All cars on the road in the UK need to be taxed and insured. If you’re taking your car off the road and you no longer wish to pay for tax and insurance, then you need to apply for a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN). It’s a pretty simple process but there are always many questions about it, so we’ve created this handy FAQ, with more questions being answered as we get asked.
What is a SORN?
SORN is an acronym that stands for Statutory Off Road Notification. It lets the DVLA know that you’re declaring your vehicle as being off the road, and so you won’t be driving it. The DVLA will record the SORN on the Motor Insurance Database (MID), which is a national database containing every vehicle that is currently insured in the UK.
If you have declared your car as off the road with a SORN, then you must not drive or park it on a public road. A car with a SORN will need to be kept on private property such as a garage, driveway or other private land.
When should I make a SORN?
You should SORN your vehicle in any of the following instances:
- You buy a car but intend to spend some time working on it before putting it on the road
- Your car is broken or damaged and won’t be used on the road for a while
- You want to break your car for parts before scrapping it
- If your vehicle isn’t taxed or insured – even for a short period of time
Can a SORN save me money?
Sometimes it makes financial sense to SORN your car, such as in the following scenarios:
- You have a classic car that you put away in a garage for the winter
- The car needs repairs that you haven’t yet got time to make
- You’re a student off to university and leaving your car at home
How much does it cost to SORN a car?
It’s free to make a SORN on a car, as long as you have the car’s logbook or V11 tax reminder letter.
How do I SORN my car?
It’s easy to SORN a car, you just have to contact the DVLA. You can contact them:
- Online via the DVLA website
- By phone 24 hours a day on 0300 123 4321
- By post with a V890 for which you can print here and post to DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1AR
When contacting them you’ll need either the reference number from your V5C (logbook) or V11 tax reminder letter. There is no set timeframe for the DVLA to send you a SORN confirmation, but we recommend getting in contact with them again if you don’t hear within six weeks.
When I apply for a SORN how long until it’s applied?
If you have received a V11 tax reminder letter in the post then your vehicle’s SORN will start on the first day of the next month. You can only use this reference number to SORN a vehicle once, and it is only valid for a few weeks.
If you wish to SORN your car immediately then you’ll need the reference number from your car’s logbook (V5C).
Can I drive my car if I have made a SORN?
There is only one occasion when you may drive a vehicle on a SORN, and that is when you are taking it for an MOT. The MOT needs to be pre-booked so always keep a record of the booking with you.
What happens if I drive on a SORN?
If you are found guilty of driving a car on a SORN for any other reason other than to a pre-booked MOT, then you could find yourself being prosecuted and fined anything up to £2,500.
Where can I park a vehicle with a SORN?
A vehicle that has been declared as SORN cannot be driven or parked on public roads. This only leaves land that is privately owned, such as a private plot of land, a garage or a driveway.
Even if there are no parking restrictions or you have a permit to park on your street, you cannot park a vehicle there if it has been declared as SORN.
What if I SORN my vehicle and have nowhere to park it?
If you cannot find anywhere to park your vehicle apart from a public place, then you will not be able to SORN it. Instead, you will need to make sure that it is taxed and insured.
If I SORN my car, will I get a refund on car tax?
When you SORN a car the DVLA will cancel your car tax. They will then send you a check to refund you for any remaining road tax. This only applies to full months though. If you don’t receive this check within six weeks then we would recommend contacting the DVLA again to chase them.
If I SORN my car, do I need to insure it?
You don’t need to insure a car on a SORN as there is no legal requirement. However, it might be worth insuring the car for accidental damage or theft if that’s something that you’re worried about.
Some insurance policies will charge a cancellation fee, so if your policy is due to expire soon after declaring a SORN it’ll probably be cheaper to let the insurance run out than to cancel it.
What if someone steals my car while it’s on a SORN?
Although you don’t need to tax and insure your car while it’s on a SORN, it’s advisable to keep a valid insurance policy in case it is stolen. If you declare your car as SORN but don’t insure it, then you will not be able to make a claim if it is damaged or stolen.
Can I SORN my car without the logbook?
You may have received a V11 reminder to tax your vehicle then you can use the reference number on here to make a SORN. If you haven’t got a V11 then you will need the car’s logbook (V5C) to do it. To apply for a new V5C then the cost for this is £25.
How often do I need to renew a SORN?
SORN declarations do not need to be removed, they are valid until you tax or dispose of your vehicle.
How do I remove a SORN from a vehicle?
To remove a SORN from a vehicle, all you need to do is tax it. Note that you will need to have a valid MOT to tax a vehicle.
Can I check if a vehicle has been made SORN?
It’s easy to check whether a car has a SORN. All you need to do is request the information from the DVLA website. To do this you only need to know the registration number.
What happens if I don’t SORN a vehicle?
If you haven’t made a SORN, then it should be insured and therefore appear on the Motor Insurance Database. If it doesn’t then the registered keeper will receive an Insurance Advisory Letter. This will confirm that there is no valid insurance on the vehicle. You will then be told to arrange insurance immediately or you may have to pay a fine. You will also need to tax the car.
The penalties for having an untaxed and uninsured car without a SORN are severe. Even if you’re not driving the car, you could expect the following:
- An automatic £80 fine
- A fixed penalty fine of £100
- Your vehicle could be clamped, impounded or even destroyed
- You could be prosecuted and fined up to £1,000
How can I check if my car is insured?
It’s easy to check whether your car is insured, simply check online at askMID.
If I SORN my car is my insurance automatically cancelled?
No it is not. If you no longer wish to insure a vehicle declared as SORN, then you will have to cancel the insurance yourself. Sometimes your insurer will charge a cancellation fee so if you’re coming towards the end of your policy, it may be cheaper to let it lapse.
Can I drive a car home if it has been declared as SORN?
No you can’t. The only instance where you are allowed to drive a car that has a SORN is if you are driving it to a pre-booked MOT. There are no exceptions to this rule.
Can I sell a car if it has been declared as SORN?
Yes, it’s perfectly legal to sell a car that is on a SORN. However thew new owner will have to tax and insure the car if they wish to drive it. They can drive it on a SORN only if they are going to a pre-booked MOT.
Can I transfer a SORN?
No. If you buy a vehicle that is on a SORN then you will need to make a SORN yourself as it is non-transferrable
Can I SORN a car if it is on finance?
It’s important to remember that if you have outstanding finance on your car then you do not own it – the finance company does. Therefore if you SORN the car it is highly likely that you will have to ensure that it is adequately insured in case of any loss. Your best bet is to speak to your finance company before attempting to SORN their vehicle.
More from Car Monkey...
Can I make a SORN for a vehicle that is leased or on finance?
Yes, you can make a SORN for a leased or financed vehicle. However, it's important to check with your leasing company or finance provider to ensure you meet any contractual obligations or insurance requirements they may have.
Can I make a SORN for a vehicle that is temporarily exported from the UK?
Yes. You can make a SORN for a vehicle that is temporarily exported from the UK. This notifies the DVLA that the vehicle will not be used on UK roads during the export period. Remember to inform the DVLA when the vehicle is brought back into the UK.
How we reviewed this article:
Our experts continually monitor motor industry news & research, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.
- 10th July 2023
Current Article - By Harry Edwell
- 3rd October 2023
Checked & Reviewed - By John Mikler
- 10th July 2023
Copy Edited - By Gary McKrill
- 26th February 2024
Reviewed - By Gary McKrill
Car Monkey has strict sourcing guidelines and we try to rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and motoring associations where possible.