SORN Meaning: A Complete Guide

What is a Statutory Off-Road Notification?

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By Crispin Bateman
Updated on Tuesday 23 November 2021

car covered up parked in dark car park

If you ever stop using your car - or take it 'off the road' - then you will need to get a SORN to ensure that you don't need to pay car tax or insurance on that vehicle.

Making a SORN is how you declare that your car isn't being used on public roads and is currently parked on private land.

But what does a SORN really mean and why would you do it? Here, we explain how to SORN a vehicle and what happens when you do so.

What does SORN mean?

What does SORN stand for? The acronym SORN refers to a legal Statutory Off-Road Notification. 

When you get a Statutory Off-Road Notification, it essentially means that you have informed the DVLA that your vehicle is no longer being used on UK roads and you have the documents to prove it. 

Because you’re not using your car on the road, you do not have to pay any vehicle excise duty (VED - road tax) or car insurance, but these are not the only reasons for why you'd make a SORN.

SORN rules and FAQs

When you have declared your vehicle as SORN, it’s usually because it is unusable for the time being, or perhaps you are working on getting the car fixed.

In this article we answer every SORN-related question ever asked – so read on to find out everything you need to know about the Statutory Off-Road Notification! 

How do I SORN my car?

You can get a SORN online in the same way that you tax your vehicle, by using the Government’s website 

If you have your vehicle log book, also known as a V5C, it can be applied for instantly and without any hassle.  

Before you do so, it’s important that you’re sure it’s the right option for you.  

Where can I keep a SORN vehicle?

When you have declared your vehicle as ‘off the road’, that means it must be 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 may not be able to benefit from a Statutory Off-Road Notification.

You can’t keep your car (or van, truck, camper van or motorbike) parked on the street if you have declared it as off-the-road with a SORN – it must be on private land, and not parked in any public areas or on any public roads.

Can I check if a vehicle has a SORN?

It is possible to check whether a vehicle has a SORN by using the Government website. You simply need to enter the vehicle’s registration number.  

If you apply for a SORN and want to check whether it has worked, remember that it can take up to five days before your vehicle shows on the system.  

You can also check if a car has insurance on the ASK MID website, a site that police use to detect uninsured drivers on UK roads.

Does a SORN car need insurance?

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

You can, however, choose to take out cover if you still want to be covered for fire, theft or vandalism.

If ever you want to SORN your vehicle but wish to keep it protected, give your insurance company a call and see if they’ll adjust your policy accordingly. 

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 and get it back on the road, so there is provision for this.

You do, however, still need some form of insurance.

It is possible to insure your car even if 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 have 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.

What’s the fine for driving a SORN car on the road?

Currently, the fine for driving a SORN vehicle 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.

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.

You must also take out insurance for your vehicle before you can drive away legally, so be sure to do that before heading out.  

Don’t rush to take out insurance; shop around and use comparison sites to find the best deal for your personal situation. 

Read more: The Best Car Insurance Companies in the UK 

How much does a SORN cost?

While it could help save you a significant amount of cash in fines, getting a SORN is free.  

You simply need to fill out your details online, and what’s more, you may even get some money back if you have outstanding tax paid. 

Sorting out a free SORN is a far better option than facing fines (or worse) for not having road tax and insurance legally in place.  

How long is a SORN valid for?

As long as you don’t take your car out of the country, a SORN is valid forever and you don’t need to renew it - it lasts as long as you want it to last.

If you really want to, you can leave your car in the garden turning rusty 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! Just make sure you're fully covered when you do.

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
  • Is currently being fixed
  • You're using for scrap parts
  • Isn't being used until the driver can afford to get it repaired

People also apply to make a SORN if they have vintage cars in the garage that 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. All vehicles also need a valid MOT certificate.

Altogether, this can be expensive and averages out at between £70 and £100 per month in total! 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 would not 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, which is, of course, a public place.

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!

Car insurance advice from Compare UK Quotes

With so many financial and legal obligations involved – including tax, insurance and MOTs – getting your motoring affairs in order can be tricky and may seem overwhelming 

Here at Compare UK Quotes, we provide articles, guides and tips on all-things insurance and personal finance to help you get the most out of your money. 

For more information, be sure to browse our range of related articles:  

Is My Car Insured? How to Check if a Vehicle is Covered 

Vehicle Excise Duty (Car Tax) Explained 

Types of Car Insurance in the UK  

Car Insurance types of car insurance

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