A SORN my car in a garage

A SORN is a Statutory Off Road Notification and is the declaration to the DVLA that you have removed the vehicle from the public roads. There are several reasons why you might make a SORN and also several legal requirements to be aware of. Here, we talk about the topic and explore the what, why and how of SORN.

SORN, an acronym for Statutory Off Road Notification is a declaration where by you inform the DVLA that you wish to take a vehicle ‘off the road’ - you no longer wish to drive the vehicle on a public road nor is it kept on a local street such as parked outside your residence. The legal responsibility of a SORN declaration sits with the vehicles registered keeper but it is possible to apply if you are not yet recognised as a vehicle’s registered keeper.

There are several circumstances whereby you must make a SORN. These include:

  • Your motor vehicle is not taxed
  • No third-party insurance policy covers your vehicle
  • You are ‘breaking’ the car – stripping it down for parts

If you are scrapping your car through then you can read our other handy guide here.

If you purchase or acquire a vehicle that currently has a SORN and intend to keep it off the road then a new SORN must be made. A SORN is non-transferrable between parties. Motor traders and vehicle testers are exempt from making  a SORN as long as the vehicle is only temporarily in their possession - as they are selling it, the vehicle is located at their yard and the pre-existing registered keeper has already informed the DVLA that the vehicle has been sold or transferred to the business. The registered keeper of a given vehicles continues to be legally responsible for licencing (road tax) and registration of the vehicle until the point in time that the DVLA is notified that it is off the public road, sold, transferred, scrapped or exported out of the UK.

Road tax is a legal requirement that is governed by the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994 (VERA). This act states that road tax, legislatively known as vehicle excise duty (VED), must be paid by all mechanically propelled vehicles that use the public roads. Whilst there are some exceptions, this act also requires for these vehicles to be registered which is administered by the DVLA.

Car insurance is also a legal requirement that is covered by the Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE) regulations that were introduced in June 2011. These changes were introduced by the Department of Transport after a review into Motor Insurance in the UK and were specifically aimed to reduce the number of uninsured drivers on the road.  Under these changes, it is now a legal requirement of the vehicles registered keeper to ensure they have insurance even if the vehicle is not been driven on the road, unless they have made a SORN. In order to enforce this a collaborative effort was agreed between the DVLA and the Motor Insurance Bureau (MIB). Here the two bodies work in partnership and compare the DVLA records against the Motor Insurance Database (MID) which is a central repository of all car insurance records accessible only by the DVLA and Police. Discrepancies are dealt with by the current registered keeper been sent an Insurance Advisory Letter (IAL) that advises their uninsured status and warns them of the penalties. Failing to act on this by completing a SORN or insuring the vehicle can result in fixed penalty of £100, seizure and salvage of the vehicle and even a court prosecution with a minimum fine of £1,000 and a maximum fine of £5,000.

In certain circumstances you may also wish to keep insurance in place on a SORN vehicle. For more information, please refer to our FAQ on does a SORN car need insurance.

Should you SORN your car?

As outlined above you should SORN your car immediately if you no longer have valid road tax or an insurance policy on the motor vehicle and in doing so, remove it from the public road. There are several circumstances where you may wish to SORN your vehicle as you will not be driving it and if you are in a position where you can keep it parked off a public road you may be best to SORN the car and in the process save money by not having to pay road tax or insurance. Common reasons to temporarily SORN a vehicle include:

  • The car is been restored and located in a garage
  • You are temporarily relocating and not taking your vehicle with you
  • The car is unroadworthy and you are fixing it a later date
  • You have purchased a new car and wish to use it as a future date

The main benefits of making a SORN are financial in that you are no longer required to insure, pay road tax or even have a valid MOT. Unused road tax can be refunded for any unclaimed months that have been pre-paid. With your insurance, this will vary by policy,  provider and possibly by how you currently pay. With some providers it may be possible to suspend your policy and relieve yourself from payment and depending on the above, it may even be possible to refund amounts for periods that have been paid. It is worth checking with your insurance provider before making a decision. 

Recently, with the Coronavirus outbreak that has seen restrictions on people placed many motorists have made a SORN on their vehicle and changed their insurance from comprehensive to third party, fire and theft - this may be another option for some motorists.


Can you drive a car when SORN?

In general, you are not allowed to drive a car when SORN but there is an allowance that permits you to drive the vehicle to a pre-booked testing facility such as that for an MOT. However, if the car does not have a current MOT and fails its test you are not legally allowed to drive it back home. Another legal requirement is that cars have a valid MOT when on the road. Another important point on MOT’s is that a car should not be parked on the road if it does not have a valid MOT. Driving to an MOT would also require you to have valid insurance as per the CIE regulations. 


How to SORN a car

The best method to SORN a car is by using the DVLA’s online service.  If you wish to have the vehicle recorded as off the road immediately then you will need the 11 digit number from your V5C document. It is also possible to complete a SORN that comes into effect from the first day of the next calendar month. If you wish to pursue this then you will need the 16 digit reference number from your V11 – vehicle tax reminder letter. Each of these services is only possible if your name is recorded as the current registered keeper off the vehicle. If you are not currently recorded as the registered keeper then applications must be submitted by post by completing a V890 and posting it to the DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1AR

You can also inform them by phoning the DVLA Vehicle Service on 0300 123 4321. This service is available 24 hours a day. Assuming you have the right document then there is no cost to making a SORN. If you do not have the vehicle log book then you will have to pay £25 for the replacement log book application that you accompany your V890 form with. 


How do i get my car back on the road after SORN?

In order to get your vehicle back on the road you will need to tax and insure the vehicle. A SORN on a vehicle no longer expires and taxing a vehicle immediately removes it. To tax the vehicle, you will need your V5C or V11 document and then you can complete the process online. Next, you will need an insurance policy - you can use the insurance comparison tool to assist you here! If your MOT has expired, then first you will be required to get an MOT completed on the vehicle. Once these are all complete you can then legally drive and park your vehicle on the public road.

How to tell if a SORN is on a vehicle?

If you are looking for information on if a SORN is on a vehicle and know the vehicle registration then you are able to use the MOT History tool. This will let you know if a SORN is on the vehicle that you entered.