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Wheels: How to Sorn your car with the DVLA

Taking your car off the road? You’ll need to abide by the Sorn laws. We explain what it means and why it exists.

ANY car which is being used or parked on a public highway has to have road tax, commonly called Road Fund Licence or Vehicle Excise Duty. If you aren’t using the car for a while and are storing it off the road somewhere, such as in a garage or on your driveway, you need to tell the government or they will automatically fine you.

Luckily, it’s really easy to do, and is called declaring a vehicle Sorn (Statutory Off Road Notification). Once a car is declared Sorn there is no need to pay road tax or have an insurance policy in place. If you are found driving it on the road after saying your car is off the road though, you risk big fines and could have your car seized.

Fortunately, all you need to do to declare a car Sorn is a few minutes on the DVLA website, which you can do at any time. You no longer have to queue at the post office or fill in reams of forms, and if you don’t have access to a computer, you can also carry out the process by post or over the phone.

Once your car is Sorn’d, the DVLA will send you a cheque to refund any Road Fund Licence fee you are owed for unused months. But don’t be tempted to make the declaration if the car is still parked or being driven on the road. If you are spotted (by the police, DVLA or by a camera) then it is likely to be seized.

To qualify for Sorn, the car must be kept on private land or in a garage before it can be declared Sorn. You can then un-Sorn the car easily when you need to use it again. All is explained below.

Why do you need to Sorn your car?

If you own a car that is in regular use, it’s against the law for it to be untaxed and uninsured. To help make sure no-one slips through the net and all cars are accounted for, the government changed the rules so that owners must legally declare that they won’t be using a car on the road if it is not taxed and insured.

If your car is uninsured or untaxed, for whatever reason, you must take it off the road immediately and make a Sorn declaration to the DVLA.

If you fail to make a Sorn declaration, then the DVLA not only knows when your road tax has expired, but the organisation can cross-reference with the national insurance database to find out which vehicles do not have valid cover.

Either way, the DVLA will assume that your vehicle is off the road and you have failed to declare Sorn.

A warning letter will be sent, and if you fail to take action, an automatic fixed penalty fine will be issued by post — it’s £80 if your road tax has expired (reduced to £40 if you pay within 28 days), or £100 if your car is uninsured.

Read more

How to cancel road tax and get a refund