Many drivers of new and used cars will sometimes need to take them off the road for weeks, months, or longer. Classic cars in need of restoration, cars with accident damage awaiting repair, or even a car that’s being kept for a special birthday present can all be stored long term.
If you inform the DVLA that your vehicle is off the road, you won’t need to pay for road tax and insurance until you need to drive it. This is called a ‘Statutory Off Road Notification’, usually shortened to SORN, and it’s simple to do using the DVLA’s website, on the phone, or by post.
For the SORN procedure you’ll need the V5C for the vehicle, and it will need to be in your name with the correct address. If you don’t have the V5C, you will have to apply for a new one before you can SORN a vehicle. You can then SORN the car online using the eleven-digit number from the V5C.
When you SORN a vehicle, you will receive a refund for each full month of the car tax remaining, so it’s a good idea to declare your vehicle off the road as soon as possible. You can decide whether you want to declare your vehicle off the road immediately, or on the first day of the next month. The SORN will stay in place until you renew your road tax again, sell the vehicle, or scrap it.
If you choose for the SORN to start on the first day of the following month (this way you can continuing driving the vehicle until the road tax expires), you will need the vehicle’s tax reminder letter which has a sixteen-digit number that will be required.
There are a few things to consider
A vehicle can only be SORN if it is kept off the public highway, which includes parking on the side of a road. You will need to keep the vehicle on private land, like a garage or driveway, otherwise you risk a fine for owning a vehicle without tax.
Once the car has a SORN, you cannot drive it again until it is taxed and insured. The only exception is if you’re driving to or from an MOT garage or testing station, you’ll need to pre-book the test in so you’ve proof of where you’re heading in case stopped by the police.
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A SORN is not transferrable if a car changes hands, so if you have bought a SORN car, you will still need to SORN it again, or of course tax and insure it if you are planning to drive it.
SORN cars on trade plates do not require road tax and the insurance would be covered by your motor trade insurance policy. However, it is still illegal to drive a SORN vehicle unless you are driving it to or from a pre-booked MOT testing centre.
There is no legal requirement for a SORN vehicle to be covered by an insurance policy, but it might still be a good idea to protect your investment, some insurance companies offer fire and theft policies designed for a SORN car, usually at a reduced rate.