ACFO, the UK organisation for fleet decision-makers, is working with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) to promote awareness of the new Vehicle Registration Certificate (V5C), which was rolled out from Sunday 15 August. The DVLA is making significant changes to the V5C, which will be fully implemented by the start date of the new '60'-series registration plate for all new vehicles which is being introduced on September 1.
DVLA officials have met with ACFO (Association of Car Fleet Operators) representatives to brief them on the changes so that advance notice to members can be provided to enable them to make any necessary amendments to their fleet vehicle document handling and storage processes.
The DVLA says it has made the change to help protect motorists from vehicle crime after a large number of unissued V5Cs were stolen in 2006. DVLA report that approximately 2,000 of the stolen documents have surfaced so far but believe that as a worst case, up to 400,000 documents could potentially have fallen into criminal hands.
The new certificate, which is red instead or blue, clearly states that it is not proof of ownership of a vehicle, which many buyers mistakenly believe to be the case. The new V5C is clearly marked as proof of keepership only - not legal title.
The inside pages of the Certificate setting out all the details of the vehicle are essentially unchanged, and should not require significant adjustment for any fleet operator who scans their documents for electronic storage and filing, said ACFO director Stewart Whyte who was at the DVLA briefing.
He said: "In that connection, DVLA has offered the opportunity for ACFO members to receive a test copy of the new design. This has to be under very secure conditions - each document must be signed-for, protected and returned at the end of the short evaluation period. However it does provide an opportunity for some members to ensure their systems can be updated as necessary."
Issuing of the new V5C also signals the start of a major increase in emphasis on the Government's 'Buyer Beware' campaign, which provides advice to used car buyers. Mr Whyte explained: "Although the campaign is primarily aimed at the consumer/retail buyer there is a relevance to fleets. Where employees are using their own vehicles in a 'grey' fleet situation, employers may wish to ensure that the employees are aware of the risks, for their own protection. Good provenance of an ex-fleet car or van might enhance the residual value where it is clear that the fleet operator has good title to the vehicle."
All existing V5C documents will remain valid with the new-style documents issued when vehicle registration details change, such as a new keeper's address. Also, old-form V5Cs will not need to be returned to DVLA but should be shredded for secure disposal once the new document has been received.
Mr Whyte concluded: "This whole process serves as a timely reminder that the registration document is an important and potentially valuable piece of paper, and should be handled as such in any filing systems. Although fleet operators should not be at material risk they should ensure that if they carry the responsibility for the V5Cs, some care and security needs to be applied."