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What documents do I need and which documents should I check when buying a used car?

The paperwork is a crucial part of any car purchase, so make sure you have it all in place

Words by: First published: 15th July 2015
The most important piece of paperwork to see is the V5C registration document, which shows who is the registered keeper of the car you’re looking at. If you’re buying from a private seller and this is different from the person who’s trying to sell the car, then you should start asking questions. Likewise, if any of the details on the form don’t match the car in front of you, ask some more questions. And, make sure you see the original, watermarked documents, not copies.

Ask, too, to see the car’s service history, records of any work done and, if appropriate, its MOT certificates. Not only will this reassure you that the car has been looked after, it will also give you a ready check that its mileage is genuine and that there are no recurring problems. The handbook is another must-see item.

One of the beauties of the modern world is that much of this can be checked online through the DVLA. Here you can check the car’s MOT status and its history.

When the deal has been done, it’s also important to create a receipt and make copies for both the buyer and seller. This should include full details of the car that has just been sold (including its registration number and mileage, as well as basics such as the make and model), and confirmation that the seller has received the agreed amount of money for the car.
Related topics:
Buying a used car