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:
    DVLA
    Swansea
    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.

Insurance

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)

  • Darren's picture

    I would assume the vehicle should be considered a light goods vehicle for tax, category TC39, which is £215 per year. That's what my 2002 Sprinter is classed as. Maybe you can contact your local DVLA office to found out the options?

    Aug 06, 2012
  • Anonymous's picture

    I am about to purchase an original Peugeot Boxer X250 3.0 HDI van 2007 which has had a top grade conversion to a motor caravan. Engine size 2999. It is amazing inside but the owner has no paperwork from the conversion company and sadly they have now gone out of business. The V5 document currently states that it is now a Motor caravan but the vehicle tax category is still listed as N1 and not M1, so much higher vehicle tax. I have read all posts and one person did say that this could not be changed. Please can anyone help as taxation for an N1 would be over £400 per year. Thanks in advance.

    Aug 05, 2012
  • Lee renwick's picture

    I made a fold out bed for my sedona, made a great camper, Ive now bought a vw sharan for my car and thinking of doing a full conversion to the sedona to make a two birth camper. what are the issues with converting a people carrier instaed of a panel van? anybody know ? thanks.

    Jul 22, 2012
  • Vik's picture

    Hi, Lee.

    I have seen such conversions and do believe they are classed as ROMA HOME. This is all can help with at the moment but I believe this is a good start - at least now you can research it more.

    Aug 05, 2012
  • Richard Purley's picture

    This occurred to me last week, so have bought 2005 Sedona, and going to take rear seats out to do same. But have never seen a mpv converted. So also interested in any existing cons or ideas.

    Jul 27, 2012
  • Big H's picture

    Ive gone in depth looking at converting a panel van or mini bus into a camper van.
    However thinking outside the box! What are the legalities of perminantly attaching a small caravan to a chassis cab (Preferably a double cab) I would propose removing the axle & draw bar, from the caravan. I would think that the caravans im looking at would weigh around 600 to 1000 KG.
    Any advice would be gratly appreciated

    Jul 19, 2012
  • Darren's picture

    I think this is fairly straightforward legally. if the caravan is attached safely, then you should be fine.
    In terms of insurance, you might want to know you can get insurance first.
    Try www.campton.co.uk who are a good broker who should be able to tell you if there are policies available for you.

    In terms of weight, I just looked at this document for a Sprinter chassis cab:
    http://www.sbcommercials.co.uk/assets/sprinterchassisweights.pdf

    It shows the double can can take 1374 - 2688 kgs, depending on the body fitted. As you wont actually fit a body,that should give you the full 2688 kgs. So with a 1000 kg caravan that's quite a lot of weight to play with.
    Other makes of chassis might carry less weight, but it should be similar. Seems like a goer :)

    Jul 24, 2012
  • Anonymous's picture

    Thanks for the positive comments
    I will look into it further and let you know how I get on :)

    Jul 25, 2012
  • T4 owner's picture

    hi i have started my conversion of a t4 and have opted for a side on 3 seater/bed so i can transport my motorbike in the back too.
    i was wondering if anybody knew about rules/laws on carrying passengers in the rear?
    i havent re-registered it as a camper yet or having extra seats as there are no seat belts fitted, it is listed as a two seater panel van, can i carry an extra passenger or two in the back? or is that asking for trouble?

    May 14, 2012
  • T4 & T5 Camper Interiors's picture

    As far as i'm aware you cannot transport people on side facing seats for new conversions. Major motorhome companies and even Landrover now have forward or rear facing seats only.

    Jul 09, 2012
  • 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

    Hi

    Here is a useful tool for checking how your vehicle is affected inside the LEZ:
    http://www.tfl.gov.uk/roadusers/lez/default.aspx

    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
    http://www.campervanlife.com/self-builds

    Apr 02, 2012

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