What to do when you buy a used car

Have you just bought a second-hand car? Want to get it on the road ASAP? Learn more about the V5C form and how you can transfer car ownership.

Buying or selling a car

25 February 2022

Just bought a second-hand car? Congratulations, we’re sure you can’t wait to hit the road. However, there are a few things you’ll need to do before you get going. Of course, you’ll need to get car insurance. But there are also a couple of other things you’ll need to tick off before you can get your motor running.

We’ll be covering:

What is a V5C?

The V5C (also known as a log book), is issued by the DVLA when the car is first registered. It’s a red-pink paper document which contains all the information about the car that the DVLA needs to know, including the:

  • Number plate
  • Name and address of the registered owner
  • Unique vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • Engine specification and weight
  • Fuel type
  • Emissions classification

Essentially, the log book is a way for you to find out about everything to do with the car, and its history.

When you buy a used car, you’ll need to use the V5C to transfer ownership of the car, which can be found in section 6 of the form. We’ll go into more detail on that in the next section.

How do I transfer ownership of a used car?

The seller will need to let the DVLA know that they’re transferring ownership of the car. This used to mean filling in paperwork and posting a document off. However, these days it’s much simpler as the seller just completes a form on the DVLA website. They’ll need some details from the buyer (such as name and address) and the 11-digit reference number for a new V5C.

Once the form has been filled out, the buyer and seller will both receive a confirmation email. After that, a new V5C will be sent out to the buyer within five working days.

Can I transfer road tax to a used car I’ve bought?

No, car tax can’t be transferred with the rules changing in 2014. Since then, when a used car is sold to a new owner, the seller will receive a refund from the DVLA for any full months of car tax remaining on the car. The new owner of the car will have to pay for their own car tax before they can drive it.

Luckily, it’s pretty easy to get your car tax sorted through the DVLA website or at the Post Office, and it only takes a few minutes to pay it. You’ll need to make sure you do this before you drive the car away, as car tax is a legal requirement.

Time to get on the road

Hopefully, you should now feel clued up on what to do when you buy or sell a used car. Just remember to transfer ownership and pay for any car tax, and you should be good to go – as long as you’ve got yourself car insurance. If you’re after a policy, why not take a look at AXA car insurance?