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SORN while abroad?

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I am planning a trip around the World of at least 2 years.

While away, my vehicle's tax and MOT would obviously expire and I would be unable to find an approved MOT testing centre and thereby retax it.


DVLA has, on three occasions, given conflicting, unworkable replies and is generally disinterested or unhelpful towards finding an answer.


My own best thoughts are that I should SORN it on-line from somewhere at the appropriate times.

SORN is a declaration (and the alternative to UK Road Tax) that it is not on a Public Road. I read this to mean 'public' by UK understanding, standards and UK Law and within their jurisdiction.


Their latest response is that SORN is only applicable if the vehicle is in the UK and it it is not in UK I cannot SORN it. Equally I cannot tax it, so I will accumulate penalties when/if it comes back.


This is the latest of DVLA's unworkable answers, but they have no consistent answer or a workable solution.


Anyone know better?

Or is the traditional British exploring spirit now officially outlawed by our burocrats? (If so, Roll over Sirs F Drake and W Raleigh!)



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It is often complained about, but the issue remains, to be legal in any other courtry, your car must be taxed and have insurance. If it isn't your 'green card' or foreign insurance may well be invalid. You cannot declare SORN for a vehicle being used abroad.


Now, if this isn't an issue - and the vehicle will simply be in storage, then you will need either your registration document number or the reminder renewal code to extend SORN, so you'll need someone able to answer your mail to let you know the job needs to be done.


To be out of the country, for two years will be problematic, and it is much better to leave your RHD car in the UK and get a LHD one when you move on. Insurance will remain a problem as some form of 'permanent' address will be required.

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Thanks for the response.


So, as I was concluding, the DVLA are now making it illegal to go on any journey exceeding 12 months to other countries, with your vehicle!


Simply because one must get back here to get an MOT test and retax it - both impossible to do elsewhere!


In fact one can only go outwards for 6 months so as to be able to get back to a MOT station in a similar time.


The Geneva Treaties (to which UK signed) give tourist vehicles the recriprical right to visit other signatory countries under their 'home' registration for up to six months in each country, but what the UK signed up to is being made impossible for UK citizens to do, with DVLA's present rules.


Surely such a DVLA stance is against Human Rights - to restrict otherwise permitted free movement.

Such movement should presumably be subject to the terms of the Treaties and the countries being visited, not the terms of the country you are travelling away from from.


UK citizens have Freedom?


Having had telephone advice from DVLA that was subsequently denied, Emails were commenced. I have copies of DVLA emails saying, in the proposed circumstances the Registration can be marked as 'frozen' which would keep it valid, yet avoid the SORN/MOT/tax imposibility problem and ensuing penalties. There were then later Emails rescinded their earlier ones and further Emails saying a Registration would cease at 12 months as the vehicle would then be considered permanantly exported. (But if it is simply on a trip it is not permanant.) The main point now being that a ceased Registration would not be valid for further travel under the Geneva Treaties.


Arse, elbow and 22 come to mind!

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Feeling better? 8)


You can go anywhere you like, for as long as you want with no restrictions. The fact you choose to take your UK registered car with you is your business, so there is no issue of 'freedom'. Why not complain to those countries that insist your car must be licenced in your 'home' country when it clearly impractical for you to do so? That argument has no relevance to the UK authorities. You could drive round the world in a year, why worry about '6 months'? If you are dilly dallying, then put a spurt on when you atre in your last month, and you can always load it into a container and freisht it back if you want to stay fully legal.


What you haven;t addressed, is how would you stay insured as a driver when your registration ran out - that would be a bigger problem. Wouldn;t that be your insurers affecting your 'human rightrs'? Of course, you could step out the car and walk, so freedom would be restored!

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What you haven;t addressed, is how would you stay insured as a driver when your registration ran out - that would be a bigger problem.


Thats the point of my query - the Registration running out. How to stop this happening while away.


I thought the DVLA have continuous registration, hence their rationale for taking the opportunity to impose penalties for failing to SORN etc.


That is why I have tried to get from them some consistant advice and instruction on how I go about complying with them and dealing with expiring Tax and MOT when in (say) South America or the Mongolia Gobi.


Insurance applicable to the country is obtainable locally at its borders (I buy this regularly on entering Russia - its simpler, cheaper and the Certificate in the local language and alphabets are more recognisable and instantly acceptable to the ДПС and other police at their roadside checks).

A few countries have no Laws requiring insurance, many more have no vehicle technical testing.

And its not just in 3rd World countries - even France and Belgium currently have no test requirements for motorcycles. But that is relatively easy to rectify within a day.

Edited by Tony P
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The 'registration' is a misnomer - they call in 'Continuous Registration' whe in fact it is nothing of the sort. It is continuous VED (with SORN as the alternative). The reasons for doing so are to 'discourage' someone from avoiding making a declaration and then doing nothing. I don't think the need to annually tell them, what you wish to do is onerous, as it at least makes their record at lewast accurate to 12 months. It is the costs for being not unwilling, but unable to comply that is unfair.


I do have to say it is often cheaper to pick up a vehicle in the country/continent to wish to use it. A RHD car is a liability outwith UK. Irl and Hong Kong. I've known garages to not even want to look for a fault because it was RHD... and THAT was in France!

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I do have to say it is often cheaper to pick up a vehicle in the country/continent to wish to use it.


I DO appreciate your replies.


But planning to visit upwards of 40 countries in my travels I don't relish trying to sell one side of each border, walk across with all my luggage equiment etc, then buy just the other side. Enough of a task at city based borders - but in remote mountain passes or river crossings etc? Anyway, Registering it without an address (or ever having been in the country before) presents more problems.


I repeat, DVLA are preventing any form of journey (perfectly legitimate and legal if I lived in other countries) of over 12 months. Such restriction is contrary to past traditions that made the British famous - and Britain prosperous enough to set up such infrastructures.


"Dear Mr Drake,

Your vehicle, 'Pelican', was observed in Plymouth Sound on 26th September 1580. Our records show it had not been inspected for seaworthyness, nor paid its UK port fees, nor been declared in dry dock since 1577.

Accordingly you are liable for automatic penalties.

Furthermore the vehicle was showing your Cherished Registration of 'Golden Hind' on a vehicle to which it had not been assigned and the plate failed to show it not been obtained from an approved source.

The misuse of your Cherished Registration, not allocated to vehicle it was displayed on, renders it forfeit. It is now cancelled and not to be used forthwith."


It's amazing he got knighted after such disregard to Her Majesty's burocrats!


Rant over.

But practical and DVLA legal solutions still welcomed.

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Since it is ONLY the DVLA that appears to be giving you grief, why not simply by a wholly appropriate LHD outwith the UK, and use that in its entirity for the journey until you get back.

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Since it is ONLY the DVLA that appears to be giving you grief, why not simply by a wholly appropriate LHD outwith the UK, and use that in its entirity for the journey until you get back.


It is a motorcycle (with RH dipping headlamp that passed recent MOT with a taped off area) - already bought, extensivly modified, equipped and prepared.

I set about this relying on Emails from DVLA.

Following previous conflicting telephone advice from DVLA it was thought prudent to obtain later confirmation of the Email. I wish this had not been done - they replied stating their Email was wrong!

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Any friends in france? just wondered whether you could register it in france for the duration of your trip i know its not ideal but would get you round the mot and tax issues

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I wonder what Ewan McGregor did....? I'm sure if you export for 12 months, it is allowable, as I did this for Eire, brought it back and got the same reg.

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I wonder what Ewan McGregor did....?


He has never been on a bike for anything like a year.

Their Long Way Round was 3 months. I've done the hardest part of their route, quicker too (3.5 days not 14 days before giving up - Shush!) and without travelling in pre-arranged 6WD trucks with the bikes on the back (Shush again!!) and being more than twice his age.


And for those interested, I am reliably informed KTM never refused to give them free bikes, as was portrayed (Shush!!!). They just refused to stump up considerable amounts of money that were then demanded as well.

There are other 'unknowns' that I won't go into now. But all credit to them, they got off their butts and rode most of those roads and more importantly awakened the World to the possibility of still having adventure journeys. Other than the DVLA that is.

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I have been thinking and researching further.


The Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994 (c. 22) PART III 29 1 says

If a person uses, or keeps, on a public road a vehicle (not being an exempt vehicle) which is unlicensed he is guilty of an offence.


PART V 62 defines –

public road”— (a) in England and Wales and Northern Ireland, means a road which is repairable at the public expense, and

(b) in Scotland, has the same meaning as in the M1 Roads (Scotland) Act 1984,

Ignoring whatever actual wording exists for Scotland for the purposes of my query, I read this that the requirement for VED is only when on roads that fit the above definition which includes location, which must necessarily be in England, Wales, NI or Scotland only. Roads in other countries do not fulfil this condition.

So, using a UK registered vehicle without UK VED, outside of the UK, is not an offence under UK Vehicle Excise Law.

Any comments on my thinking so far?:idea:

Moving on, I cannot yet find the Act or SI relating to SORN but DVLA’s Acknowledgement letters refer to not using or keeping the vehicle on a ‘public road’. Presumably (???) this would be the same definition of a Public Road that applies to VED (being the opposite of SORN), as defined above.

So what’s wrong in UK Legislation with me SORNing it on-line at the appropriate time while abroad? And even applying for a postal refund as soon as the vehicle is beyond the defined jurisdiction of VED?

Prior to returning into UK I would book an MOT appointment at a testing station location of my choice and only use the vehicle to go there from the port and then home, before getting a new VED.

I know DVLA’s constantly changing propaganda says you can’t SORN if it is outside UK, but why not?

Where/what is the legislation?:?:

I often feel they tell us what they would like the Law to be, rather than what it actually is.

DVLA’s documents, certificates, literature and correspondence is full of their edicts but totally devoid of actual Legislative references – apart from when imposing their own penalties!

They often appear to be following their own vested interest of Government VED cash collection AND causing difficulties/traps for their own penalty collection.

In view of past conflicting and changed advice I am trying to get actual chapter and verse from other than DVLA, and not put ‘my head above the parapet’ anymore!

All replies appreciated for your knowledge and efforts – even if not the content.:-|


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What of the reciprocal arrangement whereby a current VED is required in the 'home' country if the user intends driving on public roads abroad? I've seen Spanish Police impound cars with UK Registrations with out of date or non-displayed discs. (Only spotted this on the Med an Canary Islands, but was told they target all holiday resorts.


Your suggestion is that it is OK for foreign registered cars to be used in the UK when their home VED equivalent is invaid, is somehow 'OK' does kinda lose it's justification.... wouldn't you agree?

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What of the reciprocal arrangement whereby a current VED is required in the 'home' country if the user intends driving on public roads abroad?


My post, as indeed was my original query and the very nature of this Forum, Topic Category and Thread, is from the aspect of UK Law (DVLA) - not other countries'.

Does UK Law require VED be paid to the UK Government for using roads outside UK? Not according to the Act I quoted, I think. I would appreciate factual replies sooner than 'logical' or 'emotional' guesses. (No offence intended)


The only recriprocal arrangement I am aware of derives from the Geneva Treaties. These allow (require?) other signatory countries to admit tourists' vehicles provided they comply with their home C&U regulations. Thats all. VED is not C&U (it's not even tax, it's Duty, by definition!). E.G. some countries have unique lighting or side reflector requirements. France even has a 'no 3 wheeler' Law, but allows others to come in - it has to, it signed the Geneva Treaties! Vehicles are allowed to be used without modification in territories with differing rules, provided they comply with their 'home' C&U specification. This applies to countries both within the EU and beyond - way beyond.


Your suggestion is that it is OK for foreign registered cars to be used in the UK when their home VED equivalent is invaid, is somehow 'OK' does kinda lose it's justification.... wouldn't you agree?




All I have mentioned about overseas vehicles is that in some countries there is no legal requirement for Insurance (including the 'relatively' civilised South Africa, who increased Fuel Tax to cover claims instead of requiring paid up policies). There is no Technical Inspection Testing for motorcycles in many other countries - including two different countries both as near as 35 miles from the UK.

The follow on from your 'recriprocal' comment in context to my query could be that French and Belgium motorcycles are not permitted into UK as they would not have with them their home country's MOT equivalent. But, of course, there is no such thing! But not having it on a recriprocal basis they cannot come in? I think not!


France also had no VED - it was cancelled a few years ago and added to fuel tax.


Really, its all a b*ggrs muddle and the DVLA provides no help. I hoped this Forum might.


And by help I do not mean quotes, annecdotes or knowledge sympathetic to my view/need, but references to UK Law(s) and precedents and International Agreements, Conventions and Treaties that I can look at.

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Your problems will continue when you return.

I brought my car back from Holland, its MOT was 23 days out of date and tax was 1 month out of date. I was not allowed to drive the car out of the port of Hull confines and had to arrange for the car to be picked up on a truck and taken direct to an VOSA MOT tesing station @ Beverley. The DVLA then hit me with a penalty for not taxing the car on time, this was later dropped when I said sod it take me to court.

All in all if you want to do something other than what the masses do the DVLA will only hinder and not help.

Good luck on your adventure.

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I was not allowed to drive the car out of the port of Hull confines and had to arrange for the car to be picked up on a truck and taken direct to an VOSA MOT tesing station @ Beverley.

Unless the Law has changed, a vehicle can be used on the public roads without Tax or MOT to go to a PRE-ARRANGED test (and not necessarily the nearest test centre). You can then similarly take it home on the public roads unless if it is deemed too dangerous by the Test Centre.


I suspect you were being bullied by someone who enjoyed assumed authority and get a sence of superiority of making people suffer. Or had an interest in the truck operation!!


penalty for not taxing the car on time, this was later dropped when I said sod it take me to court.

The traditional response of bullies when challenged - little stomach for a fight, avoid confrontation and cave in!


Good luck on your adventure.


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A foreign car driving on British roads is only permitted to drive under the original plates for up to 6 months, and only if the taxes are paid in its country of origin.


I would be surprised if the EU regs in the rest of the EU were different, I would therefore assume that all taxes must be paid in the UK to use a UK registered car abroad.


As for the law - can't find a legal site to back me up, but here is one from a police force: Information for Foreign Nationals Driving in the United Kingdom

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  • 2 years later...
  • 11 months later...

I've received a section 144A(1) road traffic act 1988 summons 'continuous ins'


case is:


Motorcycle (Old, 1978) bought in the U.K. in July 2013 value approx £800.00 for the below purpose.


I'm of East European heritage and the bike has ended up with family in the Ukraine (in a farm barn) awaiting my arrival in May so I can spend the summer touring Ukraine/Belarus/Turkey off the beaten track, although in the light of political events this may now change.


Bike got there Sept. 2013 in the back of a van. (Loads of Poles etc carrying stuff back East) Customs on the Polish/Ukranian border had no interest as the bike is old (not wise to bumble about on a flashy bike in those areas) and came via UK/France/Germany/Poland so all E.U. transit and it will be shipped back to U.K. in the same way approx. Sept 2014 so no question of permanent export and well within 12 months. I have Polish family in Belarus/Ukraine/Poland and have often spent time out there.


I received a SORN request in Nov. 2013 but sent them a letter saying 'no can do as bike is outside U.K.' as is clearly stated on the SORN application form. They sent back a 'garbled letter that meant nothing bar I needed continuous insurance. I must state at this point I'm not prepared to falsely SORN. Then I got the 'debt collector' letters wanting £100.00 which I ignored, no case to answer as far a I'm concerned. So...


(a) Issuing the summons it appears the DVLA is claiming jurisdiction over a U.K registered vehicle that is outside U.K. territorial limits.


(b) The DVLA appears not to be chasing me for SORN/Road fund licence/MOT..why..??


© I cannot apply for UK insurance if the bike is not within the U.K. Many companies have area/time conditions concerning the 'Green Card' (whatever it now is called) which would not in my case meet their criteria. I would certainly at some point be technically uninsured during my Holiday. It will be my choice/duty to conform to requirements of the country concerned, i.e. border purchased insurance (Ukraine not legally required) which is usually 'peanuts' as old 'motors are for poor people'..suits me.


I'm retired with time on my hands so will turn up at Swansea on the due date pleading not guilty.

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It doesn't matter where the vehicle is, the offence is committed by the registered keeper of a registered vehicle that does not meet the insurance requirement.

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.??..thought so..!!..you must be a DVLA troll...


If you had been registered on CAG for longer than a day or two, and followed things for a while, you would know you could not be more wrong with that statement.


Not liking the information is no reason to start attacking the provider.


That will hardly encourage others to try to assist you.

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What will happen when the DVLA cease to issue real tax discs.

The European Police will then have to consult the EUCARIS database held in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. That database does not include the validity of the Excise Duty payment only the date of first registration and the name of the registered keeper. That name is often inaccurate since the best the DVLA have achieved is 1 in 35 of the registered keepers of vehicles cannot be traced from the vehicle register it often as bad as 1 in 23 therefore they rarely bother.

Other police forces do not have access to that data and simply rely on the Registration Certificate and the insurance certificate or Green Card.


Often foreign registration of a UK vehicle is horrendously expensive which is why ex-pats use a UK registered car even after its tax runs out. It is cheaper to buy an old banger locally but you cannot do that in every country you get to on an extended tour. So the only way is to insure your vehicle abroad it can be less expensive than you think, and then tour the world. Once you are overseas SORN your vehicle on line and raise two fingers to the DVLA.


Some countries require the MOT certificate whilst others require their own Technical test certificate valid within the EU but not outside the EU


The only problem arises when you return to the UK. You must get the tax at the port of entry ASAP and that will mean that you need to get UK Insurance and a quick trip to a pre-arranged MOT before you can use it on the highway. The port will want you off their patch ASAP so it must be organised to that effect.

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