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Importing a self-build camper conversion: UK->IE

  • 19-10-2022 6:25pm
    Registered Users Posts: 1 RDWRER_

    Hi lads,

    I'm tearing my hair out trying to see what is possible with getting my self converted VW T5 over and registered in Ireland... I've read a few good posts here so wondering if someone can offer some wisdom...

    Long story short: It's still registered as a panel van in the UK since there are no qualms about that over here. Insurance is through a broker who deals with all sorts of self-conversions which remain registered as panel vans. It was self built, no gas certificates, declarations of conformity or any of that needed. Happy days. The problem is I'm moving m residence to Ireland and ideally would like to keep the van we worked hard on and enjoy.


    So far I've tried Motor Caravan Club and they've said no, not possible. Wouldn't give a reason just "no", directed me to Richardsons who have said they'll send me the forms but I'm not confident... In either case, suppose Richardsons says yes they'll insure it, it will still have to be registered as a camper with Revenue...


    First off I need to tell the DVLA I'm exporting it, then declare at customs when it gets off the ferry. Have already been told I'll have to pay VAT as it is my partner's name on the V5 so it won't qualify for my Transfer of Residence (TOR) relief. Even though the V5 is not proof of ownership in the UK but there we go...

    Then I'll need to get it to NCT for a VRT appointment and pay up. At this point will they:

    • Register it is a van and I'll then have to go through conversion after,
    • Or will they take one look in the back and go "this is a camper" where are all your conversion documents? We'll register it as a camper right away

    In either case I guess I'll have 30 days to register the vehicle, so I could set about getting my conversion documents ready, getting an SQI report etc. Hopefully I wouldn't have to pay VRT to register and then 13.3% on top again to convert? But I bet I will...


    For a conversion I gather I'll need to fill in all the forms, get an SQI report, and pay 13.3% for the conversion. Problem is it is a self build, converted a couple of years ago and driven happily all over Europe as such. I have no invoices for the conversion costs... this is not a new conversion which was done in Ireland (which is what the VRT conversion fee is there to capture.)

    The guide linked above talks about "vehicles already registered abroad" which surely this is, but goes on to say you need a Declaration of Conformity, which is going to be impossible. I gather these are only for new vehicles which are converted before registration, i.e. someone takes a brand new Sprinter off the assembly line and converts it in to a crew van to sell on with the approval of Mercedes. Not a used panel van which became a camper in the UK.

    Long story short, has anyone done this before or come across someone who has done it? Maybe I'm overcomplicating it, but I can't see the light at the end of the tunnel at the minute and would appreciate any help.



  • Registered Users Posts: 6,525 ✭✭✭ Alkers

    Can you convert it to a camper over there? The requirements are a lot stricter but your can might meet them.

    Ive noticed this increasingly when looking at vans in NI, that many of them are still registered as vans rather than campers as there's not as much advantage to registering as a camper as there is here.

    It may be possible to insure as a private van here, it is possible to tax and insure commercial vehicles in this way but tax and insurance will be more than the camper specific policies.

    You don't need a gas cert for revenue for a camper here.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,414 ✭✭✭ Shoog

    The fees for importing a UK registered commercial vehicle are very small (used to be a flat €50.00) and are a form of VRT, this VRT fee is then deductable from the VRT fee you are required to pay upon re-registering your van as a camper. Since Brexit VAT may be also payable on import as you have been told.

    There is no need to produce receipts for the conversion process when a SQI submits the paperwork. All he is interested in is does the vehicle meet the required specification for it to be considered a camper. This is set out in legislation and is frankly really easy to meet. I am not certain but since reregistering a vehicle as a camper involves paying VRT at 13.3%, and VRT is what you pay when importing any vehicle - this should be the only fee you need to pay to the revenue. Someone who has imported a camper van can clarify this for you.

    Having a certified camper van doesn't mean that any insurance company will offer you insurance since their rules are different to the revenues rules regarding what constitutes a camper. Two main thing that the main insurers insist on are front to back access (ie two single front seats - no bench seat) and you must be able to stand upright in the back - which by convention (and as a carry over from old Irish legislation) this means 1.8M internal roof height.

    It is stated everywhere that you do not need a gas cert or an electric cert - but there is a very good probability that your insurer will insist on seeing both before offering insurance. Insurers are a law unto themselves and can insist on anything they feel like, and it is wise to consider that they really do not want the business of home converters. In Ireland you are not legally allowed to do DIY gas or electric work on a property - so why do people imagine that it would be legal to do the same work in a moving vehicle.

    I know of someone personally who was made to jump through these hoops before Dolmen would consider his commercial Fiat camper. Lets repeat this - they do not want your business as they have plenty of easy to manage high value commercial campers to meet their business needs.

    We insure our vintage T4 self converted camper through the Irish Vintage Engines and Trackers Association because of the unreasonable requirements insisted on by the more mainstream insurers.

    It would be worth considering keeping it as a commercial vehicle - but it is equally hard/impossible to find an insurer who will offer private insurance on a commercial vehicle. It can be done - but anyone who ever suggests it is possible never produces an actual broker who offers the service as proof. the only people who are allowed to operate a commercial vehicle in Ireland are people with a genuine registered business or farmers/foresters. I know of a few people who do not meet this requirement and have commercial insurance - but they have kept hold of this policy over years from when the requirements were much more relaxed (and they may find they are on a sticky wicket if they ever have to make a claim).

    Things that are perfectly acceptable in the UK are damn near impossible in Ireland.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,525 ✭✭✭ Alkers

    You can bring the vehicle here, pay an Irish sqi, then present the van for vrt and have it registered as a camper