Registered keeper: what it means, and how it affects your car insurance

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Getting insured if you're not the registered keeper
Registered keeper vs. main driver
Checking and changing the registered keeper
Dealing with tickets when the driver isn’t the registered keeper

Getting car insurance if you're not the registered keeper

It's usually pretty straightforward to get insured on a car you don't own. But getting insured on a vehicle without being the registered keeper can be a bit trickier.

When you get a car insurance quote, you'll usually be asked "Are you the registered keeper of the vehicle?" and "Are you the owner of the vehicle?"

Different insurers have different approaches when it comes to insuring non-owners and non-registered keepers. Some will insure non-owners but not non-registered-keepers, others will only insure owners.

If you're not the registered keeper or the owner but you do manage to get insured on it, you might find the price goes up a little bit.

The exception is if you're married. Insurers don't tend to care whether you're the registered keeper or the owner, as long as you're married to them.

This doesn't apply if you're buying temporary car insurance. You don't need to be the owner or the registered keeper for that. It's sort of the point.)

The difference between "registered keepers" and "main drivers" on car insurance

Here's where things get a bit more confusing.

Every car insurance policy has a "main driver". This has to be the person who does most of the driving.

To get someone else insured on that car, you have to add them as a "named driver". The main driver has to drive the car more often than the named driver. If they don't, it counts as a type of fraud called "fronting".

But the main driver doesn't necessarily have to be the owner or the registered keeper. This is pretty common for married couples.

If you're married, one of you can own the car and be the registered keeper. But if your spouse drives the car more often than you do, they'll need to be listed as the "main driver".

If the person who does the bulk of the driving changes, you'll need to tell your insurer.

Buying a car through a limited company

If you own a limited company and want to buy a car, you have two options: you can buy the car personally and keep it separate from your company, or you can buy it through your company. In this case the car belongs to your company, but you can be the registered keeper.

You might save money by buying your car through your company. But this isn’t a given, and there’s some pretty complicated tax stuff to think about first.

Whether or not it’s cheaper to own a car personally or through your company depends completely on your personal situation. For example, any potential tax savings you make will depend on specific things like the C02 emissions of your car.

Registered keepers and the V5C document

The car's registered keeper is listed in the car's "registration documents", or V5C. But the V5C doesn't tell you the owner is. That's why it's not proof that you own the car.

If you want to change the registered keeper of the car, you can use the V5C document.

Checking the registered keeper of a car

To find out who the registered keeper of a car is you need to fill out a V888 form and send it to the DVLA. (Unless you’re searching as a company, then it’s a V888/3 form.)

You can only do this if you have a good reason to. Say, if a car bumped into you, and you need to track the registered keeper down to make an insurance claim.

When you fill out the V888 form, you’ll be asked to give some evidence for your ‘good reason’. For example, a photo of your damaged car and the crime reference number for the incident.

If you can do this, there’s a good chance DVLA will give you the registered keeper’s details.

All in all it should take about 5-10 minutes to fill out a V888 form, and you’ll also need some time to gather your evidence. The process will cost you £2.50.

Changing registered keeper

You can also make someone else the registered keeper of a car. You can tell the DVLA your car has a new registered keeper online.

Dealing with tickets when the driver isn’t the registered keeper

If someone is driving your car and they get a parking ticket, it’s up to them to pay it. If they get a speeding ticket, it’s their offence, not yours.

But as the registered keeper of the car, the ticket might be sent to you in the post.

If this happens, you should get in touch with whoever sent the ticket straight away. This might be the council, police or a private company.

You should explain that you weren’t driving when the ticket was given. You should also give them the full name and address of who was. Then the ticket against you should be cancelled.

In some cases, you might receive other letters about the ticket. If you do, the Citizens Advice Bureau should be able to give you some advice.

Does a registered keeper have to be a policy holder?

Technically, the registered keeper of a car doesn’t need to be the insurance policy holder for that car. But some insurers won’t let you be the policy holder unless you’re the registered keeper.

Who is the registered keeper of a lease car?

The registered keeper of a lease car is the finance company that’s leasing it out.

Updated on 6th September 2021