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Car Clinic - Selling Your Car

How to handle the paperwork

Congratulations. You’ve found a buyer for your car, agreed a price and shook hands on the deal. Now, to ensure that transfer of ownership happens as it should you need to handle the paperwork just right.

First there’s payment. We’ll deal with this in more detail in the next guide in this series. Occasionally, the buyer will want to pay in full there and then, before driving off in their newly bought car.


Taking a deposit

More usually, he or she will want to leave a deposit to secure the sale, intending to return later, pay in full and take the car.

How much deposit you’ll accept is up to you but we reckon that £100 is enough on a vehicle selling for up to £3000, rising to £500 for one costing £5000 or more.

Payment of this in cash is usual. If you accept a cheque, remember that this can take up to 2 weeks to bank. Although the money may show as in your account as quickly as three days after it is paid in, the cheque may later ‘bounce’.

Write a receipt, detailing who paid, who received and what for (list the car’s make, model and reg no). Show how much remains owing. Agree when and where you’ll complete the transaction and add this information.



Sign on the dotted…

Sign the paper at the bottom and ask the buyer to do likewise. Make a copy, keep it and give the original to the buyer. This can be hand-written or printed: it makes no difference.

This done, a binding contract exists between buyer and seller. It doesn’t compel either party to complete the deal. But if either withdraws, the other is due compensation – enough to put them back as they were before entering such an agreement.

In theory, should you decide not to sell, your buyer can sue for travel expenses and lost time. They could even push for something lawyers call ‘loss of bargain’ if they can prove that they missed out on other cars that were as good (or better). Though this rarely happens, we’d say it is bad news to halt a sale unless there really is a crisis.

If the buyer pulls out, you are entitled to keep part, or all, of the deposit. Don’t be greedy, though. Hold on only to what you believe to be fair.

Before your buyer returns for the car, gather together all the car’s papers, including the handbook, service records and MoT certificate (if it needs one: any vehicle that’s three or older will). Put them to one side, ready to give to the new owner.

Check that you have the vehicle’s registration document, the V5C and read the section on change of ownership carefully. You’ll find more on the Govt’s web site, in the section that covers car ownership.

transfering ownership

Transferring ownership

Don’t fill any of it in until the sale is complete and payment for the car is safely in your bank account. But equally, don’t forget it on sale day. You remain liable for the car until it is registered by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) as belonging to its next registered keeper.

At worst, this means you could see you paying the new owner’s parking fines and bus lane penalties.

If you have a personalised registration that you intend to keep, you’ll need to arrange this before sale. For a fee of £105, you can ‘retain’ the plate until you decide to put it on to vehicle – again, go to the government web site for more info.

Once the money to buy the car is safely transferred to you, write the new owner a receipt for it.

With the registration document, you then complete the small, ‘new owner’ section (called the V5C/2 and give it to the buyer.

Then each of you must fill in part of section 8 of the form. If the buyer is a car dealer the process and the parts of the form to complete are different.

That done, you should send the form off quickly to the DVLA. They will send you a letter, within four weeks, confirming that you are no longer responsible for the vehicle. Note the date when such a letter is due. If it doesn’t arrive call the DVLA on 0300 790 6801. The line is open 8am-7pm Mon-Fri and 8am-2pm on Saturday, but closed Sundays and public holidays.

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