How to SORN your car

You don’t always need to keep your car road-ready, while paying full whack for tax and insurance. There will be times when your pride and joy is temporarily redundant, perhaps due to you working from home, or because repair work is needed that may take months to complete. It’s during these times, that you’ll want to SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification) your car.

If your car is not going to be driven for two weeks or more, then you can apply for the DVLA’s SORN, saving you money, but keeping your car legal. Obtaining a SORN for your car is also free and takes just a few minutes to process if you’re online.

How to declare your car as SORN

There are three ways. The first is online, by going directly to the DVLA website. You will need your car’s make, model and registration. If you wish to SORN your car immediately, then you will need the 11-digit reference number from your vehicle’s V5C document. If you can plan ahead and SORN your car from the first day of a calendar month (financially, a better option, since the DVLA will only refund you for a whole month), you will need the 16-digit reference number from your V11 tax reminder.

Unless you want to pay a third-party company to carry out this simple process on your behalf, make sure you go directly to the above link. Googling ‘SORN my car’ may introduce you to companies that charge for the service.

You can also SORN by post. You’ll need to either go to the DVLA’s website and download form V890 or collect one from a post office. Once completed, this needs to be sent to: DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1AR.

And there’s always the phone. Have your car’s details and one of the reference numbers above to hand, and call the DVLA directly on 0300 123 4321.

If applying by post or over the phone, the DVLA should issue an acknowledgement letter within four weeks. If you do not receive one, make sure to call them. Don’t assume that your car’s SORN is in place. 

Why do I need to apply for SORN?

All cars need to be taxed (officially known as VED, or Vehicle Excise Duty) and insured if they’re parked or driven on the public road.

However, if the car is not being used for an extended period of time, and it can be stored in a garage or on private land, then it does not need VED or insurance (although we would still recommend maintaining basic fire and theft cover, even when it’s off the road). While the DVLA permits this, it is also a legal requirement that owners obtain a SORN.

What happens if I take my car off the road but don’t apply for a SORN?

If you let your VED expire and do not apply for a SORN, even if you’ve stopped using your car and are storing it on private land, the DVLA will issue an initial warning letter, closely followed by a fixed penalty fine of £80 (reduced to £40 if paid within 28 days) by post.

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