How to Check if a V5C Logbook is Original?
This single document is worth its weight in gold and is arguably as important as your record of service history, mileage, or any other feature of your car. Equally, when buying a second-hand car, it is vital that you have at your disposal as much information as possible, to help you make the best possible decision that won’t leave a nasty taste in your mouth for years to come.
What is it?
The V5C logbook, otherwise known as V5C vehicle registration certificate, or even just V5 form, is a unique red coloured document produced by the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency), which holds vital information pertaining to the owner of a vehicle in the UK. Typically, it will contain details like the owner’s address, attributes of the vehicle in question, previous owner, date of first registration, tax class, a specific model of vehicle, size of the engine, the colour of vehicle, and Frame number/Chassis/VIN. When ownership of a vehicle changes or something occurs, eg. scrappage, write-off or customisation, a new bespoke V5C is produced and the old one rendered null and void.
Why is it important?
Without this documentation you are not permitted by law to sell your vehicle. It is vital that you receive this document when buying a vehicle anywhere in the UK. It is therefore absolutely vital that you get it and have it in your possession.
How can I spot a fake?
A dead giveaway is the special ‘DVL’ watermark, which is to be found in the corner (top left) and other strategic places on your authentic document. In order to see exactly what this looks like, assuming you haven’t owned a vehicle before, there are plenty of images online which can show rather than tell.
Red or blue?
There is also the other matter or whether the blue or the red one is the real deal. Until fairly recently (2012), the V5C form was a four-page blue colour, only switching to red after that. The switch was due to 130,000 blank certificates being stolen back in 2006, again proving how careful you need to be when purchasing a second-hand vehicle. You need to be on your guard, more specifically, against any blue V5C form with a serial number of BG8229501 to BG9999030, or BI2305501 to BI2800000 are fake. These are fake and should be avoided like the plague or Covid-19!
If in doubt
Cheats and forgers may well be able to fake the paper quality and A3 folded look of an original V5C form; however, if in doubt the ‘DVL’ watermark (make sure it says ‘DVL’ and not ‘DVLA’) will be pretty hard to replicate; remember that it should occur not just once but in multiple locations across the document.
A further course of action can be for you to compare your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) or chassis number with your logbook. This will be found at the base of your front windscreen in the corner, printed on a metal strip. It can also be found under the driver’s side carpet, or even just under the bonnet.
Overall, don’t panic. There are plenty of things you can do to safeguard yourself against a fake V5C logbook.