For those of you just starting out in the motor trade business or thinking about renovating classic cars as a hobby, you will probably keep hearing the word ‘SORN’ mentioned. Here at Tradex we don’t just ‘do insurance’, we also help you to understand the jargon surrounding vehicle ownership, insurance liabilities and the legalities of vehicles on and off road. Here’s our comprehensive guide to SORN.
What is a SORN?
SORN is an abbreviation of the phrase Statutory Off Road Notification. In laymen’s terms it’s a means of not having to pay motor trade or classic car insurance together with tax for a vehicle that you own but you’re not using.
According to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’s Continuous Insurance Enforcement legislation, you must, by law, always have your car insured at all times. If you don’t, you could be hit with an £80 on-the-spot fine and even a prosecution. The exception to this is when a car is legally declared to be ‘off the road’. That’s when you need a SORN.
Why Do I Need a SORN for My Car?
Having a SORN means you can stop all tax and insurance payments while the vehicle is garaged. Remember though, if you don’t submit your SORN document the DVLA will presume that the car is still on the road and charge you appropriately.
There are a few instances that mean you need to declare that your car is officially off the road:
• When you buy a car that already has a SORN on it
• If you aren’t able to tax or insure your car at that time
• If your car is in a garage awaiting or undergoing repair
• If you are going to scrap your car but you want to strip it for parts first
• When you buy a car and decide not to tax or insure it straight away
If you are delaying renewing your motor trade insurance policy, you must prove that this was unavoidable, not intentional. If your vehicle is not insured you must officially declare it as off-road, even if the vehicle is not in use, as you could be fined if you fail to do so.
If you are a collector or restorer of classic, vintage, unique or collectible cars then this is the category that you will fall into. There is no reason to have your vehicle sitting idly while you are paying tax and classic car insurance, the SORN is there for you to take advantage of, so use it.
The Rules of a SORN
In order to get a SORN you must not be using the car on the UK highway. It means that your car cannot be kept on any public road – but keeping it in your garage or on your driveway is acceptable. It’s important that you don’t drive your vehicle on the road while the SORN is active. If you do, you’re breaking the law.
Also, if your car needs an MOT at any time while the SORN is in effect, then make sure that you have pre-booked it. If you are stopped by police en route to the named garage they can confirm your booking and that you are legal. This is the only legal allowance for taking your SORN documented vehicle onto a public road. However, if you ignore these rules then you could face a fine of up to £2500.
How Do I Get a SORN?
First, check the current insurance status of your vehicle at the Motor Insurance Database (MID) at https://ownvehicle.askmid.com/. The MID is the central record of all insured vehicles in the UK and is used by the police and the DVLA to enforce motor insurance law - ensuring that vehicles driven on our roads are always insured.
You can apply to the DVLA for a SORN to officially declare your car off the road online at GOV.UK as well as by phone or by post. Make sure you have your V11 tax reminder number or your V5C log book number to hand when you apply. The DVLA SORN application form is called a V890.
You can also make a SORN online or by phoning 0300 123 4321 if you’re registered as the vehicle’s owner. In your application, include the date that you intend taking the car off the road. If the day is the current or previous month, you won’t receive a vehicle tax refund for the past dates. If it is going to be in the next month or two, then you will need to submit in writing why you can’t apply closer to the time.
You can use the 11-digit number on your vehicle log book (V5C) to take the vehicle off the road immediately; or use the 16-digit number on your vehicle tax reminder letter (V11) to take the vehicle off the road from the first day of next month.
If the vehicle isn’t registered in your name, you’ll have to tell DVLA it’s off the road by post. The SORN application, once submitted, usually takes no longer that 4 weeks to arrive.
You must cancel any insurance with your provider. This is also applicable to the tax on your vehicle. You should continue paying the tax until you have been officially notified that you can discontinue.
And what’s more, applying for a SORN is absolutely free.
How long does a SORN last?
Once the SORN is applied, that’s it. You won’t need to renew or update it until you tax, sell or scrap your car. The SORN doesn’t transfer owners, so if you sell it and the new owner wants to keep it off the road, they’ll need to re-apply for the SORN. When you want to start using your car again, make sure it has a valid MOT and insurance cover. Then, when you tax the car, the SORN is removed and you’ll get a refund for any full months of remaining tax.
SORN and The Motor Trades
If you are in the used car market be aware that the SORN document is NOT a transferable item. If you want to keep the vehicle off the road, then you must apply for a new SORN, in your own name. If you are selling a vehicle that has a SORN attached to it, then make sure you tell the buyer so that they then have the time to apply for their own documentation before taking delivery of the vehicle.