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DVLA busts myths about cars declared off the road

Written by: Emma Lunn
March 2020 saw the highest number of SORNs (Statutory Off Road Notifications) made of any month in the past decade.

Each year about 3.4 million vehicles are declared as being “off the road” via a Statutory off Road Notification or SORN – sometimes for just a few months at a time.

The DVLA says March 2020 saw the highest number of SORNs being made of any month in the past decade, with more than half a million motorists choosing to SORN their vehicle at the start of the first national lockdown. Many may now need to get their vehicles back on the road after a SORN.

Telling DVLA of a SORN for a vehicle is simple and automatically generates a refund of any full months of vehicle tax remaining. Anyone who wants to start using the vehicle on the road again must tax it before they use it.

Driving or keeping a vehicle on the road when it is subject to a SORN is against the law, so motorists need to ensure they know what to do if they want to start using their vehicle again, and how to make a SORN correctly if they do wish to keep their vehicle off the road.

Nine SORN myths

Myth 1: You can keep your vehicle on the road – just don’t drive it

The clue is in the name. When you SORN your vehicle, it can’t be kept on a public road – so it must be kept in a garage, on a driveway or on private land.

Myth 2: SORN is transferrable to the next vehicle keeper

In the same way vehicle tax isn’t transferred to the new keeper, when you buy a vehicle, SORN is also not transferred. So, if you’re buying a vehicle and want to keep it off the road, remember to make a SORN with DVLA.

Myth 3: You need to make a SORN annually

You only need to tell DVLA once when you SORN your vehicle, and you don’t need to renew this every year. The SORN lasts until the vehicle is re-taxed, sold, permanently exported or scrapped.

Myth 4: You can’t drive vehicle to have an MOT if it’s SORN

You can drive to a pre-arranged MOT appointment under SORN.

Myth 5: There’s a lot of admin and cost to make a SORN

It’s free to make a SORN – and takes just a few minutes online. You just need your vehicle’s registration certificate (V5C) to hand. You will receive instant confirmation from DVLA. If you don’t have your V5C and need to order a replacement, you can do this using DVLA’s online service – you should receive your new certificate within five working days if you apply online.

Myth 6: I have an electric vehicle so I don’t need to pay for my vehicle tax, so there’s no need for me to SORN it

Even if you don’t need to pay anything to tax your vehicle, for example because you’re exempt because you’re disabled or you drive an electric vehicle, you still need to tax it each year. If you take a vehicle off the road and don’t intend to tax it, you’ll still need to make a SORN – even if there is no tax to pay.

Myth 7: If you SORN your vehicle you can’t get a refund on your tax

The registered keeper will automatically get a refund for any full months of remaining tax when you make a SORN. It is important that you keep your address up to date with DVLA to receive your refund.

Myth 8: You can’t tell the DVLA in advance if you want to make a SORN later

If you know that you’ll soon want to keep your vehicle off the road, you can tell DVLA up to two months in advance. If you want the SORN to start on the first day of the next month, you can arrange this online and use the 16 digit number on your V11 reminder letter.

Myth 9: It is really difficult to ‘unSORN’

There is no such thing as ‘unSORNing’. When you want to start using your vehicle again, you simply  need to tax it. You can do this in a few minutes online.

Julie Lennard, DVLA chief executive, said: “To give motorists the best advice we’ve put together a list of common myths about SORN. Myth busting aims to help motorists understand what they need to do with a vehicle when it is declared SORN, including taxing it before using or keeping it on the road again. It’s really easy to check online if a vehicle is taxed. And motorists can even check by asking Amazon Alexa or Google Home. It takes just a matter of minutes to tax it.”

Rod Dennis, RAC spokesman, said: “Before the pandemic, it’s likely the ‘SORN’ acronym meant very little to most people but within weeks of the first lockdown hundreds of thousands of extra drivers had already stopped using their cars and made a SORN application to the DVLA.

“Now, with restrictions lifting we’d urge every driver who uses their car – no matter how infrequently – to make sure it is taxed, insured and ready for the road. It’s vitally important drivers remember that SORN status only applies to vehicles that are unused and parked off public roads.”

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