What is SORN? Statutory Off Road Notifications explained
If you plan to keep a car, but not take it on the road, you need to tell the DVLA it’s a SORN vehicle. But how does it work?
Every single motor vehicle in the UK that is used or parked on public roads, even one that is exempt from Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), will still need to be taxed to use the road network. However, if you don’t plan to be using your car for a while, there is also the option of applying for a Statutory Off Road Notice – or ‘SORN’ for short. This will ensure you don’t incur letters or even fines from the DVLA for not taxing your car, or need to pay road tax again until you decide to put your car back on the road.
This came in handy for some motorists during the height of the Coronavirus pandemic, as people that could go out for essential reasons without driving and could avoid having to pay out for road tax by SORNing their car. While lockdowns are (hopefully) a thing of the past, this may still be a good idea for those who aim to continue to work from home and don’t plan on using their car in the near future.
A SORN isn’t suitable if your car spends most of its time sitting on a drive or in the garage, but is driven occasionally, as this will still require it to be taxed. A SORN declaration is most useful if your car is unroadworthy, undergoing restoration, or if you plan to not drive it for a long period of time (such as over winter months if you own a classic or sports car) or if it’s being kept in storage.
When a SORN is applied to a car, it must be kept on a private driveway, or in a garage or storage facility and cannot be parked on a public road. Driving a SORN vehicle on the road is an offence as soon as the wheels touch the tarmac, as this would require it to have been taxed again. Driving without tax can bring a fine of up to £1,000, with only one exception: you will need to be able to prove you’re driving the car to an MoT test that was booked in advance of the journey. Moreover, if the DVLA notices on their system that you are overdue taxing your car, you can expect a fine in the post.
What do I need to SORN a vehicle?
Thanks to the internet, you can apply for a SORN in a matter of minutes. Simply visit: www.gov.uk/make-a-sorn. Alternatively, you can speak to the DVLA on 0300 123 4321 or send a V890 application form to: DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1AR.
To make your car SORN, you’ll need the 11-digit reference number from its V5C (logbook) or a 16-digit reference code from a road-tax renewal reminder. You’ll need to provide one of these, along with the registration number, make and model, and provide the date you’d like it to be SORN from. The DVLA will refund any overpayment on road tax to you.
How long does a SORN last?
When the SORN system was first introduced, owners had to update the notification annually. Today, it lasts indefinitely, only expiring when you notify the DVLA when you want to start paying road tax, sell the car or scrap it.
One thing to keep in mind is that a SORN cannot be transferred from one owner to another; this means that if you buy a car that’s the subject of a SORN, you have to apply to the DVLA to have it renewed. Either way, the DVLA will regard the SORN as having ended with the change of owner and road tax will become due once more, so be wary of this to avoid incurring a nasty fine.
As long as they adhere to a few special conditions, vehicle testers and motor traders don’t have to apply for a SORN.
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