We quite often convert campers from everyday panel vans, we re-register the panel van as a motor caravan for the following benefits:

  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.

(Referenced from http://www.campervanlife.com/building/legal)

How to change the classification to a camper (motor caravan)?

Convert your van in to a camper

Its quite easy if your converted van meets the requiremnet of the DVLA. Here is a snippet of what they say:

“Motor caravan” means a special purposes passenger car constructed to include living accommodation which contains at least the following equipment:

  • seats and table,
  • sleeping accommodation which may be converted from the seats,
  • cooking facilities, and
  • storage facilities.

This equipment shall be rigidly fixed to the living compartment; however, the table may be designed to be easily removable.

The interpretation applied to this definition is as follows

Seats and a Table

  • Are required to be an integral part of the living accommodation area, and mounted independently of other items.
  • The table must be capable of being mounted directly to the vehicle floor and /or side wall.
  • The table mounting arrangement must be secured as a permanent feature, (bolted, riveted, screwed or welded), although the table may be detachable.
  • Permanently secured seating must be available for use at the table.
  • The seats must be secured directly to the vehicle floor and/or side wall.
  • The seats must be secured as a permanent feature, (bolted riveted, screwed or welded).

Sleeping Accommodation

  • Must be an integral part of the living accommodation area.
  • Either beds or a bed converted from seats (to form a mattress base)
  • Secured as a permanent feature, with base structures bolted, riveted, screwed or welded to the vehicle floor and / or side wall, (unless the sleeping accommodation is provided as a provision over the driver’s cab compartment.

Cooking Facilities

  • That are an integral part of the vehicle living accommodation and is mounted independently of other items.
  • That are secured to the vehicle floor and / or side wall.
  • Secured as a permanent feature, (bolted, riveted, screwed, or welded.
  • The cooking facility must consist of a minimum of a two ring cooking facility or a microwave in either case having a fuel/power source.
  • If the cooking facility is fuelled by gas having a remote fuel supply, the fuel supply pipe must be permanently secured to the vehicle structure.
  • If the cooking facility is fuelled by gas having a remote fuel supply, the fuel reservoir must be secured in a storage cupboard or the reservoir secured to the vehicle structure.

Storage Facilities

  • Storage facilities must be provided by a cupboard or locker.
  • The facility must be an integral part of the vehicle living accommodation, ie mounted independently of other items, unless incorporated below seat/sleeping accommodation or the cooking facility.
  • The storage facility must be a permanent feature, (bolted, riveted, screwed or welded).
  • The storage facility must be secured directly to the vehicle floor and / or side wall, unless a storage provision is provided over the driver’s cab compartment.

“Passenger Car” means a motor vehicle which is constructed solely for the carriage of passengers and their effects or is a dual-purpose vehicle and which –

i   is adapted to carry not more than 8 passengers exclusive of the driver and either has four or more wheels or, if having only three wheels has a maximum gross weight of more than 1,000 kg,

or

ii.   has three wheels, a maximum gross weight not exceeding 1,000 kg, and either a design speed exceeding 50 k.p.h. (31 mph) or an engine with a capacity exceeding 50cc, and is not a motorcycle with or without a sidecar attached.

Note:  Larger vehicles such as Limousines with bench seating arrangements can be approved, subject to the applicant declaring that the vehicle is only suitable for carrying up to 8 passengers.

(Referenced from http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roads/vehicles/vssafety/importsapproval/howtoimportyourvehicleperman4559?page=8)

Send documents to the DVLA

  1. Once you have built your camper, simply change the classification of your vehicle from ‘Panel Van’ to ‘Motor Caravan’ on your Log book (V5C).
  2. Attach a list of parts added to the van
  3. Attach a cover letter explaining what you have done.
  4. Attach 15-20 photos of all aspects of your new camper. Make sure you get the number plate in the main ones, so they know its the vehicle in question.

Now standby for your new log book to arrive in the post. it may take 4-6 weeks. Once your vehicle has been officially re-classified by the DVLA, you will need to change your insurance from panel van to motor home.

Enjoy

Useful camper conversion links:

DVLA – Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency

VOSA – Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) provides a range of licensing, testing and enforcement services with the aim of improving the roadworthiness standards of vehicles, ensuring the compliance of operators and drivers, and supporting the independent Traffic Commissioners.

Campervan Life – For lots of useful info about campers