SORN: everything you need to know

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If your car’s going to be out of use and you want to stop paying to tax and insure it, you need to register it as “off road” with a statutory off-road notice (SORN).

Here's how and why to SORN a car.

What’s a SORN?

SORN stands for “statutory off-road notice”. It's the official name for telling the DVLA you’re taking your car off the road.

Once your car has a SORN, it’s illegal for it to be on a public road – even if it’s just parked. You have to keep it on private property 100% of the time.

How to apply for a SORN

There are several ways to apply for a SORN:

  • Online - on the GOV.UK website
  • By post - fill out this V890 application form and send it to: DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1AR = By phone - call the DVLA vehicle service on 0300 123 4321

To SORN your car you’ll need to have the following details ready:

  • Your car’s registration number (and its make and model info)
  • The 11-digit reference from your car's V5C logbook OR the 16-digit reference number from your V11 car tax renewal reminder.

If you can’t find your VC5 logbook or tax renewal number - don’t worry! You can still apply for a SORN using this form online. but you’ll also need to apply for a new V5C logbook at the same time. You can do this. It’ll cost £25.

Declaring a SORN means you don’t have to insure your car

In the UK, all cars need to be insured because of a law called Continuous Insurance Enforcement CIE.

Declaring your car off the road with a SORN means you can stop paying to tax and insure it.

This can be a good idea if you bought a car as a ‘fix-up’ project, or you just decide not to drive your car.

Unless you've SORNed your car, it needs to be insured and your car tax has to be up-to-date.

This is the case even if the car’s sitting on the drive or if you're driving a new car home… and even if you plan on SORNing as soon as you get back. There is no wiggle-room.

The only time you can drive a car with a SORN is to or from a pre-booked MOT appointment.

If you get caught driving the car for any other reason, you could end up in court facing an unlimited fine 😕

A SORN might not kick in right away

The time it takes for your SORN to kick in will depend on how you apply for it.

If you use your V5C reference number and apply online or on the phone, the SORN starts immediately.

If you use your V11 reference number and apply online or on the phone, the SORN starts on the first day of the next month (so if you applied on the 16th March, it would start on 1st April).

If you apply by post, the SORN starts from the date you put on the application. (It doesn’t matter if you used your V11 or V5C reference number.)

Your car insurance doesn’t automatically get cancelled when you SORN your car

When you apply for a SORN, your tax will automatically get cancelled and you’ll get a refund for any months left.

Your car insurance won’t automatically cancel, because you may still want a policy, to cover things like theft, while your car is out of use.

If you decide to cancel your policy early, you may have to pay a cancellation fee depending on your insurer.

You can't SORN a car that you keep on the road
You can't SORN a car that you keep on the road
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SORN cars must be kept on private land

Cars must be kept on private land once they've been declared off-road.

You can park a SORN car in these areas:

  • On a driveway
  • In a garage
  • On a private road (you might need permission from the road owner though)

You can't park a SORN car in these areas:

  • In a car park (even a residential one – most communal car parks are off-limits for SORN cars)
  • In a garden
  • On the side of any public road
  • On the pavement

Each new owner of a car needs to get its own SORN

You can't transfer a SORN to someone else.

If you sell a SORN-registered car, the new owner has to either tax and insure it or apply for their own SORN.

SORNing a vehicle means you must take it off the road
SORNing a vehicle means you must take it off the road
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Laid-up insurance covers SORN cars

If you decide to SORN your car, you might still want some level of insurance cover. Fro example, to protect it from fire damage or theft.

'Laid-up insurance' (also sometimes called 'SORN insurance') is designed for SORN cars.

It covers you for theft and damage caused by a fire, but it doesn’t give you any third-party cover. (That’s the part that you need to legally drive a car, and which you won’t be needing for a SORN car.)

Because it only covers fire and theft, laid-up cover it can be cheaper than third-party, third party, fire and theft or comprehensive insurance.

If your SORN car is a classic, however, laid-up insurance might not offer enough protection. You can get specialist classic car insurance, though, which is made specially for valuable classics.

You can reverse a SORN by paying your car tax

Ending a SORN is really simple, all you have to do is pay tax on your car again.

You can find out if a car is taxed or has a SORN online at GOV.UK. All you need to do is enter the car's registration plate number.

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Updated on 7th August 2023