Spotting a fake Vehicle Registration Certificate

There has been an upsurge recently in fake documents, like NCTs, used to trick buyers into purchasing stolen or unroadworthy vehicles. Some of the more sophisticated car criminals will try to fake a Vehicle Registration Certificate (VRC) to match the identity of the stolen car they’re selling. Some of these can be very good but there are some tell-tale signs that they’re fake. Hundreds of people every year send off this certificate to the National Vehicle Drivers File only to have the Gardai call around to pick up the stolen car they tried to register in their name. They lose the car and the money they paid for it. If the ‘seller’ lets the buyer keep the VRC that should ring alarm bells too – the seller should always send it to the NVDF themselves.

In Ireland the vehicle registration certificate is quite a high security document (Vehicle Licencing Certificates, VLC, for pre-2004 sold cars are not covered here). Bearing in mind that a good criminal will fake their name and address and the car chassis number to match what’s on it, there are two easy ways to help you decide if the VRC is genuine on the spot. The first is opening it up and holding it up to the light. You’re looking for the security thread near the centre of the two pages that is like a dashed line. This thread says “TEASTAS CLARAITHE” in small writing and in negative on the dashed parts. As below:


The second easy (but less reliable) way is the colour changing ink on the back. This special ink (thermochromatic ink) changes from purple to white at body temperature. It’s the purple circle found on the back of the VRC where the new owner signs (see below). Place your finger on it for at least five seconds and when you take it off the circle should have turned white/lilac. Be warned though this might not work in cold places or not work at all due to some certificates being poorly printed.






There are a few other ways to check on the roadside, but never feel pressured into buying a car. Take the time to do a car history check. One of the best ways to decide if a VRC/VLC is genuine is to check the certificate’s serial number with a history check. Have a look at if you’d like to do that. We would obviously always recommend buying TrustHub Verified vehicle – we’ve done a lot of the hard work for you!

Just look for the lock.

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