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Conversions and registration as a motor caravan

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    Conversions and registration as a motor caravan

    Some members have highlighted a change in the way that onverted vans are being registered. Below is some more information on the rules and a recent change. I hope is of help to those of you who are thinking or have converted their vans.

    DVLA revise their rule change on campervan conversions
    [last updated 13th September 2011]
    Up until recently anyone who converted a commercial vehicle to a motorhome or campervan could apply to the DVLA for the 'body type' classification on the V5C Registration Document to be changed to 'motor caravan'. However we heard that recent requests to change the body type classification were being refused by DVLA.

    We asked them what new criteria were being applied, this is the response we received:

    When describing the external appearance of a vehicle DVLA applies a 'reasonableness test' which is based on how a member of the public or police would describe the vehicle in traffic or if parked on the road. This is a longstanding procedure. Whilst vehicles kept or used on public roads in Great Britain must meet both domestic and European regulations such as Type Approval, DVLA body type descriptions are a separate entity to approval requirements.

    However, as DVLA have recently seen an increase in the number of applications to change the body type description on the vehicle registration document (V5C) to motor caravan, we reviewed the body type description 'motor caravan' in conjunction with the police and the ABI.

    There was a clear consensus that the body type should reflect the outward appearance of a vehicle rather than its internal fixtures and fittings. As a result only vehicles first registered as motor caravans or those fitted with a custom coach built bodies, in addition to meeting the internal 'checklist' should be described as 'motor caravan' on the V5C.

    We are aware that some motorists have complained that insurance premiums can be higher if the body type for converted vehicles does not show motor caravan. However the ABI have advised that insurance premiums would normally be calculated based on the information provided by the customer. They further advised that customers should make their insurers aware of any modifications made to the vehicle and this would be taken into account when the premium is calculated.

    This seemed to us to represent a very narrow interpretation of the term 'motor caravan' and appeared to impose much stricter requirements than those required by EU Type Approval legislation. Taken at face value it seems to mean that NO conversions of any type of vehicle that has been previously registered will be able to re-register with a change of body type to motor caravan (unless they have had a coachbuilt body fitted), even bone-fide professional conversions that any reasonable person would consider to be a motor caravan.

    It had implications for speed limits, since the term 'motor caravan' is used to determine that passenger vehicle, rather than goods vehicle, speed limits apply. MOT tests are another potential problem area where the type of test which is applicable may be affected if a vehicle is not described as a motor caravan on the V5C. For vehicles over 3500kg GVW it is possible that the regulations relating to drivers hours and the fittment of speed limiters and tachographs may also apply if the vehicle is not described as a motor caravan on the V5C.

    We now hear that, following many complaints about the new policy, they have re-examined the issue. We asked for an explanation of the revised policy and received the following:

    Apologies for the delay in replying we have been further reviewing our policy around the allocation of bodytype descriptions for motorcaravans taking into account the views of customers/key stakeholders like yourself. Recognising the impact the policy may have on professional converters and our customers who self build I am pleased to inform you that following a further review the policy will allow greater flexibility for vehicles which have been modified both internally and externally from the manufacturers original specification after first registration and consideration will be given to conversions which have been carried out professionally where the customer can provide documentary evidence from the converter or a self build conversion where the customer can provide documentary evidence of the build.

    In addition to documentary evidence customers will still be required to provide external and internal photographic evidence of the conversion/build and also return their V5C for amendment. As previously advised cases can vary significantly and DVLA deals with each case individually, based on the photographic and documentary evidence provided by the customer/registered keeper. DVLA will continue to consider applications requesting a change of body type description but we will need to consider both the internal and external appearance of a vehicle. I should advise you that conversions will still be required to meet the internal criteria required for a motorhome/motorcaravan but greater flexibility will be applied to the external appearance of a vehicle.

    We submitted photos of a panel van, which had been converted some years after it's original registration, to them for appraisal. Under the 'original' revised policy, as far as we can tell, it would have been classed as a 'van with windows', now they have confirmed that it would be classified as a 'motor caravan'.

    It seems to us that there should now be no difficulty in registering a conversion as a motor caravan, providing that the conversion meets the 'reasonableness test' and that the exterior has been modified by at least having windows fitted.

    See our Motorhome FAQs page for more on the definition of a motor caravan and the 'reasonableness test'.


    having the read the link what how come some do not meet the specs and are classified as motor caravan from date of reg and if you modify it after reg are you breaking the law ie self build you build something it looks good and you think yes that will do but you take it away and find that it is a real pain,so do you modify it


      Thanks Wightman, I'm pleased to hear DVLA have done a U-Turn on this.


        Thanks for that info very usefull. I was wondering if any one could help me I have recently converted my van and it meets all the requirements of a converion as far as I can tell but the DVLA refused to reclassify it. It was refused down to the exterior not being modified. At the time of the conversion I didnt see the need to convert the exterior but I was wondering if anyone could tell me what kind of things I could do to the exterior that would classify it as a camper-van?

        Any info would be much apriciated


          Stick a side window in it and add a few decals.


            Side windows didn't do it for me with the old rules, will try again soon with the new rules!

            "If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."


              No joy!

              DLVA response to my email.

              I can confirm that if you were to re-apply to have the V5C Registration Certificate amended to show the vehicle being a "motor caravan", you would receive the same response.

              I can also confirm that the rules regarding these changes have not been relaxed.
              "If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."


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