- a case study
Just how does the SORN process work and when you get a
letter from the DVLA confirming your notice, and what does it look
like? The V8 Registrar, Victor Smith (Harvest Gold 1089), received
his Form V956 acknowledgment from DVLA which raised a few questions
- here are the replies from a helpful DVLA! (Feb
So what does the DVLA acknowledgment of a SORN look like?
DVLA acknowledgment of a SORN on Form V956
The reply confirms that the vehicle record for your V8 at DVLA has
been changed to show the notice (your Statutory Off Road Notification)
has been received and the date upon which the notice began. The SORN
lasts for 12 months. DVLA says "we will send you a reminder
as long as you are still the registered keeper of the vehicle and
there have been no other changes". The letter then goes on
to warn you unconditionally "not
to use your vehicle or keep it on a public road while the SORN is
in force. If you do, you could
be fined up to £5,000".
So how can you get your V8 to an MOT test station if you cannot
use your vehicle on the roads while the SORN is in force?
Well on examining this DVLA letter (Form V956) with its unconditional
"hell or high water" warnings, I began to think how on earth
would I ever renew my road tax if I could not take the V8 on the road
to a MOT testing station first?
So I sent the following questions to DVLA by email on 22nd January
you for your letter of 15th January 2004 confirming my SORN
for PVJ 414 M is valid for 12 months from 2nd January 2004.
I have a couple of questions for you on the SORN procedure and
requirements based on my reading of your letter. I anticipate
your reply will be of considerable interest to my fellow members
of the V8 Register who own an MGBV8. As the MGBV8 is a classic
car, many of our members only have their MGBV8s on the road
for part of the year so find themselves involved in the SORN
procedure and now your latest announcement.
I note the statement in your letter to me of 15th January 2004
confirming my SORN which states "Do not use your vehicle
or keep it on the a public road while the SORN is in force.
If you do, you could be fined up to £5,000." That
statement is clearly unconditional so unless there is some relief
by way of a waiver or express condition or provision relating
to the terms of that SORN confirmation which would enable a
registered keeper to get a vehicle subject to a current SORN
to an MOT testing station, I regret I cannot see how the registered
keeper would be permitted to drive or tow that car on a public
road for the purpose of having an MOT test on that vehicle as
a precondition of re-taxing the vehicle. I should be very pleased
if you would clarify the position and in particular let me have
your reply to the following questions.
Q1. Getting a SORN vehicle to an MOT testing station.
Can the registered keeper of a vehicle for which a SORN has
been sent to DVLA, drive that vehicle untaxed and whilst the
SORN still applies to an MOT testing station at which the registered
keeper has a prior appointment for that vehicle to be tested?
Q2. In what form is the reminder sent by DVLA to the registered
keeper at the end of the SORN period? For example does the
reminder come as a Form V11 reminder (in the style of reminder
one would get at the expiry of a tax period) which provides
sections with the convenient option to renew the vehicle licence
for a further period or submit a SORN? Alternatively would the
registered keeper have to go to the local Post Office or DVLA
local office or go online to get a particular form to renew
I should mention that I am seeking these clarifications for
publication on the V8 Register website for which I am the webmaster.
This website is for enthusiasts with MGBGTV8, MGBV8 Conversions
and MG RV8 models. The new SORN provisions announced earlier
this month are a considerable concern for our members, many
of whom use their cars on a seasonal basis and consequently
tax them for only part of the year. There are several webpages
on the SORN requirements and procedures which you may care to
Should you find any inaccuracies in the information set out
on either of those webpages, I would very much welcome any comments
or corrections you can provide so I am able to make appropriate
changes to the V8 Website for the benefit of our members.
I await your reply and clarifications.
The reply from the
DVLA is in the next column.
V8 Register - MG Car Club
Email reply from
the DVLA on 16th February 2004
you for your e-mail of 22nd January 2004 concerning the new
Continuous Registration (CR) scheme.
Getting a vehicle covered by a SORN to an MOT testing station
It might be helpful if I explain that there is an exemption
from Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) under Part 2, Section 22 of
the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act (VERA) 1994 for a
vehicle to travel to and from a testing station for the purpose
of a pre-arranged MOT test. This exemption is only afforded
whilst a vehicle is in use for the purpose of testing, and
does not apply if it is merely kept on the road.
from DVLA at the end of a SORN period
Turning now to your question regarding our V11, Licensing/SORN
Reminders, I can confirm that DVLA ventures to provide all
Registered Keepers with an up to date reminder to enable them
to re- license with the minimum of disruption. Reminders are
printed by DVLA and given to the Royal Mail approximately
8 weeks before the current licence expires. This is to allow
time for them to be sorted and distributed through the Royal
Mail network and take into account times of disruption such
as Christmas posting. Royal Mail then start the delivery of
the reminders about 2-3 weeks before the expiry of the licence,
as a vehicle cannot be licensed before the 15th of any month.
However, if the vehicle has recently been purchased and the
keeper does not have a V5C, Registration Certificate, in his/her
name then a V890, Statutory Off Road (SORN), which can be
found at any licensing Post Offices® or from our website
at www.dvla.gov.uk .
of the SORN webpages on the V8 Website
Finally, I can also confirm that after consulting our Vehicle
Policy Group we are happy with the wording contained on your
webpage regarding SORN. However, you may also be interested
to know that DVLA now acknowledges SORN declarations and disposal
notifications from vehicle keepers and a letter will be issued
when the notification is processed at the Centre.
this information is of assistance to you.
Customer Enquiries Vehicles"
Well I think
that is clear although why they could not have put that VERA
clarification on the SORN acknowledgment letter in the first place
is a mystery? The rather aggressive unconditional warning on Form
V956 about not using or keeping a car on a public road or which
a SORN was in force is an illustration of a heavy-handed mentality
which did not fully think through the implications of their wording.
It will be interesting to see if they change the text on Form
V956 to include an explanation of the VERA exemption. But the
good news is there does appear to be at least one fellow at DVLA,
Andrew Owen, who is customer friendly! Thank you for the helpful
Would any members
who receive an acknowledgment of their SORN from DVLA, please let
the V8 Webmaster know if the "MOT test VERA exemption"
was mentioned. We already have clear evidence that there is little
effort being made to change the standard letter - see the update
When does the
reminder reach you to re-tax the V8 or submit a new SORN?
Just by chance a reminder to re-tax another of my cars arrived on
the same day as the DVLA email above. The reminder arrived on 16th
February with renewal due on 29th February 2004 - only 14 days!
If I had to leave that car at a long term airport car park for two
weeks, it could not have been driven home on my return without a
pre-arranged MOT test! One is left with the feeling it's not really
a realistic system - just a determined effort by a bureaucratic
mindset to clamp down on a minority of road tax evaders at the inconvenience
of most law abiding motorists. Come on Humphrey, if you want to
act tough, do think through your proposals first! At present what
you have got is neither practical nor reasonable! Two to three weeks
is simply not sufficient notice these days particularly when that
can mean just 14 days with an unreliable postal system!
from V8 members
Do let the
V8 Webmaster know how many days before the expiry date of your road
fund licence or SORN you received your reminder from DVLA. My feeling
is the Post Office service is the weak link in this system. If you
do not get the reminder with sufficient notice, then it's off to
the Post Office for a Form V10 to retax the V8 or if you plan to
continue keeping the V8 off the road, then it's a case of using
the SORN procedure again!
(20.1.05) from Victor Smith: The letter I have received from
DVLA acknowledging my SORN submitted at the end of December 2004,
is in the same form as the letter received lat January 2004 - see
the letter reproduced at the top of the LH column. The letter does
not mention the MOT exemption, just the same heavy handed sweeping
(21.1.05) from James Fairchild of the Transport Yorkshire Preservation
Group reports he is being fined £80 by DVLA despite having
sent in a SORN. It is an extraordinary case which could affect V8
enthusiasts who buy a car where the tax has expired and a SORN is
due, register the change of ownership in the usual way, and send
in a SORN but do so before the change of registration has taken
effect. Yes it seems incredible but the DVLA has fined James for
sending in a SORN and refuses to accept it because on the day the
SORN declaration was made he was not the registered keeper - although
legally the owner at that stage having completed the purchase of
the vehicle. This type of heavy handed nonsense by the DVLA is clearly
unreasonable but as we have already noted the DVLA approach to SORN
has been aggressive from the start with an unpleasant and slightly
sad macho management style
See DVLA aggressive fine.
helpline 0870 240 0010