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Avoiding incurring a SORN fine is pretty simple: if you’ve SORN’d your car, make sure to keep it off public roads unless you have a pre-arranged MOT appointment.

Also, if you’ve stopped driving your car and don’t want to insure it or tax it, make sure you SORN it before you cancel your road tax and car insurance policy. And then keep it off public roads. That’s it. That’s how you avoid a SORN fine.

Not having valid insurance is a great way to land yourself with points on your licence and a hefty fine too. Now, you don’t necessarily need to SORN your car if your insurance renewal is coming up and you haven’t had a chance to shop around yet. You could simply take out temporary car insurance to cover you while you find your next policy.

We’ll delve deeper into exactly what a SORN is and how to avoid paying a SORN fine too. But, if you’re in a rush, feel free to jump to whatever section you’re most interested:

Person in orange with blue car and trees and sun in the background.

What does SORN mean?

SORN stands for Statutory Off Road Notification. That’s a lot of fancy words to say you’re taking your car off the road and you won’t be driving, taxing, or insuring it – and it won’t be on public land.

Whether you’re backpacking across the world during your gap year, or simply keeping your car parked in your garage before selling it on, SORN-ing it is a great way to save money on tax and insurance as long as you keep your car off public land. 

And yeah, that means you can’t just park it on the street in front of your house.

We have a dedicated article if you want to learn more about SORN

Do you get fined for not declaring SORN?

SORN-ing your car just because you’ve not been driving it for a while is not a legal requirement. It’s totally up to you how often you drive and nobody in the DVLA is sat there checking when you last took a road trip. It’s not against the law to choose not to drive. That is, as long as the car is taxed and insured.

But if you want to keep your car in your garage and not pay tax and insurance, you’ll have to SORN it to avoid fines. It’s free and takes a few minutes to do. You can apply online at

Do the DVLA check SORN cars?

It’s super easy for the DVLA to work out the status of your car.

They can definitely tell whether you’ve taxed or SORN’d your car, and if you’ve forgotten whether your car is taxed, there’s a quick and free way to check your car tax status. That’s why you get reminder letters sent to your address about a month before your tax is due every year. The peeps at the DVLA know who needs to pay up and who has declared SORN.

If you haven’t taxed and insured your car, you could be fined £80 right away (link to penalty points article) for not SORN-ing it. As far as they are concerned, if you’re a car owner, those are your only two options: tax and insure it, or SORN it and keep it off the road. 

Man with blue hatchback car with trees and the sun in the background

Can you get caught if you drive a car with a SORN?

If you SORN your car and decide to take a joy ride, you can definitely get caught. You could get stopped by the police, for example. Some ANPR cameras can also pick up your tax and insurance status.

And if you’re caught driving your SORN car, the fines are steep – you could be slapped with a fine up to £2,500 and face court prosecution too. Is it worth it? We think not.

The only exception is if you’re driving your car to or from a pre-booked MOT appointment. You’ll need to show evidence if asked though, so make sure to have your appointment info handy.

Even if your car is simply parked on the road in front of your house, you could get caught if someone reports it or if a police officer spots it.

What if you just bought a SORN car and want to keep the SORN?

If you just bought a SORN car and you were hoping to keep it that way, we have bad news for you. The SORN doesn’t carry over to the new owner. So you would still need to tax and insure it to take it home. And then you’d need to SORN it.

But you don’t have to get annual car insurance to do all that. You can get temporary car insurance that lasts anywhere between an hour and a few weeks from a provider like Zixty. You can then use the policy to tax your car, take it home legally, park it in your garage or on your driveway, and then SORN it.

And that’s how you avoid paying a SORN fine if you’ve just bought a car and want to SORN it asap.

Does SORN affect car insurance?

Declaring your car SORN means you don’t need to pay for car insurance anymore. That’s a huge reason why people do it in the first place if they know they won’t be using their car.

Plus, if your car insurance runs out and your car is uninsured, you could SORN it while you sort out a policy.

But you don’t necessarily have to. If renewal’s just around the corner, a temporary car insurance policy can cover you while you sort out a more permanent solution. Learn more about Zixty’s Temporary Car Insurance here

How to avoid paying a SORN fine: An overview

The best way to avoid paying a SORN fine is to make sure your car is kept off public roads if it’s SORN’d. Also, if it isn’t SORN’d, you need to make sure it’s taxed and insured even if you’re not planning on driving it.

The DVLA doesn’t care if you’re using your car as an oversized, slightly eccentric garden ornament. But, if you don’t want to pay up for tax and insurance, SORN it or face the consequences.