What is SORN?
In case you’re not familiar with the acronym, SORN stands for Statutory Off Road Notification and is used to inform the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) that your car is neither parked nor being used on public roads. If your vehicle has official SORN status, you are lawfully permitted not to have it taxed or insured – as long as it is strictly off the road.
Why do you need to know?
If your car sits in a private driveway or garage and is never used on public roads, you can consider having it SORNed.
SORN might be also be relevant if you have your vehicle on private ground because it’s undergoing restoration, if you are in the process of scrapping your vehicle but require the parts first, or if you are travelling for a few months and know your car will be left in the garage during that time. In all of these situations, it would make sense to apply to SORN the vehicle and remove unnecessary outgoings, whilst still staying within the law.
There are a few things to bear in mind when you’re looking to SORN your vehicle. Firstly, if you plan to use your vehicle on private land only (perhaps in a farming context), how will you refuel your vehicle, since you cannot go to the nearest petrol station? Or if you plan to leave a vehicle in the garage and only use it very infrequently, it would not qualify for SORN. Any use on public roads at all requires full car tax and insurance coverage.
Driving a SORN vehicle on public roads is an offence as soon as your wheels first touch the public road. If caught, you could be faced with a fine of up to £2,500. Also bear in mind that most insurance policies provide cover for any damage caused by you to another vehicle, so if you are in collision with someone else while your vehicle is SORNed and you have no insurance, you will be directly liable for the damage to their car too.
Finally, if you purchase an already SORNed vehicle, the SORN does not transfer with ownership. Therefore in order to maintain SORN status, you will need to apply independently.
How to SORN your vehicle
Applying to SORN your car is free and can be done in a number of ways. Online at www.gov.uk/make-a-sorn, by calling the DVLA on 0300 123 4321 or by sending a V890 application form to DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1AR.
To make the application you will need your 11 digit reference from the vehicle’s V5C (logbook) or the 16 digit reference code from the road tax renewal reminder letter. Provide these with the registration number, make, and model of your vehicle along with the date from which you wish the SORN to take effect.
SORNs run indefinitely until you notify the DVLA otherwise or apply for your car tax and insurance.