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Coronavirus: Can I Cancel My Car Tax?

Red car over a book cartoon

With the entire country on lockdown due to the coronavirus, drivers are minimising the amount of time they spend behind the wheel. In fact, unless you’re a key worker or volunteer, it’s likely that you’re barely using your car, if at all. If that’s the case, you may be considering declaring your car as off the road.

Officially applying for a Statutory Off Road Notification enables you to cancel your car tax and insurance. This could save you plenty of cash if you’re not currently taking your car on public roads. If this is something you’re seriously considering, be sure to read through our handy guide below. We’ll walk you through the process of applying for a SORN, and, ultimately, help you figure out if it’s the best course of action.


Can I cancel my car tax?

Given how costly car tax can be, it’s not surprising to find that many drivers are wondering if they can cancel it for the time being. After all, if you’re not using your car much, it can seem like a waste of money having to tax it. You’ll be pleased to hear, then, that you can cancel your car tax and potentially be eligible for a refund! The catch here, however, is that you’ll first need to apply for a SORN.

What is a SORN?

If you’re ever at a point where you need to stop taxing and insuring your vehicle, you will need to apply for a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN). It informs the DVLA that you won’t be using your car, as it will be off the road. Once you do this, it will be registered on the Motor Insurance Database (MID), which tracks all insured vehicles in the UK. You cannot skip this step if you want to stop using and taxing your car. If you don’t apply for a SORN, you’ll be fined £80. You’ll also face additional fines for having an uninsured vehicle.

Once your SORN is in place, you will not be allowed to drive your vehicle on public roads. The only exception is when you’re heading to or from a pre-booked MOT. If you ignore this rule, you face prosecution and a fine of up to £2,500. Additionally, you won’t be able to park outside your house, as your car can’t be on a public road. Instead, you’ll need to keep it in a garage, on a driveway, or on private land.


Why would I apply for a SORN?

Yellow car with magnifying glass

With uncertainty surrounding the length of the current lockdown, some drivers could be off the road for months. So, is it worth applying for a SORN? It all, ultimately, boils down to your answers to two key questions…

How much do you use your car?

If you’re a key worker, or volunteer, you’ll likely be using your car just as much, if not more, as you did before the pandemic hit. Those who are stuck at home, however, might find themselves in a completely different situation. Many people will be able to stop driving altogether as long as they live close enough to local amenities. So, unless you can’t avoid using your car, declaring it as off the road is certainly an avenue worth exploring.

What’s your current financial situation?

At the moment, many of us have been left in a more difficult financial situation. If that’s the case, then saving money wherever possible is a smart move. By applying for a SORN, you can cancel your car tax and receive a refund for any full months of remaining tax. You’ll also be able to stop paying car insurance, meaning you could save a real packet.

We do advise, however, that you take some time to deliberate over this decision. Whilst it might be tempting, you’ve got to remember that you won’t legally be able to use or park your car on public roads until you cancel your SORN and start paying tax and insurance again. If you accept these conditions, then it’s time to move onto the next section!


How to apply for a SORN

So, you’ve decided to declare your car as off the road and enjoy a weight off of your purse strings. You’ll be pleased to hear that the process of applying for a SORN is relatively straightforward. Before we get into the nitty gritty of it all, you’ll first have to decide whether you want it to start right away, or on the first day of the next month. Your choice will determine whether you’ll need your vehicle log book (V5C) or vehicle tax reminder letter (V11).

  • If you’re looking to declare your car as off the road right off the bat, you’ll need the 11-digit number found in your vehicle log book (V5C).
  • If you’d prefer to wait until the first day of next month, you’re going to need to dig out your vehicle tax reminder letter for a 16-digit number.

The application process

You can apply for your SORN online using the DVLA’s online form. You also have the option to apply over the phone. Simply get in touch with the DVLA vehicle service, which is available 24/7, on 0300 123 4321.

The DVLA will send you an acceptance letter within four weeks of you applying for your SORN. If you don’t hear from them after this period of time, be sure to get in touch with them.

Normally, it would also be possible to apply for your SORN by sending a V890 application form to the DVLA by post. However, to be able to deal with demand as effectively as possible, the DVLA are not currently accepting postal applications.

If you’re looking to declare your car as off the road immediately, remember that you won’t be able to drive or park your car on public roads once it’s in place. If you’ve not sorted out where you’re going to store your vehicle yet, hold off on applying until you do.

Issues you might encounter

Checklist

Whilst the process should be simple enough, that’s not to say that you won’t encounter an issue during your endeavour. Here are a few situations that might cause you a few problems…

Incorrect details in your V5C

Though it might not seem like a big deal, it’s vital that your name and address are correct in your log book. The DVLA will use these details to refund any remaining tax payments once the SORN goes through. If you’ve got the wrong details listed, you’ll need to write them in section 3 or 6 of your log book, depending on whether you’ve got a new or old style version. Then, send your updated log book with a V890 form to the DVLA.

The vehicle isn’t registered under your name

If someone else is the registered keeper of the vehicle, you won’t be able to apply for your SORN online or over the phone. Instead, you’ll need to update the registered keeper section of your log book. Next, send your updated log book with a V890 form to the DVLA.

You don’t have a log book

If you’ve lost your log book, or you’re not sure you ever had one to begin with, you’ll need to apply for one. All you’ve got to do is fill out an application for a log book (V62), along with a V890 form. You’ll need to post this to the DVLA. Please note that your new log book will cost £25.

If you encounter any other problems during your application for a SORN, please contact the DVLA.


Can I cancel the SORN whenever I want?

Cartoon red car with woman driving attached to car key

Statutory Off Road Notifications do not expire. This means that until you take action, you will not be able to take your car out onto public roads. If you need to start using your car again, you can automatically cancel your SORN by taxing your vehicle. You can find instructions for this process in our handy guide to vehicle tax. You can also cancel a SORN by selling, scrapping or permanently exporting your vehicle.

Don’t forget to sort out your insurance before you start using your car again. Remember: it is illegal to drive on UK roads without at least third party insurance cover in place. You can find more information on this topic in our driving insurance section.


FAQs

1. When do I get my tax refund?

After you apply for a SORN, the DVLA will cancel your car tax. You’ll then get a refund cheque for any remaining full months on your car tax. The cheque will be sent to the name and address in your log book (which is why you need to make sure your details are correct). You should receive this within six weeks of applying.

2. I haven’t received my tax refund. What should I do?

If you’ve not heard anything from the DVLA after six weeks, then you’ll need to get in touch with them directly. Alternatively, if you receive the cheque, but it’s in the wrong name, you’ll need to return it and give the DVLA your correct name. You’ll need to send this to

Refund Section
DVLA
Swansea
SA99 1AL

Note, however, that the DVLA are not accepting postal applications while the pandemic is ongoing.

3. Will I get a refund for my insurance too?

It depends on your insurance provider and policy. Some insurers will urge you to downgrade your policy so that your vehicle will still be covered whilst it’s off the road. Others, however, may offer you a refund on part of your insurance. Your best course of action is to get in touch with your insurer directly.

4. How would anyone know if I cancelled my tax and didn’t apply for a SORN?

Remember the Motor Insurance Database (MID) we mentioned? The DVLA and police can access this information and cross-check it to identify uninsured vehicles on the road. If they find out that you’re driving uninsured, or storing your car off-road without a SORN, they can fine you, take your vehicle and even take you to court.

5. How do I check if my vehicle is taxed or registered as off the road?

It’s simple! All you’ve got to do is head on over to the DVLA’s vehicle enquiry service. You’ll then need to enter your registration number. Please note that it can take up to 5 working days for the records to update.

By Bethany Hall

Whether you’re a learner or a pro driver, Bethany is here to help. From defensive driving to the Highway Code, she’ll tell you everything you need know about driving. If she’s not on the road, you’ll probably find Bethany with her head in a book or binge-watching the latest TV show.

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