Car registered keeper: A guide

Car registered keeper: A guide

Who’s a car's registered keeper? Is the registered keeper not just the same as the owner? Read on to find out all you could need to know.

What is a car's registered keeper?

The registered keeper is usually the primary user of the vehicle, or the person who’s using it the most often. As you might expect from the phrase itself, this’ll be registered with the DVLA, who’ll keep a record of it.

All cars will have a registration certificate associated with them – the V5C document, or logbook. This certificate will include the registration plate number – that’s attached to the car throughout its life – and the name of the car's registered keeper.

So what does this registered keeper need to do? They’re responsible for making sure the car's registration is up to date and that the car’s properly taxed. And that's about it really.

What is the difference between the registered keeper and the owner?

So, what's the difference between the registered keeper and the person who owns the car? They sound similar after all – generally, it's the owner who’s responsible for registering the vehicle and who takes care of tax, so why don't we just say 'owner'?

Often, the registered keeper and the owner will the same person, but not always. Let's take a look at how this might work.

Scenario A

You graduate from university and land yourself your dream job. As a congratulations, your parents buy you a car. Your mum pays for the car and gives it to you as a gift, but it is up to you to register the vehicle and tax it.

  • You are the registered keeper in this case. As you’re the one who’ll be driving the vehicle around, and you’re the most frequent user. It's also your name that will appear on the V5C document.
  • Your mum is the owner. The car was paid for by her, she has the receipts, and the car’s considered to be her property.

Scenario B

You get a promotion at work, and it includes the use of a company car. You can use the car for as long you’re at the company.

  • Again, you’re the registered keeper in this instance. It's you who’s driving the car most often, and you’ll need to register and tax it.
  • It’s the company that owns the car. You wouldn't try to sell your company car because you know it's not yours to sell.

The DVLA registered keeper check

There might be a time when you want to find out a bit more about a certain vehicle. Like, who is the registered keeper, and who has been the registered keeper in the past?

As the DVLA keeps a record of registered keepers and vehicles across the country, it’s possible to find out. Just like you can check a vehicle's MOT history, you can check its history of registered keepers too. But not anyone can do it – you'll need to a good reason, like:

  • You’ve been involved in an accident
  • You’ve discovered an abandoned vehicle
  • You’ve seen a vehicle parked on private land
  • To issue a parking ticket
  • To issue a trespass charge notice
  • You believe a vehicle was involved in a theft of goods or services
  • You think the vehicle was involved in insurance fraud

If you’ve got one of the above reasons, or similar, you’ll be able to do a DVLA registered keeper check and find out more about who the vehicle’s registered to.

The car's registered keeper and insurance

Does the registered keeper have to insure the car? Not always. It’s possible for the owner to buy the car and gift it to someone, on the understanding that they’ll purchase car insurance. But the registered keeper doesn’t typically have to be the insurance policyholder, or pay the the insurance excess or anything like that. The car needs to be insured, but this insurance doesn't necessarily need to come from the registered keeper.

When getting an insurance an insurance quote, the person buying the policy will often be asked if they’re the registered keeper. Some insurance providers might decide not to offer cover to anyone who’s not designated as the car's registered keeper. This this isn’t true in all cases.

A few final tips...

In summary – owners and registered keepers aren’t the same, and they might be the same person, but not always.

  • The registered keeper’s usually the person who’ll be driving the car most often. The car will be registered to this person and taxed by them, but it might be owned by someone else.
  • The registered keeper information will be included in the V5C document.
  • If you have a good reason to do so, you’ll be able to check on the status of a car's registered keeper by submitting a request to the DVLA.

Urban Jungle is not a financial advisor and information in this article should not be taken as advice or recommendation.