What is a SORN?
SORN stands for ‘Statutory Off Road Notification’ and lets the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) know that your vehicle is not in use.
With a SORN, you don’t have to pay for vehicle tax or buy insurance for your car – as long as it’s kept off the road.
A SORN car must be kept in a garage, a driveway or on private property. If you park your car on the street, you’ll still need to pay taxes and insurance, even if you’re not driving it.
What are the benefits of SORN?
Declaring your vehicle as SORN if you’re not using it for some time can save you money as it means that, until you want to use it again, you won’t have to:
- Pay for car insurance
- Pay for vehicle tax
- Hold a valid MOT certificate
If you’ve already paid vehicle tax in advance, you’ll automatically be refunded for every full calendar month your car is off the road. You should receive this within six weeks of declaring the vehicle SORN.
How do I declare SORN?
There are three ways to declare SORN:
- Online, through the government’s website
- By phoning the DVLA on 0300 123 4321
- By sending an application form to the DVLA by post
It’s free to apply for a SORN whichever method you choose.
To complete a SORN declaration, you’ll need to give information from your V5C – your vehicle’s logbook – or a DVLA tax reminder letter. If you don’t have a logbook, you can apply for a new one – but you’ll be charged a £25 fee.
How long does a SORN application take?
SORN applications are usually processed within four weeks. If you apply for a SORN online, you’ll receive a confirmation email once your application is complete. If you’ve applied by phone or post, you’ll receive a letter.
Your car is only considered off the road once you’ve received this confirmation, so make sure you keep your vehicle taxed and insured until it arrives. Otherwise, you may face a fine.
You can’t backdate a SORN, so if you’re not using your car it will save you money to apply for a SORN as soon as possible.
How long does a SORN last?
Once you take your car off the road, a SORN lasts indefinitely, and you don’t need to renew it.
A SORN Is not however transferable between owners. This means if you buy a car that has been declared off the road by its previous owner and you want to keep it that way you will need to apply for a new SORN.
What happens if I don’t declare my car SORN?
If you’re no longer using your car, you can’t just stop paying tax and insurance. You must declare a car SORN if it is not taxed, not insured, or if you want to break it down for parts before scrapping it.
The government keeps a registry of all untaxed vehicles, so you’ll receive an automatic fine and you might have to pay the outstanding vehicle tax at 50% more than the usual rate. You may also be at risk of prosecution, and your car could even be seized and destroyed.
Can I drive a SORN car?
The only reason you are permitted to drive a SORN car on public roads is to take it to a pre-booked appointment at an MOT centre. If you are caught driving a SORN car in any other circumstance you will face a fine of up to £2,500.
How do I get a SORN car back on the road?
If you want to start using your car again, simply start insuring your car again and resume paying vehicle tax to cancel SORN.
You will also need to make sure your car has a valid MOT before you take it back on the road. If you don’t have one, you’re allowed to drive your car to an MOT centre while it’s still untaxed and uninsured - provided you have pre-booked the appointment. Booking the MOT in advance will mean you or the garage will prove you’re not driving illegally if you are pulled over.
Can I SORN my car during the coronavirus pandemic?
It may be worth declaring your vehicle SORN if you don’t want or are not going to be able to use it, particularly given the government restrictions on our movements during the coronavirus lockdown.
Make sure you can park your car in a garage, on a driveway or private property, and that if you have to go outside for essential shopping or exercise that this is within walking distance.
Don’t worry if your MOT will expire during the lockdown. The government has extended MOTs due to run out after 30th March 2020 for six months, but you will be responsible for ensuring your car is roadworthy.