When does your car need a SORN?

If you have a car you do not drive, you cannot leave it off the road without either insuring it or applying for a SORN. Here’s what you need to know about declaring your car off the road.

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What is a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN)?

A Statutory Off Road Notification, or SORN, is used to inform the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) that your car is off the road. 

If you have a SORN, you will not be able to drive your car, but this also means you won’t need to insure or tax it. Note that you cannot simply stop paying tax on your car as you could be fined up to £80 if it hasn’t been registered with a SORN. 

If you have a SORN, your car must be kept in a garage, a driveway or on private property.

When you need to SORN your car

If you own a car that you no longer plan to drive and do not want to insure or tax it, you must apply for a SORN to declare it off the road. 

If you still plan to use your car occasionally, a SORN won’t be right for you and you will still need to have car insurance and tax in place. However, a SORN could be suitable if:

  • You haven’t yet got around to renewing your car insurance or tax

  • You’re going away for a while and won’t need your vehicle

  • You’re planning to scrap your car

If you do not declare your car off the road, or insure it, you could face a large fine under the Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE) rule. This states that you must have motor insurance for your vehicle at all times and will be fined if your cover lapses and is not renewed.

How do I SORN my car?

You can make a SORN declaration:

Does the DVLA SORN my car?

No you need to apply. You must apply by post if you are not yet registered as the car's keeper and send the relevant part of the V5C log book with the application form.

You can only apply online if you are the registered keeper of the vehicle. You will need the 16-digit reference number on your tax renewal letter (V11), or the 11-digit reference number shown on your log book (V5C).

How long does a SORN application take?

The DVLA will confirm the SORN status of your car within four weeks of receiving your completed application.

You will receive a confirmation letter if you applied by post or phone, and an email if you applied online. Note that your car will only be considered off the road once you have received this confirmation, so you’ll need to keep your car taxed and insured until then. 

How long does SORN last? 

Your SORN will last until you tax, scrap or permanently export your vehicle. You will not have to renew it and a SORN is not transferable between owners. 

Do I get a car tax refund?

Yes — you will get an automatic refund for any full months left on your vehicle tax when you make a SORN.

You will receive your refund by cheque in four to six weeks of taking your car off the road. The cheque will be sent to the name and address on the car's log book (V5C).

Can you still insure a SORN vehicle? 

Although you don’t need insurance for vehicles that have been declared off the road, this means that if your car is stolen or damaged in a fire, you’ll need to pay for any repairs yourself.

If you’re concerned you wouldn’t be able to afford the cost of any repairs to your car if it were damaged, it may be worth taking out a third party, fire and theft insurance policy.  

Do I have to insure my car if I’m not driving it?

If you are keeping your car on a public road you will need to insure it. If you are keeping it off road, in a private driveway or garage, you can SORN it and cancel your car insurance.

How do you declare your car back on the road?

If you want to start driving your car again, you will need to tax and insure your car and make sure the MOT is valid. When you apply for tax the DVLA will automatically remove the SORN.

Here is what you need to do to get an MOT for your car.

What happens if you do not get a SORN?

You will get an Insurance Advisory Letter if your car does not appear on the Motor Insurance Database (MID), a record of all insured cars in the UK.

The letter will tell you that your car is uninsured and that you face a fine if you do not either arrange insurance and tax or register your car with a SORN. If you ignore this letter you could face:

  • A fixed penalty of £100

  • Your vehicle being clamped, impounded or destroyed

  • A court prosecution, with a fine of up to £1,000

If you no longer have the vehicle, the letter will explain how to amend the registered owner of the car.

You can check that your car is insured on the ask MID website.

Where can you keep your vehicle with a SORN?

You must keep your car off the road if it has a SORN. You can keep it on your driveway, garage or any private land you own.

You cannot keep your car on a public road even if it has been declared not in use.


Can you drive a car with a SORN?

Not on public roads — once your car is declared off the road you cannot drive it on public roads until you have taxed and insured your vehicle and made sure it has a valid MOT. You can drive it on private property.

Does a SORN transfer when you buy or sell a vehicle?

No. You have to reapply for a SORN when you buy a vehicle even if the previous owner had declared it off the road.

How much does a SORN cost?

Applying for a SORN is free of charge, although if you’ve lost your vehicle’s logbook and need to buy a new one to complete your application, this will cost £25.

Whatever car you drive, make sure you find insurance that covers everything you need as cheaply as possible by comparing policies.

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