How to SORN your car with the DVLA

6 Apr, 2018 3:00pm Chris Rosamond

‘How to SORN my car’ this article explains the way to make a Statutory Off Road Notification or SORN with the DVLA

Declaring a vehicle SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification) is a legal requirement in the UK, so knowing how to do it properly is very important. A SORN is a declaration that a car not being used on the roads, and hence, there is no need to pay road tax or have an insurance policy.

Fortunately, ‘SORNing’ a car is rather easy to do. All you need is a few minutes to visit the DVLA website and declare a vehicle SORN, which you can do at any time. Gone are the days you need to queue up in stuffy office and fill out pages of paperwork, instead, you can do it sat on your sofa in relative comfort.

UK car insurance groups explained

While the easiest to declare a vehicle SORN or even check if a vehicle has been declared SORN, you can also carry out the process by post or over the phone. A final note before starting the main part of the article, a car has to be off the road, on private land or in a garage before it can be declared SORN. If it is not in one of those places, it is legally required to be taxed and insured. With that in mind, here is all you need to know about the SORN process.  

Why do you need to SORN your car?

If you own a car that is in regular use, it's against the law for it to be untaxed and uninsured, but changes to the law now mean the same principle applies to untaxed or uninsured vehicles on private land. That's where a SORN declaration comes in.

DVLA docs

The Government changed the rules to ensure that vehicles are accounted for, and the Continuous Insurance Enforcement legislation is designed to clamp down on uninsured driving. However, these new rules have caught out some vehicle owners who either weren’t aware of the changes, or forgot to complete the SORN paperwork. 

Declare SORN on time and avoid a fine

If your car is uninsured or untaxed, for whatever reason, you must take it off the road immediately and make a SORN declaration to the DVLA.

If you fail to make a SORN declaration, then the DVLA not only knows when your road tax has expired, but the organisation can cross-reference with the national insurance database to find out which vehicles do not have valid cover.

How to avoid a flat battery

Either way, the DVLA will assume that your vehicle is off the road and you have failed to declare SORN. (If it isn’t off the road and you're still driving the car without road tax, then you are liable to police prosecution.)

A warning letter should be sent, and if you fail to take action, an automatic fixed penalty fine will be issued by post – it’s £80 if your road tax has expired, or £100 if your car is uninsured.

If you fail to settle-up, you’ll be facing court prosecution, at which point magistrates could raise the fine to £1,000 - court costs - for either tax or insurance.

How to value your car: the complete guide

Don’t rely on the DVLA sending you a warning letter though, as they’re not actually obliged to do so. Even if you think you should have had a letter but it hasn’t arrived, you’re still responsible in law for the offence and liable to be fined.

When you must make a SORN declaration

• If you buy a car and do not tax and insure it immediately. (Road tax no longer transfers with a car to its new owner, but is refunded to the car’s vendor at the time of sale.)

• If you buy a car that has already been recorded as SORN by the previous owner. (SORN declarations are not transferable, so you must immediately make a fresh declaration as the new owner.)

• If your road tax expires and your car is off the road for more than 14 days.

• If your car does not have valid insurance.

• If you scrap your car, or break it for parts.

How to declare SORN for your car

Fortunately it’s pretty easy to SORN your car – you can do it online, by post or even over the telephone.

Apart from the car’s registration number, and make and model info, you’ll need the 16-digit reference number from your V11 car tax renewal reminder or the 11-digit reference from the car's V5C logbook.

Online – visit

By post – use form V890 (available from the Post Office) and mail it to the DVLA.

By telephone – call the DVLA on 0300 123 4321

However you declare SORN, you should receive an acknowledgement letter from the DVLA within four weeks. If you do not receive this letter, the onus is once again on you to check that your SORN has been successfully processed.

How long does a SORN last and how to cancel it

Unlike road tax you don't need to renew a SORN declaration each year, and the SORN declaration is automatically cancelled at the time when you tax your vehicle again.

How to tax a sorn car and get it back on the road

Ta a SORN’d car is easy, you simply follow the same procedure you would for a car that is running out of tax.

If your car has been off the road for a long time, it will, at the very least, need an MoT, but probably a good service, too. Once both of these are done, your car should be safe to go back on the road.

It’s worth noting that if you are driving to the MoT test station (you are allowed to drive an unMoT’d car to a pre-booked test), make sure you have the correct insurance to cover your journey and have checked that your tyres, brakes, steering and lights are still in working order before heading out on the road.

Is it illegal to drive a car that's SORN?

It may occasionally be tempting to take a SORN vehicle for a spin – for example if it’s been off the road for extended repairs and you want to road-test it, or you’ve just got back from an extended stay overseas. 

New V5C log book rules: full guide for car buyers and sellers

However this is against the law, and if you are caught – or your number plate recorded on an ANPR system - the authorities will take a very dim view. You could face prosecution and a fine of up to £2,500.

The only exception to the rule is when you’re on the way to a pre-booked MoT test.