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What’s the difference between a car’s owner and registered keeper?

10th Dec, 2019

If you’ve already started to look for the best places to scrap your car, you may well have already seen that the terms ‘car owner’ and ‘registered keeper’ are often used interchangeably. This can be confusing, as they’re not always necessarily the same thing. Essentially, a car’s registered keeper is the main driver, and the person responsible for taxing the vehicle, insuring it and ensuring it has a proper MOT. On the other hand, a car’s owner is just that – the person who has paid for it, or was given it as a gift. Most of the time, the car’s owner and its registered keeper will be the same person – but not always!

A company car is a good example; the registered keeper will be the employee who drives it to and from work, and makes sure that it’s properly maintained and paid for. However, the car will actually be owned by the business. The car owner and the registered keeper both have slightly different responsibilities towards the vehicle, so we’ve explored them in more detail below.

The car’s registered keeper

As we touched on above, the car’s registered keeper is basically the main driver. They are responsible for making sure that it’s taxed, insured, in possession of a valid MOT, and basically roadworthy. As the term suggests, the registered keeper will also be the person who’s named on the registration document. This is part of the reason why the V5 is not regarded as proof of ownership, something you may have already guessed from the words “this document is not proof of ownership” in massive bold capital letters on the front.


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Crucially, the registered keeper is also the first point of contact for the police or DVLA about any queries or offences relating to the use of the car. That includes things like parking tickets, speeding, or involvement in collisions. The registered keeper is also liable for giving third parties permission to drive the vehicle without first checking if they have appropriate insurance and a full driving licence. (Teenagers can sometimes be susceptible to this sort of behaviour!)

Registered keeper responsibilities – in brief:

  • Making sure that the car is taxed
  • Making sure that the car has a valid MOT
  • Making sure that the car remains safe and roadworthy
  • Being the first point of contact with regard to any speeding tickets, parking fines, traffic offences, or police enquiries

The car’s owner

If you’re the car owner but you’re not the registered keeper, it’s never a bad idea to keep a copy of the original invoice or receipt from when you originally bought the vehicle, or when you were given it as a gift. Ideally, you’ll want to have a record of:

  • The date it came into your possession
  • The amount you paid for it
  • The method of payment
  • Who it was sold by
  • Who it was sold to
  • The make, model and registration number

If you’re the owner but not the registered keeper (for example if you’re a parent, or a small business owner), then you will need to make sure the registration documents reflect that fact. While you may not be held responsible for certain offences like speeding, as the car’s owner you could be held responsible for certain other offences. For example, if you give someone permission to use the car when you know full well that it’s not insured or safely roadworthy, that can get you into serious trouble. In fact, this is why most insurance policies will insist that the car’s registered keeper is the same person as the owner, and may incur higher premiums if that’s not the case.

Car owner responsibilities – in brief:

  • Making sure that anyone you’re permitting to drive it is fit, competent, and holds all the relevant qualifications (e.g. an appropriate driving licence as a bare minimum)
  • Making sure that every driver is fully insured, so that the car is insured whoever is behind the wheel
  • Making sure that any changes to your circumstances, or those of the registered keeper, are reflected on the paperwork for the car
  • Ensuring you retain a receipt from the original sale of the car, with a full record of the details of the vehicle

How to deal with parking or speeding tickets when the driver is not the registered keeper

As an owner or registered keeper, if you lend your car to someone else and they get issued with a speeding or parking ticket, then it’s their offence and not yours. However, because the paperwork is in your name, the authority or organisation issuing the ticket is very likely to initially direct their communications to you.

As with so many of these types of problems, the quicker you move to deal with these sorts of problems, the easier they’ll be to solve. The first step is to get in touch with whoever sent the ticket; that might be the police, the local council, or a private organisation such as a debt collecting agency. It’s best to do this by letter or email if you can, as it can be really helpful to have a record of all communications between you.

All you’ll need to do from here is let them know that you weren’t the driver, and provide the name and address of the person who was. If you have any additional evidence, then it’s always helpful to include this too.

Obviously, it might not go quite that smoothly (sometimes these things don’t), so you might find it worth consulting the Citizen’s Advice Bureau if you’re encountering difficulty getting the fine transferred or cancelled.

How do I find out who’s the registered keeper?

If your name is on the paperwork for the car, but you’re not quite sure whether you’re technically the registered keeper, happily there’s an easy way to find out – just consult the V5C, vehicle registration document or vehicle logbook (three different names, same bit of paper). The registered keeper will be clearly identified by name near the top, as we’ve touched on above.

If you’re trying to find out the registered keeper of another car on the other hand, the process is a lot trickier. What’s more, you’ll only be able to find out in quite specific sets of circumstances – such as if you’ve been the victim of a hit and run.

Getting started is relatively simple – you’ll need to fill out a V888 form on the DVLA website. If you’re searching on behalf of a company (such as your employer), you’ll need to fill out a V888/3 form. It only takes about five to ten minutes to fill out, and will cost £2.50.

During the process, you’ll be asked to provide details of the reason for your request. If these reasons are deemed to be too trivial or intrusive, your request will be denied. To minimise the chances of this, provide as much evidence as you can along with your request. So if your car has been hit for example, make sure to provide any images that you might have of the incident, even if it’s only the aftermath (such as the damage to your car). You can also provide a crime reference number for the incident, if you have one.

How do I change the registered keeper?

It’s quite simple – all you need to do is tell the DVLA. You can do this in writing or over the phone, but the easiest way to do it is via the form on its website, letting them know that you’ve sold, transferred or bought a vehicle.

And when the time comes to scrap your car, here at Scrap Car Network we don’t necessarily need both of you to be present (unless, as we’ve covered, you are indeed the same person). Instead, we only need the V5C so that we can check your identity as the registered keeper of the vehicle. Lost your V5C? No problem – it’s actually quite a common issue. We can even scrap your car without it, as long as you can provide some other form of definitive proof that you’re the registered keeper.

The entire process kicks off with a single scrap car quote – which you can get right here on our site! Just enter your car reg and postcode into the fields above, and we’ll give you your scrap car quote. The entire process takes less than ten seconds. Curious to see how much your car is worth?

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