Tips and Advice

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, regardless of if it is tax-exempt or chargable through Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), will still need to be taxed annually or via a monthly payment to use the road network. But, if you’re planning on not using your car for an extended period by storing it off the road, you can apply 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.

During the Coronavirus pandemic, you may also be considering taking your car off the road. This may make sense if you can shop for essentials, go outside for exercise once a day, attend a medical appointment, assist an elderly or vulnerable person or travel to and from work (if you are a key worker) without driving. If your household owns more than one vehicle, one car may suffice for these essential trips, making it possible to SORN any others.

How to store a car

A SORN isn’t suitable if your car spends almost all most of its time sitting on a drive or in the garage, but you plan to use it 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 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 £2,500, 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.

What do I need to SORN a vehicle?

Thanks to the internet, applying for a SORN for your car only takes a few minutes at 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.

Because a SORN cannot be transferred from one owner to another, if you buy a car that’s the subject of a SORN, you have to apply to the DVLA to have it cancelled. Either way, the DVLA will regard the SORN as having ended with the change of owner and road tax will become due once more.

As long as they adhere to a few special conditions, vehicle testers and motor traders don’t have to apply for a SORN.

Do you want to know more about the latest road tax rules? Why not read our in-depth explainer for everything you need to know.

Recommended

Apple CarPlay: compatible cars, how it works and how to get it
Apple CarPlay screen
Tips and advice
13 Oct 2021

Apple CarPlay: compatible cars, how it works and how to get it

Diesel Particulate Filters: what is a DPF and which cars come with one?
Smoky exhaust pipe
Tips and advice
13 Oct 2021

Diesel Particulate Filters: what is a DPF and which cars come with one?

What is a V5C? Here’s everything you need to know about the log book
V5C close up
Tips and advice
27 Sep 2021

What is a V5C? Here’s everything you need to know about the log book

Main dealer car servicing – a complete guide
Main dealer car servicing
Car ownership
19 Aug 2021

Main dealer car servicing – a complete guide

Most Popular

Top 10 best hybrid cars 2021
Hyundai Tucson SUV review
Best cars
22 Oct 2021

Top 10 best hybrid cars 2021

What is AdBlue?
What is adblue?
Tips and advice
18 Oct 2021

What is AdBlue?

Top 10 best company cars 2021
Hyundai Ioniq 5 front 3/4 cornering
Best cars
14 Oct 2021

Top 10 best company cars 2021

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
10 Aug 2021

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Electric car charging station
Tips and advice
3 Jun 2021

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?
PCP vs HP
Tips and advice
29 Sep 2021

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
23 Jul 2021

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Top 10 best car interiors 2021
Peugeot 208 hatchback
Best cars
25 Jun 2021

Top 10 best car interiors 2021

Top 10 best electric cars 2021
Ioniq 5
Best cars
20 Oct 2021

Top 10 best electric cars 2021

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2021
Toyota Prius front 3/4 cornering
Best cars
10 Jun 2021

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2021

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks
Audi RS 3 driving - front view
Hot hatches
27 Oct 2021

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks