Recently, an issue has come to light regarding Change of Use applications to the DVLA when converting Panel or Kombi Van classifications to Motor Caravans following our camper van conversions.
This does not affect the ability to change the number of travelling seats in the van or to insure it as a campervan.
We recently converted a van for a customer who, as usual, wrote to DVLA requesting a change of vehicle classification, but was refused. According to DVLA, our customer was refused because the camper did not ‘look’ like a camper van.
On the DVLA webpage https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/registering-a-diy-caravan/converting-a-vehicle-into-a-motorhome the wording has been changed to include the following:
DVLA is required to record the details of vehicles for road safety and law enforcement. The body type information held on the vehicle record must describe what a vehicle actually looks like. This description, in addition to other distinguishing features, enables the police and other enforcement agencies to identify a particular vehicle. Therefore, the body type will not be changed unless the exterior of the vehicle actually appears to be a motor home.
DVLA’s opinion is that the police or a member of the public should be able to clearly and quickly identify the type of vehicle, especially as motor caravans have different speed limits to panel vans. However, we have found that there appears to be a lack of consistency with applications and some are successful while others are not, depending on who is considering the application. It also appears that DVLA’s decision is occasionally reversed on appeal.
It’s worth noting that with the refused application, the camper had windows that were darkened and this may have contributed to the decision.
We have contacted our recommended insurer – Safeguard Insurance – who have confirmed that this is proving to be an issue for all converters, not just Cambee. However, they have also made it clear that as long as the vehicle has been converted to the rest of DVLA’s minimum requirements for a motor caravan, then they are more than happy to insure the vehicle as a camper van – whatever the DVLA classification may be – and this is likely to be the position of other insurers. DVLA’s minimum requirements are:
- 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
- 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
- at least one window on the side of the accommodation
The speed limits for motor caravans are the same as for cars, with a national speed limit of 60mph on single carriageway roads and 70mph on dual-carriageways & motorways, but vans are restricted to a national speed limit of 50mph on single carriageway roads and 60mph on dual-carriageways, with 70mph being permitted on motorways.*
*Please be aware that kombi vans originally registered under class M1 are subject to the same speed restrictions as cars, but kombi vans registered under class N1 are subject to van speed restrictions. This will vary on the make/model of the vehicle.
As with many things, there may also a plus-side to being refused a change in classification. While most motor caravans pay the same rate of road tax as cars – currently £465.00 per year for five years from the second time the vehicle is taxed – panel vans currently pay £260.00 per year, which equates to a potential saving of £1025.00.
We are continuing to monitor the situation and are trying to find out more regarding vehicle classifications, and will of course keep our customers updated. If you have any concerns or questions in the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01364 255242.