Is it legal to convert a van into a camper?

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: ​​Is it legal to convert a van into a camper? We will explain what the legal steps are for converting a van into a camper and how to make this a simple and fun conversion.

Is it legal to convert a van into a camper?

Yes, it is legal to convert a van into a campervan. In fact, this is how the whole #Vanlife movement has begun.  If your intention is to convert the van into a camper, it must have a good engine, offer great reliability and have spare parts that can be found easily.

To convert a van into a camper:

  • You must have a bed or a seat that can be converted into a bed.
  • You have to have some more furniture for storage; all rigidly anchored.
  • You must have a kitchen.
  • In addition, it is most advisable that the van is not too small and thus avoid space and comfort problems during the trip.

Among the most commonly used models to convert to a camper are the Renault Kangoo or Traffic and the Citroën Berlingo. But you always have the last word.

Do you have to register a van as a camper?

When we buy our van and convert it to a camper, we are giving it another title. It goes from being a cargo van to a motorhome or campervan due to its interior characteristics. Like the rest of the vehicles, our vans will also have to pass the Vehicle Inspection and this series of changes or reforms must be reflected in the vehicle’s technical datasheet. 

Before starting the camperization process, you should be clear if you are interested in homologating it as a campervan or as a motorhome. 

Requirements to approve a campervan

To certify your van, it must have a series of requirements so that it can be considered as such. The mandatory requirements would be:

  • Have a convertible bed or seat installed.
  • Have a cabinet for storage. This must be firmly anchored.
  • Ventilation through skylight or grill.
  • Box with protections for 220V electrical installation.
  • Small water installation.
  • Firm fixing of furniture.
  • There must be no sharp edges.
  • A kitchen module.
  • Some type of wardrobe or additional furniture.

Homologation is the last step in the entire camperization process. Previously we will have to do the hard work and equip our van with all its comforts. It is a long process and with many points to deal with, such as insulating our van, making an electrical installation, making the furniture and anchoring it and a lot of other things.

We need the van to be fully camperized in order to start with the paperwork and thus be able to incorporate all the necessary information to bring it finished.

To get our approval we simply have to record all the changes or reforms added to our van in a report. For this, we must know exactly what materials we have used and the measurements were taken. 

In short, whenever a major reform is made, we must approve it and pay for it. That is why it is better to carry out all the reforms that you want to do. It is the best way to save money. That is why the idea is to have our camper van fully camperized to homologate and start with all the paperwork!

Why you should convert a van into a camper

Below we discuss some advantages that converted vans have and thus, why they are so expensive. 

  1. A converted van delivers more freedom.  Unlike motorhomes, vans play the opposite card of compactness in order to be able to park anywhere and blend in with the landscape discreetly. Advantages favoured by a growing number of motorhome owners who seek anonymity and want to drive their motorhome exactly like their car. 
  1. Camper vans are possibly more comfortable. Converted vans do not sacrifice stage comfort or functionality. Apart from the specificities related to its body (original bodywork) resulting in a smaller living space, its design shares the same equipment and the same technologies as other motorhomes: they can receive solar panels, flat-screen TV and satellite Antenna. 
  1. Converted vans are less expensive than motorhomes. The growing interest of the big brands in converted vans is a definite advantage for customers who will inevitably find something to suit them in a price range that has never been as competitive as it is today.

Admittedly, the average price of a converted van is rather around $46,000 or  $47,000, but at this price, a van will already appear very well equipped compared to a motorhome of the same price which will be positioned at an entry-level level.

  1. You can have everything you may wish for in a converted van.  In a van, space isn’t that cramped … as long as you are organized. When it comes to life on board, today’s vans have only a distant connection to yesterday’s compacts, which were often cramped and not very functional in their layouts. 

Everything has changed and these models offer a level of equipment, quality of finishes and very convincing comfort and above all a markedly increased habitability, with recourse to clever solutions based on the concept of modularity to optimize space. 

  1. Most conversion vans have a bathroom.  Modularity especially in the toilet compartment where a retractable washbasin or on a pivoting wall is one of the common solutions. But the big trend is the bathroom which combines a WC / sink compartment (retractable or not) with a modular shower space which takes place in the central corridor after a quick manipulation.
  1. A converted van is ideal on the road. You can raise part of the bed to load the hold. Convenient for storing large luggage, or for transporting bicycles. As for the payload of these small recreational vehicles, contrary to what one might think, it appears to be much higher than that of other motorhomes
  1. It is easier to drive a converted van: Last but not least, driving a van is like driving a big sedan! No more worry about rear overhang, no problem on smaller roads: the van goes everywhere. Comfortably installed in the cabin, you will be able to appreciate the performance of the engines, even the lightest. 

As on any motorhome, you will be able to benefit from the approval of the air conditioning, but also of the driving aids that constitute the reversing radar, the cruise control and, of course, the electric mirrors, and this. , in complete safety, thanks to the double airbag and ESP coupled to ABS.

More than any other motorhome, converted vans are built for the road. And while above all, they are synonymous with vacations and getaways, some converted vans have the enormous advantage of being able to also take advantage of daily use, replacing a car. Work, family, shopping: many followers have taken the plunge and now do without an additional car.

The bottom line

The converted van and motorhome each have their advantages, but the choice will depend on how you plan to use them. To get a better idea of ​​what each model has to offer you, it is advisable to test them one by one because they might surprise you. When it comes to prices, there is usually not much difference between a converted van and a motorhome of the same level.

What do you think? Would #Vanlife be worth it? Please feel free to share your thoughts!

FAQ on Is it legal to convert a van into a camper?

Is it worth living in a van?

Living and travelling in a van may be worth it and a real joy for some people, but don’t think that everything is easy and #vanlife definitely isn’t for everyone. Of course, It would be impossible to talk about #vanlife without addressing the sense of freedom that comes with it. 

Why Van Life?

Van Life is a trend set to encourage people to get out there and live long or short-term in a van. The idea was to get away from it all, to go and see nature after three months of confinement and to get a taste of nature. 

Can you live permanently in a van?

You can live permanently in a van as long as you have a type of static van known as a park home. If the caravan is on private property, you will also need the local council’s permission. 

Can I sleep in my van?

Currently, it is completely legal to sleep in a van, a campervan or a camper van (vehicles classified as M1 have the same rights as a car). There is nothing in the law that prohibits it. In theory, you can therefore spend the night wherever you want.


Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!