How to SORN a motorbike

Find out how, when and why you might want to register your bike as being off the road.

Eve Powell
Eve Powell
Updated 11 October 2022  | 4 mins read

Key points

  • You don’t need to apply for a SORN annually, it runs indefinitely until you start paying road tax on the vehicle
  • You also won’t need to insure your motorbike, but you may want to so that it’s covered against damage and theft
  • It’s free to SORN your motorbike when you apply online
  • You’ll receive a road tax refund on any full months that you have already paid for in advance once the SORN starts

What does SORN mean?

You’ll need to apply for a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) if you’ll be keeping your motorbike off the road.

A SORN is the process for letting the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) know you won’t be using your bike or vehicle on the road, and you want to stop taxing and insuring it.

Being classed as off road, means you won’t be using your motorcycle on public land. For example, you might be storing it in a garage, on a driveway or using it on private property.

Do I need to SORN my motorcycle?

You should get a SORN if you’re not planning to ride your motorbike in the near future and you can keep it somewhere that’s on private land.

When you have a SORN, you won’t need to pay annual vehicle tax and your bike doesn’t legally need to be insured.

However, it also means you can’t leave your motorcycle parked on a public road.

If your bike isn’t taxed or doesn’t have valid motorbike insurance and you haven’t declared it as off the road with a SORN, you’ll face an automatic fine from the DVLA.

Why would I want a SORN for my motorbike?

There are many reasons why you might want to officially declare your bike as being off the road. For example, you should do this if:

  • Your bike isn’t taxed
  • The motorcycle isn’t insured, even if this is just for a short time
  • You want to break your bike down into parts before you scrap it
  • You buy a motorcycle and want to keep it off the road for a while - for example, you only plan to use it during the summer
  • You’ve bought a bike as a project to repair and do up, but it’s not roadworthy yet
  • You’ve inherited a motorbike that you can’t ride
  • You’re buying a SORN bike - you’ll need to get a new SORN for it in your name

How to SORN your motorbike

You should start the SORN process as soon as you’re ready to take your bike off the road.

The easiest and quickest way is to apply online at gov.uk, where you’ll receive instant confirmation from the DVLA.

You can also apply to the DVLA by post or by calling the DVLA on 0300 123 4321.

To begin the process, you’ll need the 16-digit number on your vehicle tax reminder letter or the 11-digit number in your log book (V5C).

Once you’ve applied, your SORN will start immediately if either:

  • your vehicle tax has expired
  • you’re not applying in the same month your tax expires

If you apply in the same month that your bike’s tax is due to expire, your SORN will start on the first day of the next month.

Can I apply for a SORN in advance?

You can let the DVLA know that you want to register your bike as being off the road up to two months in advance.

If you’d like your SORN to start on the first day of the next tax month, you’ll need to use your V11 reference to apply online or by phone.

If you’re applying by post, your SORN can start on the date you put on your form - as long as this isn’t any more than two months ahead.

Will I get a refund for my bike tax?

Yes, once your SORN begins, you’ll get a road tax refund - also known as a vehicle excise duty (VED) refund - for any full months of unused tax you’ve already paid for.

But check that your address is correct and up to date on your log book as this is where the DVLA will send your refund cheque.

If you SORN your bike for the winter months, it might be tempting to jump back on once the weather improves, but don’t forget that you won’t be able to take it out on the road until its taxed again.

Is it free to SORN a motorbike?

Yes, if you apply for a SORN online there’s no cost to pay and if you send your application off in the mail, you’ll just have to pay for the postage.

However, a SORN isn’t transferable, so if you’ve bought a motorcycle that’s already declared as off the road, you’ll need to apply for a SORN again as the new registered owner.

Do I still need motorbike insurance if I SORN my bike?

It’s not a legal requirement to have insurance if your bike is SORN, but it’s a good idea to make sure you’re still covered if you want it to be protected from being damaged or stolen while it’s off the road.

An insurance policy is usually an annual contract, so if you cancel your policy because you won’t be using your bike for a while, it’s likely you’ll be charged a cancellation fee which could outweigh any saving you might make.

One option is to get insurance that just covers fire and theft. This is sometimes known as Laid Up motorbike insurance and is used to cover a bike while it’s in storage.

Even if your bike’s going to be stored safely away in a garage there’s still a chance it could be stolen or damaged, so having cover in place will make sure it stays protected.

Can I ride my motorbike if it’s got a SORN?

The only situation where you’re legally allowed to ride your SORN motorbike on a public road is if you’re going to a pre-arranged MOT test.

If you’re caught riding (or parking) it on a public road for any other reason you could face court prosecution and a fine of up to £2,500.

How long does a SORN last?

Once you’ve applied for a SORN, it will last indefinitely. You won’t ever need to renew it and it will be automatically cancelled when you tax your bike again or if it’s sold, scrapped, or permanently exported.

Your SORN will only be valid while your bike is in the UK

Do I need to tell my insurer?

Unlike your road tax, your insurance isn’t automatically cancelled when your SORN begins.

Whether you want your bike to stay insured while it’s off the road is up to you, but it’s a good idea to speak to your insurer about your options.

You may want to pause your cover or keep your bike insured until you’re ready to ride it.

Some insurers will let you reduce your comprehensive cover to third party, fire and theft cover, but this isn’t always cheaper.

Bear in mind that if you choose to cancel your cover, you may have to pay a cancellation fee and you won’t be protected against situations like accidental damage and theft.