How and When to Apply for a SORN (Statutory Off-Road Notification)

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Most people know that driving without car insurance is a serious offence, but you might not be aware that even owning a vehicle without car cover will also get you into trouble. In England, Scotland and Wales, you could be slapped with a £100 fixed penalty. The police are also authorised to confiscate, clamp or crush your vehicle, and in extreme cases, you could end up in court facing a maximum fine of £1000.

UK law stipulates that cars must be insured at all times, even if they aren’t being used. If you have a vehicle that you won't be driving for an extended period, it's time to make a Statutory Off-Road Notification (SORN).

What is SORN?

The Statutory Off-Road Notification lets the government know that your car is not being used on public roads. Once the notification has been made, the car does not need to be taxed or insured. Since government databases store information about insurance and tax status, you could get in a lot of trouble for taking your vehicle off the road without making an official declaration.

When is SORN required?

Any time you won't be driving a vehicle for an extended period and wish to avoid unnecessary tax or insurance payments, you will need to declare SORN. Common situations requiring a declaration include: a car failing its MOT and requiring lengthy repairs, going abroad for months or years, or buying an untaxed vehicle without taxing it. In these and similar situations, SORN is the only legal way to avoid paying for car insurance or tax.

How to declare SORN

The easiest way to make a SORN is via the DVLA's Vehicle Online Service. Once the online declaration has been completed, you will receive immediate confirmation of the SORN and a follow-up email.

Before attempting an online SORN declaration, you'll need the unique reference number found on your V11 renewal reminder. This information can also be found in your registration certificate or logbook. You can also make your SORN over the telephone by calling 0300 123 4321 with your registration details. In some cases, you may be required to make a SORN by post - if you are not yet registered as the vehicle owner or have only registered recently, this will likely be the case. Once your application has been accepted, you should receive a letter from the DVLA within a month. If you don’t, it’s worth giving them a ring to make sure the declaration has been processed.

What happens next

The notification lasts for up to 12 months, so you'll need to re-declare if the car is still not in use after a year. If you sell, export, scrap, or re-license your vehicle, the SORN becomes invalid. It goes without saying that while your car is under SORN, it needs to be kept off public roads. Keep your vehicle in a garage if possible to reduce the risk of damage.

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