Security How to stay safe on Auto Trader: Selling your vehicle Close

Advice

What paperwork do I need when buying a used car?

There's only a little paperwork to worry about when buying a used car, but it is vital.

Words by: First published: 2nd July 2015
The good news is you don’t need to supply much paperwork when buying a used car, but it’s all vital.

Make sure you have your driver’s licence, to prove both that you can drive the car, and that you are who you say you are.

You’ll also need to supply details of a valid insurance policy that will allow you to drive the car.

Remember, too, because road tax is not transferable from one owner to the next, before you can drive away, you’ll need to tax the car, which you can do online, or using the DVLA’s automated phone service that runs 24 hours a day.

You’ll also need reference numbers from the car’s registration document – the V5C, as it’s officially known – to do this, so make sure the owner hands this over, along with a receipt for the car and any paperwork that goes with the car. Not only will the V5C prove you’re the registered keeper of the vehicle, these documents will come in handy if there is any problem or dispute further down the line.
What information should I ask for from the person I'm buying the car from?
If you’re buying from a private seller and this is different from the person who’s trying to sell the car, you should start asking questions. Likewise, if any of the details on the V5C 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 to see the car’s service history, records of any work done and, if appropriate, its MOT certificates. Not only will this reassure you 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 the seller has received the agreed amount of money for the car.
Related topics:
Buying a used car