Independent, impartial advice for car buyers and car owners

Find an Expert Rating: 

What does SORN mean?

There’s plenty of confusing acronyms when it comes to car ownership, so let’s take a look at what SORN means

Our Expert Partners

Our commercial partners can assist you with every aspect of owning a car
AA logo 600x300

Join the UK's #1 breakdown cover provider.
Find out more

MotorEasy logo 300x150

Warranty, GAP, servicing and tyres from MotorEasy
Find out more

Book My Garage logo 2022

Compare instant car service, repair and MOT deals.
Find out more

ebay logo 600x300

Find the missing part for your vehicle.
Find out more

Euro Car Parts logo

Latest offers and Star Buys from Euro Car Parts.
Find out more

Kwik Fit logo

For tyres, brakes, MOT, exhausts and car services you can trust.
Find out more

Who Can Fix My Car 2022 logo 600x300

Find local garages you can rely on.
Find out more


There’s plenty of confusing acronyms when it comes to car ownership, so let’s take a look at what SORN means. 

All cars in the UK have to be registered with the DVLA (Driver Vehicle and Licencing Agency) throughout their entire lives. This means you have to pay vehicle excise duty (VED, but almost always referred to as road tax) on your car each year, even if you don’t plan to drive the car on public roads. If you don’t pay, you can be fined for having an untaxed car.

However, if you’re not going to be driving your car, the DVLA has a specific declaration called SORN that you can use to avoid having pay road tax. In this article, we’ll explore what it all means and how it all works.

What does SORN stand for? 

SORN is short for Statutory Off Road Notification. This is a way of formally telling the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) that the vehicle is off the road. Once a vehicle has been declared as SORN, it can no longer be driven on public roads – or even be parked on a public road. It must be kept completely off any public roads at all times.

What does it mean to SORN my car? 

SORNing a vehicle is the only way to stop paying road tax if it’s not being driven. Simply not driving the car isn’t an excuse to avoid road tax and you can be fined for having an untaxed vehicle. The only way to avoid paying road tax is to declare the vehicle as SORN.

How do I SORN my car? 

If you are the registered keeper or owner of a vehicle you can apply for a SORN via the DVLA website, over the phone or in the post. A V890 form is required to apply by post and if you are not the registered keeper yet, you also have to apply by post. 

The vehicle’s V5C log book will have the relevant section to apply for a SORN, if you do not have this, a new registration certificate needs to be obtained first by filling out a V62. A replacement V5C costs £25, however applying for a SORN is free. 

How long does SORN last for? 

A SORN lasts indefinitely until the vehicle is subsequently re-registered, or sold, scrapped or exported to another country. In the process of applying for a SORN you can decide when it is effective from. To start a SORN on the first day of the next month you need the 16-digit number on the vehicle tax reminder letter, a V11 document. 

This means any remaining full months of road tax that have been paid will be refunded. The V11 also allows you to apply for a SORN up to two months in advance. Alternatively, if the vehicle is unroadworthy it can be SORN with immediate effect using the 11-digit number on the V5C. 

There’s no need to reapply for a SORN once the DVLA has been informed, as long as you remain the registered keeper. 

Is my car eligible to be SORN?  

Vehicles kept in a garage, on a driveway or on private property can be SORN. A car is not eligible to be SORN if it will be parked on a public road, it must be on private land. When a vehicle is uninsured for any period of time and cannot be driven, it can be SORN to recoup road tax fees. 

Before a vehicle is scrapped, if you plan to salvage parts from the car it must be SORN. Any vehicles purchased to be kept off the road can be SORN as long as they will not be driven on public roads at any time. 

Even vehicles that are exempt from road tax must be declared SORN. This includes electric vehicles and cars in the historic tax band the DVLA still needs to be notified. 

Does a SORN cancel my insurance? 

After you have applied for a SORN the vehicle does not need to be insured when the SORN comes into effect. But this does not mean your insurance will be automatically cancelled. You need to contact your insurer to inform them the car no longer needs insurance. There may be cancellation fees for terminating an insurance policy early. 

Is it okay to buy a SORN car? 

Keep in mind that SORN vehicles cannot be driven on public roads for a test drive or to move them to a new location. The only circumstances under which it’s acceptable to drive a SORN vehicle on the road is to a pre-booked MOT test. Otherwise, drivers could face a fine of up to £2500. 

Just like road tax, SORNs are non-transferable. So if you buy a vehicle that was SORN, as the new owner you have to register the vehicle as SORN or re-tax and re-insure it to drive it on the road. 

How do I get my car back on the road after SORN? 

Getting a SORN vehicle back on the road is a fairly simple process. The vehicle must be taxed again using the 11-digit number on the V5C. It also has to be insured and have a valid MOT. Check the MOT to see if it expired while the vehicle was off the road. If so, it can only be driven to an MOT test centre and pass its MOT before it’s eligible to be put back on the road. 

Read more:

Latest car ownership features and advice

Trinity Francis
Trinity Francishttps://www.trinitygfrancis.com/
Freelance automotive journalist and motoring writer focusing on all aspects of automotive content, with particular attention to emerging trends, industry innovations, tech and consumer advice.