Registering your DIY campervan when completed

There is a legal requirement that a UK registered vehicle is in the correct classification on the V5C log book. If you have converted a van into a motor caravan then you must return the V5C for amendment once the conversion is complete.

DIY campervan V5C

All campervans, motor caravans and motorhomes fall into the DVLA category of "Motor Caravan" but in order to qualify as a "Motor Caravan" it must have certain minimum features and it must have the external appearance of a "Motor Caravan".

This page sets out our understanding of the requirements but you can obtain the official DVLA document on this subject by clicking this link >> Converting a vehicle into a motorhome << here.

The Gov.uk website has pages on how to apply for a change to your V5C log book here: V5C changes.

Minimum Features

See the bottom of this page for the Department for Transport definition of "Motor Caravan" which is used for imports.

  1. There must be a door that provides access to the living accommodation.
  2. A bed, which is an integral part of the living quarters which has a minimum length of 1800mm or 6 feet. This can be converted at night from seats used for other purposes during the day but must be permanently fixed within the body of the vehicle.
  3. There must be a water storage tank or container on or in the vehicle.
  4. 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's not good enough to have a loose table.
  5. There must be a permanently fixed means of storage, a cupboard, locker or wardrobe.
  6. There must be a permanently fixed cooking facility within the vehicle powered by gas or electricity.
  7. There must be at least one window on the side of the accommodation.

If the vehicle has all of these minimum features present and permanently fixed and installed properly then you should be able to have it reclassified as a "Motor Caravan". Not only is it a legal requirement for your campervan to be in the correct classification once it is on the V5C as a "Motor Caravan" it may also (dependant on its unladen weight) benefit from higher speed limits than a van, lower MOT costs, lower road tax and cheaper insurance (in most cases) than a van.

We are frequently asked exactly what the process is for changing the classification on the V5C and since the Direct Gov web page on the subject isn't specific enough we wrote to the DVLA and asked them. Here is there reply.

"If a vehicle has been modified from its original specification it is a legal requirement that the vehicle keeper is required to return the registration certificate, V5C for amendment, no fee is required.

Before the record can be changed we would require photographic evidence of those changes and a description of the work carried out, together with receipts. An inspection of the vehicle may be required.

The photographic evidence should be of the completed conversion, both inside and out,(with the registration plates visible) in such a way that the body type is better described as a 'motorhome' e.g. the permanent features include windows, a bed, table, washing facilities, cooking facilities etc. the keeper will need to clarify the date on which the conversion took place."

In order to save you some time here are some tips on providing the photographic evidence that the DVLA require.

Before the record can be changed we would require photographic evidence of those changes and a description of the work carried out, together with receipts. An inspection of the vehicle may be required.

The photographic evidence should be of the completed conversion, both inside and out,(with the registration plates visible) in such a way that the body type is better described as a 'motorhome' e.g. the permanent features include windows, a bed, table, washing facilities, cooking facilities etc. the keeper will need to clarify the date on which the conversion took place."

In order to save you some time here are some tips on providing the photographic evidence that the DVLA require.

  1. Make sure that your vehicle is completely finished and that all of the required features detailed above are in place and visible. Make sure it is clean and tidy.
  2. Take a photograph from the front and rear with the registration plates clearly visible and if you have a rear opening door open it and show some of the interior.
  3. Take a photograph of each of the required features in situ (and in the usable position in the case of the bed and table).
  4. Print the photographs or have prints made and write on the back your registration number a description of what the photograph shows and the date.

What you are trying to do is to provide clear evidence that what you have made is permanently a "Motor Caravan" and that the furniture and fixings have been fitted to a satisfactory standard. You need to provide the DVLA with sufficient clear evidence in order for them to simply change the V5C and send it back to you. If you don't provide sufficient clear evidence then they will want to inspect your van before approving it for a change in classification. Remember the new interpretation of the rules means that as well as having the minimum requirements it must also have the external appearance of a "Motor Caravan".

Your covering letter should explain that you have completed the conversion of a van into a "Motor Caravan" and that you are now seeking to have your V5C amended. Make it clear in this letter that you understand the requirements and list what your vehicle has ie permanently and securely fixed:

  • seats and table
  • sleeping accommodation which may be converted from the seats
  • cooking facilities
  • water storage
  • storage facilities

State the date that your conversion was completed, ideally this should be the date that is shown on the back of the photographs.

We have provided an example letter in rtf format here. You can use this as the basis of your own letter. Make sure that you change all of the parts between square brackets and add anything else that you think may be pertinent.

Submit this and all being well your V5C will just arrive back amended. Currently there is no charge for this amendment.

DFT Definition of Motor Caravan

The following is taken from the DFT website now in the National Archives.

"Motor caravan" means a special purposes passenger car constructed to include living accommodation which contains at least the following equipment:

  • seats and table
  • sleeping accommodation which may be converted from the seats
  • cooking facilities
  • storage facilities

This equipment shall be rigidly fixed to the living compartment; however, the table may be designed to be easily removable.

The interpretation applied to this definition is as follows and the new interpretation of the rules means that as well as having the minimum requirements it must also have the external appearance of a "Motor Caravan".

Seats and a Table

  • Are required to be an integral part of the living accommodation area, and mounted independently of other items
  • The table must be capable of being mounted directly to the vehicle floor and /or side wall.
  • The table mounting arrangement must be secured as a permanent feature, (bolted, riveted, screwed or welded), although the table may be detachable
  • Permanently secured seating must be available for use at the table
  • The seats must be secured directly to the vehicle floor and/or side wall
  • The seats must be secured as a permanent feature, (bolted riveted, screwed or welded)

Sleeping Accommodation

  • Must be an integral part of the living accommodation area
  • Either beds or a bed converted from seats (to form a mattress base)
  • Secured as a permanent feature, with base structures bolted, riveted, screwed or welded to the vehicle floor and / or side wall, (unless the sleeping accommodation is provided as a provision over the driver's cab compartment

Cooking Facilities

  • That are an integral part of the vehicle living accommodation and is mounted independently of other items
  • That are secured to the vehicle floor and / or side wall
  • Secured as a permanent feature, (bolted, riveted, screwed, or welded
  • The cooking facility must consist of a minimum of a two ring cooking facility or a microwave in either case having a fuel/power source
  • 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
  • If the cooking facility is fuelled by gas having a remote fuel supply, the fuel reservoir must be secured in a storage cupboard or the reservoir secured to the vehicle structure

Storage Facilities

  • Storage facilities must be provided by a cupboard or locker
  • The facility must be an integral part of the vehicle living accommodation, ie mounted independently of other items, unless incorporated below seat/sleeping accommodation or the cooking facility
  • The storage facility must be a permanent feature, (bolted, riveted, screwed or welded)
  • The storage facility must be secured directly to the vehicle floor and / or side wall, unless a storage provision is provided over the driver's cab compartment

What's in your log book?

It is a legal requirement that your vehicle is correctly classified in your log book. Once you have completed a DIY campervan conversion you must immediately have the V5C log book amended.

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