Have you decided to take your vehicle off the road?
No, we don’t mean off-roading. We mean, have you decided that you don’t need to use your car or van for a while so you have parked it up on your drive or in your garage, cancelled the insurance and not renewed the road tax? If you haven’t told the DVLA that your vehicle is off the road you could actually be risking a fine.
If you decide to take a vehicle ‘off the road’, you need to make a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) to the DVLA.
Declaring your vehicle off road (SORN) means you will not be able to drive or park it on a public road. Instead, your car will need to be kept in a garage or on private land, like your driveway. Pretty obvious when you think about it, the clue is kind of in the title.
The good news is that when you tell the DVLA, they will refund the remaining months left of your road tax. Make sure that the V5C for the vehicle carries the right address too as then you’ll avoid missing important information updates like manufacturer’s recall notices.
When do I have to SORN my car or van?
It may seem confusing but it’s really quite simple. If you own a car or van then it must be both taxed and insured or SORN. The following are instances when it would be appropriate for you to SORN a vehicle with the DVLA:
- It isn’t taxed
- It isn’t insured
- You want to break a vehicle down for parts before you scrap it
- You buy or receive a vehicle and want to keep it off the road (it’s really important to note that you can’t transfer a SORN declaration from the previous keeper)
Surely it’s not such a big deal and I won’t get into trouble if I wing it?
It’ll come as no surprise to learn that it is an offence to drive a SORN car or van on the public highway but it’s also an offence to keep one on a public road.
With so many police and enforcement vehicles fitted with ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) cameras today, if you use or keep an untaxed and/or uninsured vehicle on the road, sooner rather than later it’ll will end up clamped by the DVLA or seized by the police and impounded.
If clamped, you will inevitably have to pay a release fee of £100 which must be paid within 24 hours. A surety fee of £160 may also be charged if you cannot show that the vehicle has been taxed. This may be refunded if you can evidence the vehicle has been taxed within 15 days.
Failure to pay the release fee within 24 hours could also lead to your vehicle being impounded, with an increase in the release fee to £200 and a daily storage charge of £21.
If caught using a car or van on a public road without adequate insurance cover, the fines are larger still and you’re facing points on your licence.
A sobering thought isn’t it?
Are there exceptions?
The only exception to the rule is when driving an untaxed vehicle on a public road to or from a pre-booked MOT or other testing appointment. Even then, there’s never any exception to the rule that any car or van being driven on the public highway must be insured.
What happens when I want to use my car or van again?
If your vehicle has been SORN for a while and both the tax, MOT and insurance have run out, the insurance is the first thing you’re going to need to get in place. Be sure to square it with the insurance company or broker that the vehicle has no tax or MOT. Your policy could be invalidated if there’s no tax or MOT on the vehicle so be very clear – honesty really is the best policy!
It’ll probably be simpler to get your garage to come pick the vehicle up and trailer it for the MOT. Once you have a new MOT, you will be able to get insurance and then re-tax the vehicle. Just don’t forget to tell DVLA when you’re putting the vehicle back on the road!
You could face a court prosecution and a fine of up to £2,500 if you use it on the road for any other reason.
It all sounds way more complicated than it actually is. Just follow the steps and you won’t go wrong.
Can this affect my insurance?
We’ll bet you didn’t know this but the Continuous Insurance Enforcement Act states that you must have continuous insurance coverage without any lapses (we call them gaps in cover). Most insurance companies will query a gap of even a few days and will want to know if the vehicle was SORN during this period. And don’t think that you can pull the wool over their eyes. Most insurance companies and many brokers have access to a central data base that enables them to spot when there has been a gap in cover, really easily.
If the vehicle was not SORN it could result in an increase in your premium and in some instances an insurer may refuse to offer you cover altogether.
The long and the short of it is that it is best to either insure or declare your vehicle SORN to be sure that you do not learn an expensive lesson.
Whilst the information above is currently correct and much of it has been taken from UK Government web sites, there have been a couple of landmark cases referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) which have ruled that vehicles off the road still need to be insured, especially if they are still in a driveable condition. If you have a SORN vehicle it is probably advisable to keep an eye out for changes to the UK rules. Despite BREXIT the UK would generally look to follow this type of ruling…….at some point. We’d hope that the DVLA would give owners of SORN vehicles advance warning of any changes, but better safe than sorry.
If your vehicle is impounded you’re going to need a special insurance policy to get it released. Visit our impounded vehicle insurance page for information on what to do if your car or van has been seized for not being insured.