What you need to know about SORNing your car

author image-sarah
By Sarah Watts
Updated on Wednesday 28 July 2021

Red car parked on private driveway

UK law stipulates that you cannot drive or park your car on any public road in the UK without having or paying for car tax.

And, even if your car is parked on private property, it is a legal requirement to have a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) in place with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) otherwise you can be fined up to £2,500 and/or prosecuted.

According to the DVLA, approximately 3.4m vehicles are SORNed in the UK every year. However, during the first lockdown in March 2020, in just one month, a whopping half a million money-savvy motorists declared their vehicle as being off the road to save money on tax and car insurance.

So when is a SORN required, how do you arrange it and how long does a SORN last? Find out everything you need to know below.

When do you need to SORN your car?

You need to SORN your car or any other type of vehicle if:

Other reasons you may have a car declared off the road are:

  • You want to scrap your vehicle and take parts from it beforehand
  • You bought or received an unroadworthy car and plan to keep it off public roads
  • Covid-19 pandemic restrictions mean you can’t or won’t be using your car
  • You perhaps have a classic, kit or cabriolet car you only drive in the summer
  • You’re going abroad on holiday or to live for a significant amount of time
  • You’re at university and leave your car at home, unused, for long periods

Note: Even drivers of electric cars (or disabled drivers) that may be exempt from paying tax still need to tax or SORN their car with the DVLA. Also, even if a car is sorned when you purchase or receive it, you cannot transfer a SORN and must independently SORN the vehicle yourself in your own name.

Where must you keep your car if it is SORNed?

If your vehicle is SORNed, you cannot legally park or drive on any public roads; you can only keep your car on private property (i.e. a driveway or garage).

Can I drive my car at all if it is SORNed?

The ONLY time you can legally drive your car on a public road if it’s SORNed is if you’re directly driving it to an MOT testing garage and have a pre-booked test. So if your MOT expires while your car is SORNed, then you are legally entitled to drive your untaxed car to an MOT garage as you can’t tax a car without a valid MOT certificate.

Other than that, you can drive your car on private property (i.e. not a public road), but unless you have acres of private land or peacocks for pets, it’s likely you’ll only be able to drive more than a couple of metres!

How do I SORN my car? - What documents you’ll need

To declare your car off the road and register a SORN with the DVLA you will need one of the following documents to hand:

  • V11 reminder - Use the details including the 16-digit reference number on a V11 car tax reminder letter the DVLA sends to warn you to tax your vehicle.
  • V5C logbook* - Use the details including the 11-digit reference number on your V5C vehicle log book (the logbook needs to be in your name as the ‘registered keeper’).
  • New keeper slip - Use the details from the new keeper green section of a log book (usually passed to you by a seller when you purchase a vehicle).

*If your log book has been stolen, damaged, lost or destroyed, you can apply for a duplicate log book online. You will need to pay a fee of £25 and will be asked to provide the registration number and VIN/chassis number of your vehicle together with the name and postcode on your log book.

Alternatively, you can apply by:

  • Telephone (although this is not currently recommended) if none of the log book details have changed by calling: 0300 790 6802, between 8am and 8pm (Monday to Friday) or 8am and 4pm (Saturdays only).
  • Webchat
  • Online email service
  • Or by post by completing a submitting a form V62 and a cheque or postal order for the £25 fee to Vehicle Customer Services, DVLA, Swansea SA99 1DD

Additional documents you will or may need include a valid:

  • MOT certificate
  • Exemption certificate (i.e. you don’t have to pay because you’re disabled)
  • Insurance certificate (Northern Ireland only)

Ways you can apply

  • Online via the Government’s website
  • Telephone by calling 0300 132 4321
  • Post Office (at participating branches)
  • Post using a form V890 which you can download online or obtain from a Post Office - send your completed application to DVLA, Swansea SA99 1AR

Ways you can pay

  • Direct Debit
  • Debit or credit card
  • Cheque
  • Cash
  • Postal Order

Vehicle tax fees or exemptions

Certain types of vehicles like electric cars, diesel cars (TC49) that meet the RDE2 standard and petrol cars (TC48) are exempt from paying vehicle tax because they are environmentally friendly with no CO2 emissions. Conversely, cars with higher CO2 emissions or that are worth more than £40,000 have to pay more tax.

There are also different tax rates depending on when your car was first registered:

  • If your car was registered on or after 1 April 2017, click here for the vehicle tax rates.
  • If your car was registered between 1 March 2001 and 31 March 2017, click here for the vehicle tax rates.
  • If your car was registered before 1 March 2001, click here for the vehicle tax rates.

If you want to find out the amount of tax payable on a new unregistered or used car, you can click here to make an online enquiry with the Vehicle Certification Agency.

If you’re disabled but meet the legal obligations for drivers and the eligibility criteria for vehicle tax exemption, you will not have to pay vehicle tax.

To qualify, you will need to receive the:

  • Disability Living Allowance higher rate mobility component
  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP) enhanced rate mobility component
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment
  • War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement

You can also get 50% off vehicle tax if you’re in receipt of the PIP standard rate mobility component.

Visit the Government’s website for full details on eligibility and how to claim.

How to unSORNyour car

The only way you can ‘unsorn’ your car is by taxing it; you cannot apply for DVLA SORN removal as your car is either declared as being on a public road by being taxed or declared as being off public roads by SORN.

How long can you SORN a vehicle for?

A SORN on a vehicle will last for an infinite period and will only need to change if you sell a car, start parking or driving a car on public roads, scrap it or permanently export it.

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