Changing Registration from Panel Van to Motorhome in NSW

When we bought our beautiful motorhome, it had already been converted by the previous owner. This was a huge bonus for us as the work had already been done and we were short on time and resources to do the build ourselves.

Changing the van over into our name was a straightforward process in New South Wales, but we came across one minor issue that we wanted to address – It was registered as a panel van, not a motorhome.

This isn’t a huge problem, and we could have left the registration as a panel van without too much concern. But the question about legality and insurance kept cropping up, so we decided to go ahead and change registration from a panel van into a motorhome for peace of mind.

The entire process was relatively straightforward, but trying to find information online for this was surprisingly difficult. We spent hours trawling through blogs, reading the official RMS website and calling engineers, and while we successfully did this in the end, it was a bit of a minefield navigating through all the details.

To help you go through this without the headaches, we’ve put together this blog post on exactly how to change your vehicle registration for a motorhome in New South Wales.

Van Right Side Profile
Our van.

The Benefits of Motorhome Registration

You might be wondering why you would even both changing the registration over. We sure were. When we asked the guy we bought the van off why he hadn’t done it already, he kind of shrugged and said he didn’t see the point.

The more we researched though, the more it seemed like a good long-term option.

Some of the benefits are:

  • Cheaper comprehensive insurance
  • Full compliance in case of accident
  • No issues with police

It’s not all rosy though. There are also some negative aspects to changing your rego over.

  • Registration goes up in price slightly
  • Expensive process

In our opinion though the pros outweighed the cons, especially as this was an high-value purchase for us and something we plan on keeping for a long time.

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Comprehensive motorhome insurance is a lot cheaper than standard vehicle insurance.

To give you an idea, full insurance for our 2015 Mitsubishi ASX, valued at $18,000, was $1065 a year with a $800 excess.

Full insurance for our 2008 Mercedes Sprinter, valued at $48,000, is $884 a year with $500 excess.

As an added bonus, being insured as a motorhome means all of our accessories for the interior and exterior, such as solar power, auxiliary battery, kitchen build, awning, plumbing, gas, etc is covered, along with up to $2000 in personal items. That’s not the case if you insure your motorhome as a standard light vehicle panel van.

We’re insured with Ken Tame Insurance, but another good option is CIL Insurance.

Full Compliance

As we mentioned, being fully compliant means we won’t have any issues in case we do have an accident.

You’re probably aware that insurance companies will do anything possible to not pay out a claim. They’ll assign an investigator to a case to go through everything with a fine-tooth comb, hoping to find an excuse not to fulfil their promises.

One such excuse could be that the ‘panel van’ we were driving is actually a converted motorhome, but we never had that certified. But with our shiny compliance certificate from an engineer and the RMS registering us as a motorhome means everything is legit.

No Troubles With the Police

This one is more of a, ‘it could happen’ benefit, but still worth noting. If you get pulled over for a routine traffic stop such as an RBT and the police officer is in a bad mood, they might fine you for driving an uncertified modified vehicle.

What Are the Requirements?

Unfortunately changing your registration isn’t quite as simple as just telling the RMS you now have a motorhome, not a panel van. They need to have a compliance certificate from a licensed engineer to change the vehicle type in the system, which falls under the ‘Vehicle Safety Compliance Certification (VSCC) Scheme’.

And of course, that compliance certificate is an expensive piece of paper with a few hoops to jump through to obtain.

Basically what that means is you’ve had a RMS-certified vehicle engineer look at your vehicle modification and declare that it meets Australian standards.

Gas Compliance Plate
Having a gas compliance plate is one of the requirements for getting the modification certificate from the engineer.

The Bare Essentials

Besides the usual safety items, in order to be classified as a motorhome, your vehicle needs to have the following things:

  • Fixed bed
  • Fixed cooking facilities and sink
  • Storage
  • A waste bin that can be closed
  • The same number of seats as berths
  • Any change in seating arrangements be fully compliant (such as adding a seat to the rear)
  • A report from a licensed weighbridge to determine new post-conversion tare weight
  • Any gas and 240v installations need to have a compliance certificate from a plumber and/or electrician

It’s a bit of a long list, but to be honest besides the gas and electrical work, everything is pretty simple to do yourself.

Basically as long as everything is bolted down properly and your vehicle is roadworthy with no glaring issues, you should pass.

Finding an Engineer

There’s only a limited number of engineers who are licensed by the RMS to sign off on vehicle modifications (you can find the full list here). We called about 5 different engineers around Sydney to get quotes, and ended up settling with Morry from Mobility Engineering in Asquith.

He knew immediately what we were talking about when we called up with our enquiry and was very clear on telling us the requirements.

He was also the cheapest at $770 including GST, and assured us that the payment was for the certification, not per inspection.

That meant if we didn’t pass on something we could go away and fix it ourselves, then send him a photo of the repair when it was complete. Or if it was something major we’d have to go back so he could inspect it personally.

The Process

Our van already came with the LPG plumbing compliance certification, so we didn’t have to do that. Also our entire electrical system is 12v, so we didn’t need to see an electrician. If it connected to 240v mains though we would have.

We then went to a public weighbridge to check our new tare weight (total, front axle and rear axle). We personally unpacked everything out of the van that wasn’t permanently installed and checked it with no water in the tanks and low diesel so we could get our bare minimum weight.

This cost us $45.

Note – It’s important to make sure your tare weight when fully loaded is under your GVM (gross vehicle mass) weight. For our van it is 4490kg, which is also the limit to keep it as a light vehicle, meaning you can drive on a standard car license.

The next step was to book in to see Morry so he could do his inspection. We drove out to his workshop, and his whole inspection took about 10 minutes.

He checked the axle length, odometer, seats and seatbelts plus the whole conversion in the back to make sure it matched Australian standards. He took photos of everything for his own records.

He also needed to see our current vehicle registration, weighbridge report and LPG compliance certificate.

When he had finished we paid the fee and headed home. The next day he emailed through our official vehicle modification compliance certificate.

The final part of the process was to go into our local RMS office and change our registration over.

This was simple as well, although it did take about 20 minutes to finalise. All they needed to see was our old registration and the vehicle modification compliance certificate, which they cross-checked in their system where Morry had to file it, and then printed off our new papers.

Panel van registration is different to motorhome registration, which brings in different fees. We had to pay the difference for the rest of the registration period, which worked out to be only $1, and that was all we had to do.

Our panel van is officially a motorhome!

Thanks so much for reading! If you found this post useful, please leave a comment below and let us know. Did we get anything wrong? Has the process changed now? Share your experiences so we can keep this post updated!

About the Author - Alesha and Jarryd - Van Life Theory

Hi! We're Alesha and Jarryd, the founders of Van Life Theory! We're currently travelling around Australia in our 2008 Mercedes Sprinter campervan and sharing our best experiences, stories, reviews and adventures as we go along. Make sure you follow along on our Instagram and YouTube!

35 thoughts on “Changing Registration from Panel Van to Motorhome in NSW”

  1. Thank you so much for this! I too have been navigating the endless government web sites trying to get a clear picture of what was required. I can push ahead to get these things sorted now 🙂

  2. Thanks so much for the information, you have save us so much time and researching, you did a great post, again thanks so much 🤗

    • Thank you so much Jose. So glad we could help. That is the exact reason we wrote it, to save people time. It was a run around for us but we worked it out and now can pass on the information 🙂

  3. hi, thanks for this article. question: if your conversion does not have a sink, does not have a fitted cooking option, then it doesn’t qualify as a motorhome and thus the registration doesn’t need to be changed?

    • my van doesn’t have fitted gas and it doesn’t have a 240v power socket other than an inverter connected to the 12v battery fed from solar panels.

  4. Thanks guys, just finished a conversion and this is exactly the information I needed. Yes, it is the fear of an insurance company not paying out that motivates me to square everything up. I really think they should make the process more black and white.

    • So glad the article was helpful John. Congratulations on finishing your conversion. How exciting. We agree on the process. It should be more easier. We were blown away it wasn’t. Hope it all went well for you. Happy travels.

  5. I am in the process of converting a Van to a Motor Home Camper.
    This information will definitely help me
    Thanks 🙏🏻

  6. Thanks for the article, very helpful indeed! I have just converted my van to a campervan and got the VSCCS from an RMS certified engineer (the conversion was built by a professional campervan company). However, my campervan doesn’t have a fixed cooking facility nor a waste bin but it does have a 240v mains. I’m also based in NSW.

    Do you think it was certified by the engineer because a campervan is different to a motorhome? I’m a little anxious now as I haven’t taken the van to the RMS.

    • Hi Khai, that is interesting. Maybe it has changed. The person we used was certified with the government. We found them on the governments offical site as there is not many in New South Wales. I think a campervan and a motorhome are the same thing under the government system, but I could be wrong. Cross the fingers it all goes well for you.

      • Sorry this is so late after your post – I only just found this wonderful article. I am actually in Victoria, but try to keep up with Motorhome certification stuff from around Australia.
        The RMS program was ceased in 2018, when all states apart from WA and NT, converted fully to the NHVR for vehicles over 4500kg, and was replaced with the VSCCS program. Those with RMS certificates were given 6 months to complete their certification. Those certificates are now void, as the VSCCS program is on-line and has increased security.

  7. great post, very helpful as we are about to invest some capital into a van fit-out and wanted it covered by insurance, you really saved the frustration

  8. Thank you for the information, extremely helpful! I’ve just spent the last hour trying to research the impact of registering/not my T4 Transporter as a motorhome and what that will do to my insurance. I was about to give up when I saw your article – perfect timing! Your information will save me delays once the van is finished and I get on the road! Thank you.

  9. This was so so helpful.
    All the information i’ve been looking at summarised into an easy to read article!
    Thank you 🙂

  10. Hey,

    Thank you so much for the information, I am also currently in the process of changing my van over to a motorhome class. I have 240v and I am having trouble finding anyone who supplies CCEW, can you tell me who you used for your electrical compliance certificate?


    • Hi Shane, the campervan was already built when we bought it. The previous owner got this done and the gas certification. Sorry we couldn’t help> Have you checked in the Van Life Australia groups or campervan groups on facebook? Maybe someone could help in there. All the best.

  11. Like everyone else thanks so much. I sat down this morning to start to navigate the web for exactly this information and anticipated a whole morning of frustration. Yours was the first site I saw and answered all my questions. We have a 2011 Sprinter motorhome and aiming to buy a new Merc Sprinter van and get it fitted out in NSW. So not much different from you.
    Work hard and then enjoy life
    Cheers, Joe

  12. thanks for a great post. I am just about to go down the same path of registering my hiace conversion. Included in the fit out i installed a roof vent and was just wondering if this may be an issue when coming to the engineer’s inspection. Should it have been inspected before lining the roof? Thanks in advance for you help

  13. Hey thank you, so much for posting this info .Just about finished converting 2011 Sprinter LWB and have the Engineers report and RMS change of rego to motorhome done.With your help it made it all less daunting.
    Garry and Rosie

  14. Thank you so much for providing this information. I have been trying for 5 days to find all this. If only the authorities could provide such ‘user-friendly’ information and data. So glad I fell across your blog. xx

  15. Thanks for this! Currently starting our van conversion and trying to sift through info about insurance and compliance – this was my second delve into the internet and I’m so glad I came across this post! Will definitely follow your travels on Instagram!

  16. Hi, I don’t even have a van but wish I did and I found it interesting. Now I know about this complex process I’ll be forewarned for if I ever get a van. Travel safely & thx for the article. Easy to understand!

  17. I’ve just been chatting with the RMS through their website asking how to go about it, and she herself (an acutal NSW RMS employee) sent me the link to this article.
    I’m currently going through the process and there really is no definitive info online so thank you so much for including so much detail! 😀

  18. This article is a great find, thank you.

    I live in the ACT and recently bought a 2014 Mitsubishi Delica, a Japanese import from a dealer on the Gold Coast. They registered it in Qld so I could drive it around when it arrived as the local inspection station was closed due to COVID.

    My plan was to transfer the rego of the vehicle and then take the back seats out but when the van arrived as the inspection station was still closed. My pal and I got excited when it arrived and we took out the back seats and all the tracks on the floor. I had a Kata camper box made ( and installed (from what I can see it is secured to the floor at a couple of points – not permanently installed) and when the inspection station opened, I took the van to get it inspected and change the rego over.

    They told me because I took out the seats that I need to remove the camper box, take out all the seat belts and bring it back to be reinspected and changed over from a ‘passenger’ to ‘goods carrying’ classification, which is more expensive to register. Anyway, here I am feeling like a pillock. Since reading this article I have tracked down a vehicle engineer near me and asked if they can check out my can and what is the best thing to do in the hope I can change the rego over to a campervan. Thanks!


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