We’ve all been using our cars, vans and motorbikes less than usual in 2020, but when should you declare your car off road?
- SORN stands for Statutory Off Road Notification, meaning your vehicle cannot be driven
- If your vehicle isn't taxed or insured and you don’t have a SORN, you'll face a penalty fee
- If your car isn't insured, you're not covered for damage or theft from your drive or garage
What is a SORN and what does it do?
When you no longer want to or need to drive or park your vehicle on a public road, you can declare it 'off road' with a SORN. SORN stands for Statutory Off Road Notification and lets the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) know that you’re registering a vehicle as off the road. Declaring your vehicle off road with a SORN means you'll not be able to drive or park it on a public road. Your vehicle will need to be kept in a garage or on private land, like your driveway.
Should I SORN my car if I’m not using it for a while?
Ultimately, it’s up to you. Although many of us have been using our vehicles less during the coronavirus pandemic, you may still need to use your vehicle to do the food shopping, pick up medication or in an emergency. If you know for sure that you’re not going to be using your car for a while and plan to stop paying your insurance or road tax, then yes, you will need a SORN to declare your car off road and out of use to avoid a fine from the DVLA. If your vehicle isn't taxed or doesn't have valid car insurance and you haven't declared it as off road through a SORN, you'll automatically be fined.
Do I still need car insurance if I SORN my car?
Again, it’s up to you. However, your vehicle could still be damaged or stolen despite being out of use and parked on a driveway or in a garage. Many people who SORN their vehicle will still choose to cover their vehicle against fire and theft at the least. If you haven't declared your vehicle as off road through a SORN, it still needs to be taxed and insured - if your vehicle isn't insured and you haven't declared it as off road through a SORN, you’ll be sent an Insurance Advisory Letter from the DVLA in which you will be told to insure your vehicle or face a fixed penalty notice.
Why would I declare my car off road?
There are a whole host of reasons for why people consider declaring their car off road…
- You're off to university and don't need to use it
- You only use your classic car during the summer
- You've bought a wreck to do up and it's not roadworthy yet
- Your insurance or road tax has lapsed and you haven't renewed it
- You have a vehicle you want to scrap
How do I declare my car off the road?
You can file a SORN online for free if you're the registered owner of the vehicle, but you'll need some information from your vehicle log book or vehicle tax reminder letter before you get started. If you're not the registered keeper of the vehicle, you'll need to apply for a SORN by post using the V890 form. You can also call the DVLA on 0300 123 4321 to get it sorted, this is usually a 24 hour service but please note that their opening hours may change during the uncertain times we find ourselves in due to coronavirus (COVID-19). Once the SORN is in place, there's no need to renew it. It will stay in place until you tax or sell the vehicle. A SORN isn't transferable, so if you buy a vehicle that's already declared as off road, you'll need to declare the SORN again as the registered keeper of the vehicle.
What happens to any outstanding tax and insurance if I SORN my car?
If you declare your vehicle as off road, then you don't need to tax or insure it. You can get a refund from the DVLA if you have any full months of remaining tax.
Can I drive if my car has a SORN?
No. The only exception is that you can drive it to a pre-booked MOT. If the police stop you on the way, you'll need to prove that you're going to the MOT. When you’re ready to drive your vehicle again, make sure you have valid tax, insurance and an MOT before you take your vehicle out on the public road. The DVLA will automatically cancel the SORN when you tax the vehicle.
In a nutshell
If you’re not using your vehicle and you can keep it on a private driveway or in a garage, then you may want to consider a SORN. Although you don’t need insurance while your vehicle is officially off road, it could still be damaged or stolen, so you may want to consider continuing your insurance to keep your vehicle protected and ready to go when you’re back behind the wheel.
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