Taking Your Motorhome on a Ferry

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The UK certainly has a lot to offer motorhome travellers – but despite this, it’s only a fraction of what is available to anyone who ventures across the Channel into continental Europe.

Travelling in Europe by motorhome is a fantastic experience. Whatever you like seeing and doing and wherever you want to stay, it’s great! Of course, to get you and your motorhome into Europe, you need to take a ferry (or the train) across the channel.

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Booking your motorhome onto a ferry and travelling by ferry is generally simplicity itself – as long as you do it right. The main area where problems can arise is if you do not specify the correct dimensions for your motorhome or campervan when making your ferry reservation.

These are the measurements you will need in order to make a ferry booking for your motorhome:

Overall length

This is essential and must include towbars, bike racks and any other fixtures that affect the length of your vehicle.

If you underestimate your length, you will be charged a per-metre surcharge when checking in at the ferry port.

Overall height

It’s always important to know the overall height of your motorhome and you will probably need it when booking a ferry.

Make sure you include the height of any roof racks, roof boxes, satellite dishes, etc. that are on the roof of your motorhome.

Overall width

Knowing your width is generally less important as it is fairly standard on vans and motorhomes, so the ferry companies know what to expect. However, it is useful to know, especially with coachbuilt motorhomes where the body is much wider than the cab.


If towing a trailer behind your motorhome, you should know the total combination length – i.e. the total length of your motorhome and trailer with the trailer hitched up in running order.

If your trailer is higher than your motorhome, you will also need to know the height of your trailer and will need to use this as your overall height when making your booking.

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11 thoughts on “Taking Your Motorhome on a Ferry

  • Craig

    Some ferry companies actually favour campers over “white van man” commercial customers.
    In Scotland, for example, Caledonian MacBrayne charge loads less fare for a campervan (or a panel van which has been converted to a camper) than for the same base commercial panel van on the same journey. Why? I do not know.

    • Craig – I think this is true with most ferry companies – not sure why, though. It can’t be weight, as most motorhomes are close to their maximum weights.

      Perhaps it is because commercial vehicles (with freight) have extra facilities (e.g. subsidised/free drivers’ restaurants, hazardous goods handling, etc.). Perhaps it is just because they can – freight has to travel, whereas holidaymakers don’t if it’s too expensive.


  • What about CalorGAs can I tkae that on the Ferry or EUROTUNNEL
    Do I need to declare that before I go

    • You can find full details of the rules for taking gas tanks and cylinders on Eurotunnel here. The main requirement for gas cylinders is that they must be turned off. Plenty of motorhomes and caravans use the tunnel, so as long as your gas supplies are within the limits stated by Eurotunnel, you should not have a problem.

      Similarly for ferries, your motorhome’s gas supply must be turned off before boarding the ferry but it is normal to take gas cylinders onto ferries in your motorhome/caravan, as long as you do not have too many.

      If in doubt, check directly with the companies when booking.

      On a related note, vehicles that are powered by LPG are not allowed on Eurotunnel but are usually allowed on ferries.

      Cheers, Roland

  • Patrick Armstrong

    I’ve just converted a van into a campervan, although I haven’t yet had chance to change my logbook, therefore on the logbook it says white panel van.

    I was going to book on the ferry as a motorhome, it is obvious that it is one, however will the logbook determine what it is?

    • Hi Patrick,

      In our experience the ferry company won’t be interested in the log book. If it looks like a motorhome then I wouldn’t expect you to have any problems with the ferry.


  • Robert taylor

    Does the gas fridge have to be turned off

    • Hi Robert,

      Yes, ferry companies generally require you to turn off all gas cylinders completely before boarding the ferry. Using any gas appliance below decks is strictly forbidden.

      Most people seem to agree that a well-filled fridge will stay cold for many hours if it’s not opened. One tip is to put some frozen stuff in the fridge before you set off. If you don’t want to take frozen food or ice packs, then bottles of water or milk work well. These help to keep everything colder for longer.

      Certainly shorter crossings are not a problem, in our experience.



  • Can you stay in your motorhome whilst on the ferry?

    • Hi Summer,

      In general, if vehicles are below decks in an enclosed space, then everyone must leave their vehicles. This applies to the vast majority of major ferry routes (e.g. Channel, UK-Spain, UK-Holland). Your gas cylinders should also be turned off (set the fridge to 12V mode if possible). Otherwise pack it with cold items and it should be okay.

      On ferries with deck spaces that are open to the outside, you are sometimes able to stay in your vehicle. I understand there are a few ferries across Europe where you can sleep in your motorhome on longer crossings.

      You are also (usually) able to stay on board on open-deck ferries which do short crossings, such as some in Norway and the Scottish Isles.


  • Hi Roland,
    just saw this – which companies allow people to stay in campers on open decks? I’m keen to find out more..


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