What Paperwork Do You Need When Selling a Car?

Selling a car is more than just letting someone take it for a spin and deciding a price. As with most negotiations, paperwork makes all of the difference, and making sure you have the right papers for your car can be what secures you a better deal or not. If you’re not sure what you need for your sale, then let us talk you through all the basics.

Close up of a man's hands as he writes on a document

Why is paperwork necessary for selling a car

If you go into a sale without paperwork, while you can still sell the car, it makes it a much trickier process. Selling isn’t a fast process at the best of times, and going into the sale without the necessary paperwork can make it take even longer, scaring off potential buyers and even lowering the value of your car altogether.

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What paperwork is needed to sell a car & why? 

V5C Logbook

Your Vehicle Registration Document, or V5C, is the single most important document you can have when selling a car. The log book is used to transfer ownership to the buyer, whether selling privately or to a dealer. 

Transfer of ownership can either be done there and then in person, filling out the relevant section of the V5C and then sending it off to the DVLA, or alternatively it can be done online via the DVLA’s website. Either should be done as soon as possible, as if the new owner racks up any driving penalties, these will be sent to you, as, as far as the DVLA are concerned, you are still the registered keeper.

Service History

Your car’s service book, which can usually be found alongside the owner’s manual, is very useful when selling a car. Every time your car is serviced whoever carries the service out should stamp your service book, allowing you to show a detailed history of what types of services have been carried out and when, and will also allow the buyer to see the car’s mileage history, too.

MOT Certificate History

The annual MOT health check for a car is how you know cars on the road are roadworthy, and all cars over the age of three (with some exceptions) must have one in order to be legally allowed on the roads. Cars without a valid MOT are likely to be very difficult to sell, and providing an MOT history shows how the car has been treated over the years and what, if any, repairs have been needed. While all of this can now be accessed online via the website’s MOT history checker, having hard copies is an easy and quick way to give potential buyers peace of mind.


Any work that has been done on the car, even outside of MOTs, is worth keeping the receipt for. Much like having the MOT history to hand, being able to provide a list of works carried out on the car over its lifetime gives prospective buyers a brief overview of how the car has been treated and looked after over the years.


With many manufacturers now offering five, or even seven, year warranties, there is a chance that there will still be time left on your car’s warranty when you come round to selling the car on. If this is the case then you should let the warranty provider know that you have sold the car, and let the buyer know how much of the warranty is remaining (if transferable). Make sure you give them all documentation related to the warranty. 

What if you’re missing some paperwork?

If you’re missing any of the above, then the value of your car on the used car market could be affected. While the V5C is the only document that needs to be there for DVLA purposes, each of the documents listed above will give prospective buyers a better idea of what they’re looking at and as a result is likely to get you a better offer for your car – or at least one that is more accurate to what you are selling.

If you’re having difficulty selling your car because you’ve not got all the paperwork you were needing, or if you’re looking to scrap your car and still aren’t sure what paperwork you need, then the team at Scrap Car Comparison has all the answers you’ll need. Visit our online quote generator today and see just how much you could get for your car as scrap or salvage, and you could be walking away with a nicer looking bank balance before you know it.

For more hints and tips on car ownership, maintenance and general motoring knowledge, visit our Car Care hub, guiding you through from your first lesson to your final sale.

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