So you have just completed your self build camper van, and it is still registered as a panel van with the DVLA (Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency). Now comes the time where you want to change the the V5 logbook form from "panel van" to "motor caravan".

I have just completed this process and it is pretty straightforward, but first you have to make sure your converted van meets the DVLA regulations for a campervan or motorhome. They require you to send in photographs of the completed conversion, along with a cover letter, and the V5 logbook with the amended details.

The DVLA are helpful in this respect and provide you with a web page with all the campervan conversion requirements. You can find all the details here, including a link to a sample letter that you can print off and send to the DVLA. This is exactly what I did, and included around 15 photos of the conversion covering all the main points required.

So why re-register your panel van as a campervan?

Well, firstly its a legal requirement. This is taken directly from the DVLA website:

It is a legal requirement that all UK registered vehicles are classified correctly on the V5C log book. All camper-vans, motor caravans and motorhomes fall into the DVLA category of โ€˜motor caravanโ€™. If you have converted a van into a motor caravan then you must return the V5C to DVLA for body type amendment.

Insurance: You can get cheaper insurance as a camper van - which is always a bonus!
Speed limits: As a campervan (motor caravan) you can travel at faster speeds on single and dual carriageways as indicated below:

As a light goods vehicle (panel van) you are restricted to:

  • 50mph on single carriageways where the national speed limit applies
  • 60mph on dual carriageways
  • 70mph on motorways

With your converted van registered as a "motor caravan" you are able to travel at:

  • 60mph on single carriageways where the national speed limit applies
  • 70mph on dual carriageways
  • 70mph on motorways

So what are the conversion requirements?

The DVLA state there are certain requirements to be met if you want to register your van conversion as a campervan. Again the DVLA website provide all the necessary details in full, but the minimum requirements are listed below:

  • 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

How did I do it?

Well, I just printed off the sample letter from the DVLA website, filled in my details and then printed off about 15 photos that showed different aspects of the conversion that they wanted to see.

On the back of each photo I wrote the date, vehicle reg number and a description of what the photo showed. In some photos they want the number plate of the van clearly on display, and also a photo with the door open and number plate on display so they can prove that the conversion is actually inside the van you say it is! ๐Ÿ™‚

With regards the V5 log book, you will need to add in the new details in Section 7 - Changes to Current Vehicle. In my case I changed the following details:

  • Wheelplan/Body Type: Changed from "panel van" to "motor caravan"
  • Number of seats: Changed from 3 to 2 - as I had changed out the double passenger seat for a single seat.

I then signed and dated the V5 form in Section 8. Popped it in the post, and about 2 weeks later I received my new V5 logbook with the Body Type changed to Motor Caravan!

Below is just a few of the photos I sent to the DVLA. In total I sent off about 15 photos, just to detail everything that I have done on the van, even down to the solar panel on the roof! On the actual photos sent to the DVLA I showed my number plate, but for use here on the website I have blurred it out for privacy reasons.

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  • Well done reclassifying. I’ve just received mine,followed same procedure. Thought you had to show gas line fixed to wall. Dunno where I got that from but for the sake of a photo,hey! My insurance also wanted pics so sent them same . No problems at all. So much for the doom and gloom from self build motor caravan club!. Many thanks for your you tube articles,made my poor attempt much easier especially the split charge relay one.worked a treat. Still waiting for my first night sleeping in it. I’m a fair weather camper so far. All the best, Kenny p

  • So if you didn’t have one of the requirements is it then not illegal if you don’t register it as a camper van?
    I didn’t want to install a permanent stove top/cooker or have a fixed table, therefore I wouldn’t be able to class it as a motorhome. So, is it then just classed as a panel van?

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