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Declaring a SORN

If you own a car that's not being driven on public roads, you're legally required to notify the DVLA by making a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN). By registering the car as off road and filing a SORN, you won't need to pay for tax or insurance.

SORN cars must be kept off public roads at all times, for instance in a garage or on a driveway. You must also declare a car SORN if you plan to use it solely on private land.

Drivers face tough penalties if they're caught with a car that's uninsured but not declared SORN. They'll have to pay a fixed fine of £100 and could have their car clamped, seized or disposed of. In some cases, the driver could face prosecution with a maximum fine of £1,000.

If you stop paying for car tax then you must declare your car SORN. If you don't, the DVLA will automatically fine you £80.

When would I need to make a SORN?

There are a number of situations where you are required to make a SORN on your vehicle, including:

  • Your car isn't insured, even if only for a short period of time, such as if there's a delay in your policy renewal.
  • Your car isn't taxed, bearing in mind tax can no longer be transferred with cars when they're sold on.
  • You want to disassemble your car for parts before scrapping it.
  • You buy a car but intend to keep it off road, SORN cannot be transferred from the previous owner.
  • You're going abroad on holiday for a long period of time and want to take your car off the road.
  • Your car fails its MOT and needs significant repairs. Also, if you intend to carry out the work yourself you must declare it as SORN.

How do I declare a SORN?

It doesn't cost anything to declare a SORN and you can choose to do it online via the government's website, by phone or by post.

To apply online, you'll need either the 16-digit reference number on your tax renewal letter (V11) or the 11-digit reference number on your log book (V5C). You can declare SORN by ringing 0300 132 4321, making sure you've either your V11 or V5C to hand.

To file a SORN by post, you need to complete a V890 form and send it to: DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1AR. If you want to keep your car off road whilst you're on holiday, you can file a SORN by post two months before you leave — just make sure you include a letter in the envelope explaining why.

There are a number of circumstances where you can only make a SORN by post, such as if you're not yet registered as the car's keeper, or you've recently registered as the keeper and received the V5C document in the current month.

If you haven't yet registered as the car's keeper, you need to fill in the necessary sections of the V5C and send it to the DVLA along with the V890 form.

If you don't have a V5C for the car, you're required to fill in an application for a vehicle registration certificate (V62) and send it with your SORN application — there's a fee.

When will the SORN take effect?

If you apply for SORN online or by phone using your V5C it will be declared immediately, but if you use your V11 it'll come into effect at the start of the next month. If you make a SORN via post, it'll start on the date you write on the form.

Your car will remain declared SORN until you tax and insure it, sell it, scrap it, or permanently export it. In these cases, you won't need to do anything to remove or renew the SORN as the DVLA will change the car's status automatically.

If you have any remaining tax on your car at the point it's declared SORN, you'll receive a refund for any full months.

When you want to get the car back on the road, the SORN will expire automatically when you apply for car tax using your V5C. There are a number of ways you can apply for tax — visit our car tax guide for more information.

Remember, you can only legally start driving when the car's taxed, insured, and has a valid MOT certificate.

When can you drive a car that's been declared SORN?

If your car's declared SORN, the only exception where you can drive it on a public road's to drive to and from a pre-booked MOT test, or to a garage for another pre-booked testing appointment. If you're found to be driving illegally on public roads you'll be fined up to £2,500 and could face prosecution.

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