The DVLA and Selling Cars Explained header image

The DVLA and Selling Cars Explained

If you own a vehicle in the United Kingdom, you will likely already be familiar with the DVLA. However, when it comes to selling your car, it’s particularly important to have an awareness and understanding of the DVLA and their work, to ensure you handle the process appropriately.

You may be liable for taxes and legal penalties on a car you’ve already sold if you don’t keep your information up to date with the DVLA. If the new owner of your vehicle is caught speeding or driving uninsured, you could be fined up to £1,000 for not supplying current, updated information. Nevertheless, it’s straightforward to let the DVLA know that you’ve sold your car, which we will cover throughout this article.

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What is the DVLA?

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency is the organisation of the UK government responsible for maintaining a database of drivers in Great Britain and a database of vehicles for the entire United Kingdom. Its counterpart for drivers in Northern Ireland is the Driver and Vehicle Agency.

Do I need to tell the DVLA I have sold my car?

You must tell the DVLA when you’ve sold a vehicle and provide them with the appropriate information. If you don’t do this, any vehicle tax refund you’re owed might be affected.

What do I send to the DVLA when I sell my car?

With the buyer, complete Section 2 of the V5C, titled “Selling or transferring my vehicle to a new keeper”. Then, send the completed V5C to the following address:

SA99 1BA.

Complete Section 6 and give this to the buyer to keep. As shown in your V5C, if you sell your vehicle to a trader you must complete the V5C/4 section – obtain the details and signature of the motor trader and post to the same address.

V5C document illustration

How do I inform the DVLA I’ve sold my car?

If you sell your car, you can inform the DVLA of this by sending any and all relevant documents from your V5C. You can also tell the DVLA using their new online service, which updates their database immediately and confirmation is sent via email rather than post. All you need is the 11-digit document reference number from your V5C.

How do I inform the DVLA that I sold my car without a V5?

If you have already sold the car without your V5, you need to inform the DVLA of the sale as soon as possible. Send a signed letter with the vehicle’s registration number, model, make, date of sale and the new keeper’s details to the DVLA.

Selling car privately and the DVLA

As we’ve mentioned above, you can contact the DVLA to let them know you’ve sold your car by completing the relevant section of the V5C logbook for a private sale (Section 2).

Related page: How to sell your car privately

Car illustration

Can I sell my UK car abroad without telling the DVLA?

When you sell a car in the UK, you're required to tell the DVLA. This is to ensure that the vehicle's registration is transferred to the new owner. If you sell your car abroad without telling the DVLA, you could face a fine of up to £1,000.

What happens if you don’t tell the DVLA you’ve sold your car?

There isn’t a direct penalty for failing to tell the DVLA, but it puts you at risk of being held accountable for driving offences committed by the new owner.

Selling a car to a dismantler and the DVLA

If you’re selling or transferring your vehicle to an insurer, trader, or dismantler – or online following a free car valuation – you need to fill section 4. In a reversal of the private procedure, you just send the section 4 from the V5C. The trader gets to keep the rest of the V5C logbook.

Do I get a tax refund from the DVLA once my car is sold?

When you sell your car, you can claim back outstanding road tax when you notify the DVLA. They will send your refund to the address detailed in your V5C.