Selling a car at home in the UK may seem like an easy way to get rid of an old car and make some money, but what is the law about selling a car at home in the UK? In this article, we will discuss the rights and obligations of selling a car at home for both buyer and seller.

The overall advice in this article comes down to the fact that selling a car privately is legal in the UK, but it needs to be roadworthy. If it is not roadworthy you need to fix it before selling or, consider scrapping your car.

Rights and Obligations as a Seller

When selling a car at home in the UK, there are several legal obligations that must be met by the seller. It is important to ensure that all documents relating to both vehicle ownership and its condition are kept up to date. The buyer will also expect to see any MOTs or service history of the car.

What legal documents do you need to provide?

  • The seller must provide the V5C document (also known as the log book) which proves ownership of the vehicle.
  • A valid MOT certificate if applicable.
  • An invoice showing what was paid for the car and what condition it was in when bought, including any parts, replaced or repaired since purchase.

In addition to providing such documentation, sellers are also financially responsible for any discrepancies or faults which may be identified in relation to the vehicle’s condition. The seller is obliged to disclose any information they have regarding a fault that has been identified with the car and must provide evidence of their intention to rectify the issue.

After selling your car

Once you sell your car privately you need to provide a car buyers contract. This acts as a receipt and should be signed by both the seller and the buyer. The car buyers contract will state that the car was “sold as seen, tried and approved without guarantee”.

As previously mentioned, the car needs to be roadworthy to be able to be sold. You can sell an unroadworthy car, but it needs to be clear in the car buyers contract that the buyer is fully aware of the condition. The only legal reason for selling an unroadworthy car is for repairing another car with spare parts, or making the car roadworthy. Again, make sure this is clear in the car buyers contract.

Road tax

One aspect of a private sale that you should know is that, in recent years, UK vehicle tax is not attached to the vehicle, but to the owner. So if you purchase a new car, the seller needs to request a refund and the buyer needs to purchase vehicle tax in their name for their new car. You can purchase vehicle tax through the vehicle tax government portal.

Common FAQs on selling your car at home

Can you get paid in cash?

The law states that sellers must only accept payment through bank transfer or a cheque. Cash is not an accepted form of payment and may be considered illegal in the eyes of the law.

Can you sell a car on the side of a road in the UK?

No, it is illegal to sell a car at the side of the road in the UK. You should always ensure that you are selling your vehicle from private or public property and not on public land.

What will happen if you break the law by selling a car?

If you break the law when selling a car, then you could face fines and/or prosecution. As well as this, it is likely that any money made from the sale of the vehicle would be seized and refunded to the buyer.

Can you test drive a car that is sold privately?

Before allowing a would-be buyer to take your car for a spin, do your due diligence and make sure they have the necessary licence credentials – plus an adequate insurance policy that covers Driving Other Cars (DOC). If you predict more than one person will be test driving, it may even be possible to extend your own coverage temporarily. But no matter what – always accompany any prospective buyers on their drive as leaving them alone in such a situation could lead to theft of said vehicle.

What should you be aware of as a buyer of a private car sale?

As a buyer, it is important to be aware that the seller may not have provided all the necessary documentation for you to legally own the car. It is essential to do your due diligence when buying a car privately, such as having an independent inspection of the vehicle done and ensuring that all paperwork and additional parts are accounted for.

What happens if you buy a faulty car from a private seller?

If you buy a faulty car from a private seller, then the seller has what is known as ‘implied terms’ which guarantee that the car will be of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose. If this term is breached, then you may be entitled to a refund or compensation from the seller.

However, if you are fully aware of the cars condition before the sale then you are not entitled to compensation. In fact, you can even sell your car privately with a failed MOT.


The law regarding selling a car at home in the UK is complex and it is important to be aware of what rights and obligations you have as a seller. It’s best to provide as much information as possible to the buyer, including paperwork and any evidence of maintenance work that has been carried out on the car.

For buyers, it is essential to conduct due diligence and be aware of what legal documents you need to validate the purchase. Finally, if anything is suspected to be wrong with the car, sellers have an obligation to disclose this information and buyers should consider the ‘implied terms’ when making their purchase.

By understanding what the law is when selling a car at home in the UK, buyers and sellers can ensure that they comply with all necessary regulations.If your car is not roadworthy and you are unable to sell it, then you can still make money by scrapping your car. Assington Autos provides a car scrappage service all over the South East of England, you can scrap your car in Colchester, Basildon, Ipswich, Harlow and many more locations!