SORN Meaning - What is a SORN Notice?

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By Crispin Bateman

Updated on Friday 27 September 2019

If you’ve ever wondered if there was a way to avoid paying car tax, we’re happy to tell you that yes, there is!

Unfortunately, it also means that you can’t take your car on the road…

SORN is the method by which you declare your car out of circulation, but what does it mean and why would you do it?

car covered up parked in dark car park

What does SORN mean?

SORN stands for Statutory Off-Road Notification, which simply means you have told the DVLA that your vehicle is not being used on UK roads and have the documentation to prove it.

It’s because you’re not using the roads that you get to avoid paying any vehicle excise duty (road tax) on the car, but that’s not the main reason you’d do it – more of a happy side effect.

When you have declared your vehicle as SORN, it’s usually because it is unusable for the time being and you are working on getting it fixed, but that’s not the only reason.

In this article we answer every SORN-related question ever asked – so read on to find out everything you ever wanted to know about the statutory off-road notification!

SORN rules and questions

#1 – Where can I keep a SORN vehicle?

When you have declared your vehicle as ‘off the road’, that means it is completely off the road. If you don’t have your own driveway, garage, or space in the garden where you could store a car, then you can’t take too much advantage of a SORN.

You can’t keep your car (or van, truck, camper van, motorbike) parked on the street if you have declared it as off-road – it must be on private land.

#2 – Can I check if a vehicle has a SORN?

You can! Head over to and enter the vehicle’s registration number. If you are checking for your vehicle to see if the SORN has gone through then remember that it can take up to five days before the system catches up.

#3 – What about car insurance while SORN?

The other major financial benefit of your vehicle having a SORN is insurance – you don’t have to pay for car insurance!

Optionally, however, you can. This is important if you still want to be covered for fire, theft or vandalism. Give your insurance company a call and see if they’ll adjust your insurance accordingly.

#4 – Can you drive a SORN car to an MOT without insurance?

The main reason for wanting to drive a car that has a SORN is to get an MOT done, bring the car back into the land of the living and get it back on the road, so there is provision for this.

Without insurance, though? No.

It is possible to insure your car even though you have a SORN notice, so you’ll have to do this before you drive on the road – remember, all cars on the road need a minimum of third-party insurance cover.

You can then drive to an MOT, but it must be pre-booked and not a case of ‘I’ll find one while I’m driving’. If you are stopped while on the way to the MOT and can’t show that it’s pre-booked then you will be treated as simply driving the car illegally and you will be fined accordingly, so call the garage before you leave the driveway and book your MOT in advance.

#5 – What’s the fine for a SORN car on the road?

Currently the fine for driving while SORN is £2,500 – plus you face a likely court prosecution. For a few quid in road tax and some time online sorting it out, it really isn’t worth the risk.

#6 – Can you SORN a vehicle online?

Yes. It’s exactly the same process as taxing your vehicle and can be instantly applied if you have your V5C (vehicle log book). Just head here:

#7 - How do I get my car back on the road after SORN?

Once your car is all fixed and back up and running, you can get yourself an MOT and re-tax the vehicle immediately, putting you back legally on the road (don’t forget the insurance!).

Go here with your V5C:

#8 – Does it cost to SORN a vehicle?

Not a penny. Just fill out the details online and relax. You might even get some money back if you have outstanding tax paid!

#9 – How long is a SORN valid for?

As long as you don’t take your car out the country, a SORN is valid forever and you don’t need to renew it. You can leave your car in the garden turning rusty and having vines creep up around the outside for years so that your grandchildren can one day come along and stare at the ancient artefact that is a 2015 Renault Clio. History in the making.

Or you can get it all fixed up and back on the road as soon as you are ready!

But finally, the big question:

Why would I get a SORN and what is it for?

A SORN is a legal document that allows you to keep a car that isn’t in working order, typically used for people fixing up a car, using one for scrap parts, or simply keeping it off road until they can afford to get it fixed. People also apply for a SORN to garage vintage cars they are not currently planning to drive, or for camper vans unused in the winter months.

Another common reason for getting a SORN is when the vehicle is in good condition, but will be unused for an extended period of time. For example, if you have been banned from driving or are leaving the country for a while.

Read more: Convicted Driver’s Insurance

Remember, under UK law, every car on the road needs to pay vehicle excise duty and have a minimum of third-party insurance cover – it also needs a valid MOT certificate. This can be expensive and averages out at between £70 and £100 per month! This money is instantly saved through a SORN application. It takes a few minutes and is as easily undone as it is applied for.

The only reason you wouldn’t SORN a car that’s not being driven regularly is because you have nowhere to store it and it needs to sit parked on the roadside.

So, if you’ve ever wanted a collection of rusting old cars filling up your driveway and back garden, then the SORN form is for you!

Quality car advice from Compare UK Quotes

At Compare UK Quotes, we know a lot more than how to SORN your car!

For a range of helpful advice, from finding ways to cut down your car insurance premiums to learning all about car finance options, Compare UK Quotes have an article for you. We’re also specialists in personal finance, so for help on loans or improving your credit rating, look no further – check out our library today!

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