The UK Rules
Drivers Legal Obligations before Driving

Drivers and Riders Legal Obligations

The list of drivers legal obligations includes having valid and current documents in place. Find out what the law says you must do before you drive a car or ride a motorcycle on the roads.

LAW GUIDE FOR DRIVERS: This section explains the legal obligations of all drivers and riders in the United Kingdom.

What are the duties and responsibilities of drivers and registered keepers of vehicles?

Legalities include getting a valid driving licence and registering your vehicle with DVLA. The law states you must also inform DVLA when there are any changes in your personal or vehicle details.

As a rule you will also need to get vehicle insurance cover, a current MOT, and road tax.

Note: Car drivers and motorcycle riders must have the legal obligations in place before driving on roads.

Legal Obligations Before Driving or Riding

All vehicle drivers and motorcycle riders must:

  1. Meet the legal age restrictions for driving or riding.
  2. Meet the legal rules on eyesight regulations.
  3. Hold the correct driving licence for the vehicle or motor bike.

Legal Obligations of a Learner Driver

All learner drivers must:

  1. Have direct supervision by a qualified driver in a car (exception if riding a motorcycle, moped, or motor tricycle).
  2. Display red L plates on the front and rear of the vehicle. The letter L stands for learner driver (use D plates in Wales).

Legal Requirements for Vehicles

Drivers legal obligations mean the vehicle must:

  1. Be registered with DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency).
  2. Have and display vehicle road tax which must also be up to date.
  3. Hold a current MOT certificate (where required).
  4. Have proper roadworthiness for the roads in the United Kingdom (check your vehicle is safe to drive).

Note: You must get a minimum of third party insurance covering the use of your vehicle on public roads.

Reporting Changes in Personal Information or Vehicle Details

All drivers and riders must inform DVLA if you:

Legal Obligations for Driving Large Vehicles or Buses

Higher and stricter medical and eyesight standards apply for drivers of larger vehicles. You must also inform DVLA if you have acquired any driving convictions.

Inform DVLA if you have any other convictions when applying for a passenger-carrying vehicle (PCV) licence.

Producing Your Driving Documents to Police

If a police officer asks to see your driving documentation, you must be able to show or produce:

  1. Your valid driving licence.
  2. A valid and appropriate insurance certificate.
  3. A valid MOT certificate (if required for your vehicle).

Note: What happens if you do not have the documents with you when the police stopped you while driving? In this case they may ask you to produce valid documentation at a police station within 7 days.

What to Do when Selling a Vehicle

You will have certain responsibilities and obligations to fulfill if you sell your vehicle. One of them is giving the correct information to the buyer. Another will be submitting the right information to the DVLA.

Before Selling a Vehicle

You should apply to update the vehicle log book (V5C) before you make the sale. So, you may need to:

Note: Having incorrect details means you will not be able to cancel your vehicle tax and get a refund for any full months that are remaining.

Protecting the Vehicle Log Book

It is normal practice to show the log book to any potential buyers. Doing so allows them to check that the details match the vehicle. But, you should never share:

  • Copies or pictures of the log book.
  • The log book document reference number.

A scammer could use this information to acquire a fraudulent copy of the log book. So, it increases the risk of the vehicle being stolen (or cloned).

Important: You may need to take a private number off a vehicle with a private (personalised) registration number if you want to keep it.

After Selling a Vehicle

When you sell your vehicle, the country that the buyer is taking it to or registering it in determines what you need to do with the log book.

Vehicles Staying in United Kingdom

If it will stay in the UK after it is sold, the seller should give the green 'new keeper' slip section of the log book to the buyer.

You must always tell DVLA you've sold, transferred, or bought a vehicle. So, you need to notify them of the full name and address of the buyer. Failing to do so may affect a claim for any vehicle tax refund.

Vehicles Taken or Registered Abroad

If the buyer will be taking the vehicle overseas of United Kingdom, and registering it abroad, the seller should:

  1. Fill in the 'permanent export' section of the V5C (vehicle log book).
  2. Send it to the DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1BD and include a letter telling them the buyer's name and address.
  3. Give the rest of the log book to the buyer so they can register the vehicle in the relevant country.

Note: As a rule, the seller will get any refund of vehicle tax owing within six (6) weeks. The DVLA would calculate the value of a refund from the date they receive the 'permanent export' section.


Drivers Legal Obligations Before You Drive or Ride in the United Kingdom

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