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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. 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. Here’s how you go about doing it.

Daniel Hutson
From the Motor team
minute read
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Posted 6 APRIL 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 will 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.

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 vehicle, you may want to make a SORN. This will mean you won’t have to pay tax or insurance for the vehicle. 
Bear in mind that, if you do this, you won’t be allowed to drive your vehicle for any reason, until you renew your tax. 
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 either:

  • 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 as soon as you file a SORN. 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 to renew a SORN?
No, you don’t need to renew a SORN declaration. It will remain valid until you tax, scrap or permanently export your vehicle.

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.

The penalties for having an uninsured 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.

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 could face a court prosecution and a fine of up to £2,500.

How can I cancel a SORN?

As soon as you apply for car tax (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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