Buying an MG V8? - take care with your SORN declaration, there can be a very nasty sting from DVLA!
If you purchase a car in the UK which is not taxed for the road, then it should be covered by a SORN. The present registered keeper (usually the seller) is responsible for taxing the car or making a SORN declaration, so you should insist the seller produces either a current road fund licence or a current SORN. The SORN will usually be in the form of a standard DVLA letter as a DVLA acknowledgment of a SORN which will state the date the SORN "notice began to apply" and that "this lasts for 12 months". But what do you do if the car has neither a road fund licence or a SORN acknowledgment from the DVLA? Well your reaction as a responsible citizen purchasing the car will be to make sure two matters are dealt with promptly by:

Making a SORN declaration as rapidly as possible using a recent tax renewal reminder can be used to submit a SORN or you might need to download a Form V890 (see the SORN1 webpage for a link to obtain a Form V890 online) and make your SORN declaration. In both cases those forms could be submitted to a Post Office branch that handles the issue of road fund licences. Do ensure you get a "NIL payment" receipt from the counter clerk as evidence the Post Office branch has accepted your SORN declaration form for transmission to DVLA - that is essential.

Ensuring the change of Keeper is notified to DVLA promptly following the completion of the purchase. Whether the vehicle has the old Vehicle Registration Document V5 or the new EU style Vehicle Registration Certificate V5C, there is a section on each form for supplying the name and address details of the New Keeper (the buyer) which is then sent off to DVLA to be processed so the New Keeper (the buyer) is recorded as the Registered Keeper. The existing registered keeper has an clear interest in doing this very promptly because the Registered Keeper will continue to be liable for the vehicle until DVLA is informed of the change of keeper. It is probably prudent to send that notice by recorded delivery.

Gavin Bailey also adds "with the DVLA fines it may also be worth mentioning that it is essential that members with V8s remember to keep the address on their V5s up to date if they move house as a SORN renewal notice accidentally going to an old address and not being forwarded could prove very costly!" (26.1.05)

Take care and note the extraordinary tale in the panel alongside.

For overseas members, the "DVLA" is the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency which is a UK Government agency, and a "SORN" is a Statutory Off Road Notification, a formal document the registered keeper of a vehicle has to return to the DVLA if the vehicle is not taxed for use on public roads in the UK through the payment of a 6 or 12 month road fund licence.
Updated: 13.12.08

V8 Register - MG Car Club

Take note of this extraordinary case - it could apply to you too!

In the extraordinary case James Fairchild reported in SORN4, he prepared a SORN whilst he was still sitting in the sitting room of the person from whom he had purchased the vehicle and then promptly sent it off to DVLA. The seller filled in the New Keeper details on on the vehicle registration document and sent that off to the DVLA shortly afterwards. You would hope that would have met all the requirements responsible citizens buying and selling a vehicle should do - even under the new draconian DVLA vehicle licensing and SORN regulations.

You can imagine the surprise James subsequently felt on realising some time later that a letter he had received from the DVLA, which he had merely glanced at thinking it was a standard acknowledgment of a SORN, was in fact a formal refusal to accept his SORN! - But why? Simply James had sent his SORN to DVLA too promptly - yes too promptly! It seems that when it got to the DVLA and was processed by jobsworth1, and that person found from the DVLA records James was not the Registered Keeper. But why when the seller had sent in a notice of change of Keeper? Simply that notice was still being processed by jobsworth2 at the DVLA who had not yet reached the stage of recording the new Registered Keeper on the DVLA systems. Because James had not spotted the letter from the DVLA had refused to accept the SORN and consequently did not then respond - when of course he should have submitted another! - he later received an £80 penalty notice for not having submitted a SORN!! Quite extraordinary - clearly the DVLA systems do not operate on common sense. It seems they do not record an attempt to make a SORN just in case their processing of change of keeper notices are behind the arrival of the SORNS!

So a caution - do not fail to read any letter from the DVLA, and do not assume a DVLA letter is just a plain acknowledgment of a SORN. If James had read the letter he received closely he would have known he had to write again pointing out that he had by then received a V5 issued in his name as the Registered Keeper and that they should accept a SORN from him. If you do not read official letters it may well lead to unfortunate consequences for you - even a serious £80 penalty or worse.

The heavy handed DVLA are becoming quite brutal
Whether you are a good citizen who has tripped up on their procedures or one of the hard core road tax evaders - they are all the same to the DVLA! Submitting a SORN is not a casual exercise, make sure you have proof of Post Office processing by getting a NIL payment receipt at the counter, and do not send the SORN too soon so it arrives before the change of Keeper notice, or you may have to keep submitting SORNS until they concede you are in fact the Registered Keeper of the vehicle.
For more road tax, SORN and motor insurance items see our running index. More