For panel or passenger vans that are converted into campervans, it is a legal requirement to re-register them as a “motor caravan” with the DVLA. There are some benefits to doing so, and some minimum requirements to meet.


From Campervan Life’s website:


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


The requirements that need to be met can be found on the DVLA’s website:


  • a door that provides access to the living accommodation

  • a bed, which has a minimum length of 1800mm or 6 feet - this can be converted from seats used for other purposes during the day but must be permanently fixed within the body of the vehicle

  • a water storage tank or container on, or in, the vehicle

  • Some insurers may require this to be of a minimum size. From Campervan Life’s website: The insurer Adrian Flux requires the water container to hold 6 gallons / 27 litres.

  • a seating and dining area, permanently attached to the vehicle - the table may be detachable but must have some permanent means of attachment to the vehicle. It is not good enough to have a loose table

  • a permanently fixed means of storage, a cupboard, locker or wardrobe

  • a permanently fixed cooking facility within the vehicle, powered by gas or electricity

  • consist of a minimum of a 2 ring cooking facility or a microwave in either case having a fuel / power source

  • at least one window on the side of the accommodation


The process to follow, from Campervan Life’s website:


  • Send documents to the DVLA

  • Once you have built your camper, simply change the classification of your vehicle from ‘Panel Van’ to ‘Motor Caravan’ on your Log book (V5C).

  • Attach a list of parts added to the van

  • Attach a cover letter explaining what you have done.

  • 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 motorhome.


Conversely, it is sometimes desirable to not have a van reclassified, such as where it is also being used for work purposes and being classified as a leisure vehicle will cause issues. It is a legal requirement to re-register if your van meets the requirements so, if that is not desired, one or more of the requirements above should not be met.

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