Reclassify your campervan with the DVLA
If you live in the UK, once you have converted your campervan you may be thinking about getting it officially registered 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. As of 2019, the DVLA has changed their requirements to officially reclassify your campervan to make the process incredibly difficult.
Requirements to reclassify your campervan
The DVLA require that your campervan:
- Has a certain body type
- Meets the internal features required
- Meets the external features required
The body types the DVLA will consider reclassifying to a ‘motor caravan’ as per their website in August 2020 are:
- Box van
- Insulated van
- Light goods
- Light van
- Livestock carrier
- Luton van
- 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.
As per the DVLA website in August 2020, your campervan must contain at least the following components rigidly fixed to the living compartment:
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
As well as the internal features that were previously required, there are now a number of additional requirements. 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 to be able to reclassify your van. 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.
How to submit your application to the DVLA
To submit your request for reclassification, you must submit a completed ‘motor caravan’ conversion checklist, a V5C showing one of the required body types, as well as 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 to the tightening up of requirements from the DVLA and the difficulty in reclassifying as a campervan, many insurers themselves are having to change their rules on what they require for insurance policies, and so there will be 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. You are also unable to use your car no claims discount towards your van insurance, so you will need to build up a separate no claims for 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.
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. It seems that recently the DVLA have cracked down massively on reclassifications, and 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 vehicles at the current time of writing (2020). This may be due to the sheer increase in volume of requests that they have been receiving – in 2019 alone there were almost 10,000 applications that were refused by the DVLA, and there isn’t even any published data on how many were accepted!
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.”
We currently have our van insured with Adrian Flux as a ‘camper in conversion’ which means we can insure it as a campervan that is registered as a panel van on its V5C, and we can insure it for its estimated value now that it has been converted. For extra piece of mind, it’s also possible to fill out an ‘agreed value request form’ when you get your insurance for a small fee, to get the estimated value of your van pre-agreed so that if you were to have an accident, the amount you have said your van is worth has already been agreed by the insurer.
Most insurance companies have now adapted in a similar way and will offer insurance policies based on your van looking like a campervan rather than being registered as one on your V5C. Some insurers may require you to submit photos as proof that your van is a converted campervan within a certain time frame from taking out your policy, so remember it’s important to always read the policy wording when taking out a policy. You can get a quote for your campervan insurance here.
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 probably saving yourself the hassle of trying to reclassify as a campervan.
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