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Converting A Van – When to Tell the DVLA

With more and more of us opting for staycations, the camping market has gone crazy. Not only are campervans and caravans priced in response to the high demand, but there is a definite shortage of ready-to-go campers on the market. The result? More adventurous and handy van owners are converting existing work vans into campers.

Why do I need to tell the DVLA about changes made to a vehicle?

Converting a van is a great idea if you know what you are doing, however it isn’t quite as simple as stripping out the existing interior and adding some windows. Changing the way your van looks and is used will affect its insurance – you also need to let the DVLA know. Here’s what you need to tell them – and when.

The DVLA holds a database of all vehicle details, including information about body type, colour and distinguishing features. This is so that police and other enforcement agencies are able to identify vehicles.

In order to change a vehicle’s body type, you must be able to show the DVLA that the conversion meets their criteria. What’s more, in order to change the body type to “motor caravan”, your camper has to look like a camper or motorhome and, of course, it is the vehicle owner’s responsibility to make sure that any work is done safely.

Can any vehicle body type switch to “motor caravan”?

In order to change your vehicle type to “motor caravan”, your vehicle must be listed on your V5C registration book as an ambulance, goods van, boxed or insulated van, light goods, light van, Luton van, livestock carrier, minibus, specially fitted van, panel van, MPV, special mobile unit or van with side windows.

Do I have to tell the DVLA about changes made to my van?

Strictly speaking, there is no legal requirement to tell the DVLA that you have changed a van listed above to be a camper and you can still use your converted van as a camper or motor home before you change the body type with the DVLA. However, there are a few benefits from doing so, including considerably lower insurance costs, cheaper ferry travel and even cheaper MOTs, with vans weighing between 3,000 and 3,500kg being subject to Class 4 rules as a camper as opposed to class 7 as a commercial van.

Does my conversion count as a motor caravan?

Not all converted vans will be considered to be motor caravans by the DVLA. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter for next week’s blog, when we discuss the criteria that the DVLA look for when deciding whether a vehicle is still a panel van, goods vehicle or van with windows, or if it is, indeed, now a fully fledged motor caravan.

Looking for a camper or motorhome? Get in touch with your local car dealership. If you want to convert an existing van, speak to a caravan and motorhome specialist near you for inspiration and a quote.

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