SORN meaning: What you need to know

Last updated January 20, 2022

If you are planning to take your vehicle off the road, you’ll need to register a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA); this allows you to avoid making further tax and insurance payments. In this guide, we’ll look at what a SORN means, when you should use it and what to do if you wish to reverse the process and put your vehicle back on the road again.

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What does SORN mean?

SORN is an acronym for Statutory Off Road Notification and is a formal declaration to the DVLA that you are taking your vehicle off the road, and therefore, should not be required to renew car tax or insurance. While a SORN is active on a vehicle, it means it should not be driven on a public road.

When should I register a SORN for my car?

Readers who are planning on taking their vehicle off the road, and have no intentions to drive it in the near future, despite which car they own or the value of the car, should consider declaring a SORN, and informing the DVLA that the vehicle will be officially off the road.

While you cannot immediately stop paying car tax and insurance (motorists who do this risk an £80 fine if caught, which can be increased to £1,000 if unpaid), you can appeal for the remaining payments to be reduced. Here are some example circumstances that would likely call for the vehicle owner to register a SORN:

  • The owner wants to keep the vehicle on their drive or in a lockup/garage, (the vehicle cannot be left on a public road of any kind).
  • The vehicle is kept for spare parts or restoration at a later date.
  • There is a delay in renewing the vehicle’s insurance policy, and the car must be kept off-road until a new policy begins.
  • A car is bought to be kept off the road (common with collectable/ classic vehicles).

What happens if I buy a car with a SORN?

If you buy a car and the previous owner had the car registered with a SORN, it’s important to know that the SORN does not transfer over. As the new legal owner of the vehicle, you must register a new SORN in your name.

Oppositely, if you are selling a car that is registered with a SORN, the new owner should be made aware that they will have to register the vehicle as off-road in their own name if they do not wish to tax, insure and drive it straight away. You can find a more extensive list of pitfalls to avoid when selling a car here.

You can learn how to check if your car is a SORN with our guide 'How to check if a car is SORN'.

How do I SORN my car?

The quickest way to SORN your car is by contacting the DVLA directly. You can process the registration to SORN your car online via the DVLA website, or call their 24-hour service line on 0300 123 4321 if you’d rather process the registration over the phone. Alternatively, you can apply by post by filling out this V890 application form and sending it to DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1AR.

In certain circumstances, such as, if you aren’t yet registered as the vehicle's new keeper - you can only register a SORN by post.

It’s also worth noting that you can specify when you want the SORN to start. For example, if you need the SORN to begin on the first day of the following month, you need to use the 16-digit number displayed on your V11 document (also known as the ‘vehicle tax reminder letter’).

If you have received a reminder letter about road tax renewal being due but have decided to keep the vehicle off the road, arranging the SORN in advance is advised.

For more information, see our full guide: How to SORN your car with the DVLA (step-by-step)

Should I renew my SORN?

One big question is often, "How long is SORN valid for?" In years past, a SORN was only valid for a 12-months meaning it would have to be renewed after a year. However, SORNs now remain in place indefinitely, so you don’t have to worry about renewing your SORN, and only need to change the vehicle’s status should it be taken back onto the road.

Can I drive a car with a SORN?

The only circumstances in which you are allowed to drive a car with a registered SORN is if you are driving it directly to a garage for a pre-booked MOT appointment. Should you be pulled over and questioned by the police regarding the status of the car, the garage will be able to confirm the details of your appointment. Be wary, driving a car with a registered SORN under any other circumstances could land you a fine of up to £2,500.

How to get a SORN car back on the road

If you have a car with a registered SORN and want to get the vehicle back on the road, you’ll be pleased to know that the process is relatively straightforward.

The first step you should take is getting the vehicle taxed again, which can be done easily on the DVLA website. You should then look to insure the car and ensure that the policy is active and in-date before you get behind the wheel. From there, as long as the car has a valid MOT, we have a handy tool on how to know if your car has a valid MOT. If required, be sure to book your vehicle in for an MOT and service before taking it back to the roads.

Related: Can you drive a SORN car to an MOT without insurance?

Frequently asked questions

If you are not the registered owner of the vehicle, you will need to apply for a SORN by post using the V890 form, which you can get from your local post office. Alternatively, you can call the DVLA’s 24-hour service on 0300 123 4321.

Once the SORN is in place, it will stay in place until you tax or sell the car, so there is no need to renew it. Previously, SORN was only valid for a 12-months, but it’s now indefinite.

It is completely free to apply for SORNs. However, you will need to buy a new vehicle logbook to finish your application, these cost £25.

If you declare your vehicle as off road, you do not need to tax or insure it. If you have any full months of remaining tax, you can get a refund from the DVLA.

You are also entitled to a refund from your insurance provider for the months remaining on your policy. To claim your refund, contact your provider and provide the SORN details the DVLA issued you.

The DVLA states that it is an offence to park a SORN car on a public road - defined as, ‘a road repairable at the public expense’, which includes footpaths, grass verges and some car parks. Therefore, you should park your SORN car on yourprivate property.

SORNs are not transferable, so if you buy a vehicle that is already reported as off road, you will need to declare the SORN again as the new registered owner.

The short answer is, yes. If you own a vehicle and do not intend to drive it, you must notify the DVLA and legally register it as off the road. Car owners who register a SORN can avoid paying vehicle tax if the car is off the road.

Please note that you can’t simply stop paying your taxes and failure to tax a vehicle that hasn’t been registered with SORN can result in a fine of £80. This fine may be lowered on appeal, but it could increase to £1,000 in a court settlement if it’s not paid.

  • If you plan to park your vehicle on the driveway, garage, or on private land for an extended period
  • If the vehicle is uninsured (even for a short period of time) due to an insurance renewal delay
  • If you intend to recover parts from your vehicle before scrapping it
  • If you’re buying a vehicle with the intention to keep it off the road