November 9 2006.
Many of the UK's 2 million motorcyclists are losing money by not registering their vehicles as off road (SORN - Statutory Off Road Notification) during the winter months, according to new DVLA research.
While motorcycle use reduces by up to 50% from October to March1 - with many riders choosing simply to store their bikes during the winter months - DVLA figures indicate that only 15% of motorcycles are actually being declared 'off road' and therefore their owners are missing out on a potential refund on their valid tax discs.
Research indicates that around 471,000 motorcycles are unlicensed at any one time - that's 25-30% of the UK's 2 million plus registered motorcycles.  However, it is estimated that a large proportion of this figure is made up of motorists who use their bikes seasonally and have simply failed to declare them off road during the winter months.  Many drivers have, in the past, admitted that finding the time or the necessary paperwork needed to relicense or declare SORN has often meant they put off doing it - 70% cited this as potential reason for non compliance2 . 
However,  DVLA's new online licensing service makes the whole process quick and easy, offering users 24/7 access from anywhere in the UK or abroad.
Andrew Rhodes, Head of Electronic Customer Services at DVLA, explains:  "It takes a matter of minutes to use the new system to either tax your bike or declare it off road.  Already, 61,000 motorcyclists have used the service, completing their transactions in a matter of minutes.  Our figures indicate that despite seasonal usage, more bikers than car drivers are opting to tax their cars for a full 12 months, but are failing to SORN when taking them off road, which means that they're potentially missing an opportunity for financial re-imbursement, as well as obviously running the risk of an £80 fine."
DVLA figures reveal that 94% of bikes that are unlicensed remain so for 91 days or more, which is considerably longer than the comparable figure for cars.   Andrew Rhodes continues: "This supports our view that many of these tax evaders are actually not even using their vehicles.  However, it's crucial that we know which vehicles are off-road, because the untaxed motorcycles still in use pose the biggest risk to other riders, as they're more likely to be uninsured and without a valid test certificate."
Triple British Superbike Champion John Reynolds gives the SORN service the thumbs up.  He said; "I came across the online SORN service at The Bike Show at the NEC and I think it's a great way for bikers to save money and time."
DVLA's online service compliments the existing Post Office® relicensing facility, and means that bikers who prefer to use electronic channels no longer need to find paper copies of their MOT and insurance certifications in order to buy their tax discs or declare SORN.  Instead, DVLA sends them a reminder letter when their tax is due to expire and this contains a reference number on it, which motorists simply quote on the internet or telephone service.  DVLA then checks insurance and MOT validity electronically (via its external links to the MOT and insurance databases) and a tax disc will be dispatched within 3-5 working days.
When SORN has been declared for a vehicle the registered keeper must ensure that it will not be used or kept on a public road until a new licence has been taken out.  The declaration will be valid for 12 months unless the vehicle is re-licensed, sold, permanently exported or scrapped.

To use the new service or for further information, simply log on to or use the phone line: 0870 850 4444