and therefore responsible for notifying the DVLA of the change of ownership. So it’s the current keeper who needs to fill in section 6 of the V5C.

It’s important that you do this, otherwise you will still be legally responsible for the vehicle in the future…! Even if you don’t legally own it. Yes, really.

So if the new owner breaks any motoring laws – or worse – you could find yourself responsible if you haven’t made surre to provide the DVLA with the new owner’s details.

Changing the ownership of a car online

As technology evolves things get easier and changing the ownership of a car is no exception. You no longer need to fill in details on the physical V5C document anymore. Changing the ownership online is both quicker and easier.

All you need to do is fill in a short form on the DVLA website. This form tells them that you have sold, transferred or bought a vehicle. Just like when you fill the logbook in manually, you’ll need the new keeper’s details. You’ll also need the 11-digit reference number that is printed on the front of the V5C.

When you’ve completed this form, you’ll get a confirmation email from the DVLA. The DVLA will also send this confirmation cto the new owner if you have provided them their email address. A brand new V5C document will also be sent to the new keeper. Typically, this takes around five working days, but it can be longer during busy periods.

Selling your car to a dealer or dismantler

Changing the ownership of a car to a dealer or dismantler

The number of previous owners a vehicle has had is included within the V5C registration document.

The only exception to this is when you sell a car to a dealer or scrap yard. Note that dealers only own the car until they sell it , so as to avoid inflating the number of previous keepers. So you’ll need to fill in section 9 of the form instead of section 6. You can then take section 9 off of the V5C and send it to the DVLA. The rest of the V5C is then given to the dealer. Exactly the same process is used whether you sell to a dealer or to a scrapyard.

Despite being an important process, changing the ownership of a car is pretty paintless. This is largely thanks to the DVLA taking steps to make the process as clear and concise as possible.

Thinking of selling your car?

If you want to sell your car but can’t be bothered with the hassle of timewasters and tyre kickers, then compare prices here at Car Monkey – we compare vehicle valautions from all the leading car buyers, including Webuyanycar, Cazoo, Carwow and Motorway. So you only have to visit one website to get the best price for your car.

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Was this article helpful?

Can I transfer car ownership without updating the DVLA?

No, it is essential to inform the DVLA when transferring car ownership. As the current owner, it is your responsibility to notify the DVLA of the change and update their records accordingly.

What happens if I don't fill in the logbook correctly?

Failing to fill in the logbook correctly can leave you legally responsible for the vehicle even after selling it. It is crucial to accurately provide the new owner's details in section 6 of the V5C to ensure a proper transfer of ownership.

Can I change car ownership online?

Yes, you can change car ownership online through the DVLA website. By filling out a short form and providing the new owner's details, along with the 11-digit reference number on the V5C, you can complete the process conveniently and receive a confirmation email and a new V5C document. Whoopee!

How we reviewed this article:

Our experts continually monitor motor industry news & research, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.

  • 8th July 2023
    Current Article - By Harry Edwell
  • 10th November 2023
    Checked & Reviewed - By John Mikler
  • 8th July 2023
    Copy Edited - By Harry Edwell
  • 25th February 2024
    Reviewed - By Gary McKrill

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