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.

Contents

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

Thanks for reading, if you have any questions feel free to drop us a message on here or via Instagram!  

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should you reclassify your campervan with the dvla

3 thoughts on “Should you try and reclassify your campervan with the DVLA?”

  1. 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 !

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