What Documents Should You Keep in Your Car While Driving?

What documents should you keep in your car at all times? Can you keep a copy of your registration in your car? Or, Is it mandatory to carry original documents while driving? As a new car owner, if you are puzzling over these things, this guide is a perfect place for you to get all your answers regarding the essential documents to keep in the car.

Is your car’s glove compartment filled with all the non-essential things that normally all our car glove boxes have? Well, the story might be similar but do not let the end result be the same! Most of us do not care to keep or carry the essential documents in our cars which might end up having us either pay a lump sum amount of fine or, in worst cases, our cars may be seized, and our driver’s license may be suspended too!

But what are the essential documents to carry while driving? There might not be too many of these essential documents, but there are some of them that must never be kept back at home. These documents mean a lot to the drivers, both commercial and personal! When you are out on the road, maybe going for a short drive only, but you never know when the ‘road police’ get your hands on you and ask you for the documents.

what documents should you keep in your car
(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and images. I earn advertising/referral fees if you make a purchase by clicking them. There is no extra cost to you. See our full disclosure here. )

While most car owners know what documents you should keep in your car, there are a lot of new and amateur drivers who actually do not know what are the things that must be kept in their car’s glove compartment (or anywhere suitable) when they are heading out with their respective vehicles. And to make them aware of it, we have given all the specific details of the documents that they need to carry while going out.

So, here’s a list of documents you need to have in your car while driving. Read on to find out more!

What Documents Should You Keep in Your Car?

Many car owners still do not know about the documents to be carried while driving. They prefer keeping only their driving license or the car registration certificate, for that matter. But often, you need more documents than these that must be kept inside the car. To help you know about that, the next section is formed. Read on to know more.

Vehicle Registration Certificate

The vehicle registration certificate becomes mandatory when you buy a car. It ensures that the vehicle is legally registered with the regional transport office. You have to complete your car’s registration process soon after buying it to make it legal to be taken out on the road.

Not only that, but car registration is also essential because it is only when your vehicle is registered officially, do you get the benefits of car insurance and other such facilities that come within. If your car fails to be officially registered within a few days of you buying it, it can be a problem for you to register it later.

So, do you have to carry vehicle registration once you get the document at hand? Well, yes! It is mandatory to carry your car’s registration certificate along with you when you go outside in your car.

As the laws in most countries are strict regarding flouting such rules on the road that if you fail to produce these documents, you may be fined a hefty amount if and when summoned by traffic police.

Not only that, your vehicle registration may seem cancelled at some point, and your driving license can also be suspended in the worst cases. So, it is recommended that you carry your vehicle registration certificate whenever you take your car out for a drive, no matter how long or short the journey might be!

Proof of Insurance

Among all the documents to keep in the car, the proof of insurance is one very important document! And for keeping it in your car, you must procure one from the insurance agencies. Having insurance for your car means you are securing your car against any kinds of accidents that it may face on the road.

And in some countries, it is mandatory to have car insurance once you buy a new car (or an old one!) Sometimes people feel that they will require proof of insurance documents only when they face an accident on the road, and they need to produce it in front of the district magistrate in terms of the legal procedure of the insurance claim.

But they are extensively wrong! In most countries (US, UK, etc.), if you are driving on the road without your car’s insurance policy, then you may be fined hefty amounts along with suspension on driving in exceptional cases.

So, it is not sufficient to only own insurance for your car, but you also need to carry it along with you whenever you go out for a drive in your car. And to keep it safe, you can keep the proof of insurance document inside the glove box of the car.

Driver’s License

If you want to know what documents a driver should carry while driving, that is the most important document amongst all, here you go! The driver’s license is the most remarkable document to not only own but carry as well when you buy a car or drive it on the road. When you get your hands on the driver’s license, it means you have the power to drive your vehicle, no matter how far and wherever you go.

In most countries, 16 to 18 is considered the age of providing a driving license, and beyond that, one cannot get a driving license. And thus, when you get yourself a driving license, do not forget to carry it along with you. While most people prefer carrying their driving license in their pockets or purses, it is not always safe to carry it this way as it might get stolen or get lost somehow.

So, it is better to keep the driver’s license inside the car’s glove compartment and save it from any exhaustion. Also, it is legally taxing if you cannot produce your driving license if asked by traffic police on the road. If you fail to produce the document during such confrontations, then it is possible that not only you are fined a hefty amount, but your vehicle may also be seized from you till you complete the legal proceedings that follow!

PUC Certificate

A PUC certificate or pollution under control certificate is a document that ensures your vehicle does not emit pollutants that might affect the natural air quality. Typically all vehicles emit fuel residues that pollute the air, but in some vehicles, due to some internal faults, the emission goes up by a higher degree that can create more air pollution as it runs longer.

That is why there is a certain pollution control limit set by the authorities in every country so that the pollution remains in check. To acquire the pollution control certificate, you have to get your vehicle tested at qualifying pollution check centers and get a certificate of the quality of your car’s emission.

In most cases, you get these certificates in the petrol pump itself, where they check for the vehicle’s emission control and grant a certificate for the same. So, if you are wondering What documents do you need to have in your car while driving, this is undoubtedly one of the significant ones!

If you fail to provide your PUC certificate on the road while traffic police ask for the same, you may have to pay a fine for it. It is an offense under the air pollution control act to check for the fuel emission of every vehicle you drive without which you cannot drive on the road.

Owner’s Manual

Well, this might not be a legal document to carry or keep in your car, but this is one necessary paperwork that you must consider having in your car on a regular basis. So, if you are breaking your head on What documents should you keep in your car while driving, this is a very good option for you.

An owner’s manual of the car adheres to the car owner’s regular maintenance schedule and the information about the crucial parts of the car. Like you can note down when was the last time you took your car for a service, or where did you keep your car’s jack to get a quick and easy knowledge about it.

The car owner’s manual is, in fact, an extremely valuable document for all car owners because it helps you find stuff in awkward situations. Sometimes it may happen that you face an emergency situation on the road, and you need the necessary tools to fix any issue in the car.

But you don’t know where the tools are kept (this happens mostly when the owners themselves do not drive the car), and then this owner’s manual shall help you find the necessary items quickly to fix the issues instantly. It is not a punishable offense to not carry an owner’s manual; it is for the driver’s good only!

Car Maintenance Receipts

Sometimes people scratch their heads thinking about what documents do you need to keep in your car apart from the most necessary ones! Well, there might be many other documents that can be kept in the car (some of which are mentioned here), but amongst those, this one is an excellent considerable document that you can keep in your car while driving.

The maintenance receipts of the car not only help you know about the records of the maintenance but also ensures that in case of any type of emergency, you can use them to be legally actionable. Being said that, it doesn’t mean that you have to carry it along with you wherever you go out, and if not, you shall attract fines or any kind of punishment from the traffic police.

The maintenance receipts can be kept inside the car for your own convenience. Like if the car tire gets punctured while on the road, you can go back and check when was the last time you changed them or repaired them.

But one thing you must also keep in mind is that some receipts contain the address and personal information of the car owner, like even the credit card details. So, you must discard such receipts as they may cause more problems if any wrongdoer gets hold of it.

Emergency Contact Information

Wondering what documents should you keep in your car at all times? Then consider this as the best option! You never know when you can meet accidents on the road that can be dreadful also. And at times when you’re alone, and you face an accident on the road, people find it difficult to recognize you.

Whether you get admitted to a hospital for better treatments, if you cannot be recognized, it will be difficult for your family to reach out to you. So, one of the most important documents to keep on the car is the emergency contact number of the family members of the person driving and the specific details of the driver as well.

If, anyhow, you face an accident-like situation on-road and the emergency contact information is available in the car, then it will be easy for the police or the doctors to identify you and contact the near and dear ones of your family for immediate help.

But always remember that the emergency contact number must not be of the person who is driving the car. You must keep the number of someone from e family who can be contacted in cases of emergency.

Medical Information

People often wonder what documents do you need to have in your car at all times? Well, apart from the driving license, vehicle registration certificate, and other essential documents, you must also consider keeping your medical information on the car. The medical information should right away indicate the condition of your health and any kind of medical insurance information that you own.

This can help you on the road if you face any major accidents. The doctors in the hospitals who shall treat you when you’re taken for emergency treatments will know the health condition and treat you accordingly. Some people may have certain health issues that might prove to be injurious to their health if any wrong treatment is given to them. That is why having the medical information of the person driving the car is important.

Other than that, if you have any medical insurance against your name, it can be used for your treatment till your family members reach out to you for the medical expenses. Apart from this, the medical information can also be used to contact your family doctor for immediate help.

Pen, Pencil, and Paper

Though we are living in a digitally active time, the alternative of a pen and paper for jotting down emergency information in a hurry isn’t available in any digital means. Having said that, we can indeed write down helpful information on our smartphones in certain apps available for the same, but for doing that, we have to bear a certain amount of time (like unlocking the phone, opening the app, writing down the details, etc.)

What if the information has to be jotted down in urgency without having even this much time to bear? Well, in such instances, it is the pen and paper that may come to your rescue. So, if you are wondering what paperwork should I keep in my car, you can consider picking up a pen or pencil and a pad of papers placed just in your dashboard to get hold of it in emergency conditions.

Suppose you need to write an emergency contact number of a person while on the road or you need to note a specific address, the pen and paper will surely help you. Not only that, you can use the pen and paper to entertain your kids while on a long road trip by drawing sketches or playing particular games.

Any Other Required Permits (In the Case of Commercial Vehicles)

Last but not least, if you are driving commercial vehicles like trucks or vans and you need to step out of a certain restricted area where you require permits from the authorities, you need to also keep those documents in the car or truck. Apart from that, if you are carrying any item inside your vehicle that needs special permission to be carried, you have to keep those permits along with you while driving on the road.

Many times people wonder, what are the documents required to carry while driving a car or pickup truck? Well, in most cases, it is the permit to enter another state through the border that is required to be taken while on a single road trip. Apart from that, if you are crossing international borders, you might need visas from the countries you are entering.

Like this, one has to carry every other permit required through the journey to be kept inside the car glove box to keep away from attracting fines or punishment of any kind as it is a punishable offense to not have such legal permits along with you on the road. This applies primarily to drivers of commercial vehicles other than the ones driving their private vehicles.

What Documents Should Not Be Kept in Your Car?

Though we break our head in knowing what documents should be kept in the car, sometimes we ignore there are certain documents that we can also leave at home. Not too many of them, of course, but you have the choices you see! In this section, you will get to know what are the documents that you do not have to carry when you go out. Check below!

Vehicle Title (Leave It at Home)

The ‘vehicle title’ of any car is the legal document that ensures you are the car owner. And it is that very IMPORTANT! The vehicle title document proves your ownership of the vehicle, and in any case, you must not be careless towards it. If it gets stolen or missing anyhow, then it might even put you in legal trouble.

You may have other documents to prove the ownership of your car, but not being able to produce the vehicle title will not anyway entertain you in fighting legal rights. And that is why you should leave your vehicle’s title at home! Because if your car title gets stolen from the car or it gets misplaced anyhow, you have to face dire consequences.

Not only that you will lose your ownership rights with the misplacing vehicle title, but if any cunning person gets hold of it, they can misuse the information of the title against you. So, be very careful with your vehicle title. Please keep it in a safe place at home (preferably in fireproof boxes) so that it remains untouched.

If you want to carry this document along with you in the car, then do a photocopy so that you can produce it if and when required on the road. But mostly, the officers do not ask for the vehicle title when checking for documents.

What Documents Should You Keep in Your Car? [FAQs]:

The last section was about what documents should not be kept in your car, and now in the next section, we are going to discuss what are the documents that must be kept in the car. There are people who consider keeping only the photocopies of the document or sometimes fail to update their documents, and this FAQs section is formed for them to understand the basic things about keeping the documents in the car. Read on:

Is It Mandatory to Carry Original Documents While Driving?


Many people ask the question – Do we need to carry original documents while driving? Well Yes! You must carry all your original documents along because photocopies can get tampered and the cops won’t adhere to them.

If your country allows you to have digital copies of the documents kept on the respective digital apps approved by the government, then you can also upload your documents there without having to take the original documents.

But if there are no such options, you have to carry your original documents along with you. And you must keep them safe inside your car so that they do not get damaged anyhow.

Should You Keep Your Car Registration in Your Glove Compartment?


If you are travelling with your original documents and wondering where is the best place to keep your car registration paper inside the car, then know that it is the glove compartment of your car.

Yes, it is a safe place to keep all your legal documents in one place. Though, by the name itself, it can be understood that it is the place to keep ‘gloves’ inside the car but those days are gone when drivers used to use it for the same purpose!

Now, the best corner to keep your car registration document inside your car is the glovebox. There will be less chance of it being damaged or stolen when you keep it inside the glove compartment.

Why Shouldn’t You Keep Your Title in Your Vehicle?


There are many instances of car road accidents or cars being stolen in different countries. And when you have your car title vehicle kept inside the car, and it gets misplaced, you will fail to prove your car ownership after everything is sorted.

It is the primary document that proves the ownership of a car’s owner. So, it has been stated above in this article that the vehicle title must always be left behind at home while you are going out in your car. So, now you know why shouldn’t you keep your title in your vehicle.

What Documents Should I Keep in My Car at all times?

When you buy a car, there are overloaded documents that come along with it, uninvited! Be it your car’s registration certification or its proof of insurance, and you have to procure them at the time of buying the car. Not only your vehicle’s documents, but you also have to get your driving license if you want to drive the car on your own.

And that’s sometimes a headache to keep all the documents handy inside your car as all of them are mandatory if you are caught on the road by the traffic police and asked to provide the documents. By now, you already know what documents do you need to have in your car, as mentioned in the article above.

In addition to securing these documents, one significant thing that you need to also keep in mind is that you must update your documents regularly. Sometimes it happens that even though the drivers have the necessary documents to keep in the car, they fail to produce an updated one (like your insurance) which can also attract heavy fines.

So, hopefully, by now, you know what are documents that you need to keep in your car while taking it out. Out of all these, my personal recommendations are to always carry the vehicle registration certificate, proof of insurance, and the driver’s license to avoid hefty charges. All the others are also important, but these are some of the essential documents to keep in your car.

You may also be interested in checking out:

About Jace

I am an automotive enthusiast who loves to be around cars and pickup trucks. Applying innovative car care products and installing different latest car accessories are my hobbies. Also, I love sharing my adventurous experience with car lovers.

Leave a Comment