Reclaiming a seized vehicle

Guidance on reclaiming an uninsured or unlicensed vehicle seized by officers.

Reclaiming a seized vehicle

Guidance on reclaiming an uninsured or unlicensed vehicle seized by officers.

Police officers have the power to seize a vehicle if they have a reasonable cause to believe that the vehicle was, or had been, used whilst uninsured or by a driver who did not hold, or did not comply with the conditions for holding, a valid driving licence for that type of vehicle.

If a vehicle has been seized, it may be reclaimed by the person who was the owner or the DVLA Registered Keeper of the vehicle at the time it was seized.

Before the vehicle will be returned, the owner or keeper must comply with certain legal requirements. Each of these requirements must be complied with within seven working days of receiving the seizure notice, which will have been given to the driver at the roadside or sent to the Registered Keeper by post.

If all of the requirements are not completed within seven working days, the vehicle will be disposed of.

Disposal is 15 days after the date of the seizure. If the notice was sent by post to the Registered Keeper, the vehicle will be disposed of 15 days after the notice was posted.

The advice below applies in respect of seizures carried out by officers of both Hampshire Constabulary and Thames Valley Police. Where procedures differ in these forces, the advice will reflect this.

Where this advice refers to the 'keeper', or 'Registered Keeper' this is the person or organisation which was registered at DVLA as the keeper on the day the vehicle was seized. Where the advice refers to the 'owner', this is the person or organisation who/which can provide verifiable evidence that they were the owner of the vehicle at the time the vehicle was seized.

How to get the vehicle back

The vehicle must be reclaimed by the Registered Keeper or owner of the vehicle. If the claimant is the Registered Keeper of the vehicle and/or does not wish to present an open or ‘trade’ policy of insurance, the claim can be made at any police station in the force area where the notice was issued and which is open to the public. i.e. notices issued in Hampshire must be produced at a Hampshire police station.

Seizure or release notices will not be accepted at pounds unless documents have been produced at a police station. They will also not be accepted if produced at a police station outside the force area in which the notice was issued.

At the station the keeper or owner must produce a:

  • V5C Vehicle Registration Document or documentary evidence of ownership
  • valid driving licence
  • valid certificate of insurance

Third party drivers

If the owner or keeper is unable to produce a valid driving licence or insurance which covers them to drive the vehicle themselves, a person who is able to produce a valid licence and insurance for the vehicle concerned may produce them and drive the vehicle on behalf of the owner or keeper.

The third party must be accompanied by the owner or Registered Keeper unless the owner or keeper has previously attended the station and reclaimed the vehicle and/or has provided the third party with a verifiable written authority to claim the vehicle on their behalf.

Documentary evidence required

The Registered Keeper

The Registered Keeper of the vehicle must produce a valid V5C Registration Document showing them as the Registered Keeper at the DVLA. We will also require at least two documents showing the claimant’s name and address that match the details on the V5C Registration Document and photographic identification for the keeper.

If the V5C is not available, it may be possible for TVP to make a check with the DVLA and, in such cases, the station staff will ask for photographic identification to show that the claimant is the person who is shown on the DVLA database as the Registered Keeper.

The owner

We will return vehicles to the person who was the owner or Registered Keeper at the time of the seizure. Any person who acquires ownership of the vehicle subsequent to seizure is not considered to be the owner or keeper but may be able to remove the vehicle as the third party driver and may complete the purchase after release.

If not the Registered Keeper, the owner must produce the V5C(2) New Keeper Supplement. This slip must have the claimant's details added and be unaltered. In addition, a verifiable form of evidence that the vehicle has been purchased will be required. Handwritten receipts or documents from uncontactable sellers will not be accepted.

A claimant who is not the Registered Keeper at DVLA has a legal obligation to register the vehicle in their name as the Registered Keeper at DVLA. We will therefore require such claimants to complete the paperwork necessary for them to become the Registered Keeper.

By assuring that the DVLA keeper database is updated, we ensure that the owner complies with their legal obligation to do so and may then be satisfied that the claimant is the owner and Registered Keeper and is therefore entitled to reclaim the vehicle.

If the claimant:

  • has the V5C, the new keeper details must be completed and verified and the V5C must be posted to DVLA, this can be done by TVP – this registration is free of charge
  • has the V5C(2) New Keeper Supplement, we will require the completion of a V62 application for a new V5C. If the V62 is accompanied by a New Keeper Supplement, the registration process is free of charge and must be posted by the New keeper or TVP
  • has neither the V5C nor the New Keeper Supplement, we will require completion of a V62 application for a new V5C. If not accompanied by a New Keeper Supplement, this application carries a fee charged by DVLA. The new keeper will need to attend a post office to get this completed and then produce the receipt for this when attending the front counter.

Selling the vehicle after seizure

We will allow an owner or keeper to sell a vehicle after it has been seized. In such cases, the person who was the owner or the Registered Keeper at the time of the seizure must attend the station together with the new owner. The claimant will be the previous owner (seller); the new owner (purchaser) will be the third party driver. We will require that the DVLA new keeper procedure is complied with.

If the vehicle is sold to a genuine motor trader the V5C(3) Motor Trader’s Supplement will be completed, the previous keeper must send the V5C(3) to DVLA (or it will be sent to the DVLA by us).

The new keeper will be required to register the vehicle in their own name, even if they are a motor trader please note the comments about "trade" insurance and seized vehicles. We will notify the DVLA of the correct keeper of the vehicle in the event that the DVLA record is inaccurate.

Motor traders

Motor Traders should note that, whilst there is a relaxation of the requirements for registration, the law requires that they are obliged to register themselves as the keeper with the DVLA as soon as the vehicle is used on the road, unless it was legitimately used under a "trade licence" with trade plates displayed (or three months after they acquire it, whichever is the sooner).

We will ensure that motor traders are registered as the keeper of a vehicle where the vehicle has been used on the road other than when legitimately used under a trade licence.

Motor traders will be required to submit a completed V62 and the V5C, minus the Motor Traders Supplement V5C(3), to the DVLA, for which there is no charge. If they are not in possession of the V5C, a payment to DVLA may also be required.

At the pound

Once the conditions have been complied with, the claimant or the third party will have to attend the vehicle pound.

Before the vehicle will be released there will be recovery, and daily storage charges to pay. These charges are specified by Parliament and the vehicle will not be released until they are paid in full. Recovery charges for a car and a motorcycle are normally £150 but these may be higher in some circumstances. Storage for a car is currently £20 per day and £10 per day for a motorcycle. Charges normally commence at noon on the next working day after seizure. Once storage charges commence, they are applied for every day, including weekends and public holidays.

Please note

We will not permit a vehicle to be removed from the pound on a trailer or a recovery vehicle (or in a van if a motorcycle) in order to avoid complying with the conditions for reclaim (production of valid documents at a police station). Once the conditions have been complied with and the charges have been paid, the vehicle may be removed from the pound in any manner which the owner/keeper chooses.

If there is no MOT in force when the vehicle is removed from the pound, it may only lawfully be driven to a prearranged MOT test or be removed on a trailer. If the Vehicles’ Excise Duty has expired, the vehicle may be further seized if the vehicle is taken on a road.

A valid certificate of insurance

The only legally acceptable proof of insurance is a valid insurance certificate.

A certificate delivered to you electronically by your insurer is legally acceptable but we are not obliged to provide the means by which an electronic certificate may be read. You may be asked to provide a printed copy or asked to email it to a police email address.

We will not accept any documentation other than a valid insurance certificate issued by an insurer or broker and will not make enquiries with brokers or insurers on behalf of the claimant to confirm that insurance has been taken out. Proving that there is current insurance is the legal responsibility of the driver.

When applying for insurance, it is absolutely necessary to tell the insurance company that the vehicle has been seized and, if the policy holder was driving unlicensed or uninsured, or had allowed the vehicle to be used unlicensed or uninsured, that a prosecution (including a fixed penalty notice) for uninsured or unlicensed use may be pending.

Failing to tell the insurer of any possible or pending prosecution, or of existing endorsements, may result in the immediate cancellation of the policy. We will check with the insurer if we suspect that a relevant disclosure has not been made and will not return the vehicle if any insurance is voided. An insurer may also deduct all or part of the premium paid if the policy is nullified.


Insurers may access your driving record at the DVLA to find out if you have disclosed your endorsements.

Anyone who makes a false statement, or fails to disclose all relevant information to their insurer, may commit a serious offence,           in addition to possibly invalidating the insurance which insurers may consider to have been fraudulently obtained.

Open or 'trade' insurance

If it is intended to reclaim the vehicle by using an open, or 'trade' policy please be aware that stringent enquiries will be made to check that the policy is valid and has been legitimately obtained – for example, that the policyholder is a legitimate trader.

Trade policies rarely, if ever, provide cover for the purposes of reclaiming a vehicle seized by a public authority unless the “trader” owned the vehicle or had it under their custody or control at, or before, the time of the seizure.

Please note, the exclusion to “trade” policies, if present, applies to the whole policy. It excludes the use of the policy to collect any seized vehicle, regardless of whether or not the seized vehicle is added to the schedule.

If the vehicle was in the ownership or control of the “trader” at the time of the seizure, it is likely that the “trader” may have committed the offence of “permitting” the driver to use the vehicle whilst uninsured or unlicensed. Accordingly, the “trader” may expect to be reported for this offence. If convicted of the offence, permitting uninsured or unlicensed use of a vehicle carries the same penalty as applies the person who was driving.

A valid driving licence

The owner or keeper, or third party driver, must produce a valid driving licence for the vehicle which has been seized. Please note that a check on the validity of your driving entitlement will be made with the DVLA.

If an old style paper licence is produced, photographic identification may also be asked for in order to validate the licence holder’s identity.

Please note that if the photograph on a photocard licence is more than 10 years old, the holder must return the licence to the DVLA for a new photograph to be applied. It is an offence if the holder fails to do so and DVLA may revoke your entitlement to drive if you have failed to return a licence for the photograph to be updated. The licence holder may continue to drive whilst the licence is at the DVLA as the expired photograph does not affect the entitlement to drive.

Provisional licence holders will be expected to come with a person who is entitled to supervise them when the vehicle is collected. Provisional licence holders for motorcycles must also produce their CBT.

If a person remains in possession of any superseded driving licence which the DVLA has demanded the return of, it will be seized by police and returned to the DVLA.

If your licence shows a previous or invalid address, we may require the claimant to send the licence to the DVLA.

EU or EEA licences

An EU or EEA licence is valid in all EU member states and EEA countries for the duration of the licence validity. If the licence holder is disqualified in another EU Member State or EEA country, that disqualification applies in the UK too.

International non EU licences

If producing a licence from a country outside the EU or EEA, it must be accompanied by a passport with an entry stamp showing the date of the licence holder's entry to the UK.

With some exceptions, including some concessions for students on a fixed term course, drivers may not drive in the UK on a licence issued by a non EU or EEA country for more than 12 months after their arrival in the UK. Any person who last entered the UK more than 12 months previously will not be covered by the licence or driving permit issued in their own country.

An International Driving Permit is only an international translation of the licence and has no authority or entitlement to drive in its own right. It must be accompanied by the domestic driving licence to which it refers.

Derestricted mopeds Derestricted mopeds

If the vehicle is a moped which has been seized because it has been derestricted

or modified to make it too powerful for the holder of a “moped” licence, we will return the moped to the parent or guardian of the rider, provided the moped rider is 16 years of age.

The parent or guardian must sign an undertaking that the vehicle will not be used on the road again, or be sold to a holder of a moped licence, until it has been returned to a state where it complies with the a legal status of a moped.

A letter explaining this procedure should be provided by the seizing officer. The moped will not be returned to the rider alone.

Reclaiming the vehicle once you have produced the documents

Once the conditions relating to the production of documentation have been complied with, a release notice will be given to you explaining what has to be done next. The pound will be notified of the release by us automatically and the pound will be provided with details of the person to whom the vehicle may be released.

This must be taken to the vehicle pound named on the notice. The pound will not release the vehicle unless this document is produced.

Before release, the pound will wish to see photographic identification to prove that the claimant who attended the police station is the same person claiming the vehicle from the pound.

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