Everything you need to know about SORN and your car

If you want to take your car off the road and you want to avoid paying tax and insurance, then you’ll need to apply for a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN). Here’s how you go about doing it.

If you want to take your car off the road and you want to avoid paying tax and insurance, then you’ll need to apply for a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN). Here’s how you go about doing it.

Daniel Hutson
From the Motor team
minute read
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Posted 2 DECEMBER 2020

What is SORN?

A SORN is a Statutory Off Road Notification. It tells the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) that you won’t be driving your vehicle and you’re declaring it as off the road. This information will then be registered on the DVLA’s Motor Insurance Database (MID) – a national database of every insured vehicle in the UK.

Once a car has been declared as SORN, it must not be driven or even parked on a public road. You’ll need to keep your car on your driveway, in a garage or on private land.

When do I need to make a SORN?

There are a number of reasons you may need to make a SORN, for example:

  • Your vehicle isn’t taxed or is uninsured, even for a short time
  • You buy a car, but you intend to work on it before putting it on the road
  • You buy a car that already has a SORN on it
  • You want to break a vehicle down for its parts, then scrap it

So, if you have a sports car that you prefer to put away for the winter, or you’re a student driver who’s heading off to university but leaving the car at home, a SORN can save you money as you won’t need to tax or insure your car until you use it again.

Did you know?

If you’re not driving your car, declaring it SORN could potentially save you money on insurance and tax. Just bear in mind that if your car is accidentally damaged or stolen, it won’t be covered so you won’t be able to make a claim.

Can I drive my car if it has a SORN?

The only time you can drive a SORN-declared car on public roads is if you’re taking it to and from a pre-booked MOT. If you drive on public roads for any other reason, you may face a court prosecution and you could be hit with a fine of up to £2,500.

Where can I park my vehicle if it has a SORN?

Once you’ve declared a SORN, you must only park your car on private land. This could be a driveway, a garage or on a private plot of land.

While your vehicle is declared SORN, you must not park it on a public road. For example, you’re forbidden from parking it on the street where you live.

If you have no choice but to park your car in the street, you won’t be able to make a SORN, and you’ll need to keep it insured.

Should I declare my vehicle SORN during the coronavirus pandemic? 

If your vehicle tax is due to expire soon and you’re not going to be using your car, you may want to make a SORN. This will mean you won’t have to pay tax or insurance for your car.

Bear in mind that, if you do this, you won’t be allowed to drive your car for any reason, until you renew your tax and get insurance.

The coronavirus pandemic is impacting many aspects of driving and using your car. To help answer any questions you might have, see our coronavirus and motoring FAQs. For the latest on coronavirus restrictions, see GOV UK.

How do I file a SORN?

To apply for a SORN you need to contact the DVLA. You can do this in one of the following ways:

  • online via the DVLA website 
  • by phone on 0300 123 4321 (24-hour service)
  • by post using a V890 form and sending it to: DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1AR

Whichever way you apply, you’ll need a reference number that you can find on your V5C, V11 or V85/1 reminder form.
You should receive a notification and an acceptance letter from the DVLA within four weeks. If you don’t, you should get in touch with them.

Will I get a car tax refund?

Yes, the DVLA will cancel your car tax once you’ve filed a SORN with them. You’ll receive a cheque for your car tax refund covering any full months of remaining tax. You should expect to receive it within six weeks after making the application.

Do I need car insurance if I SORN my car?

If you SORN your car, you don’t have to insure it. This could save you money while it’s off the road.

It’s not a legal requirement to insure your car if it’s declared SORN, but you may want to continue insuring it to cover accidental damage or theft. But that’s entirely your choice.

If you do cancel your insurance policy, you might be charged a cancellation fee. You can check this in your policy documents. Otherwise you might be able to suspend your policy while your car is SORN. Talk to your insurance provider. They might be willing to refund part of your car insurance.

How much does a SORN cost?

It doesn’t cost anything to declare a SORN unless you need a new logbook.

Can I SORN my car if I don’t have a logbook?

No, you’ll need to apply for a new logbook to SORN your car. You’ll need to send a V62 logbook application form and a V890 to the DVLA.

If your logbook has been damaged, destroyed, lost or stolen, you can obtain a replacement (V5C).

A new logbook will cost you £25. You can download the forms from the DVLA website.

Once I apply, how long before the SORN starts?

You can choose when you want your SORN to start.

  • Immediately – if you wish to take your car off the road right away, you need to use the 11-digit number found in your V5C logbook.
  • On the first day of the next month – you should use the 16-digit number which you’ll find on your road tax reminder letter (V11). But it’s worth noting that you’re only allowed to use the number once.

Do I need to renew a SORN?

No, you don’t need to renew a SORN declaration. It’ll stay valid until you tax your vehicle, have it scrapped or you permanently export it out of the UK.

Can I check if a vehicle is declared SORN?

If you’re not sure whether a vehicle is declared SORN or not, you can check its details on the DVLA website. All you’ll need to have ready to input is the vehicle’s registration number.

What happens if I don’t apply for a SORN?

If your car isn’t registered as insured on the MID, and you haven’t declared a SORN, you’ll be sent an Insurance Advisory Letter. This will confirm that your car is uninsured and that you may have to pay a fine unless you arrange insurance immediately. You’ll also need to make sure your car is taxed.

If you don’t have a SORN, the penalties for having an uninsured and untaxed car, even if you don’t drive it, can be severe. You could face:

  • An automatic £80 fine for not having a SORN
  • A fixed penalty fine of £100
  • Have your vehicle wheel-clamped, impounded and even destroyed
  • Face a court prosecution, with a possible fine of up to £1,000

If you’re not sure whether your car is insured, you can check online at ask MID.

How can I cancel a SORN?

As soon as you apply for car tax (Vehicle Excise Duty - VED), the DVLA will automatically cancel the SORN. As long as you also have car insurance and a valid MOT (if applicable), you can drive your car on the road again.

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