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 (432)

  • Jammy Jim's picture

    hi there, me and my partner snapped up a bargain just before the low emission zone charging in London set in early this year and are the proud owners (i say that loosely) of a 93 LWB transit Dormobile. We live on the very outskirts of the emissions zone but due to family, friends and work it would be extremely handy to enter the M25 in the future. Checking the transport for London website it states only campers over 2.5tons are excluded. i believe when initially built with wheel chair lift, seats etc the bus weighed 3.5, with the fear of asking a stupid question does any one possibly know if it is possible/feasible to re register the weight of the vehicle? at the moment it is still deemed as a standard mini bus but is now fully stripped and ready for conversion, knowing if it is possible to register the vehicle under the 2.5ton emission zone limit would obviously influence the way in which we convert the interior initially. Any advise would be >hugely

    May 14, 2012
  • Anonymous's picture

    Hi yep that can be done easy , do a web search for SVtech they charge £100 will do all the paperwork and sort the downplating for you

    Jul 23, 2012
  • Darren's picture


    Here is a useful tool for checking how your vehicle is affected inside the LEZ:

    I think you mean vehicles under 2.5 tons are excluded, not over 2.5 tons.
    Just to clarify, it is not how much the vehicle weights, but how much it is allowed to weight, when fully loaded.
    It is possible to reduce the listed weight of the vehicle. This is called downplating.
    However, your van is about 2 tons when empty. So if you downplate it to 2.5 tons, you will only be able to carry 0.5 tons (500 kgs). With this 500 kgs you have to include a tank of fuel (80kgs) 2 people (at least 150 kgs) and everything for you campervan.
    I don't think you can do it.
    2.5 ton vans are always small, because they can only carry so much.
    Big vans really need to stay rated at 3.5 tons.
    A newer van (made after 2002) would allow you to go inside the M25.

    May 15, 2012
  • John Daniel's picture

    Thank you for this very useful summary. I am about to start the re-registration process. Under your heading of "Why re-register as a camper-van", I would suggest you should add ferry fares:

    I heard recently from another campervan conversion owner that Calmac had charged him (on a trip to one of the Scottish Island) £200 as a commercial van instead of £70 as a camper because his DVLA record still showed it as a van.

    Has anybody else come across this problem?

    May 04, 2012
  • Darren's picture

    Thanks for the information John. I haven't heard of this problem. I have a campervan that isn't re-registered, and have never been charged as a commercial van. This sounds like the ferry company trying to profit from customers.

    I have updated the page with your comments.

    May 08, 2012
  • Anonymous's picture

    Hi, Does anyone know if the double camping type stove which you insert the gas bottle directly into the cooker (like a Campingaz bistro but a double one) can be used as the main cooker, and still comply with the DVLA regs for changing the panel van to a camper?
    They can be easily stored safely away and would be better for me as I want the kitchen to be right at the back of my van conversion, which will be accessed only from outside of van via the open back door. I have seen these cookers used in rental campervans such as the ones from wicked campers and getaway campers etc. Those rental companies vans are similar to the basic type of conversion I want to do. Also would I get insurance if I used that type of cooker? Thanks for any advice.

    Apr 09, 2012
  • Darren's picture

    The DVLA guidelines say a twin ring cooker. But they also like to see the fittings as being permanent and fixed down. It will probably be fine if you make the cooker look as if it is going to live in it's spot permanently, and not stashed away.

    Apr 10, 2012
  • Chris U's picture

    Hi Thinking of getting a 2007 new shape Peugeot expert LWB high roof to convert.
    I am time served coach/bodybuilder, will the build be classed as professional build.
    Also anyone had any dealings, problems, converting an expert van.
    Thanks in advance for any info,
    Cant wait to start.
    Chris U

    Apr 01, 2012
  • Darren's picture

    Hi Chris

    I don't think your conversion will fall under a professional conversion, unless you are using the premises, stock and brand name of a professional campervan conversion company.

    Not done an expert van, but not heard any problems.

    There are quite a few example Expert conversions on the link below, under the Micro camper heading

    Apr 02, 2012
  • Darron's picture

    Hi, I'd like to pass on my thanks for this article. It spurred us on to get our Mazda Bongo fitted with a rear conversion and then reclassify it with the DVLA as a Motor Caravan.

    As it met all the criteria, a letter, some photos and a revised V5 were sent off. Photos were returned and the new V5 arrived shortly afterwards!

    We completed section 7 of the V5, changing the Body Type to "Motor Caravan" and the number of seats to 5 (was 8).

    Thanks again for the article! (We're insured with Campton too - great service and price!!)


    Feb 08, 2012
  • Max's picture

    Hi Guys

    Can anyone please help me on the V5 section I have to fill out. I looked at section 7H (Changes to current vehicle) and the part ''Tax Class'' and it says,... ''The tax class shown in section 4 can only be changed when taxing. Please apply at your local DVLA office.''

    Does this mean that I have to phsically go down there or should I just send the form.

    One other point is what exactly to fill out in the V5:H7, Do I have to fill out the new weight? How does one find out?

    Sorry for all the questions but there seems to be nowhere that helps/guides you to fill out this section of the V5 when doing a conversion.

    Thanks a lot


    Jan 27, 2012
  • john bellis's picture

    Hi Mate
    Dont know about filling in v5, but if you need to know the weight, all local councils have a weighbridge, you can use.
    Thanks jack

    Jan 05, 2013
  • Craig's picture

    Hi many thanks about the bed, it will save me some much needed money not having to convert it to 6 foot exactly as Me and my wife are not 6 footers. Another issue I have is does the Gas bottle have to be in its own Safety box to satisfy DVLA or is it ok just being strapped down in a cupboard, at moment water tank is in there to. Ive had gas and elec check for insurance and it past though the guy did mention that i should move bottle to back doors and fit it in a metal safety box to change v5. Ive looked at some other conversions that past and they only seem to be strapped into a cupboard like mine.
    Many thanks Craig

    Jan 19, 2012
  • Darren's picture

    No, the gas bottles does not have to be in its own safety box.
    It is recommended to put it in a steel sheet lined box, accessible from the outside.
    However, this is only a guideline. Even professional conversions have it inside sometimes.
    You would be very unlucky for the DVLA guy to pick up on the gas bottle.
    Make sure it is securely strapped in.

    Jan 19, 2012
  • john's picture

    Just to let every one know how easy it was to re classify my panel van to a moto caravan just sent pics of the conversion and a letter telling what had been done to the van and got my new v5 with in two weeks..

    Jan 18, 2012
  • Ady's picture

    I did exactly the same. 10 photos which I numbered and a note that corresponded to the photos, telling the DVLA what each photo was depicting. Got my new log book back 2 weeks later with the body type changed to "Motor Caravan".......Simple's

    Aug 04, 2012
  • Max's picture

    Hi John,

    Can I ask how you filled out the V5, any pointers would be really apreciated. Finding this bit harder than converting the van lol



    Jan 27, 2012
  • ChrisC's picture

    Hey people.

    Here's a little story to keep in mind when setting out on a camper van conversion. You can't (according to Adrian Flux)insure a camper van if you are unemployed. Lets just kick a guy when he's down shall we.

    Also, what is with not being able to add a extra seat in the back of a van, Auto Net Insurance won't touch any van that has been modified in any way, Even if the seat is fitted by a reputable company etc... But they are cheap insurance.

    Anyway, not having a good day with the insurance bods. Think I'll be posting my nearly finished converted van on fleabay and be done with all the stress.

    Regards. Chris.

    Jan 13, 2012
  • Anonymous's picture

    Hi try campton insurance www.campton.co.uk 01883 742460 their prices are competitive and they are very helpful and will insure the vehicle whilst the build is in progress, I think the build has to be completed within 3 months

    Apr 08, 2012
  • Darren's picture

    Can't insure if you're not employed? That's discrimination really. There are lots of people with lots of money who are unemployed. I used to be regularly unemployed, as I worked irregular contracts, and enjoyed time off. But always have enough money to pay my van insurance.

    Jan 15, 2012


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