Insurance & the DVLA

One important point to remember is that a converted van is no longer a van – it is a motor caravan, to use the official DVLA categorisation.

This means two things:

  1. You should register the change of body type with the DVLA – for example, from ‘Panel Van’ to ‘Motor Caravan’
  2. You should be insured as a motorhome – if only because the value of your conversion will be lost if your insurance will only pay out for the base vehicle.


When I converted my first van to a campervan, the DVLA advised me to do the following:

  • Send my V5C back to them with the required changes indicated (e.g. body type changed from ‘panel van’ to ‘motor caravan’
  • Include a cover letter explaining the request and listing the main features of the conversion (e.g. permanent bed, table, sink, cupboards, windows, etc)
  • Include some photos of the conversion – I just printed out some digital photos

I did all of this and received a new V5C back through the post a couple of weeks later.

I was told that there was a possibility my local DVLA office would want to inspect the vehicle before approving the change in body type, but that this might not be necessary. In my case they didn’t require an inspection – but I don’t know how they decide which vehicles to inspect.

It’s hard to pin down the DVLA on exactly what constitutes an acceptable conversion, but the main thing is to remember that it must be permanently fixed into place – not removable so that your vehicle can go back to being a van.

The DVLA website has a guide to converting a van into a motor caravan – click here.

Another advantage of registering your van as a motor caravan is that your speed limits go up – click here for details of UK speed limits as they apply to motorhomes. These are higher than van speed limits.

Here’s the final result – “Body Type: Motor Caravan” on a V5C:

V5C - body type motor caravan


To learn more about insurance for DIY conversions, visit our Self-Build Motorhome Insurance page.

While there are lots of insurers who insure professionally-converted motorhomes, there are not many insurance companies who will insure self-build, or DIY, conversions.

Insurance companies that also offer cover for self-build conversions include:

  • Shield Total Insurance
  • Adrian Flux
  • Caravan Wise

Shield Total Insurance and Adrian Flux will insure your base vehicle when the conversion is in progress and then insure it as a motorhome once the conversion is complete. You will need to provide them with photos and receipts to prove you have converted it, however.

Caravan Wise will only insure finished DIY conversions.

Next: Suppliers and other useful contact details

Back to the Conversion Guide Index

Disclaimer: All material is provided for information purposes and is my opinion only. I can take no responsibility for the accuracy, suitability, reliability or safety of the information in this guide.

10 thoughts on “Insurance & the DVLA

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  • John Marchbanks

    Very helpful guide, I am considering converting a van and this was just what I needed.

  • John King

    Great info. Have already got a VW T25 Hightop, but it’s a bit sorry for itself inside. Am planning on putting new units and wall/ceiling carpet in.
    Many thanks.

  • Chris Botha

    Thank you for all the advice very much appreciated.

    Kind Regards,

    Chris Botha

  • Steve

    Very helpful especially the DOT definitions !!

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  • Dave Hall

    Thanks for the info. Really informative and helpful.

    Given that some insurance companies give 180 days for the conversion to take place. At what point should the DVLA be contacted for change of body type.

    I assume when all the work has been completed.

    Many thanks.

    • Hi Dave,

      Thanks for your comment. We contacted the DVLA once we had completed the conversion, i.e. when we could provide photographic evidence or submit the vehicle for an inspection should it be required (it wasn’t).

      That was a few years ago now, but I don’t think much has changed.

      Hope this helps,


  • Lawrence

    Hi there
    Thanks this is very useful. Question:
    do I need the amend V5C before I can apply for insurance?
    We have an already converted ambulance but the V5C still says ‘light good vehicle’ on it.

    • Hi Lawrence,
      I don’t know if insurers will ask to check – I’d probably move forwards with the V5C and finding insurance at the same time.

      I would ask the insurers if the amended V5C is a specific requirement for cover. If the vehicle is still classified as a light good vehicle, you might find it can only be insured as a van.



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