How to register a vehicle

Once you have bought a car, you need to register it with the DVLA straightaway. Read on to learn how car registration works, how to register your car and what documents you need for the registration.

Rebecca Goodman Published on 07 September 2021.
How to register a vehicle

A car’s registration number is found on its number plates and is the DVLA’s way of identifying vehicles.

Cars and other vehicles need to be registered, and if you are buying a new car you may have to register it yourself.

Here, we look at everything you need to know about car registration.

What is a car registration?

Car registration is the process of registering a vehicle with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

How you register a car will depend on whether it is brand new or used. It is likely that your new car has already been registered by the dealer – you can confirm this by checking your new number plate on the DVLA database.

The DVLA advises that you should not buy a vehicle without a V5C registration certificate. However, in the unlikely event that your car is not registered, you will need to complete a V62 registration application and pay a fee of £25.

» MORE: Things to think about when buying a used car

How does car registration work?

If you have bought, built, rebuilt, altered or imported a car, you need to register it with the DVLA straightaway.

The DVLA may inspect the car to check it exists, is a complete vehicle and that the log book of the car, or the V5C registration certificate, is in your name. The DVLA may also carry out a fee-free inspection of your vehicle if you have made changes to it.

How do I register a car?

Car dealers usually register brand-new cars and give you the V5C log book. If this does not happen, you will need to register it yourself.

To do this, you will need to fill out a V55/4 form for a new car or a V55/5 form for a used car. Both of these can be downloaded from the Gov.uk website, printed and sent to the DVLA.

If it’s a used car, how you register it will depend on whether it already has a log book.

If it has a log book, the seller can register this to you – either online via the DVLA website or by post. They will also need to complete the green ‘new keeper’ slip, give this to you and destroy their copy of the log book.

However, if there is no log book you will need to register the car in your name, using a V62 form, and pay a £25 fee.

How can I check a car registration?

You can check to see if a car is registered on the Vehicle Enquiry Service, at the Gov.uk website.

When you enter the car’s number plate, the site will provide all the existing details about the car’s registration, including information about the car itself, such as the date of manufacture, MOT status and tax status.

What documents do I need?

When you apply for car registration, you will also need to send proof of your identity.

If you have a photocard driving licence, you can include a photocopy of this with your application.

If you do not have a photocard driving licence, you can send another form of identification from the following list:

  • A current UK paper driving licence
  • Passport
  • Marriage certificate
  • Decree nisi or absolute
  • Birth certificate

You will also need to send one of the following documents to prove your address:

What is a vehicle identification number (VIN)?

All cars have a vehicle identification number, or VIN, as it is also known. You may also hear it referred to as the chassis number.

The VIN is a unique 17-digit number that identifies a car. The first part of the VIN refers to the country where it was made and the second identifies the car.

Every car has its own VIN, which will be printed in the car. The VIN will also be found in the car’s log book.

The VIN is first assigned to a car when it comes off the production line and would need to be changed only in rare circumstances.

How do I find my VIN?

The VIN can usually be found in a few different places in your car. These can include under the bonnet, on the dashboard and on the driver’s door.

You can also check a car’s VIN via a free online database, such as this one from the RAC. This should alert you to anything dubious about the car. It is an easy way to make sure you are buying the correct car, and that no one is trying to scam you.

» MORE: How to spot car scams

Image source: Getty Images

About the author:

Rebecca Goodman is a freelance journalist who has spent the past 10 years working across personal finance publications. Regularly writing for The Guardian, The Sun, The Telegraph, and The Independent. Read more

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