car in garage

Here’s Everything You Need To Know About A SORN

27th Mar, 2018

SORN stands for Statutory Off Road Notification, and you need it if – you guessed it – you’re taking your vehicle off the road. Crucially, it’s the document that allows you to stop making further tax and insurance payments. It’s obviously all a bit more complex than that, but that’s the bare bones of it. So, we’ve collected some of the most common questions we’ve often heard our customers ask about SORNs – the answers are below!

Let’s get to answering them!


Here’s what we’ll be covering:

  1. What exactly is a SORN?
  2. Why do I need a SORN for my car?
  3. How much does a SORN cost?
  4. Do I still need to pay tax and insurance if I have a SORN?
  5. What is a V890 form?
  6. When does a SORN start?
  7. Can you backdate a SORN?
  8. When does a SORN expire?
  9. How long is a SORN valid for?
  10. What happens if I buy a car with a SORN applied?
  11. How do I get a SORN for my car?
  12. How long does it take to get A SORN?
  13. Can I sell a car with a SORN?
  14. Do I need a SORN to scrap my car?
  15. How do I put a SORN car back on the road?

1. What Is A SORN?

A Statutory Off Road Notification essentially acts as a formal declaration to the DVLA that you’re taking your car off the road. Generally, if you want to take your car off the road it means that you’ll want to stop paying car tax and insurance on it as well, and a SORN is the document that lets you do that. If you don’t have one, then as far as the DVLA’s concerned, they’re still due the money – so it’s important not to forget!

car in driveway

In case you’re asking “can I drive a car with a SORN”, the answer is a resounding nope. You can’t have it both ways; while a SORN is active, your car doesn’t technically have tax or insurance, so it’s illegal to drive it on a public road. The only exception is if you’re taking it to the garage for a pre-booked MOT appointment. That way if you’re pulled over, the garage will be able to confirm your appointment to any enquiring law enforcement. Outside those circumstances though, you’re looking at the business end of a £2500 fine.

2. Why do you need a SORN?

Basically, if you want your car off the road, and have no intention to drive it any time in the near future – say for example, if you’ve decided to get the train to work for a while.

Other circumstances in which you might need a SORN include (but are not limited to):

  • Keeping your car in a lockup or garage (but you can’t leave it on any public road)
  • If there’s an unavoidable delay in renewing its insurance policy, it will need to be declared officially off-road with a SORN. Otherwise, you can be fined for your vehicle being uninsured, even if you’re not technically driving it!
  • If you plan on scrapping your car for parts, or restoring it.
  • If you’ve bought your car with the intention of keeping it off road. Classic, collectable, vintage or unique vehicles generally fall into this category.

3. How much does it cost to get a SORN?

The application and receipt of a SORN is absolutely free – as indeed it should be! – so don’t worry about having to pinch the pennies get one. Having to save up to ultimately save money would probably would be a bit of a never-ending circle otherwise, financially speaking.

4. Do I still need to pay tax and insurance if I have a SORN?

car bills and insurance

Ultimately, you’ll be pleased to hear, no. However, there’s something really important to bear in mind. While you can cancel or pause your car insurance with your personal provider, just the act of applying for a SORN doesn’t mean you can just immediately stop paying vehicle tax. You have to continue paying it until you’re specifically notified otherwise, or the DVLA will almost certainly view it as an attempt to dodge your legal obligations.

If you simply stop right away, you risk an £80 fine if you’re caught. That can rise up to £1000 if it’s unpaid. However, when applying for your SORN you can ask the DVLA for your remaining payments to be reduced. Don’t think the DVLA is just pocketing the extra cash for your car, though. Within 6 weeks of getting your SORN, you’ll automatically get a full refund on the vehicle tax you owe for any remaining months, so you’re not losing out.

5. What is a V890 form?

A V890 form is an official document that you can use to apply for a Statutory Off Road Notification if you’re not the registered keeper of the vehicle. (Don’t forget that the car’s owner is not necessarily the same person as the registered keeper.)

If you’re being sold (or gifted) the car and the paperwork is not yet final, and you’ve not yet applied to be the registered keeper, then you’ll also need to apply for a vehicle registration certificate (form V62). 

If you’re already the vehicle’s registered keeper, you can simply apply for a SORN online, using the information on your V5C.  

However, if you don’t yet have a V5C then you can get a V890 form from the official DVLA website, or get it from your local Post Office. 

Once you’ve filled it out, you can send the completed V590 SORN form to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) address:

SA99 1ZZ

Get a V980 form here

6. When does a SORN start?

That depends. You can specify the off-road period when you’re applying for a SORN, so if your vehicle tax is expiring this month (or the next one), then you can arrange for the SORN to kick in on the first day of the following month. To do that, you’ll need to make sure you have the 16-digit number on your V11 document (otherwise known as the vehicle tax reminder letter). 

If you’re taking your car off the road because it physically isn’t roadworthy, then you can specify that you want the SORN to begin immediately – in which case, it’ll be actioned as soon as the DVLA have processed your application.

7. Can you backdate a SORN?

No. A SORN cannot be backdated. The earliest you can get a SORN to begin is shortly after you’ve submitted the application. It’s a lesson that countless people have had to learn the hard way – if you’re not driving the car but haven’t told the DVLA that it’s off the road, then they’ll tax it regardless, and they won’t give you back that money. So the moment you know that you won’t be using the car for a significant amount of time, it’s important to apply for a SORN as soon as possible!

8. When does a SORN expire?

Basically, it doesn’t. A SORN is indefinite, so you don’t need to worry about the hassle of having to renew one. You may have seen, heard or read elsewhere that a SORN has a twelve-month expiry date. This was indeed once true, but hasn’t been the case for the last few years, so chances are that the other article you’re thinking of is probably out of date.

9. How long is a SORN valid for?

Once a SORN is active on your car, it’s valid for however long you want it to be! Since it lasts indefinitely, you don’t need to renew or update the SORN unless you’re planning to sell the car, scrap it, or start driving it again.

Ending the SORN is easy – all you have to do is tax your car over the phone, or online, and it’ll end automatically. That means you don’t have to worry about taking care of it as a separate job, or get mired down in extra paperwork or anything like that. Once you’ve received formal confirmation that your car is taxed, you can rest easy in the knowledge that the SORN has been sorted out for you.

buying a car with a sorn

10. What happens if you buy a car with a SORN?

SORNs don’t transfer over between owners, which can be good or bad news depending on what you plan to do with the car. If you’re looking to keep it off the road for a couple more months just while you get everything finalised – say, crossing the Ts and dotting the Is on the insurance, you’ll need to re-register it with a SORN of your own. Otherwise, as far as the DVLA is concerned, once the car is officially yours then it’s considered back on the road.

11. How do I get a SORN for my car?

The wise choice is to contact the DVLA directly. You can call their service line on 0300 123 4321 if you’re looking to get it done over the phone, although as is often the way with these things, you should probably be prepared to spend a fair bit of time on hold. Alternatively, you could do it via the Make A SORN section on the DVLA website. A further option is to apply by post, by filling out a V890 application form and sending it to the DVLA’s physical address in Swansea, SA99 1AR.

By the way, if you’ve recently bought the car but you’re not yet technically registered as the car’s official keeper, you can only register a SORN by post. If you want, you can specify exactly when you want the SORN to start – you can do this by signifying it with the 16-digit number displayed on your V11 document (otherwise known as your vehicle tax reminder letter.)

12. How long does it take to get a SORN?

Once you’ve made your application, you’ll generally receive your SORN within 4 weeks. If not, it’s wise to give the DVLA a ring, just in case. For this reason alone, if you’ve recently had a reminder letter about taxing your vehicle but you’ve decided to keep it off the road, it’s best to arrange a SORN sooner rather than later.

calendar and timing


13. Can I sell a car with a SORN?

You can indeed sell a car with a SORN, but since you’re prohibited from taking it out onto public roads, you’re probably going to find it quite difficult. Don’t forget that the vast majority of buyers are also going to want to have a test drive before they agree to buy your car, and if they’re prevented from doing so by an active SORN then it’s likely going to be an extremely difficult sell for you. Plus, if you want to sell your vehicle privately, you’ll usually also need to ensure that it has a valid MOT, tax and insurance – whether you have an active SORN in place or not.

However, if you’re not able to secure all of these, you still have a couple of options. For example, you may be able to sell your car to a registered car buyer. Vehicles in the possession of trade buyers will generally be given trade number plates, which means they’re not subject to exactly the same tax legislation as the rest of us.

Alternatively, if you’re selling your SORNed vehicle to a car scrapping service like us. Our hassle-free collection service means that we’ll collect your car right from your driveway, so there’s no need to worry about how you’re going to get the car to us.

14. Do I need a SORN to scrap my car?

Nope! You can legally scrap your scrap your car without a SORN. If it’s in good enough repair, traditionally car owners would drive it to an Authorised Treatment Facility, but as we’ve touched upon above, our hassle free scrap car collection service means that we can handle all the transportation stuff for you. We won’t hang around in getting you that all-important Certificate of Destruction either. From your side, the main thing is to ensure that you’re able to supply the main sections of the V5C logbook, and it’s always a good plan to let the DVLA know yourself that you’ve scrapped your car. Just in case!

15. How can you get a SORN car back on the road?

It’s not tricky! Mainly, you just need to arrange for it to be taxed again, which you can do via the Vehicle Tax section of the DVLA website. The next step is to check that your insurance is active, and that it’s valid and in-date before you hop into the driver’s seat. The other thing to check is whether it has a valid MOT. If it doesn’t, you should definitely arrange one before the vehicle is declared back on the road. As we mentioned above, taking it to its MOT is one of the few instances that you’re legally permitted to drive it while a SORN is still active.

Of course, there may be points when it fails its MOT. Hopefully you’ll have plenty of time to see that sort of eventuality coming, and when you do, don’t forget that you can scrap your car for cash right here at Scrap Car Network. All you need to do is enter in your car reg and postcode onto our homepage, and in no time at all you’ll be looking at your very own instant online quote. What’s not to like?

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