Do you need to SORN to scrap a car? 


When legally scrapping a car, there is a strict and highly monitored process that you need to follow for everything to be done above board and officially. 

There is a lot of documentation you’ll need to have with you when scrapping a car, and you’ll also have to do a few things before you arrive at the ATF to ensure you’ll be allowed to scrap the vehicle. 

One thing that many people are unsure about is the need to SORN a car before you scrap it. Here’s a look at the rules regarding SORNing your car before scrapping it and more details on what SORN is and what things are required when you scrap a car. 

What is SORN? 

SORN is an acronym that stands for Statutory Off Road Notification and is a status that you can put your car under that informs the DVLA, the governing body for motoring in the UK, that your vehicle is off the road. 

When you declare your car as a SORN, it means that it cannot be driven or left on public roads and essentially signifies to the DVLA that the vehicle isn’t going to be used. 

As a result, when you SORN your car, you don’t need to pay tax or insure it, which can be helpful if you want to reduce running costs for your vehicle.  

When would you want to make a SORN? 

It would be appropriate to declare your car as SORN in many situations. Some of the most appropriate times when a SORN will make sense include: 

  • Periods where you’re not going to be using your car for an extended period, such as if you’re going on a long-term trip or holiday. For example, during the Lockdown period, when many people weren’t using their cars at all, many people declared it a SORN to save money on road tax for the period that it was off-road. 
  • The car is uninsured. This makes sense because if it’s not insured, it’s not allowed on the road anyway, so you may as well SORN it to help you save money on vehicle tax. If the car is uninsured because of a delay in getting a new policy, then a SORN makes perfect sense.
  • You’re selling the car. If you’ve listed your car for sale, then declaring it a SORN is a good idea, as it can help you save money on taxes and insurance. In most cases, if you’re waiting for a buyer to purchase your car, you won’t be using it, so a SORN is a good option to minimise expenses during the sale period.  
  • You want to get parts from the car before you scrap it. If you want to strip the car of parts, getting a SORN is a good idea, as it allows you to save money while you go through the process or remove stuff. In addition, it’s legally required to declare the car off the road if you’re taking parts from it, as doing so means it’s no longer roadworthy.

In addition to these common reasons to SORN a car, you can also decide to SORN a car before you scrap it, as many vehicles that have been SORNed off the road end up being scrapped. That said, you’re not required to SORN a car before you scrap it, and doing so can make things trickier for you in some situations. 

To start, if you SORN a car before you want to scrap it, you won’t be able to drive it to the ATF yourself and instead may have to pay extra to have the car picked up from where it’s been stored. 

What do you need to do to scrap a car?

Although you don’t need to SORN a car before you decide to scrap it, there are a few things that you need to do before, during, and after the scrapping process to ensure that everything is legal and performed correctly. 

Despite not needing to SORN a car before you scrap it, you must inform the DVL that you want to remove the license plate off the road if you don’t want to keep it. This is done to ensure that the registration plate isn’t taken off the car before it’s scrapped and put on another vehicle illegally so that it can avoid tax and be harder to track. 

When scrapping, you need to use an authorised site that’s been approved by the Environmental Agency. To find them, you can browse the government website to find options close to you. When at an ATF, you’ll need to have a few documents. Although you don’t need your logbook to scrap a car, it will make the process easier. You’ll also need proof of identity, address, and documentation proving you own the car. 

Once the car is scrapped, you need to contact the DVLA again to tell them to unregister the car and that it’s been destroyed. This ensures they have up-to-date records; not telling them can result in a hefty fine. You should also get a certificate of destruction after a week that confirms the scrappage was legit. 

When scrapping your car, your payment should be made via bank transfer, as cash payments are not allowed since 2013. For the scrappage to be legal, you shouldn’t accept cash, and if you’re offered it, it’s a sign that things aren’t proper.  

SORN Frequently asked questions

How do you make a SORN?

Declaring a car as SORN is easy. All you need to do is contact the DVLA and register that the car is off the road. You can contact them via phone or online; all you need is the 16-digit number on your car tax form. 

Getting your car registered as SORN is free. 

What are the benefits of SORN?

There are multiple great benefits to declaring a car as SORN, which is why it’s a good idea for people to do it if they’re not using their car for an extended period. When your car is registered as a SORN car, it does not need to pay any road tax, which can help you save money on the vehicle while you attempt to sell it, scrap it, or repair it. 

In addition, you don’t have to insure your car while it’s under a SORN, helping you avoid even more costs, saving you a fair bit of money during the process.

What happens if I don’t tax a car that’s not registered with a SORN?

If you want to avoid paying tax for your car, you must register it as a SORN car. You can’t simply decide not to pay tax when it’s due as this can lead you to get multiple fines, starting at £80 but rising drastically the more your tax payment is delayed. This can rise as high as £1,000 in a court settlement if it’s left unpaid. 

Does a SORN transfer to a new car when bought?

You can’t transfer a SORN from one car to another when you buy a new vehicle, and even if the new car you’ve bought had one in place, you need to complete a new SORN application in your name so that it’s clear that you’re the legal owner of the vehicle.

What happens if I sell a car that has a SORN?

If you sell a car currently registered as off the road, this will automatically remove this SORN status, meaning that the new owner needs to tax the vehicle. If the new owner wants the car to be placed under a SORN, they will have to apply themselves to get this notification.

When does my SORN start?

When applying for a SORN notice, you can choose when you want the off-road period of the car to start, meaning that you can get a SORN in advance. 

If you want the SORN to start on the first day of the following month, which is the earliest you can declare SORN in usual circumstances, you must add the 16-digit number displayed in your vehicle tax reminder letter, also known as a V11. 

You can only get an immediate SORN if your car has been declared not roadworthy, such as if it needs repairs you can’t afford.

What happens to insurance when you get a SORN?

When you get a SORN notice for your car, you’ll no longer need to pay insurance for it, just like tax, because it’s no longer being used on the road. That said, your insurance isn’t automatically cancelled when you get a SORN. Instead, you’ll have to ring up yourself and cancel your policy manually. 

Be aware that when you cancel your insurance policy early, you may be subject to cancellation fees. Always check if cancelling your insurance during the SORN period is financially viable.

Where does a SORN can need to be stored?

If your car currently has a SORN notice, it must be stored anywhere off a public road. This means it can be kept on a driveway, in a garage, or on your own private lands, such as a farming area. 

When parking a SORN car, you need to ensure it’s not placed on roadside parking. This is because when parked like this, it’s still technically using the roads, which will go against the SORN agreement and could lead to you getting fined. 

Does SORN expire?

Unlike road tax or some insurance policies, your SORN will not expire over a year and will instead apply to your vehicle indefinitely until the car is either sold, scrapped, or exported outside the UK. 

This means that once you SORN your car, you don’t need to worry about it and keep up with any documentation, making it easy to monitor.

What do I do if I want to drive a SORN car again?

If you want to start driving your SORN car again, you only need to get it taxed again and renew your insurance so it’s legally allowed on the road. You can tax your car online or over the phone with the DVLA, although you’ll need the 11-digit reference number on your V5C, also known as a logbook. 

You can also re-tax your SORN car at some post office branches if that’s easier for you, so look to see if there are any in your area. 

In addition to insurance and tax, the car must be deemed roadworthy. If you’ve SORNed the vehicle because it failed an MOT or sustained some damage, you’ll have to get it repaired first and then ensure it has an up-to-date MOT. Once you’ve done this, the car is allowed on the road.

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