‘Motor Caravan’ Insurance

Once your vehicle has been officially re-classified by the DVLA, you will need to change your insurance. Your original insurance will be for a ‘Panel Van’, and your vehicle is no longer one. So you need to cancel your existing policy, and get a new policy for a campervan.

UK Vehicle Classes

In the UK small vans, less than 3500kg, are classified as Class 4 vehicles. Vans between 3000kg and 3500kg are considered Class 7 vehicles. Class 7 vehicles have stricter MOT tests. Vehicles over 3500kg would normally go to a VOSA Test Centre. A bus/mini-bus with more than 8 seats (up to 13) is a Class 5, unless the seats are removed and the vehicle is re-classified as a campervan, then it becomes Class 4.

However, if a Class 7 vehicle is registered for recreation purposes, it becomes a Class 4 vehicle. Therefore, if you convert a Class 7 big panel van into a campervan or motorhome, changing it’s classification to a recreation vehicle will make life easier and cheaper for you.

Also note that you should insure you vehicle based on its classification. You cannot really insure a camper van as a panel van. Should you have to make a claim the insurance company are unlikely to pay if your vehicle is wrongly classified.

Let us know about your re-classification experiences in the comments below

How and when to re-classify as a ‘motor-caravan’

In the UK, changing the classification of a van to a campervan or motorhome is fairly straightforward. The following information is based on real experience, correct at the time of the re-classification. This serves as a good guide, but please contact the DVLA and/or VOSA to confirm the rules regarding your vehicle.

When your conversion is complete, and your van is now (nearly) a camper van or motorhome you need to contact the DVLA and inform them that you’re ready to convert your ‘Panel Van’ to a ‘Motor Caravan’.

You should change your V5C (log book) document and return it to them. You need to change the vehicle body type to “Motor Caravan”. Motor Caravan is the term used by the DVLA for campervans and motorhomes. See the DirectGov website for details on changing your V5 document.

You should also include a covering letter, briefly covering what you have done to the vehicle. Also include between 10-20 photographs of your converted vehicle. Do ensure that you include the vehicles number plate in a shot of the front of the vehicle, and a shot of the back of the vehicle. From the photos the DVLA can see if you have done a good conversion to the vehicle, or simply thrown a mattress in the back.
Send the paperwork to:

SA99 1BA

If you have done a good conversion, and the DVLA are satisfied they will return a new V5 document to you, with the body type changed.

However, if they are unsure of your conversion they will ask you to visit the local DVLA inspection office. An agent will inspect the vehicle before recommending any change of documentation.

The DVLA do not publish strict guidelines for the above. However, The Department of Transport do publish a strict ‘motor caravan’ definition for vehicles that are being imported. Click here, and scroll down to ‘Motor caravan’. It’s likely the DVLA also use the same guidelines. However, the strict definitions here are, it seems, open to some interpretation.

Benefits to registering a ‘motor-caravan’ with the DVLA

Assuming you have campervan insurance, it is not a requirement to re-register your vehicle as a “motor caravan” with the DVLA. However, there are numerous benefits in doing so:-
    • Lower Insurance Premiums – As campervans generally have fewer claims than registered panel vans, do fewer miles and aren’t used for commercial use, insurance can be between 10% – 50% cheaper.
    • Contents Insurance – As campervans often contain personal belongings such as televisions and laptops, vehicles registered as campervans generally have better contents insurance than panel vans.
    • 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.
    • Higher speed limit – Vans with an unladen weight of under 3050kg can travel at a maximum of 60mph on a dual carriageway. 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 ferry prices – Traveling 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.
DVLA info sheet VCA & Type Approval

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