What Is A Log Book & What Does It Look Like?

A car’s log book is often referred to as a V5C and it’s a document required by the DVLA that tracks the registration and taxation history of a certain car. Every car registered in the UK has a log book and within this article, we discuss everything that you need to know.

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what is a car log book
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Your car’s log book contains all the essential information about your car such as its make, model, engine size, previous owners, VIN/chassis number and so much more. It’s best to think of it as a passport for your car and you only really need it when you require specific data about the car (i.e. VIN number) or when you come to sell or tax your car.

However, it’s important to note that a log book is not proof of ownership of a car. This is because it simply shows who is responsible for registering and taxing the vehicle, which is clearly stated on the log book itself.

Below you can find our answers to some of the frequently asked questions we see regarding car log books.

What Does A Log Book Look Like?

If you haven’t seen your log book for a while, you may want a reminder of what it looks like. As you can see in the image of our log book, it has a distinctive red design and it’s a two-page (double-sided) document.

It’s worth pointing out that the DVLA redesigned the V5C in April 2019 with changes to the front cover as well as the internals of the booklet. The main changes to the front cover included the 11-digit reference number, name and address moving to the top. The date of acquisition also moved below the V5C reference number and there are many other minor design tweaks too.

With regards to other significant changes to the V5C internally, some of the changes included more space for writing information, extra fields for contact details and simplified instructions. In general, all of the changes introduced in April 2019 were made in order to improve the user experience of the document.

It’s important to note that log books may differ in other countries and in the UK, log books currently look like the image shown in this article.

what does a log book look like

Where Is The 11 Digit Reference Number?

The 11-digit reference number on your car’s log book is possibly the most important number you’ll need. Whether you are taxing your car or changing ownership of your car online, this number is what will be required.

With regards to its location on the log book, the 11-digit reference number is located at the top right of the front cover. If you are trying to tax your car and you require a 16-digit reference number, this isn’t located on your V5C. Instead, you can find the required 16-digit reference number in your V11 tax reminder letter.

Why Do You Need It?

There are three reasons why you need a log book and that is to tax your car, transfer ownership (i.e. if you’ve sold it) and find specific information about your car (i.e. data to find out your car’s towing capacity). You can also use it to tell the DVLA that you’ve scrapped your car or made a significant change such as a full respray in a different colour.

When Should You Update It?

The only time you should update your log book is when you’ve made significant changes to your car (as mentioned above) or your personal details have changed (name or address). The recommended method to update your log book is to do it online but you can fill out section 3 of the log book and send it off to the DVLA by post if you would prefer.

How Do I Find My V5C Number Without A Log Book

If you’ve lost your log book, you won’t be able to find your V5C reference number unless you wrote it down somewhere. Therefore, you’ll need to apply for a new log book, which will cost £25 and can be achieved online or by post. If you apply online, it’ll arrive within 5 working days but you can only complete an online application if none of your personal details have changed. Alternatively, if you apply by post or phone, you can expect your log book to arrive within 6 weeks.

How To Fill In A V5C When Selling A Car

If you’ve privately sold your car, you’ll want to ensure you fill in the V5C correctly so that the DVLA is informed and the buyer receives the log book in their name.

In order to fill in a V5C when selling a car, you’ll want to complete section 2 of the log book. It’s relatively straightforward to complete and you’ll require the new keeper’s name, address and also their contact details (optional).

After completing section 2 of the log book (which you’ll keep to send off to the DVLA), you’ll then want to tear of the new keeper slip (section 6) and give it to the buyer. This’ll allow the buyer to tax the car without a V5C and also apply for a new log book if for some reason they don’t receive it.

If you are selling your car to a dealer, you’ll need to complete section 4 of the log book, which you’ll keep and send to the DVLA. The dealer will then keep the log book so that they can sell the car.

how to fill in v5 when selling car

How To Check When A Log Book Was Issued

A new addition that the DVLA has introduced is the ability to find out when a log book was last issued. Although this can be found on your log book (stated on the front cover under “acquired vehicle on”), you can now find it online.

The DVLA’s online car check at GOV.UK enables you to check when a log book was last issued on any car as well as details of a car’s make, model, engine, CO2 emissions, tax and MOT status.


Your car’s log book is a crucial document that you want to keep up to date and in a safe location. However, if you’ve lost your log book or you haven’t received it in the first place, don’t panic because it’s easy to get a replacement. All that’s required is £25 and a few minutes of your time to complete a V62 form that’ll then need to be sent to the DLVA.

Hopefully our guide to what a log book is and what you need it for has answered all of your questions. However, if you need further information, feel free to get in touch and we will try to provide our assistance where possible.

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