A Guide To SORN and your Vehicle

This guide will cover everything you need to know about SORN including how to SORN a vehicle and how to cancel a SORN in order to get a vehicle that is declared as SORN back on the road again.

If you own a vehicle in the UK you must either tax the vehicle (even if the cost of tax is £0) OR you must notify the DVLA via a SORN that you no longer intend to use or keep the vehicle on a public road and intend to park it on private land such as a driveway or a garage.

It is an offence to keep an untaxed vehicle and the penalties for doing so can be a fine of up to £1,000 or five times the amount of tax due if prosecuted in a Magistrates Court. An untaxed vehicle may also be clamped which carries additional fees.

What is a SORN?

SORN stands for ‘Statutory Off Road Notification‘.

In simple terms when you SORN a vehicle you are notifying the DVLA that the vehicle in question is no longer going to be used on public roads or kept in a public place.

When you declare a vehicle as SORN the DVLA will cancel the vehicle road tax (Vehicle Excise Duty (VED)).

A vehicle that has been declared SORN cannot be kept on the road or in a public place, it MUST be kept on private land such as a driveway or a garage.

A refund on any full month(s) of vehicle tax that may have been paid for in advance will be issued, which is often the case when the registered keeper has paid for 6 or 12 months vehicle tax in advance.

Why SORN a vehicle?

A vehicle may be declared SORN for any number of reasons including:

  • you may not want or be able to drive the vehicle for a while
  • you may have been banned from driving and wont be able to drive
  • you maybe cant afford to tax, insure & MOT the vehicle for the time being due to job loss
  • the vehicle may have been written off but is being stripped for parts before being scrapped
  • the vehicle is perhaps a classic car that is undergoing restoration

There are many reasons that the registered keeper of a vehicle may decide to declare their vehicle as off the road (SORN).

March of 2020 saw the highest number of SORN’s made of any month within the previous decade, with over half a million drivers choosing to SORN their vehicles at the start of the first national lockdown according to the DVLA.

How to SORN a vehicle?

You can either SORN your vehicle online or call the DVLA vehicle service on 0300 123 4321 if you are the registered keeper of the vehicle.

If you are not the registered keeper you must apply by post using the Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) V890 form.

To SORN your vehicle online will need:

  • the 11-digit number in your vehicle log book (V5C); or
  • the 16-digit number on your vehicle tax reminder letter (V11)

Your SORN will start straight away if your vehicle tax has expired or you are not applying in a month that your vehicle tax is due to expire.

If you are applying for SORN in a month your tax is due to expire it will start on the first day of the next month.

It is an offence to use an untaxed vehicle on a public road with a SORN in place. You could be fined up to £2,500 or five times the amount of tax chargeable (whichever is greater). Vehicle could also be clamped with additional fees incurred. The only exception is driving to a pre-booked MOT.

How to remove and cancel a SORN?

In order to remove a SORN you need to start paying road tax on the vehicle again, you can tax your vehicle online. However, in order to tax a vehicle online the vehicle must have a valid MOT certificate.

If your vehicle has been off the road for a while it may no longer have a valid MOT and may have no insurance.

This is where things can seem a bit complicated as while you can easily insure your vehicle, you cannot tax a vehicle that does not have a valid MOT test certificate!

It is an offence to drive or keep a vehicle on a public road that is declared as SORN. It is also an offence to drive a vehicle that has no valid MOT. However, there is an exception to these rules and that is you are allowed to drive to a pre-booked MOT.

While you can legally drive a vehicle declared SORN with no tax and MOT to a pre-booked MOT appointment, you cannot drive a vehicle with no insurance so make sure your vehicle is insured.

You also need to ensure the vehicle in question is not in a dangerous condition, your insurance may be invalidated if it is. Always check your insurance policy to see what is covered including any exceptions and clauses, if in doubt have the MOT testing centre collect your vehicle.

If you have a vehicle that is currently declared as SORN and you want to start driving the vehicle on the road again, you need to:

  • Take out appropriate insurance for the vehicle if the vehicle is not already insured (get quotes below)
  • Book an MOT for the vehicle (if vehicle MOT has expired)
  • Tax your vehicle online (your vehicle must have a valid MOT before you can tax it)

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SORN Frequently Asked Questions

Can I keep my car parked up without paying tax?

The only way you can legally keep your car parked up without paying tax is if you declare you car as SORN and park it on private land.

It is an offence to be the registered keeper of untaxed vehicle. You could end up being prosecuted for a criminal offence in a Magistrates Court and face fines of up to £1,000. Your vehicle could also be clamped and impounded which carries additional fees.

How much does SORN cost?

There is no cost associated with declaring a vehicle as off the road via SORN, it is completely free of charge.

How long does SORN last?

A vehicle SORN will last indefinitely until you start paying tax for your vehicle again, once you start paying vehicle tax the vehicle SORN status will automatically end.

Can I drive a SORN vehicle?

You cannot drive a vehicle declared as SORN on public roads, the only time you are legally allowed to drive a SORN vehicle is when you are taking it TO an MOT testing centre for a pre-booked MOT test.

If you drive a vehicle with no tax and a SORN in place on a public road you could face prosecution for a criminal offence in a Magistrates Court and be fined £2,500 or five times the amount of tax payable, whichever is greater. Your vehicle may also be clamped and impounded which carries additional fees.

Can I still pay tax on a vehicle without having insurance?

In England, Scotland and Wales it is an offence to be the registered keeper of an un-insured vehicle and Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE) is in place.

The DVLA checks all registered vehicles with the Motor Insurance Database (MID) on a regular basis to ensure all registered vehicles have an appropriate insurance policy in place and to identify any uninsured vehicles.

It is an offence to be the registered keeper of an un-insured vehicle. If a vehicle has been identified as un-insured the DVLA may issue an insurance advisory letter telling the registered keeper to insure the vehicle or declare the vehicle as SORN, they may also issue a fixed penalty notice. If these are ignored then prosecution in a Magistrates court is likely with a fine of £1,000.

Do you have to insure a vehicle that is declared SORN?

If a vehicle has been declared as SORN there is no legal requirement that it must be insured. However, insuring a SORN vehicle for fire and theft may be a good idea.