The important documents you need owning a car

Owning your first car is a great feeling. Driving it is even better. The paperwork that goes with it? Not so much fun, but the important documents you need owning a car will have to be kept safe and up to date.

Driving licence

Okay, this one relates to you rather than your car, but there’s no denying a driving licence is important. The photocard licence needs to be renewed every 10 years, and will be valid until you are 70. After this it will need to be renewed every three years.

You should also update your licence if you move house. Don’t forget to do this, as you could be stung with a £1000 fine if you forget!


The V5C is sometimes called the log book. This records the registered keeper of the car, and their address. In most cases the registered keeper is also the owner. However, if a car is on finance then it partly belongs to the finance company. Pedantic but true!

You’ll need to update the V5C details if you move house, or if you sell the car. Forget to do this and someone else’s parking tickets could land on your door mat…

If you lose the log book you can get a replacement, but it will cost £25.

Service book

The service book is another of the important documents you need owning a car. This shows when and where the car has been serviced, and what the mileage was when the work was carried out.

You’ll see cars advertised as having a “full service history”. This means the car has been serviced in line with the maker’s servicing requirements and has the documents to prove it. This makes a car worth more as a secondhand buy, so it makes sense to have your car serviced on time, every time.

Most cars have a paper service book, but some now have a digital record of their service history.

Vehicle Excise Duty

Not strictly speaking an important document, and there’s no need to display a tax disc anymore. But although Vehicle Excise Duty (also known as car tax) has gone digital, that doesn’t make it any less important.

You’ll need to keep your car taxed. How much this costs will depend on how old the car is, and how much carbon dioxide it emits.

MOT test certificate

The MOT test is needed once a year for all cars between three and 40 years old. The annual test proves a car is safe and roadworthy. The MOT test certificate is certainly one of the important documents you need when owning a car.

Insurance certificate

You don’t need to keep proof of insurance in your car, but having your insurance details in the glovebox will be handy if you have to exchange details with another driver. Make a note of the insurer’s claims hotline or put it in your mobile so it’s ready if you need it.

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