A simples guide

Everything you need to know about SORN and your car

If your car is 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.

What is a SORN?

A SORN tells the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) that you’re registering a vehicle as off the road. Once a car has been declared as SORN, it cannot be driven on a public road. Neither can you park it on a public road. You 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:

  • Your vehicle isn’t taxed or is uninsured, even for a short time.
  • You buy a car, but don’t want to put 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, you’ll need to file a SORN if you buy a car that you’re intending to work on before putting it on the road, or you have a sports car that you prefer to put away for the winter months. You can also apply for a SORN if you want to take your car off the road for a while to save money, for example if you're a student heading off to university. 

A SORN car needing work

How to file a SORN

You can apply for a SORN by contacting the DVLA. You can do this online or you can give them a call on 0300 123 4321. You will need to give the reference number that’s on your V5C, V11 or V85/1 reminder form. Alternatively, you can apply by post using a V890 form.

You should receive a notification and an acceptance letter from the DVLA within four weeks. If you don’t, then you should get in touch with them.

Will I get a refund of my car tax?

Yes, the DVLA will cancel your car tax as soon as you file a SORN. You’ll be sent a cheque for any full months left on your car tax, which you can expect to receive within six weeks after making the application.

Do I need to renew a SORN?

No, you don’t need to renew a SORN declaration. It will last until you tax, scrap or permanently export your vehicle.

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

If your car doesn’t have a record of insurance on the Motor Insurance Database (MID) – a database of all insured vehicles in the UK – and you haven’t declared it SORN, you’ll be sent an Insurance Advisory Letter. This will tell you that your car is uninsured and that you may have to pay a fine unless you arrange insurance. You’ll also need to make sure that your car is taxed.

You will automatically be liable to pay a £100 fine and your car could be clamped, seized or even destroyed. You could also end up with a £1,000 fine to pay and a County Court Judgement (CCJ) against you, so the consequences can be serious.

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

Can I drive my car if it has a SORN?

If you’ve filed a SORN, you can only drive your car on public roads if you’re on your way to a pre-booked MOT. If you use the car for any other reason, you could be fined up to £2,500 and you may face prosecution.

How can I cancel a SORN?

When you apply for car tax, the DVLA will automatically cancel the SORN. As long as you have car insurance and a valid MOT, you can drive your car on the road again.

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