Update: July 2012 - The DVLA have reverted to their original policy regarding re-registering of campervans.  The vehicle does not need to have graphics on to be re-registered.  A well converted vehicle with windows is likely to be registered as a Motorcaravan, and not a van with side windows.

Update:  March 2011 - Many people applying to have vehicles re-registered as "Motor Caravans" with the DVLA are being refused, as their vehicle does "Not look like a motor caravan from the outside".  The DVLA are then re-classifying the vehicles as "Vans with windows".  Apparently this is a problem for the Police and other authorities, who cannot identify converted vehicles easily from the outside.  This page will be updated when new information is confirmed.

If you are converting a van to a campervan or motorhome then you need to consider whether you want to re-register the vehicle with your vehicle authority.

In the UK

In the UK you have the option of re-registering your van as a "motor caravan" with the DVLA.  It is not a requirement to re-register the vehicle.  You can continue to use the vehicle as a campervan, even if it is still registered as a "panel van", assuming you have adequate (i.e. campervan) insurance.

Why Re-register as a "Motor Caravan"?

Although you do not need to re-register a campervan conversion, here are the befeits of doing so

  1. Cheaper Insurance - Generally leisure vehicles such as campervans are cheaper to insure the panel vans.  This is because they generally have fewer claims, do fewer miles and are not used for commercial use.  Keep in mind that you can still get your self build insured as a campervan even if the vehicle is registered as a panel van.  Campervan insurance is generally 10% - 50% cheaper than van insurance.
  2. Contents Insurance - Vehicles registered as campervans generally have better contents insurance than panel vans.  This is because a campervan contains personal belongings such as mobile phone, laptops, jewellery, etc.  Whereas a panel van typically contains tools and parts for commercial use.
  3. Might be able to travel faster - Vans with an unladen weight of under 3050kg can travel at a maximum of 60mph on a dual carriageway.  But this increases to 70mph on a dual carriageway for vehicles registered as campervans.  All other speed limits remain the same.  Vehicles with a unladen weight over 3050kg (i.e. all 3500kg vans) have no change in speed limit when re-registering as a campervan.
  4. Cheaper MOT - Class VII vehicles (between 3000kg and 3500kg) registered as camper vans come under the cheaper and less restriction Class IV MOT rules.  When inspecting the vehicle the MOT tester has to test the vehicle "as it is presented".  So if a campervan is presented, that would normally be class VII, even if it is not re-registered as a campervan, the MOT tester should test is as class IV vehicle.
  5. Might get cheaper ferry prices - Travelling on a ferry is typically cheaper for a campervan or motorhome than a commercial van.  Most ferry companies look at a converted campervan and are happy for it to pay the cheaper campervan price.  However, a few ferry companies will use the DVLA log book classification to determine whether to price the vehicle as a commercial vehicle or not.

Change of Vehicle Classification

If you decide that you want to re-register your van as a campervan you should contact your local vehicle authority.  In the UK this is the DVLA.

Before doing this make sure you vehicle meets all of the criteria mentioned below.

What makes a 'Motor Caravan'?

For a vehicle to qualify as a 'Motor Caravan' in the UK in the eyes of the DVLA the following permanent fixtures must be present:

  1. Sleeping Accommodation
    • There must be a bed with a minimum length of 6ft or 180cms
    • The bed must be an integral part of the vehicle living accommodation area
    • The bed must be permanent or converted from seats (the bed can fold away during the day)
    • The bed fixtures must be secured directly to the vehicle floor and/or side walls, unless it is over the drivers cab compartment.
  2. Door
    • There must be a horizontal sliding door or an outward opening rear or side door.
  3. Seats and Tables
    • There must be a seating area for diners to sit around
    • The table can be fixed or detachable
    • The table must mount directly to the vehicle floor or side walls
    • The table mounting must be secured as a permanent feature, either bolted screwed or welded.  The table itself can be detachable.
    • Seats must be secured directly to the vehicle floor and/or side walls
    • The seats must be secured as a permanent fixture, either bolted, riveted, screwed or welded
    • Permanently secured seating must be available for use at a table
  4. Water Container
    Note: DVLA do not state any requirements regarding water storage.  However, most insurance companies state that the water tank should be onboard, or under the chassis.  However, some insurance companies are happy with an external water container that can be moved, such as those used with a caravan.
    • The vehicle must have an onboard or external (e,g, under the chassis) water container
    • Note: The insurer Adrian Flux requires the water container to hold 6 gallons / 27 litres.
  5. Storage
    • The vehicle must have at least one cupboard, locker or wardrobe
    • The cupboard must be an integral part of the living accommodation area
    • The cupboard must be a permanent feature, either bolted, riveted, screwed or welded
    • The cupboard must be secured directly to the vehicle floor and / or side walls
  6. Cooking
    • The vehicle must have cooking facilities powered by fixed gas, electric hob or microwave oven
    • The cooking facilities must be secured directly to the vehicle floor or side wall
    • The cooking facilities must be a permanent feature, either bolted, riveted, screwed or welded
    • Gas and electric hobs must have a minimum or 2 cooking rings.  Microwave ovens must have a power source (don't just fit one that can't be used)
    • Gas cooking facilities with remote fuel supplies must have the gas supply pipe permanently secured to the vehicle structure
    • Gas cooking facilities with remote fuel supplies should have the gas bottle, fuel reservoir secured to the vehicle structure
  7. Outside
    • The vehicle must have at least one side window
    • New! Since 2011 the DVLA are now asking that the vehicle look like a motor caravan from the outside.  The details are yet unclear what is required.  More information will appear here when available.

How to Change a Vans Classification to Camper Van or Motorhome in the UK

In the UK, changing the classification of a van to a campervan or motorhome is fairly straightforward.  The following information is based on real experience, correct at the time of the re-classification.  This serves as a good guide, but please contact the DVLA and/or VOSA to confirm the rules regarding your vehicle.

  1. When your conversion is complete, and your van is now (nearly) a camper van or motorhome you need to contact the DVLA and inform them.
  2. You should change your V5C (log book) document and return it to them.  You need to change the vehicle body type to "Motor Caravan".  Motor Caravan is the term used by the DVLA for campervans and motorhomes. See the DirectGov website for details on changing your V5 document.
  3. You should also include a covering letter, briefly covering what you have done to the vehicle.  Also include photographs of your converted vehicle.  Dont include too many.  Between 10 and 20 are required.  Do ensure that you include the vehicles number plate in a shot of the front of the vehicle, and a shot of the back of the vehicle.  From the photos the DVLA can see if you have done a good conversion to the vehicle, or simply thrown a mattress in the back.
  4. Send the paperwork to:
    SA99 1BA
  5. If you have done a good conversion, and the DVLA are satisfied they will return a new V5 document to you, with the body type changed.
  6. However, if they are unsure of your conversion they will ask you to visit the local DVLA inspection office.  An agent will inspect the vehicle before recommending any change of documentation.
  7. The DVLA do not publish strict guidelines for the above.  However, The Department of Transport do publish a strict 'motor caravan' definition for vehicles that are being imported.  Click here, and scroll down to 'Motor caravan'.  It's likely the DVLA also use the same guidelines.  However, the strict definitions here are, it seems, open to some interpretation.

When to Change the Vehicle Classification

You should change the classification of your vehicle from 'Panel Van' to 'Motor Caravan' when your conversion is nearly complete, once the major fittings are in place (bed, kitchen) and it looks neat and tidy.  Once you think you satisfy all of the conditions mentioned above, contact the DVLA and start the re-classification process.

You don't want any vehicle inspectors to think it is not finished, so ensure it looks finished before you apply for the change.

Don't worry about finishing touches, you can always complete these once the vehicle is re-registered.


Once your vehicle has been officially re-classified by the DVLA, you will need to change your insurance.  Your original insurance will be for a 'Panel Van', and your vehicle is no longer one.  So you need to cancel your existing policy, and get a new policy for a Camper van.

The insurance page has information and links to websites that will help.

UK Vehicle Classes

In the UK small vans, less than 3500kg, are classified as Class 4 vehicles.  Vans between 3000kg and 3500kg are considered Class 7 vehicles.  Class 7 vehicles have stricter MOT tests.  Vehicles over 3500kg would normally go to a VOSA Test Centre.  A bus/mini-bus with more than 8 seats (up to 13) is a Class 5, unless the seats are removed and the vehicle is re-classified as a campervan, then it becomes Class 4.

However, if a Class 7 vehicle is registered for recreation purposes, it becomes a Class 4 vehicle.  Therefore, if you convert a Class 7 big panel van into a campervan or motorhome, changing it's classification to a recreation vehicle will make life easier and cheaper for you.

Also note that you should insure you vehicle based on its classification.  You cannot really insure a camper van as a panel van.  Should you have to make a claim the insurance company are unlikely to pay if your vehicle is wrongly classified.

Let us know about your re-classification experiences in the comments below

Comments (443)

  • Joanna 's picture

    In my new Fiat Doblo WAV (wheelchair accessible vehicle) car am planning to add a long work table 70cm deep that doubles as a bed behind the passenger seat, with storage area underneath; and on the other (starboard) side a 35cm deep cupboard containing a gas canister and a 5-gallon water container; the gas hooked to a single burner, the water container hooked via foot pump to a tap and tiny sink. That's it! A couple of folding chairs will be stored with other gear under the floor in the WAV ramp. No fixed seats and no double burner stove will make it impossible for me to classify this as a camper. Will the presence of all this gear make it impossible for me to insure it as a regular car?

    Jan 17, 2017
  • Joanna's picture

    Thanks for replying, Darren. For the moment I have it ensured as a regular car and have made no modifications. I might just install some removable boxes containing my gear and a removable work bench. I take it that means the vehicle still qualifies as a car. I'm actually curious about the "boot jump" box solutions that include a stove of some kind. I presume since the car itself is not being modified the people who buy these temporary camper boxes don't carry motorhome insurance. But if the car was in an accident and the insurance company discovered a stove in the car -- or worse yet if the car actually caught on fire as a result of the use of the stove -- I would have thought the regular car insurance would be voided. So I'm a little hesitant to include a removable box containing a stove and gas canister in my new Fiat.

    Jan 18, 2017
  • Darren's picture

    Yes, using removable boxes would still qualify for use as a car, I suspect.
    It's worth checking with the insurer about the stove. If it's stored properly, it should be fine to carry it under normal car insurance.

    Jan 19, 2017
  • Joanna Sheldon's picture

    I emailed Amdro who do a fairly popular "boot jump" and they said insurers vary in what they will accept, so they recommend, as you do, that buyers check with their insurance companies. Apparently some insurers don't even like people to sleep in their cars! I'm not sure they'd have legal reason to deny a claim if they haven't stated explicitly that they do not allow the carrying of a gas canister and stove in the car -- so I'm not sure I would want to ask them the question. In the end I think I'll make sure I have a fixed seating arrangement and a double-burner hob and get the car labeled a motor home. Partly because building everything in the form of removable boxes adds a lot of unnecessary weight. Thanks again for your help.

    Jan 19, 2017
  • Jason's picture

    I'd like to convert my Mk 1 Vito. It currently has a 3/4 RnR bed and there will be a side bench down the side that will form part of the bed when the bed is flat. Making the bed full width.

    This means there isn't room for a cooker and sink (plus I don't really want them). Can I fix a microwave to the floor behind or under the bed, that will then run solely off of electric hook up. Does it need to be connected to a constant source like a leisure battery?

    Storage Space - Is a pull out drawer under the bed sufficient? Or the space inside the side bench?

    Also, with regards to water storage, will a 27l container with a screw cap suffice? Or does it need to be fixed in one place? Does it need a tap or pump etc?

    I think I've get everything else covered, just trying to get the above requirements sorted without having to install a kitchen unit.


    Dec 12, 2016
  • Natalieseb's picture

    Hi jason in regards to your message im having the same issue i have the full size rock and roll bed which when as a bed leaves no room for anything i have a storage cupboard which you need in the seating and i have nd underbed storage the water tank is not needed by dvla as states on the new updated requirements but states that most insurance companies want to no you have it before they insure you i have a loose table which i will fit to the wall and an electric hob that will be fixed to the cupboard with all of this i can get it changed with the dvla it will then become class 4 cheaper mot cheaper insurance its just been a knightmare hope this helps anyway

    Dec 17, 2016
  • FeZter's picture

    My wife is using an ex welfare unit so most if of all converstions are done (bed aswell) the question is she uses it for work aswell eg 24hr security on site so she lives in it 5 days a week its is also stickered up as a dog unit as we have converted to carry working dogs ...would this be concidered van or camper...as im converting a LWB to the same specs with kennels thanks for any help or advice

    Dec 10, 2016
  • Darren's picture


    It's tricky to say whether the DVLA would allow the vehicle to be registered as a campervan.
    It is complies with everything on the list, then there is a chance it will.
    The dog unit stickers might stop it though.
    I think it's worth contacting the DVLA, explaining your situation, and see what they say.

    Dec 14, 2016
  • D Tandy's picture

    Hi I have recently bought a Mazda Bongo and am looking to fit a cooker / sink / cupboards in it and rearrange the seats so that they can slide down to form a bed if needed, but the bed will not actually be 6 feet long - the side awning will be the place where I sleep. Does it need to be reclassified as strictly it does not fit all of the DVLA criteria ? Thanks for any advice....

    Oct 31, 2016
  • Darren's picture

    You don't necessarily have to reclassify a vehicle as a campervan to use it.
    I have an insurance policy through Campton.co.uk that means I don't need to reclassify the vehicle as a campervan.
    However, their list is the same as the DVLA, including a 6ft bed.
    I think the inspectors are looking for a professional looking conversion, with a bed about 6ft. I don't think they will measure it, they just want it to be a close size.

    Nov 01, 2016
  • Anonymous's picture

    Hi, I have a LWB van with everything Bar a fixed table in it. I have a worktop in the kitchen area and seating in the sleeping area but the table I use is collapsible for storage. Can i Classify this as a Campervan or motor caravan?

    Oct 16, 2016
  • Darren's picture

    The inspectors are looking to see a fixed table, as it shows a proper seating/dining area.

    Oct 18, 2016
  • drew's picture

    I am currently designing a layout for a Mwb ford transit. It is not quite Six foot across (width of van interior) Just how strict are the DVLA ? if the bed was just under six foot long , I'm guessing total length would be 5' 9"

    Sep 20, 2016
  • Joanna's picture

    I had my Ford Transit SWB reclassified as a camper with the bed across the width of the van. The DVLA appeared to have no problem with it.

    Jan 16, 2017
  • Darren's picture

    I don't think this would be a problem, and they would probably be happy with that length of bed. Many others have done the same.
    I can't speak on behalf of the DVLA though.

    Sep 20, 2016
  • Ryan Muncaster's picture


    when converting a van to a campervan is it allowed to fit Perpex/acrylic windows and if so has anyone done it? Obviously the reason for asking is cost.

    Sep 12, 2016
  • Dizzie's picture

    Hi Ray. Are you asking about the living accommodation windows? If so, the I think you will find that the vast majority of vans are fitted with perspex windows like the ones in caravans.

    Oct 15, 2016
  • Darren's picture

    I've never heard of this, and I would expect all vehicles to have glass windows.
    However, I'm pretty sure that some performance cars (BMW M3 C) has a plastic rear window.
    It's worth checking the DVLA I think.

    Sep 13, 2016
  • Guy Riviere's picture

    Hi there,
    I have a 1969 Bedfford J Type lorry which I wish to convert to a camper van, It has been downrated to 3500Kg but once I convert it to a camper van it will be over weight, by how much I;m not sure but it is close to 3500Kg as it is so will probably be over by about 400Kg so would have to go back up to it's original rate which I think was 5 tons.

    So, what class would this put me into for MOT and is it any better than just being commercial. My plan was to keep the outward appearance as a commercial gtruck as much as possible for originality with a sign written panel mover the window but from what yo say I wouldn't be able to do this if changing to a camper van rating as they require it to look like a camper from outside.

    What are my options and the dis- and ad- vantages>

    Many thanks

    Sep 09, 2016


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