What Does SORN Mean For Your Car?

Every car on the road has to be registered and insured, but what happens if you aren’t going to drive it for a while? It sure seems like a waste of money, doesn’t it? Fortunately, you can SORN your vehicle to avoid these costs which is the easiest way to legally get your car off the road. This guide gives a great overview of everything you need to know about how to SORN your car and get it back on the road. Plus, we also look at some of the rules while your car is off the road.

How To SORN Your Car

The term SORN stands for Statutory Off Road Notification that you must use to inform the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) that you are planning to register a vehicle as off the road. Once registered with a SORN, you are not allowed to drive it on any public road. Getting a SORN is very easy with three main ways to declare your vehicle as off the road:

  1. SORN your vehicle online via the government website
  2. Calling the DVLA on 0300 123 4321
  3. Send a form through the post

What Do I Need To Declare A Car Off The Road?

Whilst the process is pretty easy, there are a few bits of information you will need. To legally declare your car off the road, you must provide one of the following:

  • The 16-digit reference number from your V11 reminder (this is the letter from the government informing you that it’s time to renew your vehicle tax)
  • The 11-digit reference number from your VC5 (this is your car’s logbook)

You can also SORN your car without a VC5 if you recently purchased the car as you may not have a full logbook yet. In this case, you can use the reference number from your VC5/2 which is the slip you should get from the seller. Alternatively, you can also apply for a new VC5 on the government’s website but it will cost £25.

How Long Does The SORN Process Take?

The SORN process doesn’t take long but it does depend on how you’ve made the application. If you used your VC5 reference number, the SORN usually starts immediately. However, when using your V11 reference number, your SORN starts on the first day of the next month.

Lastly, if you applied by sending a form by post, your SORN will start based on the date you entered on the form. Remember, you cannot backdate a SORN which means your vehicle must be fully taxed and insured until it’s officially taken off the road.

When Should I Apply For A Vehicle Statutory Off Road Notification?

It’s important to note that you have to SORN the vehicle even if you only plan on keeping it off the road for a few weeks. There may be several reasons to request a Vehicle Statutory Off Road Notification, including the following scenarios:

  • Recently bought a classic car or collectible and plan to keep it off the road
  • You need to make big repairs to your vehicle that you can’t afford at the moment
  • The renewal of your insurance is taking longer than expected
  • Buying a car with the purpose of restoration or to strip it down for spare parts
  • Your insurance is due to renew but you are not going to drive the vehicle for a few months
  • If you plan on keeping the vehicle on a driveway, in a garage, or on private land for an extended period. Remember, you are not allowed to park SORN vehicle on any public road

Is It Illegal If You Don’t SORN A Car?

Yes, it is against the law to stop paying vehicle taxes without getting a SORN which could result in a fine. You will also be charged the outstanding tax which is usually 50% above the normal rate. Whilst many drivers still try, it’s nearly impossible to get away with not paying road taxes. Today, the government keeps track of all untaxed vehicles and sends fines every month.

Speaking of breaking the law, it is also illegal to drive a car once it’s declared as “off the road”. If you are caught driving a SORN car, you could face court prosecution and a fine of up to £2,500. You are only allowed to drive a SORN car on private property and only on public roads when going to a pre-booked MOT.

How Long Does A Vehicle Statutory Off Road Notification Last?

The duration of a SORN can last indefinitely or until a predetermined date of when you sell, scrap or export the vehicle. A SORN doesn’t transfer between owners either which means you’ll have to apply in your name when buying a car with an existing notification. The good news is that you no longer need to renew a SORN every 12 months.

How Do I Get My Car Back On The Road?

Putting your car back on the road is also a simple process. First, you have to get it taxed again which can be done online or by contacting the DVLA. You will need the 11 digit reference number on the V5C and don’t forget to take out vehicle insurance before getting behind the wheel. The last step is to have an up to date MOT. If you declared SORN because it failed a test, or if the MOT expired while it was off the road, you must book an MOT.


In closing, you may only keep a SORN vehicle on your own private property, including your garage or driveway. Under no circumstances can you park it on a public road, the pavement or in a car park at any time. In terms of electric vehicles, or if you are exempt from paying as a disabled driver, you still need to declare a SORN.

For more up to date articles covering all things motoring, including vehicle maintenance, servicing, MOTs, tyres and driving tips, please read our blog. If you had a SORN vehicle and want to get it back on the road, book an MOT at your nearest Elite Garages branch.