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How do I SORN my car?

Own a car that's not being used on public roads? To save money on tax and insurance, you might want to declare it SORN. Here's a quick guide on how to do it.

What does SORN mean?

If you know you're not going to be driving your vehicle for a while, you can officially take it off the road with a SORN – that's a ‘Statutory Off Road Notification'.

The benefit of declaring your vehicle as off the road is that you won't have to pay any tax for it – but it also means you won't be able to use it on any public road, not even in emergencies. And here's what you might not know! You're not allowed to park it on a public road, so you'll need to have a garage or driveway where it can be stored.

In this guide on how to SORN a vehicle, here's what you need to do to inform the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), plus the forms you need.

When would I need to SORN my vehicle?

Most of the time you'll probably know when your vehicle is going to be out of action for a while. But there are times when it happens unexpectedly. So, here are some of the situations when you're required to make a SORN:

  • Your car insurance has run out (although you might have forgotten to renew your policy).
  • You haven't paid your car tax. Remember, when you buy a car, the tax no longer comes with it.
  • You plan to scrap your car but want to take it off the road to remove some valuable parts first.
  • You've bought a car but don't plan to use it immediately.
  • You're going abroad for a long period of time.
  • Your car has failed its MOT and will require significant repairs in order to make it roadworthy again. So you might want to take it off the road until you can afford to pay for the work. If you intend to carry out the work yourself, you still need to declare it as SORN.
  • You only plan to use your vehicle on private land.

Are there any penalties?

Failing to declare a SORN – if it's not in use and without insurance – can land you with a fine of up to £1,000. You could end up having your car clamped, seized or even disposed of completely.

If your car isn't taxed or declared SORN, the DVLA will automatically fine you £80.

How do I SORN a vehicle?

It's free to SORN a car. You can do it online at the government's website, by phone or by post.

To declare a SORN online, you need either:

  • The 16-digit reference number on your tax renewal letter (this is the V11).
  • The 11-digit reference number on your log book (this is the V5C).

If you want to do it by phone, the number to call is 0300 132 4321 – once again, you will need either your V11 or V5C to hand.

To declare SORN by post, you need a V890 form, which needs to be completed and sent to DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1AR.

There are circumstances where you'll need to make a SORN by post – for example, 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.

Not yet registered as the car's keeper? You need to fill in the applicable sections of the V5C and send it to the DVLA, along with the V890 form.

If you don't have a V5C (the log book) for the car, you'll need to apply for a vehicle registration certificate (V62). You then need to send this together with your SORN application, plus a fee of £55, which is payable by cheque or postal order (you can't send cash).

If you plan to keep your car off road while you're abroad, you can file a SORN by post two months before you leave – but the DVLA will want to know why you're giving them advanced notice, so make sure you include a letter of explanation.

And there's some good news about car tax. If you still have some car tax left on your car when it's declared SORN, you'll get any remaining tax back as a refund.

How long does it take to SORN a vehicle?

Making a SORN application is quick and easy. When the SORN will actually start depends on whether you did it online, over the phone or by post.

  • If you declare SORN online or by phone using your V5C, it will take effect immediately.
  • If you declare SORN using your V11, it will start from the following month.
  • If you declare SORN by post, you can specify on the form what date you want it to start.

You don't need to renew or update a SORN. It lasts indefinitely or until you tax and insure your car, you sell it, scrap it or permanently export it. As soon as you do any of those things, the DVLA will automatically change the car's status.

If you want to get your vehicle back on the road, you will need to apply for car tax using your V5C – and this will trigger the end of your SORN.

Can I drive a vehicle that's been declared SORN?

If your car's declared SORN, you cannot drive it on any public road. If you do, you will be committing an offence and could be fined up to £2,500 and face prosecution. The only exception is if you're driving your SORN vehicle to a pre-booked MOT test or other testing appointment.

If you want to drive your vehicle for any other reason, you must ensure it has a valid MOT, tax and car insurance. If it's been off the road for a while, it might be a good idea to get your car booked in for a service, too.

How do I check the SORN status of a car?

It's easy to check whether a vehicle has been declared as SORN by visiting the government's website.

We always want to help keep you driving safely and legally. So you'll find lots more brilliant advice in our handy motoring guides.

All information is correct at the time of publication. Hastings Direct cannot be held responsible for any misinformation displayed.

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