If you don't plan to drive your car for a while, you must declare it ‘off the road’, by registering the vehicle as such. This is done by completing a 'Statuatory Off Road Notification' (SORN) application to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

You can be fined thousands of pounds if you stop paying road tax, car insurance or don't have a valid MOT certificate AND keep your vehicle on public roads.

Read this article to find out what SORN is, how to SORN your car, and how to stop a SORN if you want to use the vehicle again.


What is a SORN?

SORN stands for ‘Statutory Off Road Notification' which tells the DVLA that you don't want to use the vehicle for up to 12 months. It's useful if the vehicle is in unroadworthy condition and you can't pay to fix it right now, or you're planning on being out of the country or at university without needing to use the car.

By registering a vehicle as SORN, you can avoid making further tax and insurance payments.

However you cannot immediately stop paying car tax and insurance – and risk an £80 fine if caught doing so, which could reach £1,000 if left unpaid – but you can appeal for the remaining payments to be reduced.

While a SORN is active on the vehicle, it cannot be driven on a public road until you reverse the notice.

If you aren’t driving the vehicle, then it won’t need an MOT.

Regardless of SORN, if the vehicle still has a valid MOT certificate, then this will remain valid until the end of the MOT period.


How Do I Register a Car as SORN?

You can file a SORN online for free provided that you are the registered owner of the vehicle.

To register a car as SORN you can contact the DVLA directly via the DVLA website or via their 24-hour phone service line on 0300 790 6802.

Alternatively, you can apply by post by filling out a V890 application form and sending it to Vehicle Customer Services, DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1AR.

Please be aware that in certain circumstances you can only apply by post, including if you aren’t yet registered as the vehicle’s new keeper.

You will need to update the details in your vehicle’s logbook and send it at the same time as the V890 if so.

You can specify when you want the SORN to start by using the 16-digit number on your V11 document.

If you have received a reminder letter about road tax renewal but have decided to keep your vehicle ‘off the road’, you should arrange the SORN in advance.

You can expect a processing time of up to 8 weeks when applying by post, 6 weeks for a vehicle tax refund requested over the phone or online, and 4 weeks for a SORN confirmation requested by telephone.


When Should I Do This?

If you are planning on taking your vehicle ‘off the road’ and are not thinking to drive it in the near future, you should consider declaring a SORN.

You can SORN your car immediately or on the first day of the next month. If you apply by post, you can choose the first day of the month after next.

However, you must also include a letter explaining why you can’t apply closer to that date.


Do I Have to SORN My Car?

You must register your car as SORN if any of the following situations apply to your vehicle:

  • It is not taxed
  • It is not insured (even for a short time)
  • You want to keep it on your drive or in a lock-up/garage
  • It is being kept for spare parts or restoration
  • You bought or received it and want to keep it ‘off the road’

You will automatically receive a vehicle tax refund for any full remaining months after you make a SORN.

Please note that you cannot transfer a SORN from a previous keeper of a vehicle.

You do not need to make a SORN if you have been sent a vehicle tax reminder for a vehicle you have already sold.

Once you have told the DVLA that you have sold your vehicle, you will receive confirmation that you no longer have it.

If you pay the heavy goods vehicle (HGV) levy, then make sure that you read the guidance about the levy suspension before making a SORN.

You may wish to register a car as SORN if you have inherited a collectible or classic car which you wish to keep ‘off the road’.


When Will a SORN Start?

A SORN will start if:

  • Your vehicle tax expires
  • You aren’t applying in the month your vehicle tax is due to expire

Your vehicle’s SORN starts on the first day of the next month provided you apply in the month your vehicle tax is due to expire.

Please note that you cannot backdate your SORN.


Do You Have to Renew SORN?

In the past, SORN was only valid for 12 months and had to be renewed after a year.

SORNs now remain in place indefinitely so you won’t need to renew it, but you must stay in the UK for your SORN to be valid.

You just need to change the vehicle’s status if it is to be taken back onto the road.


Do I Need Insurance for a SORN Vehicle? 

A vehicle with a valid SORN does not need car insurance.

Once the vehicle has been declared ‘off the road’, you should contact your insurance company to cancel the remaining cover.

If you paid the full cost upfront, you may be able to get a refund for the unused months.

However, we would recommend that a SORN vehicle has some form of insurance policy, especially if you hope to drive it again one day.

Even if this is just third-party fire and theft, it's better than nothing and covers you if the car is stolen or damaged by a fire at the property you're storing it at.


Where Can I Keep a SORN Vehicle?

A SORN vehicle must be kept on your own private property, such as in a garage that you own or on your driveway.

You cannot park it on a public road at any time.




Car Park















Private Road






Whilst you can park your car on a private road, you should always ask permission from the owners first.


How Can I Avoid Paying a Fine?

If you keep a SORN car on a public road, then you could be fined up to £2,500.

The DVLA may issue you with a warning before the fine, but they are not obligated to do so.

You can be fined whether you drive the car on a public road or not.

An ‘off the road’ vehicle must be parked on your private property.

The only exception being if you are driving the vehicle to a pre-booked MOT test.

If you are stopped by the police, you must provide proof of the booking so that the police can confirm this with the garage.

If you can’t prove that you are on your way to a pre-booked MOT, then you could still be fined £2,500.


What Happens If I Buy a Car with a SORN?

If you buy a car which the previous owner had registered with a SORN, the SORN will not transfer over.

As the new legal owner of the vehicle, you must register a new SORN in your own name.

Likewise, if you are selling a car which is registered with a SORN to someone who wants to avoid taxing, insuring, and driving the vehicle immediately, the new owner must be made aware of the fact that they need to register the vehicle as ‘off the road’ in their name.


How Do You Un-SORN a Vehicle?

Your vehicle’s SORN will be automatically cancelled when you tax your vehicle again, if you sell it, if you scrap it, or if it is permanently exported.

There is an £80 fine for driving an untaxed vehicle, which can increase to £1,000 if left unpaid.

You must also insure the vehicle and ensure that it has a valid MOT certificate before moving it back onto the road.

You must complete any repairs which forced the vehicle ‘off the road’, or you could face a £1,000 fine for driving an unroadworthy vehicle.

Remember, if you choose to place a vehicle under SORN conditions, you cannot drive it until you have reversed the notification, paid road tax, taken out valid motor insurance AND got a valid MOT certificate.

Otherwise, you may still be fined thousands of pounds for driving illegally or driving an unroadworthy vehilce - or both!