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A guide to SORN notifications

If you own a car, but don’t want to insure it because you aren’t going to be able to drive it for an extended period of time, you need a statutory off-road notification (SORN). Plus, you can’t let your insurance policy lapse or you’ll be breaking the law and will be fined. 

What is SORN?

First introduced in 1998, SORN notifications were designed for vehicles that were kept off-road and didn’t need to be taxed. Today, all privately-owned vehicles must be either insured or have a SORN. The MIB (Motor Insurer’s Bureau) will automatically send letters and fines to the owners of any vehicles that don’t comply, so if your insurance is due to end soon, now is the time to take action. 

In the first instance, you’ll receive an Insurance Advisory Letter (IAL). If you don’t register your car as SORN, or insure it, you’ll be sent a £200 fixed penalty notice and six points will be added to your licence. If you continue to ignore the warnings, you could face a day in court, a fine of up to £1,000, disqualification and your car could even be crushed. 

How to SORN your car

A SORN is free, and because you’re not paying tax or insurance for your vehicle, you can save money. However, it’s only valid if you keep your car in a garage, on a drive or on private land. If you’ll be parking it on a road, you won’t be able to apply for a SORN.

Registering your SORN is easy, especially if you apply on the DVLA website. All you’ll need is your car’s registration number, its make and model, and either the 11-digit reference from your car's V5C logbook or the 16-digit reference number from your V11 car tax renewal reminder. If you use the 11-digit reference from your car's V5C logbook, your car will be SORN immediately, but if you use the 16-digit reference number from your V11 car tax renewal reminder, your car will be SORN from the first day of the next month. You’ll be refunded for any full months of tax remaining.

If you’d prefer to speak to the DVLA, you can give them a ring on 0300 123 4321. Or you can apply by post, by sending a V890 application form.

How to cancel your SORN

When you tax your car again, sell it, scrap it or export it, your SORN is automatically cancelled. Until then, the SORN will remain for your car, as they don’t expire. If you tax your car, it’s important to arrange insurance straight away, so your vehicle isn’t flagged by the MIB (Motor Insurer’s Bureau). Otherwise, you’ll start receiving letters and fines until you’re insured.