Our guide explains why you might need a statutory off-road notification (SORN), and how to SORN your car.
What is SORN?
The statutory off-road notification (SORN) was introduced in 1998 so that vehicles kept off-road would not have to be taxed. But the SORN has become better-known in the last few years thanks to new insurance rules that mean all privately-owned vehicles must either be insured or SORNed to be legal.
With the SORN system, police can more easily identify uninsured and untaxed vehicles. In the past, offenders could only be caught if they were pulled over while driving without insurance or if they were reported by someone. Currently the Motor Insurer’s Bureau (MIB) keeps track of all uninsured cars in its database, and warning letters/fines are automatically sent to those car owners without tax or insurance.
You might choose to SORN a car if you won’t be driving the car for an extended period, e.g. you’re going away, your car is being restored, or if you only drive it at certain times of the year. It’s free to declare a SORN and if you don’t plan on using your car for some time, it can save you money on road tax and insurance.
It’s important to remember that you still need tax and insurance if you’re keeping your car on a public road, even if the vehicle is not in use. A SORN is only valid if the vehicle is kept in a garage, on a drive or on private land.
Separate rules apply for the motor trade — you don’t need to insure or SORN vehicles that are only temporarily in your possession if you are a motor trader or vehicle tester.
How to tax a SORN car
If your car is SORNed and kept off the road, it doesn’t need to be taxed or insured.
As it’s free to SORN your vehicle, a SORN could save you money on tax and insurance for periods your car’s not being used. If you’ve paid upfront for your tax and you decide to SORN it, you’ll get a refund for any remaining months you’ve paid tax for.
SORN and penalties
If your vehicle is not in use, you must SORN it and keep it off the road unless it is taxed and insured.
All registered cars are recorded on the Motor Insurer’s Database (MID), and any owners whose cars are not insured or SORNed will automatically receive an Insurance Advisory Letter (IAL) in the first instance. This will be followed by a fixed penalty notice of around £200 and six points on your licence. If you still fail to insure or SORN your car the case could go to court where you could be fined up to £1000 and be disqualified from driving. Your car can also be seized and eventually destroyed if you don’t pay to have it released.
How to SORN a car
To SORN your car online, go to the gov.uk website. You will need your vehicle registration document (V5C) and the 16-digit number from your tax renewal reminder. It’s free to SORN a car, so be wary of any websites that offer to process your application for a fee.
You can also apply by post or phone. Pick up a V890 form from your Post Office and send the completed form to the DVLA at DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1AR, or call 0300 123 4321.
What if I want to use my car again?
It’s important to remember that once a car is declared SORN, it cannot be driven on the road until the SORN is cancelled — SORNs no longer expire after a year. Once you have ‘un-SORNED’ your vehicle it must be insured before you can legally drive it.
To remove the SORN status from your vehicle, you simply need to tax it. SORN status also expires once the car changes ownership or gets scrapped or permanently exported.
Remember, unless your car is SORNed, it must be insured. Compare car insurance quotes below to get started.