Can I sell my car without a V5C log book?

Image of the vehicle V5C log book document, with a set of car keys on top.

So you're looking to sell your car but there’s a stumbling block: The V5C is nowhere to be found. What should you do?

When it comes to buying or selling a car, one of the most important parts of the transaction is the log book.

This document, officially called the V5C registration certificate, is issued by the DVLA to the person responsible for the vehicle.

It’s this person’s duty to ensure the car is registered, taxed and insured. They're liable for it until the DVLA is told that the car has been sold or scrapped.

So what happens if you lose yours? Can you even sell the car? To ease any confusion, here's what you need to do.

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What does the V5C contain?

The log book provides detailed information about the vehicle, including its registration plate, make, the model, colour and engine size, as well as details of previous owners. 

The four pages contain various perforated sections that have to be detached and sent away in different circumstances.

For example, there's one box for selling your vehicle to a trader, insurer or dismantler, as well as one for notification of a permanent export.

But the most commonly used section is the new keeper’s details. This is filled in when you’re selling the car and handing over responsibility for it to someone else.

The V5C, therefore, is very important. The best advice is to keep it in a safe place, along with all the other useful documentation, such as insurance and MOT certificates, and service records.

Can you sell your car without the V5C?

The good news is that it’s not actually illegal to sell a car without it. The problem, however, is that it could deter potential buyers if you don't have it.

In fact, the DVLA recommends you don’t buy a car without this document and there are plenty of good reasons why this makes sense.

For example, the car may be stolen. Although the V5C isn’t actually proof of ownership, the absence of this document is likely to raise a few eyebrows.

Also, if you’re not willing to wait for a replacement to arrive – and it can be with you in a matter of days – it suggests you're in a hurry to sell as if you have something to hide.

There's also the concern that you’ve taken out a log book loan. This is a way of borrowing money based on the value of your car as collateral.

Most importantly, however, is not being able to tax the vehicle immediately as you’re no longer allowed to pass on unused months of road tax as part of the sale.

What if you’ve lost your log book?

The good news is you can get a replacement if your V5C is lost, stolen, damaged or destroyed – or you didn’t get one when you bought the car.

If you're the registered keeper then this can be sorted out over the phone – as long as your name, address or vehicle details haven’t changed.

You'll need to ring the DVLA on 0300 790 6802. It's open Monday to Friday, 8am to 7pm, and then 8am to 2pm on Saturday.

Have your debit or credit card to hand when you make the call as you’ll need to pay £25 for the new V5C to be sent out. It can take up to five days for the replacement to arrive.

You can also apply by post. You'll need to fill in the application for a new log book, called a V62.

You'll need to fill in the reg plate of the car, its make, model and colour, as well as the keeper’s details , current mileage, and explanation as to why you don’t have the V5C.

You can then send the completed document – along with a cheque or postal order for £25 made payable to DVLA Swansea - to DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1DD.

It can take up to six weeks to get a replacement log book through the post so it’s best not to leave it too late before you put it up for sale!

What if you didn’t get a log book in the first place?

If you didn’t get a log book when you bought the car then you also need to complete the V62 form that you can download from the DVLA website.

You then send it to DVLA with the green ‘new keeper’ slip you were given when you bought the vehicle – and the good news is you won’t have to pay a fee.

But if you don't have the new keeper slip then you'll have to pay £25 and explain on the form why you're making the application.

Protect your log book

Potential buyers will want to see proof that you have a log book. However, it’s vitally important that you take steps to protect yourself before they've actually bought the car.

Make sure you don’t share the log book document reference number, provide any photographs of it or hand over photocopies.

It's possible for someone to use such information to get a fraudulent copy of your log book, which may put your vehicle at a high risk of being cloned or stolen.

What to do with your log book when selling your car

What you do with your log book depends on where the buyer is taking or registering the vehicle.

If it’s staying in the UK then give them the green ‘new keeper’ slip from the log book. You then tell the DVLA you’ve sold the vehicle and give them the full name and address of the buyer.

Failure to do this can cost you as any vehicle tax refund you’re owed might be affected so make sure you get this sorted straight away.

If the car is going abroad and being registered there, you’ll need to fill in the permanent export section of the log book. 

This is then sent to the DVLA – including the buyer’s name and address. The log book itself should be given to the buyer as they’ll need it to register the vehicle in its final destination.