How to Check a Vehicle History in the UK

Used vehicle dealers and private sellers can be a source of major bargains, but potential buyers should always be aware that unscrupulous practices in these markets are not uncommon. The U.K. government website Directgov recommends that you check the history of any used vehicle before buying it to see if the car's been stolen, written off or has any outstanding financial obligations against it. In the U.K., the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) offers online and telephone services and private vehicle check companies will also check a vehicle's history for a fee.

Take the Vehicle Registration Mark (number plate), vehicle make and V5C reference number. The V5C is the vehicle's registration certificate, also known as the logbook. The reference number is clearly printed on the front.

Log on to the DVLA services page at

Click the "Vehicle Enquiry" button on the lefthand side of the page.

Fill in the details requested and click "Next."

Contact the DVLA by telephone if you would rather not carry out the check online. The information available is limited however. Call (+44) 906 185 8585 to get date of registration, year of manufacture, engine capacity, details of CO2 emissions and confirmation of colour. Call (+44) 906 185 8585 for the vehicle tax due date.

Contact a private vehicle check service. Directgov has a short list of recommended companies on its website. The company will require the Vehicle Registration Mark, vehicle make and V5C reference number.


Find out where the vehicle’s stamped-in Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) should be so that you can check it against the registration certificate to ensure its authenticity.

Things You'll Need

  • Registration certificate
  • Internet connection
  • Phone
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About the Author

Paul Travers has worked as a freelance journalist since 1990. He has worked primarily for "Kerrang!," the U.K.'s leading rock magazine, but he has also published online content and in print publications worldwide, from "MusikExpress" in Germany to "Smash Hits" in Australia. Travers holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and media studies from the University of Central Lancashire.