If you need to declare a car off the road for a while, you’ll need to make a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN).
Once you’ve got a SORN, you can’t legally drive your car. But that doesn’t mean you have to leave it uninsured – you’ll probably still want to make sure it’s covered for anything that could happen to it while it’s in storage, like a fire or theft.
Here’s what you need to know about getting a SORN for your car, and the right insurance while it’s off the road.
What's a SORN?
You need a SORN to inform the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) that your car is off the road.
It lets DVLA and the police know that your car doesn’t legally need vehicle tax, an MOT or insurance at the moment, because you’re not keeping or driving it on public roads.
The DVLA will then update this information on the Motor Insurance Database (MID).
It’s illegal to drive or even leave your car on a public road while it has a SORN. You must keep it in your garage, on a driveway or on private land.
You might want to consider making a SORN for your vehicle if:
- You own a vehicle you’re not planning to drive, like a classic or project car
- You've got a car that’s a write-off or is going to be scrapped, and you want to salvage parts from it first
- You can’t insure your car for a period due to a delay in renewing a policy, you can’t afford it temporarily, or you need to arrange an MOT
- You’re going to be away for a while.
Do I need to get a SORN for my car if I'm not using it?
No, not really. You can continue to tax and insure your car while you're not using it.
But, if you've got off-street parking, or a garage, and you aren't going to be using your car for a while, you might be better off getting a SORN. It means you don't legally have to tax your car, insure it, or get an MOT.
Do I need insurance for a SORN vehicle?
You don’t legally have to insure your car while it has a SORN – but it might be a good idea to get some level of cover for it anyway.
Your car’s valuable and just because it’s stored in your garage or on your drive, doesn’t mean it’s safe from thieves or damage.
Without insurance you won’t be covered for fire, theft or accidental damage.
You can get laid up car insurance – also called SORN insurance – for your car while it has a SORN.
It’ll cover loss or damage from fire or theft while it’s laid up off the road.
SORN insurance doesn’t cover you for driving, so you’d need to cancel your SORN and buy regular car insurance before you take your car out on a public road.
How much does it cost to insure a car with a SORN?
Just like standard car insurance, the cost of laid up car insurance depends on a host of risk factors. The type and value of your car, where you live, and your claims history all play a part.
Because you’re not insuring your car to be driven anywhere, it’s likely to be cheaper than normal car insurance.
SORN insurance can cost less than car insurance
See if you could save with SORN insurance while your car’s off the roadGet quotes
How do you get a SORN?
It’s free to SORN your vehicle and you can do it online.
Alternatively, you can contact the DVLA on its 24-hour number 0300 123 4321, or complete a V890 application and send it to the DVLA. You’ll need the vehicle log book (V5C).
If you don’t own the vehicle – for example, if you’re buying it – you’ll have to apply by post.
Whichever method you use, you can specify when you want the SORN to begin.
If you get a SORN, you’ll be refunded any full months of unused tax you’ve already paid for, and you won’t need a valid MOT when the SORN is applied. You may be able to get a refund on part of your vehicle insurance too.
Where can I keep a SORN car?
|Shared car park/resident’s parking||X|
Advantages and disadvantages of SORN
What are the benefits and drawbacks of getting a SORN for your vehicle?
Save money – There are no road tax or MOT costs while your car’s got a SORN. Insurance isn’t compulsory, but you might consider a laid-up policy (which is likely to be cheaper than regular car insurance).
Tax refunded – any unused months on your vehicle tax will be automatically refunded once you apply for your SORN.
Can’t drive your car – you can’t take your car out while it has a SORN. If you think you’ll need to drive your car at all, consider keeping it taxed and insured while it’s in storage and seeing if you can cut insurance costs by reducing your declared mileage.
Buying a vehicle that has a SORN
A SORN can’t be transferred from a previous owner – once you buy and tax the vehicle, the SORN will expire – so you can’t technically buy a vehicle that has a SORN.
If you want to test-drive a vehicle with a SORN vehicle before you buy, you’ll need to make sure you’re insured to drive the vehicle. You, or the owner, will also have to apply for vehicle tax too. You can pay for just one month’s tax.
Even unknowingly driving a SORN car could invalidate your insurance if you were involved in an incident while behind the wheel.
How to check if the car has a SORN
You can check if your car’s got a SORN already by entering your licence plate number on the DVLA's website.
You’ll also be able to see its tax and MOT status.
Driving a SORN vehicle on the road
It’s illegal to drive it on a public road, unless you’re on your way to a pre-booked MOT appointment. You’ll also need to take out standard car insurance to do this.
What happens if I don’t have a SORN when I should?
Under the Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE) laws, it’s an offense to own a vehicle without insurance unless it has a SORN.
If you don’t insure your car and don’t SORN it either, you’ll be breaking the law.
DVLA will send you an Insurance Advisory Letter, telling you that you need to insure or SORN your car immediately or you’ll be fined.
If you still fail to insure and tax your car, or to SORN it, you could face fines, court prosecution and your vehicle could even be impounded and destroyed.
Ending a SORN
A SORN automatically ends when you tax your vehicle again, sell it, scrap it, or permanently export it.
You don’t need to renew it every year – as long as the vehicle remains in the UK, the SORN will be valid until one of the above events occurs.
Frequently asked questions
DVLA will refund any remaining full months of tax automatically. You might be able to get a refund for any unused time on cover from your car insurer, on a pro-rata basis. But there might also be cancellation fees and these can be quite high with some insurers.
No. Your car will have a SORN indefinitely, unless you sell it, scrap it, tax it or permanently export it.
No. A car with a SORN can only be driven to a pre-booked MOT appointment and you need valid motor insurance to do this.
Your car’s MOT is valid until the end of the MOT period, even if you SORN it.
If the MOT on your vehicle expires while it has a SORN, you will need to arrange an MOT before you get your car back on the road.
You don’t need to end the SORN to tax your car. Getting your car taxed will end the SORN automatically.
No, once a car has a SORN, it can only be parked on private land.
The DVLA will cancel your car tax once your vehicle has been registered as SORN. They'll refund you any full months of car tax remaining.
No, you cannot SORN a car or other vehicle without the logbook.
You can get a duplicate logbook if your original one has been lost, damaged or destroyed.
It's free to SORN a car. You'll only need to pay if you need a new logbook.
Yes, you can sell a SORN car, but you'll need to make the new owner aware that the car has been declared off the road.
They'll only be allowed to drive the car if they are travelling to or from a pre-booked MOT appointment. Likely they will have to find another way to take the car away.
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