Currently reading: How to SORN your car
We explain each step of the SORN process that could save you money and keep a car legal while it's off the road

You don’t always need to keep your car road-ready, but if you’re not using your car for an extended period, you’ll need to know how to SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification) your car. 

Many drivers SORN their cars if they’re temporarily redundant, perhaps due to working from home, or because repair work is needed that may take months to complete. 

If your car is not going to be driven for two weeks or more, then you can apply for SORN, saving you money on tax and insurance, but keeping your car legal. Obtaining a SORN for your car is also free and takes just a few minutes to process if you’re online.

So: how do you SORN your car? Follow our in-depth guide below for all you need to know. 

How to declare your car as SORN

There are three ways to SORN your car.  

The first is online, by going directly to the DVLA website. You will need your car’s make, model and registration.

Unless you want to pay a third-party company to carry out this simple process on your behalf, make sure you go directly to the above link. Googling ‘SORN my car' may introduce you to companies that charge for the service.

You can also SORN by post. You’ll need to either go to the DVLA’s website and download form V890 or collect one from a post office. Once completed, this needs to be sent to: DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1AR.

And there's always the phone. Have your car’s details and one of the reference numbers above to hand, and call the DVLA directly on 0300 123 4321.

If applying by post or over the phone, the DVLA should issue an acknowledgement letter within four weeks. If you do not receive one, make sure to call them. Don’t assume that your car’s SORN is in place. 

Why do I need to apply for SORN?

All cars need to be taxed (officially known as VED, or Vehicle Excise Duty) and insured if they’re parked or driven on the public road.

However, if the car is not being used for an extended period of time, and it can be stored in a garage or on private land, then it does not need VED or insurance (although we would still recommend maintaining basic fire and theft cover, even when it’s off the road). While the DVLA permits this, it is also a legal requirement that owners obtain a SORN.

What happens if I take my car off the road but don't apply for a SORN?

If you let your VED expire and do not apply for a SORN, even if you’ve stopped using your car and are storing it on private land, the DVLA will issue an initial warning letter, closely followed by a fixed penalty fine of £80 (reduced to £40 if paid within 28 days) by post.

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The DVLA can also cross-check your car’s insurance status with the National Insurance Database, and if it has expired, the DVLA will issue you with a further £100 fine. If you ignore everything to this point, you could be taken to court and fined up to £1000, plus costs.

It’s also worth noting that the DVLA is not obliged to issue reminders if your VED expires, so make sure that you keep a record of when it’s due if you wish to keep your car on the road.

How long does the SORN last? Do I need to renew it?

A SORN does not have to be renewed. However, if you sell your car with a SORN, and the new owner wishes to maintain this, they will need to apply for a fresh SORN. This is the same principle as a new owner applying for VED on a car they’ve just purchased.

Can I drive my car on the road when it has a SORN?

Essentially, no. It will be assumed by the DVLA (and picked up by any ANPR cameras) that your car is not taxed or insured, and is therefore being driven illegally. For this, you can be fined up to £2500. The only time you can drive your car on the public road with a SORN is if you are travelling directly to a pre-booked MOT – and even then, you must check that your insurance company has issued you with appropriate cover.

How to get your car back on the road (un-SORN it)

Legally this process is simple enough. You just need to tax your car again, which can be done online, over the phone or at a post office. Of course your car needs to be roadworthy and have an MOT in place too. Classic cars built or registered more than 40 years ago are MOT-exempt, but you still need to declare your car as exempt via the DVLA's historic vehicle registration process.

With additional reporting by Simon Hucknall

Murray Scullion

Murray Scullion
Title: Digital editor

Murray has been a journalist for more than a decade. During that time he’s written for magazines, newspapers and websites, but he now finds himself as Autocar’s digital editor.

He leads the output of the website and contributes to all other digital aspects, including the social media channels, podcasts and videos. During his time he has reviewed cars ranging from £50 - £500,000, including Austin Allegros and Ferrari 812 Superfasts. He has also interviewed F1 megastars, knows his PCPs from his HPs and has written, researched and experimented with behavioural surplus and driverless technology.

Murray graduated from the University of Derby with a BA in Journalism in 2014 and has previously written for Classic Car Weekly, Modern Classics Magazine,, and CAR Magazine, as well as

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Artstu 4 August 2021

Worth adding that it is currently impossibly to correctly SORN a vehicle that was untaxed when SORN was introduced and hasn't been taxed since then. The SORN process goes through the motions when you try, but when you check a few days later the vehicle shows as untaxed.Response from the DVLA on the subject, "on the 31 January 1998 the law changed. Keepers are now required to notify us if their vehicles are to be kept off the public road untaxed.The scheme only applies to vehicles where the vehicle tax expired on or after 31 January 1998. As your vehicles were untaxed on this date, it does not fall into the Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) scheme. It will only become liable to SORN if it is re-taxed and then subsequently taken off the road."