Change of Vehicle Ownership

eu stars

Step by Step guide for Change of Vehicle Ownership after Buying from a Private Seller or dealer

Buying a used car, whether privately or from a dealer, is a relatively straightforward process. Once you have completed all inspections and carried out a Car History Check, exchanging your cash for keys is quick and simple.

Who is Responsible for Registering the Change of Ownership?

In all cases, whether purchased privately or from a dealer, it is the seller’s responsibility to notify the change of ownership to the Department of Transport. It is in the seller’s interest to notify the change of registration promptly, or they may find themselves responsible for any tolls, fines or offences, which may arise, until such time as the records have been fully updated.

What Documents Do I Need?

As the buyer of a new or used vehicle, the seller will provide you with the Vehicle Registration Certificate (VRC), or in older vehicles, the Vehicle Licencing Certificate (VLC) also commonly known as the Logbook, which is the only document you need. This must be made available at the time of purchase or when you are taking possession of the vehicle. Indeed, the VRC should be made available to you when viewing and inspecting the vehicle so that details such as chassis numbers and the number of previous owners can be verified. If you haven’t already done this, you should do so now, before signing any documents.

What Information Do I Need to Provide?

The VRC is a hard-copy record of the vehicles identity. In it you will find, at a minimum, a detailed description of the car including the make and model, body type, engine capacity, seating capacity and identification marks such as the chassis, engine and registration numbers. It also serves as the change of ownership document. 

Do I Need to Provide Proof of ID?

The buyer is not required to provide any proof of identification, however, where you are purchasing from a dealer, you may be asked for some personal details or identification purely for administration purposes or to validate any warranty provided.

How is the Change of Ownership Effected?

At the point of purchase, you will required to provide your full name, current address, phone number and email address. You will then sign your name in the appropriate section. 

The previous owners details will already be recorded on the document, so the seller will sign and date where appropriate. 

The seller then posts the VRC, to the Department of Transport at the address provided on the document. 

It is always advised to get a copy of the logbook before you drive the vehicle away in case you are stoped by the Guards and you need proof of ownership. This is also useful if the logbook is delayed or lost in the post for any reason.

How Long Does it Take For the Change of Ownership to be Completed?

In the case of purchasing from a registered dealer, the change of ownership may be notified online and become effective immediately. For unregistered dealers or private sellers, the hard-copy document is sent by post and the updated VRC is usually sent to you home address in 5 – 7 working days.

Can I Drive the Car in the Meantime?

Assuming you are insured and the vehicle is taxed and has a valid NCT, you can drive the car immediately as the change of ownership is deemed to be effective from the date stated on the change of ownership form. It is worth taking a photograph of the completed form and keeping it with you when driving until such time as you receive the updated VRC in the post.  This photo will also prove invaluable should there be any tampering with the document (e.g. altering the date of sale) between the time of purchase, and the document having been submitted. 

Is There Anything Else I need to Consider When Buying a Used Car?

As with all used car purchases, due diligence is essential before committing to buy. Make sure to carry out a thorough inspection and verify all of the cars details by purchasing an independent Car History Check before you hand over your cash and take possession of your new car.



Justin Kavanagh
Justin Kavanagh is a recognised leader in automotive intelligence and vehicle data supply to the entire motor industry. He has almost 20 years experience in building systems from the ground up. As the Managing Director of Vehicle Management System, he understands the need and importance of trustworthy and reliable vehicle history and advice to both the trade and the public.
Follow me on LinkedIn

eu stars