DVLA requirements for change to motor caravan

NickB

Full Member
I'm agreeing with this sentiment as well. ..
DVLA supporting witness clarification after hit and runs maybe?
 

Squiffy

Full Member
Hi Nick, as you know my son is coming up at the end of September for me to help him finish off the interior of his van. He has spent thousands on it so far all of it really well constructed, gas, electrics, thermal insulation you name it and now he's coming up again so we can fit out the furniture ect.
He decided he only wanted the sliding door and rear doors to have dark privacy glass fitted, at the time last year when we were fitting the windows I warned him that he was going the find it very difficult or even impossible to re classify the van if he did not increase the window count, he said he didn't care he would take his chance that he didn't want more windows, well " C'est la vie" we will soon find out. As for the Professional conversions being refused, its possibly because it has been noticed that over the last 2 years more and more converters are producing vans with full privacy glass around the vehicle, well this is obviously contrary to the DVLA definition as it is after all a "Van with windows" and so unfair to allow these but refuse private builders hence they also have to uphold their own rules. I have to say that this is only my interpretation of present events if that is what's apparently happening. Phil
 

NickB

Full Member
Could be that Phil.
Most of the information I've gleened has come from the VW forums.
But the content seems to be consistent.
 

Millie Master

Full Member
I agree with Phil, so often a converters attempts at constructing their campervans are nothing short of absolute amateurism, most especially if they are built inside an ex ambulance...... Just ask yourself if you have ever set eyes on a professional conversion that had bright yellow paintwork and multiple reflective stickers?

I actually typed this whilst Phil was writing about his sons van and the privacy glass....... Yet again, I have to say that most professionally converted vans I have seen have unit type double glazed windows, they also have reasonably large areas and numbers of windows.

If this problem does exist, then I wouldn't mind betting that it has been fueled by multiple applications from people whose efforts patently don't satisfy the DVLA's requirements and in truth they only have themselves to blame.

Phil
 
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NickB

Full Member
Yes... I saw a van being thrown together two or three weeks back.
I'm not joking when I say there was an assortment of 'rough' salvaged timber leaning against it. A biscuit tin full of old nails and screws and a attitude of if it gets through I'll be happy if not we only want to sleep in it anyway.
This is not the first time that the DVLA have clamped down.
The weakness in the process is that it is dependent on a human being making a judgement based on his/her opinion.
At both ends of the quality/appearance spectrum I'm sure we are all in agreement.
The danger lies in the grey area, the area where one persons opinion differs from anothers.
The recent apparently stricter guidance has not been communicated in advance.
All I can say is the DVLA interpretation must be consistent and able to be challenged.
I am not a supporter of the rough and ready brigade.
I'm coming to the end of a 6+ month build on a new van.... handmade oak ceiling(£300), diesel cooker (circa £1600) Froli bed system (£250) +++++ etc total circa £7k
Shortly I'll be turning my attention to the outside appearance, this fills me with dread... my taste may or may not be in favour?
Distinguishing fact from opinion is that facts are verifiable, opinon is not.
 

Millie Master

Full Member
Shortly I'll be turning my attention to the outside appearance, this fills me with dread... my taste may or may not be in favour?
Distinguishing fact from opinion is that facts are verifiable, opinon is not.
That is a very interesting read Nick, and now I suggest you ought to be giving every consideration to the application you will be sending off to the DVLA, which, should be in my opinion reflect as thoroughly proffesional approach as your build and not some thrown together mish-mash of words and some box brownie images.

As I have written on these pages in the past, in my case I prepared a document with full descriptive copy pertaining to each and every one of the photographs with these images showing 4 external views from each corner with the doors closed and then a further image with the back doors open showing the cassette loo in a semi extracted position and another image with the sliding door fully open showing the interior, gas locker etc..
In total there were 14 photographs illustrating my efforts as well as a detailed costs spread sheet.
All this information I prepared in triplicate, perfect bound with both front and back covers, sending 2 off to the DVLA (I know that isn't asked for) and keeping the final one to send off to my insurance broker (along with a copy of the duly changed V5) to reach an agreed valuation as well as the duly and significantly reduced insurance premium.

Phil
 

JackieA

Full Member
Finished my conversion as to DVLA published criteria this week. Previously was used as a "tin tent" so no need to change the V5. Suppliers of both the Rock & roll bed and kitchen pod had reported DVLA resistance to some of their conversions recently. Spoke to the relevant DVLA department yesterday and was advised to delay my submission because criteria are changed but the Department of Transport haven't published the new rules!
I prefer not to add decals as I occasionally need to stealth camp in order to be at event registrations very early in the morning when either officiating for British Cycling or assisting with Trail Runs.
 

Squiffy

Full Member
Morning Jackie,
I've never heard the term "Tin tent" ( So don't have to change V5), I can imagine what it means but not exactly certain. Interesting about your info from DVLA. Phil

P.s. As an aside to the fact that the DoT have not yet published the new rules, then that means unless the "New rules" have been relaxed in some way ( Highly unlikely) then if your van is compliant to the old rules in my view DVLA are in fact breaking the law as it stands by not changing the V5 to "Motor caravan". They are not allowed to suspend one rule just because a new rule is in the offing. If I was in that position at this point in time I would certainly be threatening legal action against them. But I would have to be dammed certain that the criteria had been reached or surpassed. My guess is that any decision would be held up til these new rules are applied, using the excuse that work load has extended the time taken to asses the request for V5 change, but even then ( In my view) if the application had been recieved before the rule change then the old rule should still stand. What they have said to delay an application because the rules are changing, would suggest that they were being "Helpful" in so much as the rules are being relaxed 🤭 so wait awhile. Though I feel they will now be asking for gas safety certs and electrical certs along with far more documentation, but we shall see.
 
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wildebus

Full Member
....Shortly I'll be turning my attention to the outside appearance, this fills me with dread... my taste may or may not be in favour?
Distinguishing fact from opinion is that facts are verifiable, opinon is not.
What I would suggest with the exterior is if it likely to be a bit 'off the wall', do your photographs and submission for reclassification prior to the update as a precaution
My van exterior is anything but typical - And I really don't know under the current 'regime' if my Overland Safari exterior would help or hinder a reclassification request.


One of the problems - and actually significant benefits - to the way Motor Home Reclassification have been done in the UK is there is no need for any inspections or proof of quality - it is essentially a system of trust and self-certification (just like in your house where you self-stipulate your compentance in most areas and don't have to call in a registered professional if you don't feel the need to - and this is true even in the case of installing your own gas boiler for example, which is slightly worrying, but that is how the principle in the UK work and why the UK is such a lover of DIY)

Because of this self-certification, there needs to be a certain level of opinion from the DVLA when it comes to reclassifying (this is not to defend the current and sudden change in their attitude in any way whatsoever!). If every conversion was to be inspected by VOSA for approval, then the DVLA would need to apply no opinion at all and just change a field on the V5C - but the 'Opinion' part is still there, it is just now with the VOSA inspector instead, and you will be paying a few hundred quid for vehicle inspections (someones 'opinion' will always be part of the process, just like with an MOT where the testers opinion can make the difference between a pass and a fail sometimes). And the natural progression to that will be only registered companies will be allowed to make any changes or do conversions and the whole home campervan conversion scene will be gone (and we will be good Europeans like Italy, Spain, and France in that respect).


Now in terms of having a conversion using "salvaged" (reclaimed I think is the modern term) wood - why the hell not? The base vehicles the majority of people use for their conversions are salvaged from a previous use, why should the interiors not be also if that is what the person wants? As long as it is done safely, securely, meets the minimum requirements, and is not a danger to themselves and others, who the hell is anyone else to say it is not any good? One mans Gin Palace is another mans Abomination. And vice-versa.


General comments .... including a picture of a toilet? Why? Where in the regulations that legally specify the requirements of a Motor Caravan is it noted that a Toilet is a requirement in a Motor Caravan? So including that picture is 100% not required.
Should a toilet be a requirement in a Motor Caravan? maybe yes, maybe no, but that is a separate discussion. Right now it is NOT and the DVLA don't legally care if you do your #2s inside the van or not, so including it is pointless UNLESS the idea is to include so much stuff, whether required or no that the person getting it just ticks the box as they really don't want to bother going through it all. Sorry if that sounds a bit rude, but providing what is requested is what is needed and is what should be done. There is no need for more.

I am not saying there is no reason not to build as fancy a campervan as you like and you can goldplate it if you want to, but when it comes to the legal requirements of a conversion, all that is needed and all that is required is (at least it should be) stated, and having extra features not stipulated should make zero difference to the success of a reclassification. There is talk about to get reclassifed now, it is best to have an awning and a bike rack fitted and show that in the pictures as "that is what motorhomes have". Don't remember those being requirements listed anywhere?
"Motorhomes" tend to have Toilets and Showers typically as that is what people ask for when buying them (despite 90% of those people never using the showers anyway) but they are not needed to be a "Motor Caravan" any more than Awnings and Bike Racks are - and the most iconic "Motor Caravan" is probably the VW California, which you can easily spend £70,000 on and guess what? Can't do your #2's in one of them either ;)
 

Squiffy

Full Member
What you say is 100% correct Dave, what is most common though is some self builders are in no way adhering to the DVLA guide lines and then complaining bitterly that they are being unfairly treated when it comes back as " Van with windows". I haven't heard of anyone being turned down because of recycled materials, or the fact that it does not possess a shower/ toilet, yes it is an opinion but based on a set of rules. I think your right that because of the trouble over recent years as can be seen to be happening even through this one site alone, they possibly have taken the course of making it far more difficult for private folk to make a conversion, could it possibly be because the EU have made it known that as of a certain date after brexit they are going to require certification of camper vans before they will allow British vehicles to travel on EU roads, i.e. Gas safety, electrical, and construction safety, I really hope I'm wrong and reading too much into it as I would suggest that all motorhome's will have to go through a yearly certification in future especially if you wish to travel on the continent 😳 Phil
 

wildebus

Full Member
What you say is 100% correct Dave, what is most common though is some self builders are in no way adhering to the DVLA guide lines and then complaining bitterly that they are being unfairly treated when it comes back as " Van with windows"....
This is a common-ish theme on the VW T4/T5 Forum, where some people don't actually want a proper camper, but just want to try and benefit from higher speeds for their ex-panel van and cheaper insurance, so do the minimum they think they can get away with - and so less than the DVLA minimum (which in itself is hardly an onerous list anyway!) and discuss ways to try and 'fool the system' to get reclassifed.
To me, that is out of order and if I were the forum admin I would ban those kind of posts as it is that approach that could (and maybe has) screwed it for the genuine people trying to do a decent job.
 

SquirrellCook

Full Member
I'm still tickled over many people worrying over section D.5 Body type. It's either a Panel Van or a Coach Built Vehicle regardless of it's use.
Personally I don't want a taxation class as any kind of goods vehicle. Namely class N1, N2, or N3
Over 3.5 tonnes the Private Goods Vehicle rules suggest you can't do anything with it that might be classes as carrying goods.
Also if it's not suitable for carrying goods, e.g. it's a motorcaravan it can't have any "N" class associated with it.
In my opinion a Motorcaravan is a passenger vehicle, so would have to be M1, M2 or M3.
It seems that M2 and M3 are reserved for mini buses and coaches depending on seat numbers.
You can't be a minibus or coach if you don't have fair paying passengers.
So all that is left is M1
So the only taxation class you can have is M1 special vehicle (motorcaravan) despite it's size.

Once Murky is all one colour I will test the point.
 

JackieA

Full Member
Morning Jackie,
I've never heard the term "Tin tent" ( So don't have to change V5), I can imagine what it means but not exactly certain. Interesting about your info from DVLA. Phil

P.s. As an aside to the fact that the DoT have not yet published the new rules, then that means unless the "New rules" have been relaxed in some way ( Highly unlikely) then if your van is compliant to the old rules in my view DVLA are in fact breaking the law as it stands by not changing the V5 to "Motor caravan". They are not allowed to suspend one rule just because a new rule is in the offing. If I was in that position at this point in time I would certainly be threatening legal action against them. But I would have to be dammed certain that the criteria had been reached or surpassed. My guess is that any decision would be held up til these new rules are applied, using the excuse that work load has extended the time taken to asses the request for V5 change, but even then ( In my view) if the application had been recieved before the rule change then the old rule should still stand. What they have said to delay an application because the rules are changing, would suggest that they were being "Helpful" in so much as the rules are being relaxed 🤭 so wait awhile. Though I feel they will now be asking for gas safety certs and electrical certs along with far more documentation, but we shall see.
"Tin tent" was a bit of a derisory term for the van used by one of our staff at the Outdoor Pursuits Centre I helped run many years ago. We purists at the time either used ordinary tents or slept on the barn floor.
My Trafic is compact being swb and I formerly preferred to have my Emtb inside overnight. Have fitted a non-seat belt 3/4 R&R bed fastened through the carpet & wooden floor to the metal van floor, Made a kitchen area by using a commercial pod (with sink, fresh & waste water cold feed) and single hob. Additional cooking is via a movable gas hob or my electric Remoska unit that works off the inverter or hook up. A recycled bedside unit provides a cutlery/crockery drawer and cupboard. Have also fitted a detachable table.Other storage includes 4 Ikea shoe boxes screwed to the sidewall and rear doors plus under bed & above cab areas..
On purchase of the van I had a window fitted in the side door and have blackout curtains at the side and between habitation and cab. The double passenger seat rotates using a Kira base plate to give marginally more space when the bed is extended.Externally I have a silver screen (from the Burstner Delfin I used to own) and a detachable heavy duty Pendle bike rack to mount the Ebike. I have no room for a shower area but there is just enough room for the porta-potti to be used at night time.
With the above I feel That I not only abide by the published rules but also with the spirit. Accommodation is adequate for myself and my two dogs especially if using campsites where my Revolution drive away awning can be added. If I've missed anything regarding compliance please let me know - should perhaps have mentioned improved interior lighting to enable reading in the evenings.
 

Squiffy

Full Member
Has anybody noticed the amount of members who have taken interest in reading this post, as far as I'm aware it has drawn on the most read post so far, just goes to show that this particular item has generated the most controversy amongst members even if the majority have not expressed their view. 😉 Phil
 

wildebus

Full Member
Got a reply from the DVLA to my email to them ...

Thank you for your e-mail requesting information. The DVLA are dealing with your request under the terms of The Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Your request has been given reference number: FOIRxxxx.

You should expect to receive a reply to your request by 29/08/2019.

So just 2 weeks to go ....
 

NickB

Full Member
I have spent 90mins on the phone today firstly with the DVLA and Dft.
D.5. Body type MOTOR CARAVAN
Or
D.5. Body type VAN/SIDE WINDOWS
They have changed their policy regarding vehicle body type classification following pressure from the Association of Police Officers and other interested parties due to theft not witness description of vehicle after eg hit and run accidents.
They stressed that the physical appearance is now dependent on the physical form of the vehicle... that is a panel van conversion no mater it's decorative finish is still a panel van. Only vans converted from a base chassis into "motorhomes" will get the D.5. Body type MOTOR CARAVAN description.
Regarding insurance the Association of Insurers have told their members to insure vehicles as to what they are (whatever that means?).
Regarding vehicles with D5 Body type VAN/SIDE WINDOWS speed limits no-one would commit themselves wether that is dependant on the www.gov.uk/speed-limits web site which makes no mention of VAN/SIDE WINDOWS or the [X] Taxation class or the J. Vehicle Category N1

I have written to Dft requesting clarification of speed limits applicable to vehicles VAN/SIDE WINDOW ... LIGHT GOODS VEHICLE. ... N1 [Y] Revenue weight 3500kg gross.
I have recieved an automated response saying that they will NOT reply to emails unless it's about Dft policy and if they do that will take up to 20 days. .... ?
So guys that's what I've been told...try yourselves see if you can get any further... looks very much like panel van conversions to motor caravan are a thing of the past.
BTW
One DVLA chap said if I had just sent a picture in of the my panel van showing the side window that would have been enough. .. they now have NO interest as to what's inside. That's between us and our insurance companies and Dft fit for purpose regulations.
 

SquirrellCook

Full Member
It does make sense even if it does upset some people. My personal quest is to try and make sure my S/D Bus/Coach does not end up as a Class N2 goods vehicle. It was never designed to carry "Goods" It was a M3 passenger vehicle, and I wish it to remain so.
That will be an interesting fight.
 

Squiffy

Full Member
Well done Nick, in all respects so long as the insurance companies do not hike the premiums then it really does not make any difference, as for speed limits I personally very rarely do more than fifty in any case, apart from on the motorway that is. Though I have to say I'm a little confused by the term "No matter its decorative finish" does that mean stickers / type of windows awning/ skylights ?? In other words if it looks like a motorhome does it still mean they won't give it motor caravan status, As you have seen there is no way that my van could be mistaken as anything other than a motorhome so it seems a bit of an odd statement by them ( This on my part is purely of interest as mine all ready has the motor caravan status) This surely will be greatly resisted by the major manufacturers of panel van conversions as its a multi billion pound a year business and the government must be well aware of this. They seem to be suggesting that only coach built vans will achieve the status. All very interesting we will see what happens in the near future, but from what you say my Son Dave stands no chance now 😔.Phil


P.s. Actually re reading your post Nick it would seem that what is being said is stickers and side windows is not going to be excepted anymore, that it does have to definitely have to look like a motorhome whether there is actually any beds inside or cooking gear is no longer of concern, the only concern now seems to be that it could not be externally mistaken for what it is. Could be an easy way for them to say yes or no.
 
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NickB

Full Member
Hi Phil pity we missed each other in Malvern.
Yep your absolutely right as usual... yours looks and is a motorhome fact.
I questioned this point repeatedly... I said if the police asked a bystander who witnessed an accident what they saw what would you expect them to say it was a motorhome or camper or a van with side windows.
At this point the DVLA CHAP went back on script and regurgitated was it a van, van with windows, car, bus, bike. lorry etc.... they have obviously been coached in deflecting these motor caravan questions.
Seems a panel van is a panel van is a panel van with windows is what it is no mater what it looks like. A chassis with a motorhome shell built on is a the only way now to get MOTOR CAMPER classlfication.
DVLA see themselves now as only the recorders of what a vehicle is... what it's used for is NOT their concern. But the way I see it, is they are judging between private and commercial goods usage.
I Kept hearing insurance is between user and insurance company.
The DVLA recognision record of a vehicle is based on what the Police want.
 

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