Do All Motorhomes Need A Tachograph?

Gearing up for a holiday in your motorhome can be a sight that eases the eyes. Sometimes, though, it can be a sight of anxiety and uncertainty. Ensuring your motorhome is up to spec, and road-ready can be a proper first relief.

Most motorhomes in Great Britain and the U.K. do not require a functioning tachograph. Before using a motorhome, though, special considerations for registration and use must be taken into account. 

Overall, you should not be too concerned about tachographs when using a motorhome in Great Britain. You can prevent a hassle down the road, though, by reviewing any possible laws about how you plan on using your motorhome. Understanding driving hours laws and vehicle registration is overall a best practice. 

Proper Motorhome Registration

Regardless if you are purchasing a new motorhome, or converting one from a dustbin wagon, a logbook, or V5C, is required. Your vehicle’s logbook will have information about the vehicle attached to it, and it acts as a sort of diary. 

Insurance regularly will keep track of this. It will serve you as a guide for keeping your vehicle safe and legal. It also contains information about your vehicle, such as its make, model, and class. 

The DVLA prefers to keep updated V5C forms on vehicles. Especially if converting, you may need to update your V5C records. 

When Tachographs Are Relevant

If your vehicle was at one point used as a heavy goods vehicle, it might have been registered with a tachograph. For the most part, private motorhomes don’t require tachographs in the U.K. However, you must clarify this by verifying specific details about your motorhome. 

Some things to consider before getting geared up for a motorhome holiday or lifestyle:

  • Is it subject to driving hours/tachograph regulations?
  • Was the motorhome converted from a different vehicle?
  • Was it once registered as a commercial vehicle?
  • Is it adequately equipped to be a motorhome?
  • Where will the motorhome be traveling?

If any of these scenarios apply to you, or you are unsure if your motorhome qualifies, be sure to conduct a more in-depth review. 

When to Consider Driving Hours Regulations

Because of the Transport Act of 1968, working driver’s hours across the U.K. are logged via a tachograph. A tachograph device keeps track of how many hours someone has driven a vehicle. However, tachographs do not apply to private vehicles being used for private affairs

Tachograph regulations layout that a worker must not drive more than 10-hours throughout a day and that they must receive regular breaks, among other rules. Driving hours regulations are not the same across the U.K. If traveling to Northern Ireland, separate regulations will apply. 

Tachographs are installed to protect a commercial driver from excessive working hours. They are there to keep motorways and lorry drivers safe from exhaustion. Tachographs frequently are installed in any vehicle that will be used for the carriage of goods.

Proper Registration is Critical

Ensuring your motorhome is registered correctly and taxed by the government is best to avoid any driving hours and tachograph requirement problems. 

Be aware, though, there are certain reasons your vehicle may need a working tachograph:

  • It is used for work: If your vehicle is primarily used to carry goods and earn money, it may be subject to a tachograph.
  • Is the motorhome carrying more than eight passengers: Driving hours may apply when there are many passengers. A tachograph may be required. If passengers are paying for transportation, a tachograph will need to be fitted. 
  • Will your motorhome be traveling outside of Great Britain or the U.K.: If you are planning on leaving the U.K., local and E.U. regulations will apply to your motorhome. Review local laws for where you may be traveling. 

Should the Tachograph Stay Installed?

If you purchase your motor caravan or vehicle you intend to convert into a motorhome, it may have had a tachograph installed at some point. 

So, if you purchase a nice-sized wagon to explore the highlands, but find yourself with a tachograph installed, don’t wig out too much. Besides wondering what it was once used to haul, you shouldn’t have much of a problem.

However, if you are concerned that your vehicle may be registered as a heavy goods vehicle and thus requiring a tachograph, you can easily file it as exempt. Most old vehicles will go through MOT inspections. A vehicle listed as one for heavy goods will receive more inspection points, such as a tachograph. 

Prepare for Your Vehicle’s MOT Inspection

Draw your attention to this form, specifically, line 30. Before getting your required MOT inspection, print and fill out the form. As long as you plan to use your vehicle for private affairs, it will not be subject to the typical tachograph requirements. 

If you are using the vehicle for commercial purposes, it is unlikely it will classify as a motorhome. 

Your registration should reflect the current usage of your vehicle, though. 

There are separate taxes required for operating a commercial vehicle. Further, there may be tachograph regulations. When operating many commercial vehicles, limits on driving hours will apply. 

Following Driving Hours Regulations

When using your vehicle for commercial purposes, driving hours must be logged. These regulations are standard across Great Britain, but they may differ in Northern Ireland. 

Although these regulations are mostly relevant to lorry drivers, other vehicles can also be subject. 

In general, drivers should abide by these general time regulations across Great Britain:

  • Ten hours per day
    A driver cannot drive more than ten hours per day. 
  • No more than eleven hours can be spent on duty
    Being on duty includes driving hours as well as any time spent on a vehicle and its load. 
  • On-road and off-road driving both count
    The same driving and duty time requirements apply to vehicles operating off-road such as farm, mining, and construction equipment.  

If your vehicle is not being used for goods or passenger carriage, though, these driving time regulations do not apply. If you wish to use your vehicle as a motor caravan and a commercial vehicle, you should keep the tachograph installed. 

Registering your vehicle for both purposes, however, may be difficult. When registering a motorhome, there are a host of specific requirements. Interior and exterior features are what will classify your motorhome as such. A vehicle outfitted for commercial use may simply lack the features necessary for a motor home.  

Converting a Vehicle into a Motorhome

When converting a motorhome, you should register it with the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) properly to ensure documentation is up to date. If you do not register your vehicle as a motorhome, its registration will still reflect its original purpose. That registration status can impact if your converted home is subject to tachograph regulations. 

The DVLA will accept applications for changing your registration status and V5C booklet. It does depend, though, on what vehicle type it was originally registered.

If your new vehicle was once one of the following, be sure to submit new documentation to the DVLA: 

  • ambulance
  • box van
  • goods
  • insulated van
  • light goods
  • light van
  • livestock carrier
  • Luton van
  • minibus
  • MPV (multi-purpose vehicle)
  • panel van
  • specially fitted van
  • special mobile unit
  • van with side windows

Many of the vehicles that fall under these classifications may also be subject to driving hours laws. This would have required a tachograph fitted at some point. If your vehicle was never registered as one of these body types, do not submit a new motor caravan registration application. 

If you purchase a vehicle with a tachograph installed, you will likely need to ensure its registration is updated. To submit your papers, you will have to get certain documents in order.

The DVLA prefers that every vehicle is kept up to date. Ensuring that the characteristics of your vehicle conform to what the DVLA has on record can help avoid any hassles on the road. 

What Registration is Required for Motorhomes

Many different forms and registration documents may need to be filed with the DVLA when operating a new motorhome. 

You may find yourself in a couple of common scenarios for those new to motorhome regulations. Overall, many of the same regulations will apply to motorhomes that apply to passenger cars. The process is very similar, but you may want to submit separate paperwork. 

If your motorhome is converted
Obtain an updated V5C form, get U.K. insurance, and apply for a converted motorhome registration. Ensure your vehicle is still not subject to commercial regulations. 

If your motorhome is new or already accurately registered
Simply update your V5C form. Your vehicle will already be recognized as a motorhome, and significant paperwork proving such is not required. Get an updated MOT test.

Registering a Converted Motorhome with the DVLA

There are numerous steps required when submitting your motorhome conversion registration. Some of them can require setting aside a good amount of time, so be sure to plan to submit your application before you head on an extended holiday.

Here is a breakdown of everything you will need with your application:


You will need photographs of various interior and exterior fixtures on your motorhome conversion. For the exterior, you will need photos of both sides, the front, and the back.

Exterior photos of your motorhome may need to include features installed.

Features that the DVLA will look for include: 

  • Passenger windows 
  • A separate passenger door 
  • An awning 
  • High-top roofs 

Be sure your registration plates are clearly visible. Interior photos are also necessary. Produce and include photos of the following interior features: 

  • Seats and a table 
  • A place to sleep
  • Somewhere to cook 
  • A place to store items

Each of these features must be properly attached to the motorhome. If necessary, sleeping locations can be converted from other features. 

You will also need to include a clear picture of the VIN number.

Required Papers

With your application, you will have to include a couple of separate documents. Print and fill out a motor caravan conversion checklist. This includes a full list of everything you need to file. 

You also need to have a copy of your V5C. 

You should already have your V5C in your possession. If not, you will need to fill out separate applications to get a new V5C. 

Compile each photo and document together. Go through the required DVLA checklist and tick each box before sending in an application. After you get these documents and photos together, present them to the DVLA to update your registration. 

Whether or not you need to change your vehicle’s registration is somewhat up to the owner. Overall, so long as the vehicle meets all interior requirements of conversion, it is legal to operate.

Obtaining a New V5C for a Motorhome

If your motorhome has never been registered and you do not have a V5C form, you will need to apply for a new one. Certain scenarios may restrict you from creating a new V5C, but there is a process to apply to the DVLA in general. 

Most commonly, vehicles without DVLA’s will be brand new, imported, or significantly altered. A converted motorhome may require a new V5C. 

Depending on your situation, there are two separate forms. 

  • If the vehicle is brand new or imported, you must submit a V55/4 form
  • If your vehicle was significantly modified, rebuilt, or if it has ever previously been registered in the U.K., you must submit a V55/5 form

Regardless of the form you will be submitting, certain documentation must also be included:

  • Proof of identity: A passport, birth certificate, or driving license will suffice.
  • Proof of address: Recent bills in your name, medical cards, bank statements, or tax statements will work for this. 
  • Vehicle Tax and Registration Fee: Taxes will need to be paid on a new vehicle purchase. A £55 registration fee is also required for new vehicles.
  • MOT Certificate: Your vehicle must obtain an MOT certificate.
  • Vehicle Approval: If you made significant changes to a vehicle, it must obtain separate approval through a basic IVA. This includes converted motor caravans. 
  • Insurance Documents: If registered to an address in Northern Ireland, proof of insurance is required.

Obtaining an MOT Certification

In general, most vehicles will require an MOT certification from an approved garage. Obtaining an MOT test is not always required for new cars. Most vehicles that are older than three years will require an MOT test to be conducted. These tests ensure a vehicle is safely operable and within acceptable emission levels.  

Many local garages will offer MOT tests. If unsure of where to get a test, call your local garages ahead of time. You may also want to bring a certificate that shows your vehicle is not subject to heavy goods regulations. 

If your vehicle is classified as heavy goods, it will not be able to get MOT certified in the easiest way possible. Print and fill out this form with line thirty checked to be exempt from heavy goods regulations. 

If you have had a copy of an MOT test but have lost it or it is damaged, you can apply for a new one here

Obtaining Vehicle Approval: A Converted Motorhome

To get a converted motorhome approved and registration papers submitted, it must go through a basic IVA process. A motorhome will fall under a class M IVA. This is merely a visual inspection of the vehicle. 

Apply for a basic IVA of your motorhome with the same form you would for a personal vehicle

Often, approval is only needed for heavily modified vehicles or vehicles that have been imported. If your motor caravan was not heavily modified from its original purpose and is being domestically purchased, a basic IVA may not be required. 

Other Considerations for Motorhomes

When traveling out of Great Britain, special considerations must be taken. While it may be registered properly within the U.K., you can run into trouble abroad if it does not comply with E.U. regulations.

Overall, regulations for motorhomes are similar. Be sure, though, that you obtain an insurance green card for your vehicle. This card will serve as proof of insurance when traveling abroad and is required across the E.U. 

These green cards do not act as a substitute for insurance, though. Be sure to maintain your motorhome’s U.K. insurance coverage and obtain a green card for supplemental documentation. 

Traveling Around the E.U.

If you intend to be abroad across the E.U. for less than 90 days, your U.K. driver’s license should suffice. Be sure to keep it on you at all times, though. If you are traveling across the E.U. in a motorhome for longer than 90 days, you will need an international driving permit. 

Be sure you also have the proper identification of your vehicle. A current Great Britain sticker is required anytime you travel outside of the U.K. This will help prove that a tachograph is not required.

It is also good practice to bring your passport. While not necessarily required, double-check that your passport is still valid in the E.U. before traveling abroad. In general, visas will not be required for short travel spans.  

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