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Huge increase in campervan refusals by DVLA


There has been a massive increase in the number of refusals issued to commercial and private converters attempting to reregister vehicles as campervans. 

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), the government body responsible for registering campervans and motorhomes, confirmed to MMM magazine that it has refused 9,488 applications to reregister a vehicle as a motor caravan during the first 11 months of 2019 (a motor caravan is the term used by the DVLA for both campervans and motorhomes). This compares to just 622 refusals for all of 2017 and 2,266 for all of 2018. This equates to an increase in refusals of 1,425% since 2017 and 318% compared to 2018.

The DVLA said it was unable to explain why there has been such a huge increase or what the main refusal issues had been, saying any explanation it gave would be ‘speculation’. It stressed however that vehicles that have met all its criteria will be and have been reclassified as motor caravans. But this is contradicted by professional campervan converters and private individuals who say their conversions meet all the criteria and yet have been refused.

“We continue to be frustrated with the DVLA refusal to re-categorise some of our campervans as motor caravans,” said Kevin Allinson of Devon Conversions. “We have had instances where applications have been refused despite us providing the DVLA with an official DVSA IVA test certificate, we are also aware of another manufacturer who has experienced the same.

“With the motor caravan checklist released in October there appears to have been an attempt by the DVLA to formalise their procedure. Our experience to date is that it’s very much down to who reviews the application on the day as to whether it is processed as a ‘van with windows’ or a ‘motor caravan’.”

Refused applications are also affecting private owners who have self-converted their campervans. Reader Cliff Greening’s application was refused when he attempted to reregister his campervan. “I have converted my medium-wheelbase, medium-height Renault Master panel van into a very high-specification motorhome far exceeding anything being produced by current converters. I sent the V5C to the DVLA with the specification and photos as directed by their website,” he explains. 

“To my shock horror, I received a letter back stating that, although my conversion met all their requirements, the outside still looks like a panel van, which was how Renault produced it and they would not reclassify it. I telephoned them and they told me to submit more photos of the outside of the van.”


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Cliff sent more pictures pointing out that it looks no different to campervans built by professional converters. He feels the DVLA is discriminating against self-converters. “It appears individuals who convert are being discriminated against by the DVLA since my insurance company, who wants to see an amended V5C, have told me they have numerous others in the same boat,” said Cliff.

The checklist to guide converters – both professional companies and individuals – was reis-sued by the DVLA on its website late last year. Within these guidelines it says that the body type information held on the vehicle record must describe what a vehicle looks like. This description, as well as other distinguishing features, allows the police and other enforcement agencies to easily identify vehicles, it says. However, it then goes on to state that “the body type does not affect the insurance category of the vehicle, or have any effect on speed limits or other legislative requirements”.

However, if a vehicle is registered as a motor caravan with an unladen weight of not more than 3.05 tonnes then it can be driven at 70mph on a dual-carriageway road. However, if it is registered as a goods vehicle of not more than 7.5 tonnes maximum laden weight, it is restricted to 60mph on the same road. The vast majority of motorhomes and campervans are conversions of light commercial vehicles of not more than 7.5 tonnes maximum laden weight. Therefore, if a campervan is refused by the DVLA to be reregistered as a motor caravan, the speed limit at which it can be legally driven is lower.


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The DVLA’s statement that insurance cover should not be affected by a refusal to reregister a van as a motor caravan does appear to be correct, as Stuart Craig from insurance specialist Shield Total Insurance, confirmed. He said Shield is able to continue to insure campervans as motorhomes with no impact on premium or cover benefits as long as the campervan meets the previous DVLA criteria listed on Shield’s website, but he points out that Shield needs to be provided with a copy of the declinature notice from the DVLA so that it can verify the reasons for the refusal.


Have you been refused an applications to reregister a vehicle as a motor caravan by the DVLA? Join in the conversation on Campervan magazine's Facebook and Twitter pages. 


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