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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

What is a SORN? The Comprehensive Guide to Statutory Off-Road Notification

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If you own a vehicle in the UK, you’ve likely come across the term SORN. But what exactly does it mean, and why is it so crucial for vehicle owners to understand? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into everything you need to know about Statutory Off-Road Notification. From the role of the DVLA to the intricacies of vehicle tax and car insurance, we’ve got you covered.

What You’ll Learn:

  • What SORN means and its legal implications
  • How to make a SORN
  • The impact of SORN on vehicle tax and car insurance
  • How to get your vehicle back on the road after declaring a SORN

So, let’s get started!

Why Should You Read This Guide?

Understanding SORN is not just for car enthusiasts or legal experts; it’s essential knowledge for anyone who owns, drives or is considering purchasing a vehicle in the UK. Whether you’re a first-time car owner or have been driving for years, this guide will provide valuable insights into Statutory Off-Road Notification and its various aspects.

 What is SORN? The Statutory Off-Road Notification Explained

When you own a vehicle but don’t intend to use it on public roads, you need to inform the DVLA. This is where Statutory Off-Road Notification, or SORN, comes into play. It’s a legal requirement that helps you avoid unnecessary vehicle tax and insurance costs.

What is SORN?

SORN stands for Statutory Off-Road Notification. It’s a declaration you make to the DVLA to inform them that your vehicle will not be used on public roads. This means you won’t have to pay vehicle tax or have car insurance for the period the SORN is active.

Why Was SORN Introduced?

The concept of SORN was introduced to combat uninsured vehicles and to allow vehicle owners to legally keep a vehicle off the road without paying road tax. Before the introduction of SORN, vehicle owners had no way to officially declare their vehicles as off-road, leading to legal complications and unnecessary expenses.

Role of the DVLA

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is responsible for maintaining the database of drivers and vehicles in the UK. They are the authority you’ll be dealing with when you make a SORN. The DVLA ensures that all vehicles on or off the road are properly documented, helping to maintain public safety and order.

Why Do You Need to Know About SORN?

Understanding SORN is crucial for any vehicle owner in the UK for several reasons:

Failing to declare a SORN can result in hefty fines and legal complications. The law requires that any vehicle not in use on public roads must either be taxed or have an active SORN. Ignorance of this requirement can lead to a fine of up to £2,500.

Vehicle Excise Duty

Also known as vehicle tax, Vehicle Excise Duty is a tax levied on vehicles used on public roads. Declaring a SORN exempts you from this tax, saving you money during the period your vehicle is not in use.

SORN Status

Knowing the SORN status of your vehicle is essential, especially when selling or buying a used vehicle. A vehicle’s SORN status can affect its resale value and can be a point of negotiation during the sale.

 How to Make a SORN: Everything You Need to Know

Making a SORN is a straightforward process, but it’s essential to get it right to avoid any legal complications.

Online vs Postal Application

You can apply for a SORN either online through the DVLA website or by post using a V890 application form. The online method is quicker and can be done 24/7, while the postal method requires you to mail the completed form to the DVLA.

MethodRequirementsProcessing Time
OnlineGovernment Gateway ID, vehicle detailsInstant
PostalCompleted V890 form, vehicle log bookUp to 2 weeks

SORN Start Date

Your SORN will usually start on the first day of the next month unless you specify otherwise. If you need the SORN to start immediately, you’ll need to provide specific details, such as the vehicle’s tax expiry date.

Required Documents

To make a SORN, you’ll need your vehicle’s registration certificate (V5C) or the green ‘new keeper’ slip if you’ve just bought the vehicle. Without these documents, you can’t proceed with the SORN application.

What Happens After You’ve Made a SORN?

Once you’ve successfully made a SORN, there are several things you should be aware of:

SORN Declaration

Your SORN declaration confirms that your vehicle is off the road. It’s crucial to keep this declaration as you may need it for future reference. The DVLA will send you a confirmation within four weeks. If you don’t receive it, it’s advisable to contact the DVLA to ensure your SORN is active.

How to Keep a SORN

SORN is valid until your vehicle is taxed, sold, or scrapped. There’s no need to renew it annually, but you should be aware of the conditions that might end your SORN status. For instance, if you decide to put your vehicle back on the road or sell it, the SORN will automatically expire.

SORN Renewal

Technically, a SORN doesn’t need to be renewed. However, if you sell your car or it goes back on the road, you’ll need to make a new SORN for the new vehicle or status. This is crucial to avoid any legal complications or fines.

Tax and Insurance: What You Need to Know

Understanding the relationship between SORNvehicle tax, and car insurance can save you both time and money.

How SORN Affects Vehicle Tax

Once a SORN is in place, you’re exempt from paying vehicle tax. You’ll even get a refund for any full months of remaining tax if you pay in advance. This refund is usually processed automatically and will be sent to the address registered with the DVLA.

Car Insurance Considerations

While your vehicle is under SORN, you don’t need to have it insured. However, it’s crucial to apply for a statutory off-road notification before canceling your insurance to avoid legal issues. If your vehicle is damaged or stolen while off the road, remember that you won’t be covered unless you maintain some form of insurance, like “laid-up” coverage.

Getting Your Vehicle Back on the Road

So, your vehicle has been off the road, but now you want to use it again. What steps should you take?

Removing the SORN

To get your vehicle back on the road, you’ll need to remove the SORN by taxing the vehicle. You can do this online through the DVLA website. The process is straightforward but requires you to have all the necessary documents at hand.

Renewing Vehicle Tax and Insurance

Before your vehicle can go back on the road, you’ll need to renew both the vehicle tax and car insurance. Make sure to have all the necessary documents, including your vehicle log book and any vehicle tax reminder letters you may have received. Once these steps are completed, your vehicle is legally ready to hit the road again.

 Common Questions About SORN

Navigating the world of SORN can be confusing, so we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions to help clarify things.

Can You Drive a SORN Vehicle?

No, a vehicle with a SORN is not allowed on public roads. The only exception is driving to a pre-booked MOT test. Failure to adhere to this rule can result in a fine and potential legal action.

How to Sell a Car with a SORN?

Selling a SORN car is possible, but the new owner will need to make a new SORN or tax the vehicle before using it. This is crucial information to share with potential buyers to ensure a smooth transition of ownership.

What Happens If You Don’t Renew a SORN?

Since a SORN doesn’t expire, there’s no need for renewal unless the vehicle’s status changes (e.g., sold or scrapped). However, it’s essential to keep track of any changes to avoid legal complications.


Understanding SORN is crucial for any vehicle owner in the UK. From making a SORN to understanding its impact on vehicle tax and car insurance, this guide has covered everything you need to know. Whether you’re a seasoned driver or new to the world of motoring, being informed about SORN can save you time, money, and potential legal headaches.

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