What is a SORN?
If your car's currently off the road, or you intend to take it off the road, you'll need to make an official declaration of your car's status to the authorities. To do this, you'll need to apply for a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN).
The registered keeper of a vehicle that's being kept exclusively on private land will also need to complete a SORN, despite not needing a tax disc or insurance.
By officially declaring the vehicle as "off-road", the registered keeper won't need to insure or tax the vehicle. Even if the car is permanently off-road, sitting in your garage or on your driveway, you will still need to pay tax and insurance and have a valid MOT if you don't have a SORN.
What's the importance of it?
As a result of the Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE) regulations, you'll be liable for a fine as a vehicle owner that isn't covered by an insurance policy and hasn't been officially declared off the road by SORN. Under the CIE regulations, it's a legal requirement to have vehicles covered by insurance at all times.
Just because you're not driving the car on the roads doesn't mean you won't get caught. By comparing DVLA vehicle records with those held on the Motor Insurance Database (MID), the authorities are able to identify uninsured cars. Breaking the law by not insuring your car or declaring SORN will cost you.
If you don't declare SORN you'll be sent an Insurance Advisory Letter (IAL) informing you the vehicle isn't insured. The letter will also tell you that, unless you take action by arranging car insurance, you will face a fine.
If you're found to have not declared SORN, you could face a fixed penalty notice of £100 and you risk your car being clamped, seized or even disposed of. There's an additional possibility you could face prosecution, with a maximum fine of £1,000.
When do you need it?
You must complete a SORN if you're living in the UK and have a vehicle that's being kept off the road. This is regardless of whether it's a rusty old banger or a classic car that you're repairing in your spare time.
You must also make a SORN if your car isn't taxed or insured, no matter how short a time this is for, if you're planning on breaking a vehicle down for parts prior to scrapping it, or if you're buying a vehicle and want to keep it off the road.
If the vehicle you've just bought had a SORN from the previous owner and you intend to keep the vehicle off the road, you'll need a new one as these notifications are not transferable.
If you think your vehicle will be on private land for more than 12 months, then it's worth making a note of the date that you'll need to apply for a renewal as a SORN's only valid for one year.
There are some instances where motor traders don't need to make a SORN. Visit the UK Government's website on how to make a SORN for more information. You can also use this page to check the SORN status of a vehicle.
What if you're not the registered keeper?
You can still apply for a SORN if you're not the registered keeper of the vehicle. To apply for a SORN without being the registered keeper, you'll be required to fill in section 6 and sign section 8 on the V5C. You must also fill in a V890 Statutory Off Road Notification form. If you don't have the V5C, you'll need to apply for one first by filling in an 'application for registration certificate.' This may include a charge.
Getting the vehicle back on the road
If you've made a SORN but would like to get back behind the wheel again, you'll need to insure and tax the vehicle. You'll also need to make sure the car has an up to date MOT. These are all legal requirements for having a car on the road in the UK.
The SORN will expire as soon as you apply for your car tax using your V5C. You can then take your vehicle back on the road once you have the motor insurance in place.
If you buy a vehicle that already has a SORN applied for by the previous owner, regardless of whether you're planning on taking it onto the road or not, the SORN will expire when you buy it.
You'll need to make a new SORN application if you decide you want to keep the car off the road in the future. Don't get caught out — not declaring a SORN can be a costly mistake.