Driving a vehicle that does not have road tax or vehicle insurance on a public road can lead to substantial fines and even prosecution. Even if a vehicle is parked on the road and never driven, the owner must still pay tax and have insurance.
However, a vehicle can be left uninsured and untaxed if it has a Statutory Off Road Notification. This official notice recognises that the car has been registered to be off the road. Such cars must also be parked off the public road either on private land, in a garage, or on a driveway.
So how do you get a Statutory Off Road Notification? How long do they last? And in what circumstances might you need to apply for one?
We will explore the answers to all these questions and more as we dive into how to declare your vehicle off the road.
How do you declare your vehicle as off the road?
To declare your vehicle as off the road, you need to inform the DVLA and request a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN). Once your vehicle has been issued with a SORN, it must then be kept off public roads in a garage, driveway, or other private parking spaces.
Vehicles that have a SORN do not need to pay road tax, nor do they need to be insured. However, if you use a vehicle with a SORN on a public road, you are liable to pay a hefty fine and are even at risk of being prosecuted.
So let’s now jump in and learn more about SORNs and how you apply for them.
What is a SORN, and how do you apply for one?
SORN stands for Statutory Off Road Notification. It is also sometimes known as a V890, as that is the name given to the application form you use to apply for one.
A SORN is used to inform the DVLA that your vehicle is off the road and does not need to pay road tax or be insured.
You can apply for a SORN online or by calling 0300 123 4321. To apply for a SORN online or by phone, you must be the vehicle’s registered owner. You must have either the vehicle log book (V5C) or a vehicle tax reminder letter (V11).
If you are not the vehicle’s registered owner, then you can apply for a SORN via the post and send off a V890 form with the relevant component from the V5C to: DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1AR.
If for any reason you don’t have the V5C for a car, then you will need to apply for one by filling in a V62 application form. The V5C is the log book that confirms the owner of a vehicle.
Once a vehicle has been registered with a SORN, it is illegal to drive it on public roads. It is also illegal for the vehicle to be parked on public roads.
A SORN isn’t like insurance or car tax as it doesn’t need to be renewed. Once a vehicle has been officially declared off the road, it will remain so until it is taxed again.
How long does a SORN take to be issued?
The amount of time it takes for a SORN to be officially registered depends upon the way in which you apply for it.
- The SORN will start immediately if you apply online or by phone and use your V5C.
- If you apply online or by phone and use your V11 letter, then the SORN will start on the first day of the next month.
- If you apply by post, then the SORN will start on the date you put on the form.
SORNs cannot be backdated and they are only applicable for vehicles within the UK.
When do you need to declare your vehicle as off the road?
You are required to make a SORN as soon as your vehicle is taken off the road and you want to stop insuring and taxing it.
You are legally obliged to make a SORN if:
- your vehicle is not insured. Your vehicle must always be insured, even if you do not drive it and keep it parked. If it is not insured, you must make a SORN.
- your vehicle isn’t taxed. Any car that makes use of public roads, even if it is just for parking, must be taxed. If your road tax expires and your car is off the road for more than 14 days, you must apply for a SORN.
- you want to scrap your vehicle and break it down into parts.
A SORN does not transfer from one owner to another. So if you buy a car with a SORN and want to keep its status, you must apply for a new one.
What counts as off the road?
A vehicle is only off the road if it is not parked on a public road. If it is parked on a public road, it must be insured, and the owner must pay road tax.
If you want to declare a vehicle to be off the road, then it must be kept in a garage, on a driveway, or on private land.
Do you still pay tax if your vehicle is off the road?
Once your vehicle has been officially declared off the road, you no longer have to pay road tax on it.
In fact, as soon as your vehicle has been issued with a SORN, you will receive a refund on the annual road tax you have already paid but will no longer need.
For example, if you paid a full 12 months of road tax in January and your vehicle received its SORN in September, you will be refunded for the three-month period that the vehicle was off the road and, therefore, no longer needed to be taxed.
Your insurance is a different matter as that is provided by a private insurance company. You are unlikely to receive a refund for your insurance, so you must cancel your policy which will then expire at the end of your contract.
Can you drive a car with a SORN?
The only place you are permitted to drive a vehicle with a SORN is on private land.
If you drive a car that is not taxed or insured on a public road you are liable to face prosecution as well as fines of up to £2,500.
If you own a car with a SORN that has not passed an MoT in over a year, then you are permitted to drive it on public roads only for the purposes of taking it to a pre-booked MoT appointment at an official MoT test centre. The vehicle must also be taxed for the journey to be legal.
How can you find out a vehicle’s SORN status?
If you are unsure whether a vehicle has a SORN or not, you can check its status online.
For example, you may be the owner of a large fleet of cars, some of which have SORN status and some of which do not. The online checker can help you easily determine the status of a vehicle, provided you have the registration number.
How to get a car back on the road
Taking a SORN from a car is simple and follows the same principles as taxing a regular vehicle. You can apply for road tax online or via post.
Once your vehicle is taxed again it will automatically lose its SORN status.
As soon as you use your car on public roads again, it must also be covered by third-party vehicle insurance at a minimum. If the car has been off the road for over a year, it will need an MoT test. It will also need an MoT if it has been off the road for less than a year but has an outdated MoT certificate.
What happens if you drive a car without tax?
All vehicles in the UK must pay road tax (sometimes known as Vehicle Excise Duty, VED, or car tax). Any driver whose vehicle is found to be untaxed faces a potential fine of up to £1,000.
Since the abandonment of tax discs in 2014, vehicles have been monitored by registration number searches. This can be done manually by traffic wardens, or automatically by traffic cameras.
The only circumstances in which you are permitted to drive a vehicle on public roads without tax is if you are taking an untaxed car to an MoT test centre for an appointment. This is because you cannot tax a car that hasn’t yet passed its MoT.
What happens if you drive a car without insurance?
All vehicles on public roads in the UK must be covered by car or specialist vehicle insurance. The insurance has to be third-party cover at a legal minimum. This type of insurance covers damage and injury to other people and their property but it doesn’t cover your vehicle.
Even if your car has a SORN and you are driving it to an MoT test centre for an appointment, the vehicle must still be insured.
If you are caught driving without the correct insurance, you can face:
- Penalty points on your license.
- A lifetime ban from driving.
- A fixed penalty fine of up to £300.
- An unlimited fine.
- Higher costs for future car insurance.
- The vehicle can be seized by the authorities.
In each case, the severity of the punishment or consequence depends upon the specifics of the crime.
A SORN is an official notification that registers a vehicle off the road. Once a vehicle has been officially issued with a SORN, you no longer have to pay road tax or insure it.
To apply for a SORN you must contact the DVLA either online, by phone, or by post. The amount of time it takes for the SORN to be registered depends on the way you choose to apply for it.
If you own a vehicle with a SORN, you are not permitted to drive it again until it has been insured and taxed. However, you can drive it to an MoT centre without tax, though it must still have insurance.