If you don’t use your car and don’t keep it on a public road, you don’t actually need to tax or insure it. But to avoid these costs and comply with the law, you’ll need to apply for a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN).
This is vital, as it declares your car’s status to the authorities. Even if your car is permanently ‘off-road’, sitting in your garage or on your driveway, you’ll need to pay for tax and car insurance or risk a fine and prosecution – unless you’ve got your SORN.
The importance of SORN
As the owner, if a vehicle isn’t covered by a car insurance policy and hasn’t been declared off the road by a SORN notification, you’ll be liable to a fine thanks to the Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE) regulations. These make it a legal requirement for registered vehicle owners to have insurance cover at all times.
Don’t think that because you’re not driving the car you won’t be caught, as there are means of identifying cars that are uninsured by comparing DVLA vehicle records against those held on the Motor Insurance Database (MID). So make sure you’re not at inadvertently at risk of breaking the rules. It could cost you dear.
For more information on whether or not you are legally compliant, check out our car insurance check page.
What happens if I don’t declare SORN?
You’ll be sent an Insurance Advisory Letter (IAL). This will tell you that the vehicle isn’t insured and that you’ll face a fine unless you take action by arranging car insurance. You’d also need to make sure the car is taxed and pay any tax arrears.
There is a fixed penalty notice of £100, and your car could even be clamped, seized and even disposed of; and there is the added risk of possible prosecution with a maximum fine of £1,000.
How do declare SORN?
Contact the DVLA as a first step. You’ll need the reference number on your V5C registration certificate, V11 or V85/1 reminder form. It’s simple, and you can apply over the phone or online.
Once your application has been accepted, you’ll receive a letter from the DVLA within four weeks. If you don't get this, give them a call to make sure it’s been processed.
SORNs aren’t permanent, so when you receive the SORN document, make a note of its expiry date so you don’t forget to renew it. If you find you’re due to be away when it expires, you can send a V890 form to the DVLA up to two months in advance, and explain the situation.
If you’re not the registered keeper of the vehicle, you can complete sections 6 and 8 of the V5C and a V890. If you don’t have a V5C, you must fill in an ‘application for registration certificate’, which may include a charge.
Getting back on the road
If you want to get back behind the driving seat after you’ve made a SORN, you’ll need to insure and tax the vehicle, and make sure it has an up-to-date MOT.
When you apply for your tax using your V5C, the SORN will expire. Then, you can take the car back onto the road – but only once you have motor insurance in place.
If you buy a vehicle that already has a SORN which was applied for by the previous owner, it will expire when you buy it. If, in future, you find you want to keep the car off the road, you’ll have to make a new SORN application.