If you need to take your car off the road for a while, you’ll need to make a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN).
When you SORN a car you can no longer drive it around, but that doesn’t mean it’s a great way to save money on tax and vehicle insurance. Here’s what you need to know about getting a SORN for your vehicle.
A SORN is an official way of informing the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) that your car is off the road and means that you don’t have to tax or insure it.
You can’t drive, or even leave, a vehicle on a public road while it has a SORN; it must be in a garage, on a driveway or on private land.
You might want to consider making a SORN for your vehicle if:
It’s illegal to own an uninsured vehicle - a SORN is the only legal way to avoid paying tax and insurance. If you don’t declare your car off the road or insure it, you could face a fine of up to £1,000
You can SORN your vehicle for free 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.
It's not a legal requirement, no, but accidents can still happen. And without insurance, you won't be covered for fire or theft.
Ask yourself whether you could afford the cost of repair or replacement if something happened to your car while it's SORN. If not, you can get laid up car insurance - also called SORN insurance. This covers your car for loss or damage due to fire or theft while it’s laid up in a garage, on your driveway or private land.
SORN insurance offers no cover for driving, so you’d need to compare regular car insurance policies - and cancel the SORN - before you get back behind the wheel.
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.
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 it for a while, you might be better off getting a SORN. It means you don't legally have to tax or insure your car.
It’s illegal to drive it on a public road, unless you’re on your way to a pre-booked MOT appointment. If you were stopped, you’d have to be able to prove this. Otherwise, you’d be liable to court prosecution and a hefty fine of up to £2,500.
It will automatically end 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 events outlines above occurs.
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 SORN beforehand, you’ll need to make a few arrangements first.
“You must be insured,” confirms Direct Line’s Chloe French. “And you, or the owner, should apply for vehicle tax too - it can be done monthly.”
Even unknowingly driving a SORN car could invalidate your insurance if you were involved in an incident while behind the wheel. If you’re in any doubt, check if a vehicle has a SORN applied beforehand. As long as you have the registration number, you can check it with the DVLA. You can also confirm other useful details here, such as when its tax and MOT expires.
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