Vehicle documents

Your licence

You must have a valid driving licence for the motorbike you’re riding: if there are any restrictions on your licence (such as only riding a motorbike and sidecar combination), you must follow them.

The vehicle registration certificate (V5C)

Your motorbike must be registered with DVLA. The vehicle registration certificate (V5C) will show the details that have been registered

  • the name and address of the motorbike’s registered keeper (not necessarily the same as the legal owner)
  • information about the motorbike, including its make, model and engine size
  • the date that the machine was first registered.

You must tell DVLA if you

Vehicle tax

Vehicle tax must be paid on all motor vehicles used or kept on public roads (unless the vehicle is exempt). You can pay for 6 months’ or 12 months’ tax. Use GOV.UK to pay your vehicle tax.

The registered keeper of the vehicle (the person named on the V5C – see above) is responsible for taxing the vehicle or telling DVLA if it’s off the road or has been sold, transferred, scrapped or exported.

If you’re taking a vehicle off the road and stop taxing it, you’ll need to make a Statutory Off-Road Notification (SORN). You can make a SORN at GOV.UK.

Motorcycle insurance

It’s illegal to ride without insurance. You must have at least third-party cover before you can take a motorbike on public roads.

Make sure your insurance covers you for how you’ll use the motorbike. Some policies have restrictions on using the motorbike for business, competitions, track days or for riding more than a set number of miles each year.

When you apply for an insurance policy, you must answer all the questions as honestly as you can. If you do not, your insurance policy will be invalid and you’ll be riding uninsured – which could lead to prosecution.

The MOT test certificate

If your motorbike is more than 3 years old, it must have a valid MOT certificate. The certificate lasts for one year – then you’ll need to get the motorbike tested again.

The MOT test checks your motorbike is safe on the road and that it meets minimum legal standards for its effect on the environment. You’ll need the MOT test certificate to renew your vehicle excise duty (vehicle tax, see above).

Showing your documents

You must show your driving licence, a valid insurance certificate and a current MOT certificate (if appropriate) when an authorised person, such as a police officer, asks for them. You can either produce them immediately or within 7 days at a police station.

If you borrow or rent a motorbike, or if you lend someone your motorbike, it’s your responsibility to make sure that all the appropriate documents are in place. Never assume that someone else has arranged the documents or that they’re not necessary.

Other countries may have different rules about these documents so remember to check before you drive abroad. You may need to have your documents with you whenever you’re riding.

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