Should I SORN my Campervan or Motorhome?

Should I SORN My Campervan or Motorhome?

  • If your campervan or motorhome is laid up for months at a time, such as over the winter, it may be time to consider applying for Statutory Off-Road Notification, commonly known as SORN. Even though this will be a cost-effective option for many campervan owners, there are still implications that should be considered before taking this route.  

    Registering for SORN is common in the UK, where in March 2020 there were 526,747 declarations alone. Given how common this process is, we explain everything you need to know about registering and taking your campervan off the road (SORN). This includes MOT and insurance requirements, as well as where the vehicle must be kept during this period. 

    What Does SORN Mean? 

    For road users who may be unfamiliar with taking their vehicles off of roads, SORN stands for ‘Statutory Off-Road Notification’ and this process is handled by the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency).  

    SORN describes when a vehicle owner notifies the government that they have taken their vehicle off public roads. During this time, you won’t have to tax your vehicle or pay for insurance.  

    When a vehicle is laid up (SORN), whether a campervan or motorhome, it will not be allowed on public roads and cannot be parked in the street. Before you can legally SORN a campervan, it will need to be laid up on a private driveway or garage.  

    How Do I SORN My Campervan?  

    Registering for a SORN is a straightforward process, handled via the DVLA. This can be achieved in one of three ways:  

    DVLA,  

    Swansea,  

    SA99 1AR 

    • Contact the DVLA via 0300 123 4321  

    Before registering your campervan for a SORN, you will need to have to hand certain items of information about the vehicle.  

    • The 16-digit number from your V11 (which is a reminder about vehicle tax issued by the government) 
    • Your VC5 11-digit reference number for the vehicle (or your logbook)  

    Why Should I SORN My Campervan? 

    The main reason why people choose to SORN their vehicles is to save money on road tax. It also might make sense to SORN your camper if you know you won’t be using it for a significant period of time, such as during the winter or if you’re renovating it. 

    Commonly, camper owners decide to register their vehicle with a SORN for one of the following reasons: 

    • if they don’t plan on driving over the winter  
    • if the vehicle is in the garage for repairs or restorations  
    • if the driver is recovering from an injury and can’t drive for several months 
    • if they will be travelling abroad for a long period, without taking their campervan 
    • if they have a temporary driving ban 
    • if a change in financial circumstances means they cannot afford to keep their camper on the road permanently 

     

    Regardless of the reason, if you make the decision to SORN your camper, you need to be aware of the legal implications involved. This means drivers are legally prohibited from using public roads, even for parking.  

    Should I Lay-up My Camper During the Winter?  

    Driving a campervan or motorhome during winter does not appeal to everyone. And so, registering to SORN a campervan is a practical way to save money on tax when your vehicle is inactive.  

    For some, winter touring in a campervan can seem impractical or even risky without the right preparation, especially if your vehicle hasn’t been winterised. From challenging driving conditions to trying to keep one warm, you might decide that driving a camper in the winter is not right for you.

Tents with horses in a field (1)

Where Can I Keep a Laid-Up Campervan?  

By laying-up your campervan, you have declared to the DVLA that you will not be using it to drive on UK roads. As a result, your camper needs to be stored off the road. 

Suitable places to keep a campervan or motorhome that has been laid-up, include: 

  • in a garage 
  • on a private drive 
  • on private land
  • in a private parking location 
  • in a private storage facility 

Unfortunately, if the only place you can keep your campervan or motorhome is parked on a public road, then you cannot legally SORN it. 

Does a SORN Campervan Need Insurance?  

After arranging to SORN your campervan because you won’t be driving it, you legally do not need insurance for it. 

However, if you cancel your campervan insurance, this does mean it will not be protected against any damage. While in storage, your camper could still be affected by: 

  • theft 
  • vandalism or accidental damage 
  • fire 
  • floods 
  • weather damage 

For this reason, many experts recommend keeping an insurance policy in place to protect your campervan, even when it’s off the road.  

It’s also worth knowing that some camper and motorhome storage facilities will stipulate how vehicles need insurance cover to use their services. Be sure to check their terms and conditions if you do choose this option.  

Do I Need to Arrange an MOT for a Laid-Up Camper? 

An MOT remains valid while a vehicle is laid up; however, if it runs out while your camper is off the road, you will need to arrange an MOT before it can be taxed and driven again. 

You are legally allowed to drive any SORN vehicle on UK roads if you are travelling to a pre-booked MOT appointment. If you are stopped by the police while driving, you will likely be asked to give the appointment details, so that the police can verify your MOT booking with the garage. 

How to Cancel a SORN for a Campervan 

A SORN will be automatically cancelled as soon as you arrange to tax your campervan or motorhome, or if you sell it and the registered keeper changes. 

Whether or not you choose to SORN your campervan, it’s important to ensure it’s fully protected at all times with an insurance policy that works for you.  

While it might be beneficial to save money on road tax by laying up your camper, cancelling insurance can end up costing you a lot more if damage occurs whilst it’s in storage.  

Get Competitive Camper Insurance for the Full Year

Stay safe in the knowledge that you’re completely covered, with a competitive campervan insurance policy from Just Kampers Insurance. Our team are experts when it comes to arranging policies to suit individual needs. So whether you have a coveted classic camper or a modern campervan, get a quote today to see what we offer.

Filling up a campervan with fuel

The Most Fuel-Efficient Campervan by MPG

For people looking to switch to a campervan, or make their campervan a daily driver, fuel economy is often a concern. Heavier campervans do decrease fuel efficiency and the often-smaller petrol engines don’t help. However, some campervans are more fuel efficient than others, and there’s always ways to increase your fuel efficiency. Read on to learn more.

Fuel Efficiency by Type

With VW campervans, the MPG (miles per gallon) does vary across the different types. This is especially because the original T2s on the road are from c.1960 and modern California’s come with TDI engines that are designed for modern emissions and MPG tests. Finding concrete MPG stats for earlier campervans is tricky, as MPG wasn’t regulated by law then through the WLTP tests, so no one had to release road test MPG. Similarly, customer reported MPG is also tricky to obtain, as dashboards didn’t display MPG until recent years in the VW Transporters.

MPG also varies incredibly in older models, as many owners have mapped their engine to deliver a higher bHP, which will affect MPG. We’ve collated reported MPGs and applied urban and rural driving (city vs motorway driving) to understand what VW Transporter has the best MPG. For the T2-T4 we used data from drivers on fuelly across a variety of manufacturing years to obtain a fair average.

Vehicle-Type-Lifestyle-T2-Split-Bay3

VW T2 MPG

The first VW campervan, the T2 now has a variety of MPGs seen, thanks to extensive modifications and remapping for modern drivers.

Urban/City MPG for T2

An average taken from multiple owners rather than manufacturer figures.

Mean Average: 20.8 MPG

Lowest data point: 16.11 MPG

Highest data point: 24.9 MPG

Rural/Motorway MPG for T2

An average taken from multiple owners rather than manufacturer figures.

Mean Average: 27.27 MPG

Lowest data point: 18.31 MPG

Highest data point: 36.71 MPG

VW T25/T3 MPG

As the T25 and T3 are regularly interchanged, we’ve combined them into one category for ease of averages. Similarly, the T25/T3 has a variety of reported MPGs like the T2, thanks to extensive aftermarket modification and upgrades to keep these vintage campervans on the road for longer.

Urban/City MPG for T25/T3

An average taken from multiple owners rather than manufacturer figures.

Mean Average: 18.73 MPG

Lowest data point: 10.81 MPG

Highest data point: 23.1 MPG

Rural Motorway MPG for T25/T3

An average taken from multiple owners rather than manufacturer figures.

Mean Average: 31.3 MPG

Lowest data point: 23.01 MPG

Highest data point: 36.53 MPG

VW T4 MPG

The T4 came out in 1990 and was a more powerful model compared to older ones. Some drivers fitted aftermarket Subaru engines for extra power and economy, but most stuck with the 1.9-2.4 engines that came as standard.

Urban/City MPG for T4

An average taken from multiple owners rather than manufacturer figures.

Mean Average: 25.22 MPG

Lowest data point: 14.28 MPG

Highest data point: 30.74 MPG

Rural/Motorway Driving

An average taken from multiple owners rather than manufacturer figures.

Mean Average: 32.33 MPG

Lowest data point: 29.2 MPG

Highest data point: 38.01

Vehicle-Type-Lifestyle-T5

VW T5 MPG

The T5 finished production in 2015, so it is a newer model, and therefore comes with a modern engine that produces a higher average MPG than that of earlier models. It’s also diesel, so the engine will be more powerful than earlier petrol counterparts.

Data here is taken from Real MPG on Honest John and Parkers

Source

MPG

Type of data

Parkers (T5 California Beach Edition) 40 Pre-2017 Standard Consumption Test
Honest John (T5 California) 33.1 Real MPG Average from Drivers
Honest John (T5 Transporter) 35.0 Real MPG Average from Drivers

A good average to aim for with the T5 would be mid 30s MPG, but this will vary more depending on what model you are driving.

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 VW T6 MPG

Being the newest model, the T6 is up to Euro 6 standards. It can accept AdBlue, which helps the performance, and is most prepared for modern roads and driving standards. Made from 2015 on, the T6 is the current model available on the market, with the 6.1 now available to purchase from new.

Data here is taken from Real MPG on Honest John and Parkers

Source

MPG

Type of data

Parkers (T6 California Beach Edition) 31.7-34.9 WLTP (Standard Test)
Honest John (T6 California) 37.0 Real MPG Average from Drivers
Honest John (T6 Transporter) 33.9 Real MPG Average from Drivers

For the T6, a good MPG would be 35 as an average, however bigger engines or Sportline models will have a lower MPG if driven harder.

What does the future hold for VWs in the face of stricter standards?

While only just announced, a new Hybrid T7 is on the way, which should improve MPG for greater fuel economy. In early 2022, a new electric VW Buzz with an estimated range of 250 miles is also expected, also boosting the reach into modern motoring.

Which is the most fuel-efficient VW campervan?

Based on our research, the VW T6 comes out on top of all Volkswagen campervans.

However, there’s nothing to say that a driver of a newly mapped and upgraded T25/T3 couldn’t achieve a higher daily MPG based on driving style, route, and attention to detail.

Best ways to improve the fuel economy of your campervan

  • Remove excess weight when not needed. If you’re using the van as a daily driver as well as a family holiday van, then take out what’s not needed. Excess weight increases fuel consumption.
  • Regularly service and check all your campervan parts are up to date. A broken or older part will not work at best performance, which can affect the overall fuel economy.
  • Use the best tyres. While those large alloys may look great in photos, they could be negatively impacting your MPG. The correct wheel size for your campervan will help, thanks to rolling resistance.

Being the specialist supplier of parts for all VWs, we can help you to find parts that will improve your fuel economy. Speak to one of our team today.

For more information about tailoring insurance policies to your campervan or motorhome, whether you’re after affordable premiums, or something with that little bit more protection, consider coverage from the experts at Just Kampers Insurance.

Campervan conversion refused (1)

Was Your Campervan Conversion Refused By The DVLA?

With the uptick of van life and accessibility to easy campervan conversion “how-tos,” thanks to the prevalence of YouTube and other internet sites, converting a van to a campervan has never been more accessible.

However, stringent DVLA laws and confusing rejections have led to a lot of speculation and uncertainty in recent years. In 2019 alone, the DVLA refused 9,488 applications as confirmed to MMM magazine, and they don’t say why either. In light of this, we’ve put together this guide to DVLA campervan classification.

What is a ‘motor caravan’?

The DVLA recognises motorhomes, campervans, and day vans all under the same classification of ‘motor caravan’. However, if you’ve converted a van, or similar vehicle, into a campervan or motorhome, then you’ll often need to obtain reclassification to a motor caravan.

While classification doesn’t affect insurance, and won’t affect how you drive it, it can be important for licensing and for the DVLA to understand the vehicles on the road.

How do I get re-classification as a motor caravan?

To receive aftermarket classification as a motor caravan, you need to meet all three of the following:

  1. Your current body type, according to your V5C, is one of the following:
    • ambulance
    • box van
    • goods
    • insulated van
    • light goods
    • light van
    • livestock carrier
    • Luton van
    • minibus
    • MPV (multi-purpose vehicle)
    • panel van
    • specially fitted van
    • special mobile unit
    • van with side windows
  2. You have the required motor caravan external features
  3. You have the required motor caravan internal features

To support your reclassification, you’ll have to submit evidence of the above to the DVLA. This is in the form of photos, a V5C, and the motor caravan vehicle checklist.

The evidence required to submit

In order for the DVLA to even process your application, you must provide the following:

  1. A completed motor caravan conversion checklist, which you can find here
  2. A V5C currently showing one of the body types listed above
  3. Photos showing the required internal features with all features in the ‘in use’ positions, as well as the windows letting light into the living area.
  4. Exterior photos showing the campervan from all angles, with license plates, clearly shown
  5. Photos showing the VIN/chassis number on the bodyshell or original chassis.
  6. All photos must be clearly described on the back, including the date taken and the vehicle number plate

Your vehicle may also be subject to an inspection, and failure to facilitate this will result in a refused application.

What comes under the guidance for external features?

For the DVLA to consider your conversion a motor caravan, they expect to see certain features. These are guidance features, not required features.

You could need features such as:

  • Two or more windows to let light into the living accommodation. The driver and passenger side windows do not count.
  • Separate access to the living area, excluding the driver and passenger doors.
  • Motorcaravan style graphics on both sides of the vehicle, such as seen on motorhomes
  • Awning bar on the vehicle
  • High top, not a pop-top, roof

Any external features must be permanent and need to be shown completed in the photos.

Internal features for motor caravans

Internal classification is different to an external feature. To meet DVLA requirements you have to meet all of the four categories.

Category One: Seats and a Table

The seats and table must have the following features, and you must have one example for both seats and table:

  1. Be a core part of the main living area, and be independently mounted of other parts
  2. The table mount must be permanent, even if the tabletop is not
  3. The seating must be available for use at the table and fixed to the floor or wall

Category Two: Sleeping

Sleeping areas must be:

  1. A core part of the living area
  2. Permanent beds, or beds that are converted from seats such as a rock and roll bed
  3. Must be a permanent and secured feature, either to the floor or sidewall, unless it’s over the cab

Category 3: Kitchen and cooking

To be even classified as a motor caravan, you have to have a single ring hob or a permanently secured microwave.

If your cooking is powered by an onboard gas supply, then you must secure the gas in a secure storage cupboard or fix the reservoir to the vehicle structure. If your gas supply is fuelled by a cannister remotely, then the supply pipe must be secured to the vehicle structure.

Category 4: Storage facilities

Your campervan conversion must-have storage, which:

  • Can be a cupboard or a locker
  • Forms a core part of the main living area, mounted independently unless it’s below the seat, sleeping area or cooker.
  • Must be secured to the vehicle floor or wall, unless it’s over the driver cab.

Sending off Evidence to the DVLA

The DVLA requires that you send all evidence to:

DVLA
Swansea
SA99 1BA

At the time of writing, there’s no alternative online method to submit evidence. You can find more information on submitting evidence here on the DVLA site.

Why did the DVLA refuse my campervan application?

Truthfully, no one knows. Reasons given are often vague and don’t match up with the regulations given.

Want to insure your converted campervan?

Speak to Just Kampers Insurance, and we can help you source insurance, before or after you have sought campervan classification from the DVLA.

Get in touch today.

For more information about tailoring insurance policies to your campervan or motorhome, whether you’re after affordable premiums, or something with that little bit more protection, consider coverage from the experts at Just Kampers Insurance.

Towing with a Campervan (1)

Towing With A Campervan

Towing With a Campervan: Campervan Towing Guide Updated for 2022

When you begin to take holidays with a growing family, want to travel with friends, or simply want a bit more space than your traditional campervan, towing is ideal. 

For some people, towing is not something they’ve ever considered. However, towing from your campervan can be one of the most effective ways to access extra space, perhaps a caravan, a car, or even a trailer.  

Towing with your campervan is entirely legal if you check the weight restrictions of everything included. In this blog, we explore all the options of how you can tow with a campervan, including rules, regulations and recommendations. 

Why Tow with a Campervan? 

For some people, especially those with VW campervans or smaller vans, there isn’t always enough cabin space to carry and store all your equipment. For some VW campervan owners, they need to provide enough sleeping berths for their family.  Others perhaps need to make it feasible for friends to come and stay with them, and this is where towing comes in handy. 

Most VW campervans don’t necessarily have a huge amount of space, and if you’ve got specialist requirements such as medical equipment to support a family member, the available space isn’t always enough. Or perhaps you simply need a bit more room. Towing a trailer could be the perfect option to carry all the extra kit you need with you. For those who want to take a caravan with them, you no longer need to take a car with you to tow that caravan, instead your campervan may be able to tow it for you. 

Weight Restrictions When Towing with a Camper Van 

This is a very campervan specific subject. It requires some calculation to understand what a sensible towing weight could be for your camper.  

Most modern VW transporters can tow upwards of 2,000 kilos. But it also depends on the type of vehicle you are towing. 

The Gross Train Weight (GTW) of your original vehicle will greatly impact what you can tow. It is important to refer to the manufacturer’s instructions as this is what will dictate how much you can tow, and some owner’s manuals may even contain towing restrictions. 

You must also consider what is sensible. Most experts recommend towing no more than 75% of the Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) when the two parts are combined. The Camping and Caravanning Club recommends towing no more than 85% of the MAM (or kerb weight). While you can tow up to 100%, it is not advised as this could cause issues with the braking functions for both vehicles, the driver’s safety and potentially your ability to manoeuvre correctly, particularly in tighter areas. 

The GTW and the MAM of your vehicle will be listed either in the manufacturer’s handbook or in the inside one of the door frames of your campervan.

Licence Regulations for Towing 

Law Change on Towing from the 16th December 2021

From the 16th December 2021, if you passed your driving test after the 1st January 1997, you’ll be allowed to tow trailers up to 3,500kg MAM. You don’t need to contact the DVLA, and when you do get a new photocard licence, the category BE will be added.

If you had booked a test for driving with a trailer, this will have been cancelled, and you no longer need a special test to tow trailers.

Learn more on the government website.

Prior to the 16th December 2021 change, the rules were:

There are two considerations here. First, what licence category you hold, and secondly the year you were issued your licence.   

If you got your licence before the 1st of January 1997, it’s likely that you’ll be able to tow a MAM of 8,250kg. If you got your licence after the 1st of January 1997, you will probably be able to tow no more than 3500kg. 

However, if you passed your test after 1st January 1997 and want to tow heavier weight, then you will need to pass the C1 + E regulation theory and practical test. This will allow you to tow a combined MAM of 12,000kg. However, most people will be fine with their existing licence regulations.  

Maximum authorised mass means the combined weight of the two parts, and so the tractor unit or main vehicle and the towing unit, or towing vehicle. Most people can drive a vehicle with a trailer of up to 750kg in weight or a trailer that is heavier, if the car and the trailer combined reached no more than their maximum authorised mass allowance. 

Insurance When Towing with a Campervan 

As campervan policies are often quite specific, it may be that yours will not automatically cover you for towing. You may need to take out a specialist campervan policy or discuss with your insurer to ensure that you are allowed to tow on the back of your campervan. They may impose weight restrictions on you, in order to be guaranteed by a policy, or ask that you only tow certain types of vehicles. For example, you may not be able to tow an A frame with a car on under certain policies.  

Then you need to consider your breakdown cover. Would your breakdown cover be able to rescue both you and the vehicle you are towing? If not, you’ll need to make sure that you’ve got breakdown cover that can cover all eventualities and adequately rescue or provide a fix that works for your situation. 

FAQ’s on Towing with a Campervan 

Can you tow a caravan with a campervan? 

Yes, you can. As long as the maximum authorised mass doesn’t exceed the limit on your insurance or the legal limit, and your licence limit if the trailer is more than 3,500kg , then it’s perfectly possible to tow with a campervan. 

Can you tow using a VW campervan? 

Yes, you absolutely can. VW Transporters tend to be able to tow up to 2,500kg, so it’s important that you check your percentages and make sure that you’re safe when towing with your VW campervan. 

What should I do to make sure that my camper van is safe? 

As well as following this government guideline checklist, which details everything you need to do before you take off with your boat, motorhome, or campervan, it’s important that you also check the specifics of your vehicle.  

For example, make sure you’ve got your vehicles correct and up to date information in case you get pulled over, ensure that your brakes are in good working order and have been checked recently. Make sure that the weight of your vehicle when you’ve loaded up everything doesn’t push you over the limit, this can be checked at a weighbridge.  

Want an insurer that understands the specialities of VW campervans? Speak to Just Kampers Insurance today.  

For more information about tailoring insurance policies to your campervan or motorhome, whether you’re after affordable premiums, or something with that little bit more protection, consider coverage from the experts at Just Kampers Insurance.

Campervan Speed Limits (1)

Campervan and Caravan Speed Limits Explained

If you’ve recently converted your van for the first time and are raring to get it on the road, then you’re probably wondering about the speed limits, your vehicle classification, and more.

With so many drivers re-classifying vans as campers or embracing motorhomes, caravans and other luxury touring vehicles, it’s essential to understand how speed limits will affect your experience on the road.

Classifying Your Campervan Conversion

When you renovate or re-classify a donor van as a camper, one of the key aspects is the legal classification on the vehicle and how this changes the legal maximum speed limit. The DVLA (Driver Vehicle & Licensing Agency) covers this process, but it’s not always easy to navigate and can seem, at times, unclear.

Unless already specified on your V5C (or vehicle logbook), some conversions may result in the need for re-classification. This re-classification will impact your maximum speed limit on the road.

You’ll most likely end up classifying, either officially or “by keeper satisfaction” that you are a ‘motor caravan’. A motor caravan is then split into two weight categories, including:

  • Vehicles that are not more than 3.05 tonnes maximum unladen weight.
  • Vehicles that are more than 3.05 tonnes maximum unladen weight.

If your campervan is under 2 tonnes, then you may be able to classify as a car derived vehicle or dual-purpose vehicle, which has the same legal speed limits as cars.

What is the Speed Limit for My Campervan?

There are two categories that will impact your speed limit. This is only if you’ve been classified as a motor caravan or motorhome on your V5C.

If your campervan is under 3.05 tonnes:

Your legal speed limits will match that of a car or motorcycle.

Built-up areas Single carriageways Dual carriageways Motorways
30mph 60mph 70mph 70mph

If Your Campervan is Over 3.05 tonnes:

Your speed limits will be the same as a bus or coach under 12m in length. The main difference is on single carriageways and dual carriageways, where the speed limit is 10mph less than that of a lighter camper.

Built-up areas Single carriageways Dual carriageways Motorways
30mph 50mph 60mph 70mph

My Campervan Classification isn’t a ‘Motor Caravan’ on My V5C, What Should I Do?

If your vehicle weighs over 3.05 tonnes unladen weight, but you haven’t been classified as a motorhome or motor caravan, then you must legally comply with the restricted speed limits. This is because there is no other possible classification for your vehicle.

However, if you are not legally classified as a ‘motor caravan’ and your vehicle weighs under 3.05 tonnes, then you should adhere to the same speed limits as if you were driving a car.

My Campervan Weighs Between 3.05 tonnes and 7.5 tonnes but Hasn’t Been Classified. What Does that Mean for My Speed Limit?

There are many ‘donor’ vehicles that can become recognised as a caravan legally, as long as it satisfies the internal requirements for a campervan. Becoming familiar with the legal criteria can help you understand when a vehicle is recognised as a caravan.

If, for all intents and purposes, and as the legally registered keeper, you believe your camper should be legally classified as a ‘motor caravan’ but for some reason or the other, the DVLA hasn’t classified it, then you have two options.

Adopt the speed limits of heavier motorhomes or caravans

As mentioned, you can adopt the speed limits of heavier vehicles, which are 10mph less than that of a car on single and dual carriageways.

Use the speed limits of a goods van under 7.5 tonnes

If, by appearance, your vehicle does not look like a campervan or motorhome, then you may want to use the speed limits of a light goods vehicle.

These are:

Built-up areas Single carriageways Dual carriageways Motorways
30mph 50mph 60mph 70mph or 60mph if towing a trailer (or articulated)

This doesn’t change much unless you’re towing or are driving an articulated van.

Summarising Campervan Speed Limits

The difficulty in understanding how your van might be impacted by different rules and regulations on the road is a source of confusion for many drivers. This is often discussed in communities, especially since the laws on classification were introduced back in 2019.

If you’re confused, it’s advisable to prioritise safety and choose a lower speed limit if you’re unsure. As campervans are designed for the journey and the destination, how you drive is just as much a part of owning one.

Get in touch with Just Kampers Insurance to feel safe and confident on the road, whatever your V5C classification.

For more information about tailoring insurance policies to your campervan or motorhome, whether you’re after affordable premiums, or something with that little bit more protection, consider coverage from the experts at Just Kampers Insurance.

Zero Rate VAT On Motorhomes Explained (1)

Zero Rate VAT On Motorhomes Explained

In April 2017, the HMRC clarified the VAT relief scheme for motorhomes (including other motor vehicles, such as caravans) that have been adapted for disabilities. The NCC (National Caravan Council), part of the UK’s leisure vehicle industry, welcomed the new changes with guidance on how vehicles can qualify.

Whilst this change has made leisure vehicles like motorhomes or campervans more financially accessible, there is eligibility criteria before you can qualify for zero rate VAT. In particular, the rules about “substantial and permanent” adaptations have caused quite a bit of uncertainty about how a motorhome can qualify.

Read on to find out how to qualify for zero-rated VAT on an adapted motorhome.

What is Zero Rate VAT?

The changes initiated on 1st April 2017 amended existing legislation under Value Added Tax Act 1994 (or VATA) and elaborates on possible exemptions. Under this Act, motor vehicles for the disabled can be zero-rated, but must first qualify.

Zero-rated VAT is a relief on paying or charging tax on an adapted vehicle if it meets the criteria set out by the HMRC. Typically, VAT is payable on most goods or services. If it’s zero-rated, however, the motor vehicle can be exempt from this tax.

According to the HMRC, the changes from April 2017 included:

  • the introduction of a limit on the number of vehicles that can be purchased under the relief, with an eligible individual now being able to purchase only one vehicle that meets the qualifying conditions every 3 years
  • making customer eligibility declaration forms mandatory
  • making it mandatory for suppliers to send HMRC information about their zero rate supplies
  • the introduction of a penalty that will apply to any person that provides an incorrect customer eligibility declaration form

How Does Zero Rate Tax Work?

It should be noted that zero-rated VAT is not a refund for existing taxed vehicles and can only be claimed during or before a transaction, rather than after a motor vehicle has been purchased. That means it’s to your advantage to research your eligibility for zero-rated tax beforehand, because any incorrect charges cannot be refunded at a later date.

What the Regulations Say About Qualifying

In order to qualify, the motor vehicle and its user must be eligible for VAT relief. The HMRC notices how qualifying vehicles must have “substantial and permanent adaptation” or be “designed to enable the disabled wheelchair user to travel in it”. This means motor vehicles, such as motorhomes, will either need to be designed or adapted at a later stage to support wheelchair users and those with other disabilities.

The HMRC summarise the eligibility as follows:

Condition Description
1 The vehicle seats no more than 12 people including the driver and must be supplied to a disabled person who normally uses a wheelchair or stretcher to be mobile
2 The vehicle must be designed or substantially and permanently adapted to enable the disabled wheelchair user or stretcher user to travel in it and the adaptation is necessary to enable that person to travel in the vehicle
3 The vehicle must be purchased for the domestic or personal use of the wheelchair or stretcher user
4 The vehicle supplied must not exceed the 3-year rule (unless an approved exception applies)
5 A customer eligibility declaration must be completed
6 The supplier can produce relevant documents, including the customer eligibility declaration to demonstrate eligibility for the zero rate and certain information is provided to HMRC

Who Can Qualify for Zero Rated Relief on a Motorhome?

The HMRC defines an eligible wheelchair user as any person who frequently uses the support of a mobility aid, whether powered or manual. There are certain conditions and disabilities where a wheelchair is not necessarily used, and the zero-rated VAT can still be successfully claimed. Degenerative conditions (such as multiple sclerosis) can be included under the relief scheme.

There is, however, a strict difference between those who qualify for VAT relief, and those who do not. According to the HMRC, if you only occasionally or temporarily use a wheelchair, such as for light travel, you will not qualify.

In addition, mobility scooters are not defined as wheelchairs and, therefore, will not qualify for VAT relief under this scheme.

Motorhome ZERO VAT (1)

Adapted Motorhomes – Everything You Need to Know

Motorhomes can be eligible for VAT relief, but the HRMC recognises that, because this vehicle is both for travel and accommodation, it may require extra adaptations to become suitable for disabled users. The HRMC uses the example of adapted layouts especially for comfort and ease of use, to describe how a motorhome might be configured for greater support of disabilities. 

The conditions of the motorhome must be adapted either “substantially or permanently” to fully support the wheelchair user. This can be broken down as follows:

  • Substantial changes can be defined, within the scope of this VAT relief scheme, as any alterations that are welded or bolted to the chassis, body or frame of the motorhome. If changes are electrical, then a motorhome can still qualify.
  • Permanent is defined when these changes last between either three years, or for the lifetime of the vehicle being adapted.

VAT can be reduced to reflect the cost of smaller, albeit necessary, changes, where minor adaptations have been made, such as for storing a wheelchair. Importantly, if changes don’t qualify as either “substantial or permanent”, then VAT is not reduced against the cost of the motorhome.

It’s often helpful to understand what is excluded from VAT relief as well. Less significant modifications range from roof racks to parking sensors. These can be understood as temporary or minor changes.

Specifically, the HMRC welcomes any changes that supports how a wheelchair user experiences the motorhome. This includes driving, travelling in, or leaving, a motorhome.

Are Minor Adaptations Covered?

If minor changes are requested by the wheelchair user, then the cost of these goods can be zero-rated. The vehicle price, however, would still be issued at the standard rate of VAT. Depending on the scope of works, vehicles may only qualify for the cost of goods to be zero-rated, rather than the value of the vehicle.

How Do I Register for Zero-Rated VAT?

The HMRC issues a customer declaration form available for those applying for zero-rated purchases.

Useful Links

  • To discover more information on the reliefs available to disabled or older people, the UK government offers a helpline for guidance and advice.
  • For general VAT enquiries, get in touch with an official representative here.

When purchasing a new motorhome or campervan, make sure you remain road legal and insured. For help with finding ideal road coverage, get in touch with us today. 

For more information about tailoring insurance policies to your campervan or motorhome, whether you’re after affordable premiums, or something with that little bit more protection, consider coverage from the experts at Just Kampers Insurance.

Campervan vs Motorhomes at a campsite

Campervan vs Motorhomes

The differences between campervans and motorhomes may seem difficult to notice at first, but the two vehicles aren’t the same.

There is likeness, because both represent transportable accommodation, but how deep does that similarity truly go?

On closer inspection, campervans and motorhomes are different both on the surface and below it. Cosmetic differences, the kinds of equipment available, the lifestyles that go with them – these are all factors that should influence if campervans or motorhomes are the better option for you.

What is the difference between a campervan and a motorhome?

The difference between a campervan and a motorhome is that a motorhome is built on a larger chassis like a truck and has a self-contained living space.

A campervan has a self-contained quarters too, but is usually much smaller. Typically, a campervan’s space isn’t divided between the cab and dwelling space either.

When it comes to further distinguishing between them, let’s further explore their definitions:

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What is a Campervan?

Defined as a smallish, self-contained van, a campervan has been equipped for both transport and accommodation. Generally, a campervan has no separation between its cab and living quarters, which typically contains facilities for cooking, washing, sleeping, and dwelling or lounging.

For many, the idea of a campervan is popularly associated with a van that has been fitted and kitted, normally as an ongoing DIY job, with a range of equipment, features, and accessories that likens it to a living quarter. When shortened to camper, it can refer to an interest, a lifestyle, or a means of transport closely coupled with camping.
Unlike a motorhome, campervans are commonly built for easy, long-form travel but at a cheaper cost and with greater customisation options.

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What is a Motorhome?

Demystifying motorhomes apart from campervans, these more luxe and sizable vans are geared at bringing comfort on the road. Though mistakenly interchanged with campervans, these are generally modelled around fixed features.

They both share a desire for recreational travel, but motorhomes use a truck or bus chassis to bring in extra space to the living quarters. The living quarters in motorhomes are much more compartmentalised.

Is a Campervan Cheaper Than a Motorhome?

When it comes to expense, the luxury and scale of motorhomes will usually run up charges quicker and costlier than campers. Campervans, being small runners and adaptable, means they can run at cheaper costs.

In many areas, campervans are the cheaper alternative, and include potential savings for:

  • Fuel economy
  • Parts
  • Ferry charges 

Is it cheaper to tax and insure a campervan or a motorhome?

Generally, when it comes to the broad costs of ownership, campervans are the cheapest option of the two. Even with tax and insurances, campervans run on more affordable premiums, especially when you partner with a specialist.

A Case for Motorhomes

Ideal for a more luxurious, comfortable escape, motorhomes can give their owners a sense of relaxed travel. These are often kitted out with an array of luxurious fixed features – depending on whether it’s a coach-build or A-Class. Either way, the vehicles integrate comfort into function with compartmentalised areas, like kitchens and sleeping.

Motorhomes are larger, wider, and roomier. The obvious sacrifice is cost, as they generally run on a more expensive economy for areas likes fuel use, or parts. The main functionality of a motorhome is its self-containment, incorporating many creature comforts. It’s less rugged, somewhat durable and can withstand testing journeys, much like its smaller, sleeker counterpart – the campervan.

A Case for Campervans

The classic camper, especially Volkswagen buses, are a heritage transport and have been touring for more than 50 years. They’re iconic in culture, but beyond that, campervans are known for being practical modes of transport with built-in, custom living quarters.
Many campervans have different roofs, such as pop-tops, or expanding roofs. This adjustability of space sets campervans apart, as users can customise their living quarters to its use. Pop-tops, for example, can expand the space of your vehicle once it’s stationary, which can be ideal for camping excursions.

Aside from adjustable space, especially in the living quarters, and different modification options, campervans are preferential to those who plan on driving a lot. Campervans tend to be smaller, easier to drive, and more manoeuvrable, which is advantageous for parking, or fitting in tighter places. Yet, the smallish sizes of campervans make this an option more suited to camping and being outdoors.

For more information about tailoring insurance policies to your campervan or motorhome, whether you’re after affordable premiums, or something with that little bit more protection, consider coverage from the experts at Just Kampers Insurance.