Should you try and reclassify your campervan with the DVLA?

DVLA campervan reclassification

If you live in the UK, once you have converted your campervan you may be thinking about getting it officially reclassified with the DVLA as a campervan conversion. This is typically done by registering your vehicle as a ‘motor caravan’ or ‘motorhome’ on your V5C. The benefits of doing this typically used to be lower insurance premiums and potentially cheaper ferry and toll prices.

However, as of 2019, there are new DVLA campervan rules. The change in DVLA requirements to officially reclassify your van as a ‘motorhome’ has made the process incredibly difficult, if not impossible.


Chances of reclassification

Before we dive into how to go about reclassifying your campervan, we want to give you an idea of how likely it is that you’ll be accepted. Throughout 2019 and 2020 we’ve heard of so many people having reclassification to a motorhome refused with the DVLA. We therefore decided to submit a freedom of information request to the DVLA to find out just how many successful applications there have been over the past couple of years.

dvla campervan conversion reclassification requests - how many dvla motorhome refused 2020 and 2019

The results from the freedom of information request were shocking, if not unsurprising. Since May 2019 there has been a significant decrease in the number of campervans approved for reclassification, and by August 2019 almost all applications to the DVLA to reclassify as a motorhome were refused. 

In mid-2019 new DVLA campervan rules were brought into place. As well as requirements for certain internal structures such as a bed, a kitchen and a fixed table, a number of external requirements were introduced. As well as outlining a list of allowed body types for converted vans, they also included a number of vague ‘external features’, some or all of which may be required to reclassify your campervan.

Since these new DVLA rules were brought into place, only a tiny 5% of total applications have been accepted throughout 2019 and 2020. The number of rejected applications has skyrocketed, with over 14,000 refused between August 2019 and December 2020.

big yellow sprinter campervan with beautiful kitchen in lake district
Ringo is a campervan in all but name

DVLA motorhome conversion requirements

The DVLA require that your campervan:

  • Has a certain body type
  • Meets the internal features required
  • Meets the external features required

Body types

The body types the DVLA will consider reclassifying to a ‘motor caravan’ as per their website in August 2020 are:

  • Ambulance
  • Box van
  • Goods
  • Insulated van
  • Light goods
  • Light van
  • Livestock carrier
  • Luton van
  • Minibus
  • MPV (multi-purpose vehicle)
  • Panel van
  • Specially fitted van
  • Special mobile unit
  • Van with side windows

The DVLA has been explicit that they will not even consider reclassification applications from vehicles that do not have a body type in the above list on their current V5C.

Internal features

As per the DVLA website in August 2020, your campervan must contain at least the following components rigidly fixed to the living compartment:

Seats and a table
  • They shall be an integral part of the vehicle living accommodation area, mounted independently of other items
  • A table mounting arrangement shall be secured as a permanent feature, although the table top may be detachable
  • Permanently secured seating must be fixed to the floor or sidewall and available for use at the table
Sleeping accommodation
  • Shall be an integral part of the vehicle living accommodation area
  • Can be either beds, or beds converted from seats
  • Must be secured as a permanent feature, either with the base structure of the vehicle floor or to the side wall, unless the sleeping accommodation is provided over the driver’s cab compartment
Cooking facilities
  • Your conversion must have a minimum of a single ring cooking facility or microwave, which shall be secured directly to the vehicle floor or side wall as a permanent feature.
  • If the cooking facility is fuelled by an on-board gas supply, the fuel reservoir must be secured in a storage cupboard or the reservoir secured to the vehicle structure
  • 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
Storage facilities
  • Can be a cupboard or locker
  • Form an integral part of the vehicle living accommodation, mounted independently of other items, unless incorporated below the seat, sleeping accommodation or cooker
  • Must be secured permanently to the vehicle floor or side wall except when the storage facility is over the driver’s cab compartment

Despite meeting all of the internal requirements, we can’t reclassify Ringo as a campervan

External features

As well as the internal features that were previously required, as of mid 2019 there are now a number of new DVLA rules for a campervan conversion. Your van must have a certain body type on its existing V5C (full list can be found on DVLA website), and there is now a list of the external features that are required, although the wording from the DVLA is quite ambiguous as to whether some or all of these features are required. In the past year, we have heard many a story from campervan owners who have struggled to get their vehicle reclassified. So what do you need to get your campervan reclassified?

As per the DVLA website in August 2020, this list describes the external features which are commonly seen in motor caravans, and it is intended to provide guidance on what DVLA expects to see when considering your application:

  • 2 or more windows on at least one side of the main body (this does not include windows on the driver or passenger doors) to provide a reasonable amount of daylight into the living accommodation
  • A separate door which provides access to the living accommodation of the vehicle (this excludes the driver and passenger doors); a window on this door counts as a separate window on the main body
  • Motor caravan-style graphics on both sides of the vehicle
  • An awning bar
  • A high-top roof (this does not include a pop-top elevating roof)

We have copied the exact wording from the DVLA website above, and as you can see for the external features it is incredibly ambiguous as to what is needed for a DVLA campervan reclassification. The initial wording would suggest that if you have one or more features from the external features list, you would be able to have your campervan reclassified.

However, we are aware of many people who have been unable to have their van conversions reclassified despite ticking almost all (or even all!) of the bullet points on the list. ‘Motor caravan-style graphics’ is also an incredibly vague feature to specify, and no additional guidance has been given by the DVLA on this.

should you reclassify your campervan with the dvla
A campervan recently refused DVLA reclassification despite seemingly having all of the external requirements!

How to submit your application to the DVLA

To submit your campervan reclassification to the DVLA, you must submit a completed ‘motor caravan’ conversion checklist and a V5C showing one of the required body types. You will also need to submit photos of your campervan detailing the required internal and external features. These photos should have a description on the back, as well as the date and the registration number of the vehicle. You should also include a photo showing the vehicle identification number (VIN) or the chassis number stamped on the plate attached to the original chassis or vehicle body shell.

For full details on what to include and where to send the information, you can check the DVLA website.

What are the benefits of registering a van as a campervan?

The benefits of reclassifying a campervan used to be that you could access cheaper vehicle insurance, and possibly cheaper ferry fares too. Recently due the new DVLA rules for reclassifying and the difficulty in reclassifying as a campervan, many insurers themselves have had to change what they require for insurance policies. This means there is no price difference in quotes based on classification on the V5C alone. The estimated final cost of your conversion and your driving record (i.e. if you have had any driving penalties or accidents) are much more likely to be the main factors in the cost of your insurance. For more information, read our blog post about insuring your campervan.

Similarly, most ferry companies price their tickets based on the height and length of your vehicle rather than the classification, so it shouldn’t make much, if any, difference to the price of your ticket.

You may hear some people say that there is a higher speed limit on single carriageways and dual carriageways if you’re reclassify as a campervan, however this is only the case if your vehicle is under 3.05 tonnes which most medium to large sized camper vans will not be. Therefore it will make no difference how your van is registered.

should you reclassify your campervan with the dvla driving down a windy road in the lake district

Do I need to register my van as a campervan?

We believe that it is no longer necessary to reclassify your van as a campervan. The new DVLA campervan rules mean that an overwhelming majority of campervans and motorhomes have been refused reclassification in the latter half of 2019 and 2020. We have seen some photographs that have been submitted to the DVLA that seem to tick every box required, yet are still refused reclassification. There is speculation that the DVLA may even have a blanket ban on reclassifying any vehicles that don’t already have a motorhome-style body on their V5C. This may be due to the sheer increase in volume of requests that they have been receiving. Between August 2019 and December 2020 there were over 14,000 applications refused by the DVLA!

As we mentioned above, most insurers will now insure a van based on it looking like a campervan rather than being classed as a campervan on the V5C. For example, Adrian Flux say, “We are able to provide full cover for camper conversions and conversion projects based on almost any vehicle, including cover for vans, coaches and buses in the process of being converted. We can cover professional and amateur conversions of any van or coach.” For more information about insuring your campervan, have a read of our self-build campervan insurance blog post.

The purpose of the body type information on the V5C, according to the DVLA, “must describe what a vehicle actually looks like. This description, in addition to other distinguishing features, enables the police and other enforcement agencies to identify a particular vehicle.” On our V5C, Ringo is described as a ‘yellow panel van’ which perfectly describes how looks from the outside, and could easily be used to identify him.

Ultimately, the difference between reclassifying your van as a campervan or leaving it as is these days is almost nothing, and most areas you would have seen any benefit have adapted to the tightening up of reclassifications to accommodate those who have not been able to. We would recommend making sure to insure your vehicle for its estimated value after having been converted with a policy that covers it and ensuring your external appearance matches that on your V5C, but saving yourself the hassle of going through the DVLA campervan conversion reclassification process!

big yellow sprinter campervan with beautiful kitchen in lake district
Ringo is classified as a 'yellow panel van' in our V5C

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should you reclassify your campervan with the dvla

38 Responses

  1. Hi,we live on a narrow boat in a secure marina,this is our home address.We are having trouble finding insurance,any ideas?

  2. Great Article ! B###dy Government. I bet that ambigous list has cost thousands, Tons of man hours, more staples and rubbers than you can believe !
    Oh how silly. Of course Ringo has no moho stickers. ” Hey Im a motorhome people live in me fulltime and so I contain computers, notebooks, cameras, food, drink, etc. and guess what no one will hear ghe window being broken” plus the smaller stickers ” Please smash glass” duh wahat a Department – Van Licensing As####es !

  3. If the DVLA are refusing to do their job, which they are if they routinely refuse campervan registration, take forever to process licences etc they should be investigated and management sacked. They have used Covid 19 as a convenient excuse for inefficiency and lack of activity.They are not fit for purpose.

  4. i”m in the process of applying sofingersg crossed. Cant help notice your yellow van has no graphics which seems to be a simple fix. do you get any realistic responses from these civil servants?

    1. Hi Allan – we didn’t bother with the graphics, because as the graph shows, less than 5% of people are currently getting accepted, and there aren’t really any benefits to getting it reclassified anymore. So we didn’t both trying! We’d recommend not wasting the time applying, and just convert your van the way you want it rather than trying to tick their boxes!

  5. This article was spot on!
    We are currently waiting for our decision having ticked every box and indented every bullet point!
    I’ll come back and let you know how we got on!
    On another note : External Vehicle Graphics ( Hilarious)

  6. I recently applied and my nv400 meets all the requirements, and I have put on stripes and compasses massive rear graphic mountain scene etc thinking I wasn’t going to get caught out . First DVLA came back and said they couldn’t change it as it also needed a change of taxation class , but not said to what class. I rang up and they then said I had been refused as my camper didn’t meet external requirements. But wouldn’t say which ones. My panel Van with windows v5 is apparently on the way to me .

    1. It’s madness isn’t it! The DVLA should just make a public statement at this point that they’re not reclassifying any vehicles because that certainly seems to be the case!

  7. A really interesting post with some well thought out points – thanks for taking time to research all of this and share it! Out of interest, I wonder if reclassifying as a camper has any impact on the driving licence required to drive the van? I appreciate licences are based on the weight of the vehicle, amongst other things, but assume your van is able to be driven on a standard B category car licence?

    1. Hey Louisa, Glad to hear you found the post useful! Yes you are correct we can still (just about) drive our van on a category B license, but if it was much heavier we would need to upgrade the suspension and get a category C licence. The weight limit is currently 3500kg but I believe the government are looking to review this due to the uptake in electric vehicles which naturally weigh significantly more due to the massive battery bank. Hope that helps!

      1. Thanks for that, that’s what I understood but pleased to have it confirmed. I am so pleased I have stumbled upon your site – really great info! I shall be ordering your book before we embark on our build! Thanks

  8. great article,especially the graphic showing the 5% approval rate stats from your freedom of information request. maybe someone should include that as their exterior graphic in persuit of their reclassification!

    we have never been interested in applying for a change of classification due to the percieved lack of benifits, if you did manage to get through those hoops, but also because we are trying to keep the van in the true windowless stealth style . However the problem here is making sure the insurance company have not got any grounds to refuse any claims as you are still officially on a VC5 as a panel van, but using it as a camper van.

    Just reading you other article , Self-build campervan insurance,and about to contact Ageas(Optima Motorhome) who offer a reasonable policy which includes a genorous full EU cover

    1. Hi Martin, it’s pretty mad isn’t it! We completely agree, nowadays there definitely isn’t any benefit to reclassification, all of the insurance companies, ferries etc have had to change their ways and level the playing field now that it’s neigh on impossible to get reclassified! Definitely important to make sure your insurance company knows what it is on the V5C and how it’s being used! Thanks for letting us know about Ageas, we’ll add them to the list on the insurance blog post 🙂

  9. Great article. Really thorough and informative. I was about to start the reclassification journey because a Ford sales person mentioned that doing so would allow me to have car speed limits applied to my SWB Transit Custom! Only box Ican’t tick is the one about van being a high top! Might wait a bit to see how others get on. Thank you

    1. Glad you found the article useful! I suspect waiting a few months might be a good idea, the DVLA can’t keep rejecting everyone without providing better guidance. Hopefully the situation improves soon 🙂

  10. Most interesting article, thank you for taking the trouble to research and write it. I have almost finished converting my lwb Vivaro to a campervan and having read your article decided not to re register it as a camper van. I will of course inform dvla of the body changes i.e.side and rear windows etc.
    Not sure but does this effect the speed limits? Many Thanks John

    1. Hey John, glad you found the article interesting! I don’t believe it will effect the speed limit unfortunetly. Maybe in a few more moths or perhaps years the DVLA will address the criteria and you’ll be able to reclassify as a campervan 🙂

  11. We want to take our converted campervan permanently to Spain. To have it matriculated there (i.e put on spanish plates) it has to be classified as a motorhome and not a panel van (as it classes as a commercial vehicle). I am tempted to try and get it reclassified but am not holding my breath. Have you come across this before?

    1. Hi Laura, I honestly don’t think it’s worth the hassle, we haven’t heard a single case of someone getting it approved in the past few months. If you read through the other comments on this blog post, there’s a lot of people who have met every criteria, including all of the graphics, and have only been reclassified as ‘van with windows’! I don’t know much about permanently moving a campervan to Spain, but it would be worth speaking with a Spanish lawyer to find a way around it, as unfortunately I think you’ll struggle to get it reclassified!

  12. How does this affect the Mercedes Marco Polo or the VW Transporter campers that are converted by the manufacturer. Both have elevating roofs and no graphics?
    Have DVLA explained why these changes have been necessary, i.e. what purpose do they serve?

    1. Hi Phil, I’m not sure if manufacturer converted vans perhaps don’t need to meet the requirements in the same way? But either way, it doesn’t really make a difference anymore! Being registered as a “motor caravan” or a “panel van with windows” doesn’t really affect anything anymore. The DVLA have very much made absolutely no comment on the change of requirements, or why they refuse to reclassify people who have met them all. We asked them to comment on this but all they could say was that they were working on updating the advice on their website to make it less ambiguous 🤷🏻‍♀️

  13. Hi all. Sorry for sounding a little thick but our Alphard is going to be converted professionally. So I am guessing that the v5 will not have to be changed from a MPV to a campervan and to just tell the insurance company of the new value and what has been done to the car.

    1. Hi Ian, If your vehicle is brand new and is being converted by a large conversion company they may have the ability to navigate the usual DVLA reclassification process. For example, I believe the VW California is classed as a campervan on the V5C straight from the factory but if you converted a VW transporter retrospectively to a campervan it wouldn’t get approval. Worst case, you should be fine to tell the insurer that the vehicle is a campervan and they will still be able to insure it, this is usually insured as a “campervan in conversion” and won’t require the V5C to be updated. Hope that helps 🙂

  14. Applied to DVLA Twice the van looks as good as the professionals ticked all Dvla boxes. Just had a return as Window van.
    I am wondering I anyone has Requested their Motorcaravan for inspection with DVLA and if they have managed to have it inspected and passed.

    1. Hi Steven, unfortunately the data shows it’s pretty much impossible to get a campervan reclassified these days. Luckily it’s not really required anymore as it doesn’t affect insurance, ferry costs etc.

  15. My converted van is a van with windows , desperately need it to be a camper on V5 as we want to take it and re register it in Portugal , as Portugal say its a camper van due to having a bed , hob , fridge so refuse to accept it as a van with windows . So annoyed with DVLA .

    1. Hi Sandy, really sorry to hear that, it sounds like a bit of a nightmare! We haven’t heard from anyone in a long time who has successfully managed to have their vehicle reclassified, so it might be worth writing to the Portuguese officials and explaining the situation in the UK with the DVLA. Best of luck!

  16. Great article although i knew most of this as i converted 6 x VW Transporters BEFORE 2019 and all were changed to motor caravan on the log book.
    My question would be, seeing it must be a good 1/2 of all conversions are carried out on VW T5/6, Vauxhall Vivaros and the like which have a pop top roof WHY has the DVLA suddenly taken a dislike to the by excluding them from any chance of a motor caravan status even if everything else is ticked.

    1. Hi Jeff, it’s definitely a bit baffling isn’t it. I’m not sure why the DVLA have changed the requirements so massively, however even those who do meet all the requirements now still aren’t getting reclassification, so it doesn’t really make a difference these days anyway! Ultimately the DVLA just need to come out and say that they’re no longer reclassifying self-builds as ‘motor caravans’ and stop wasting everyone’s time.

  17. How does this affect speed limits?
    If it is not a campervan, does a Transit Custom stay a non car derived vehicle?
    If you cant make it a camper how can you at least get 70mph on it legally?

    1. Hi Matt, as a Transit Custom isn’t a car-derived van, I believe unfortunately the speed limit restrictions would be for that of a goods vehicle, as it’s no longer possible to reclassify as a motor caravan. So the speed limit on a dual carriageway would be 60mph. However, the speed limit for both goods vehicles and motor caravans on the motorway is still 70mph. Hopefully the DVLA will change these requirements as it’s no longer possible to reclassify as a motor caravan.

  18. Hi just to let you know my V5C came back yesterday from dvla for my Vauxhall’s movano maxilow Qube van which. I have converted to a coach built motor home / caravan.
    On the old V5C section D5 it was a Luton van.
    The new one it is classed as a specially fitted van what ever that is ?
    I meet all the requirements as per there conversion sheet
    But they still have not changed to motor caravan and reading the charts above it looks like this is best I am going to get out off them.
    Thanks for your article.

    1. Hi Mick, thanks for sharing! Really interesting to hear, I’ve never heard of someone receiving “specially fitted van” before, but perhaps its because your base vehicle is a Luton rather than a panel van! Another example showing that the DVLA has essentially stopped reclassifying as “motor caravan”

  19. My partner and myself feel less stupid after reading this.

    We bent over backwards to fit the requirements and were rejected twice, both times over the ‘external construct’ of the vehicle.
    We are now scared to contact our insurance company to tell them that not only did it take 5 months for the dvla to reply, but we’ve also been denied. The whole point of our insurance was to be given the freedom and time to convert our own camper, however due to excess decision making time and the rejection, I believe there is no way our insurance company will pay out in the event of an accident.

    Just like the dvla, insurance companies are craft feckers and will sniff out any opportunity to deny your coverage. I believe this would be one.

    Any idea who to renew with next month?

    1. Hi Joe & Charlotte, sorry to hear about you not being able to reclassify your van, however I honestly wouldn’t worry – since the DVLA have stopped reclassifying, insurance companies have had to change their approach. We actually wrote a blog post about this you might find useful: self-build campervan insurance – in there we mention a few companies who don’t require you to be reclassified! Hope that helps

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