There are a few reasons why you might be thinking about scrapping your car. The most common reason to scrap a vehicle is simply that the cost of repairs will come to more than the value of the vehicle. You might also be thinking of the scrapyard if repairs to your car are just not possible. In cases where a car has been involved in an accident, it's often the case that the vehicle is declared an insurance write-off. What people often get confused about when they scrap a car is if they need to register that car as officially off the road. This is known as SORN.
What Does SORNing a Vehicle Mean?
Whenever you intend to not drive your car for a while due to lifestyle changes, much-needed repairs, or because you plan to scrap the vehicle, you need to officially declare it. That means applying for a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN). When you SORN a vehicle, it means that you will not have to pay road tax or insurance. Failing to register for a SORN means that the owner of the vehicle can get a fine. In worst-case scenarios, failure to declare SORN can mean a fixed penalty notice, vehicle seizure, or even prosecution.
How to SORN a Car
The DVLA needs to know if you are scrapping a car, and they are exceptionally vigilant. If you scrap a vehicle without letting the DVLA know, then you are breaking the law. There are three ways that you can make sure that the DVLA is kept informed about the road status of your car. If you want to declare SORN, then your options are:
This is a simple process, but you will need to ensure that you provide every piece of paperwork. Those documents will include your V5C (vehicle registration document) and the 16-digit number that you'll find on your reminder for car tax renewal. Once you have everything, simply fill out your logbook (section 9), put all of your documents together, and post them to:
In some cases, you may have to provide your full logbook. As a general rule of thumb, the more information that you can provide the DVLA with the more seamless the SORN process is.
Declare SORN online
You can now use the official government website to declare SORN. All you have to do is provide your registration number, the relevant reference number from your logbook (that's the 11-digit number you'll find in Section 9), and the contact details of where you are scrapping or have scraped your vehicle. Online SORN declaration is very simple.
SORN by Phone
You can also declare for SORN by phone, but remember to have all of your vehicle documents with you when you call. The number you need is 0300 1234321.
Can You Drive a SORN Car to Scrap?
If you have declared SORN on a car, or even if you have purchased a car with SORN status, it is illegal to drive on the road. The only exceptions to this are if you are driving to an MOT test that is pre-booked. If you drive a vehicle that has been declared SORN, then you risk facing fines of up to £2,500. That means that you cannot drive a car to the scrapyard if it has SORN status.
That's why it's common to see a SORN declaration made after a vehicle has been scrapped. To get a SORNed car to the scrapyard, then you will need to arrange alternative legal transportation. Sometimes, a scrapyard can do this for you.
How Long Does SORN Last?
The good news is that once you have declared a car to be SORN, you don't have to worry about renewing. All SORNs are indefinite. A lot of people think that a SORN only lasts for a year, but that law was changed in 2013. Once a car has been officially declared as SORN, it will remain so until the day that it is taxed or ownership of the car transfers to someone else.
That's why people can buy SORNed vehicles. Of course, if you do decide to reverse a SORN for any reason, you will still need to insure your car before you can legally drive it on the road.
Do You Need to SORN a Scrapped Car?
Legally, you are allowed to scrap a car before it is SORNed. That means that you can drive it to the scrapping centre. After the car is destroyed, you will be given a Certificate of Destruction (there is often a seven day waiting period for this paperwork). That certificate will mean that the vehicle's details have been updated on DVLA records. However, you will still need to send off all of the necessary paperwork to the DVLA.
It's worth remembering that you are allowed to remove car parts before it gets scrapped. If there are any particularly expensive parts that you can sell on, it's worth removing them before the vehicle is destroyed. However, removing car parts requires a SORN declaration beforehand.
Do you need to SORN to scrap a car?
There are some clearly identified situations where you must declare a SORN. The more that you know about those circumstances, the less risk there is of getting hit with a fine from the DVLA. You need to SORN your vehicle if:
- You are keeping a car on private property with no intention of driving it. However, that car is not allowed to be parked on a public road. It needs to be kept on your driveway or in a garage for as long as you keep it SORNed.
- You are salvaging any parts from your car that will tend to leave it unsuitable for driving. That means you have to time your parts removal well. It is often best to wait until you get to a scrapyard before removing the parts that you want to keep.
- If your car is uninsured, then you need to apply for SORN, also. Driving a car without insurance is illegal, so by not renewing your insurance, you are effectively declaring that your car is unfit to drive. That means SORN must be declared, even if the vehicle is only going to be insured for a short time.
Scrapping a car is quick and simple, but it's important to know where you stand legally. With the strict fines and potential penalties of driving a car illegally, always make sure that you are following the rules of the road before you get behind the wheel.