Registering a Vehicle as Off the Road – How to SORN Your Car

Cars are often massively important to us, and ideally, we keep them on the road as long as possible. But eventually, sadly, there comes a time when you can no longer do so. If you have a car that you haven't driven for a long time, and you don't foresee a need for it any time soon, it might be a good idea to declare it officially off the road. This is known as the SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification). Declaring your car as SORN means that you'll no longer have to pay road tax for it or carry out any scheduled maintenance to keep it roadworthy. Take a look at our guide to see whether SORN is the right thing for your vehicle and how to go about applying for the status.

Registering your vehicle as off the road (SORN)

When should I SORN my car?

If you’re regularly using your car, or it’s parked on a public road, you need to pay road tax on it. Taking the car off the road entails parking it in your garage or your driveway. However, a vehicle that’s physically off the road is still eligible for road tax until you register it for SORN status. So, if you have a car parked up at home and you’re unlikely to use it again, you should apply for SORN. If necessary, it’s always possible to take the car back out of SORN at a later date and start driving it again. Other situations where you should get a SORN include:

  • If you buy a car that was registered SORN. SORN declarations aren’t transferrable from one owner to another. Of course, if you’re intending to use the car, then this won’t be necessary.
  • If you can’t immediately tax and insure the car. Road tax is also non-transferrable, so any time that the car isn’t registered for tax purposes, it should have a SORN status.
  • If you’re planning to scrap a car for parts.

How do I get a SORN?

The process of declaring SORN is relatively straightforward. All you have to do is head over to the DVLA website and fill out the application form. You can also do it via post, or over the phone. You’ll need to have some important information about the car to hand, including:

  • The car’s registration number
  • Its make/model

You’ll also need one of the following:

  • The 16-digit reference number from your V11 car tax renewal reminder
  • The 11-digit reference from the car’s V5C logbook

What if I change my mind?

Even if you think you won’t be using a car again, it’s possible that you might change your mind at some point. Maybe you’ve figured out how to fix an issue with the car, or perhaps your replacement is temporarily unavailable. Whatever the reason, un-SORNing a car is even easier than getting a SORN. No official declaration has to be made; as soon as you apply for road tax for the vehicle, the SORN status is cancelled.

What happens if I drive a SORN car?

Road tax is an important part of car ownership, and it’s crucial for the DVLA to keep tabs on the vehicles that are active on the UK’s roads. So if you do declare SORN for your car, there will be serious penalties for driving it – it’s usually a more serious offence than driving a car that hasn’t been taxed yet. Driving an untaxed car is punishable by a fine of £80 (this is reduced to £40 if you pay within two weeks). If you drive a car that’s uninsured, you could face a fine of £100.

The only situation where you can legally drive a car that has been declared SORN is if you’re on the way to an MOT test or some other form of officially-sanctioned government vehicle check. Otherwise, you’ll be breaking the law, and it’s likely that your car will be identified by traffic cameras by its registration number. The fine for driving a SORN car can be as high as £2,500, and you may also have to appear in court too.

Now you’ve read our guide to SORN, you should have all the essential facts about this important status. As long as you’re aware of your legal obligations, it shouldn’t be difficult to declare your car off the road, or to tax it when you’re ready to use it again. Stay on top of these technical issues and you’ll be able to enjoy car ownership as much as possible, without facing any problems or unexpected costs.

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