How To Prove (And Check) Ownership Of A Caravan

Caravans are a great way of having the home comforts, adventures of the outdoors and the freedom to move around the country and beyond. Many caravans are cheaper and more affordable when bough second hand but as they are not technically a vehicle how do you prove the ownership of a caravan?

To prove ownership of a caravan, you need to have your CRiS number on you. All new caravan owners in the UK have to register for CRiS. To do this you need to report to CriS with your caravan make, model and VIN number to register your caravan.

In this article we are going to talk about how to prove ownership of a caravan, check ownership and other details you should check before buying a caravan.

Caravan Registration and Identification Scheme (CRiS)

CRiS is the official database of the UK for caravans and their owners. HPI operates CRiS on behalf of the National Caravan Council and it was established in 1992.

It was initiated to keep the details of every caravan that is a part of the NCC member companies so as to help prevent and quickly detect caravan-related crime. It was established so caravanners can buy or sell caravans without losing money to scammers.

How Does CRiS Work

CRiS works in almost the same way the Driver and Licensing Agency (DVLA) works. As a caravan owner, it gives you a registration document and a record as proof of ownership.

Because of its connections in the industry, CRiS also regulates all information associated with any interest held by insurance and finance companies, in case your caravan becomes a part of the national theft statistics for whatever reason.

CRiS is recognized by other government organizations such as the Department for Transport (DFT) and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).

VIN Number and It’s Meaning

Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is a 17-digit number CRiS assigns to new caravan tourers that have registered with them. This number is usually written around the caravan in different areas.

You’ll find the VIN etched into the windows, die-stamped into the chassis, and recorded in an electric tag on the bodywork of the vehicle.

SGBS000BSWC1234567 SG – Made in the UK

SGBS000BSWC1234567 B – Caravan Make (In this Case Bailey)

SGBS000SWC1234567 S – Number of axles (S-single T-twin)

SGBS000SWC1234567 000 – Optional data from the manufacturer (could the caravan model)

SGBS000SWC1234567 SW – manufactured in Swift Group

SGBS000SWC1234567 C – manufacture year (In this case, C-2012)

SGBS000SWC1234567 1234567 – Serial number of the caravan

Years of The Build Codes and Manufacturer Codes

Build season of caravanning usually starts from 1st September in the first year to 31st August the next year.

For example, if a caravan was built between September 1st, 2012 and 31st August 2013, it would have a build code of D for 2013.

Year of the Build CodesManufacturer Codes
42004EXExplorer Group
72007SWSwift Group

How to Register for CRiS as a New Caravan Owner

If your caravan is brand new, then at the point of purchase your dealer will register it for free, and you don’t need to do much else. Simply provide the necessary details as requested. Otherwise, you can register here.

If you’re buying the caravan from a previous owner, you should get the CRiS registration document from them. Then you have to fill out the section labelled CVR8 and send it to the address: CRiS Ltd., PO BOX 445 Aldershot, GU11 9FS with a cheque of £15.00 to CRiS Ltd.

If you’re having any problem with any of the above, you can call their contact centre at 02032821000 to speak with an advisor. They’re always available to talk Monday – Friday from 8 AM to 6:30 PM, Saturday 9 AM – 5 PM, and Sunday 10 AM – 5 PM.

Make sure to have your VIN and payment of £15.00 re-registration fee either through debit or credit card.

Registering Pre-92 Caravan/Imported Caravan

Touring caravans that were produced before 1992 and imported caravans are not registered on CRiS when you purchase them.

If the owner of the caravan wished to register with CRiS, they will need to arrange a Pre-92/imported caravan registration check, and if it goes through, a Pre-92/Imported caravan registration.

Pre-92/Imported Caravan Registration Check

Before a caravan can be registered as a Pre-92 caravan, CRiS has to start a pre-registration check to confirm the following details:

  1. Check if there are any outstanding finances on the caravan.
  2. Ensure that the caravan details you’re given match those with the manufacturer.
  3. Check if the caravan has been written off by insurers.
  4. Check with Interpol and UK police for any security alerts that were registered on the caravan.
  5. Confirm the identification of the owner.
  6. Make sure there is no previous CRiS record for the caravan.

These checks are necessary for the protection of all parties and to make sure the caravan is legitimate before assigning a VIN. Sometimes they may take a while to complete but it is worth it. Hence, be ready to wait for a couple of days or weeks.

After a Pre-92 check is complete and the caravan passes all the requirements, it can be registered with CRiS. If the caravan did not previously have a unique 17-digit VIN, CRiS will issue one to it.

Pre-92/Imported Caravan Registration

Once the Pre-registration/imported caravan check is complete, CRiS will register the caravan which will include:

  1. A Unique VIN Chip Pack – the standard in the industry for identifying touring caravans and as a deterrent to theft.
  2. A safe keep card with all the necessary information about the caravan.
  3. An anti-counterfeit registration document.

The CRiS Registration and the VIN chip is necessary to help you secure your caravan. The VIN is the first thing the police look at when they’re trying to find a stolen caravan. The cost for a pre-registration check is £19.99 and for the registration is £45.00, making it a total of £64.99.

If for whatever reason, such as problems from the pre-registration check, CRiS is unable to register your caravan they will return the £45.00 registration fee.

Benefits of Registering Your Caravan

There are several advantages to registering your caravan with CRiS which includes:

  1. If there are any instances of a claim, the touring caravan insurance company will only pay after submission of a CRiS Touring Caravan Registration Document.
  2. It will be easier for the police to check for ownership of the caravan and take steps to help you recover it if it is stolen.
  3. It will be easier to sell the caravan if you have it registered to your name.
  4. The CRiS Registration Document can prove useful if you plan to take your caravan abroad so you can keep ownership without any hitches.
  5. CRiS will assist you in cases of security, warranty, or safety issues while you’re the owner.
  6. The CRiS registration only needs a one-off fee of £15.00 for as long as you stay the owner of the caravan.
  7. VIN Chip is implanted after you register with CRiS. This chip acts as a theft deterrent and a quick identification system for any touring caravans.

How to Get a Duplicate Caravan Registration Document

Someone can misplace or accidentally damage their CRiS registration documents. You might also want to duplicate the original copy or upgrade the document to new security-marked CRiS Registration Document with a Keep Safe card.

Get your replacement or duplicate from the online replacement service.

This service will cost £10 and you will need the VIN of your caravan to place and receive the order.

How to Prepare Your Caravan for Traveling Abroad

Travelling abroad with your caravan is a very interesting experience as long as you follow all the stipulated regulations.

European Regulations in some mainland European countries need the drivers to carry all their identification documents for road-going vehicles such as a trailer and tow car.

Even though it is not a requirement for UK caravans, we would advise you to also carry your caravan registration documents in case the authorities stop you on the way. CRiS caravan registration document shows that you are the registered keeper and you are authorized to use the caravan.

Tips for travelling abroad with your caravan:

  1. Make sure the license plate of the caravan is visible enough.
  2. Take the original copy and/or copy of the caravan and car insurance certificate with you.
  3. Always travel with the CRiS registration document or an official duplicate. The new anti-counterfeit CRiS registration document is security embedded which makes it hard to copy.
  4. Keep all your registration documents in a safe place. It is better you keep it on you and not inside the caravan.
  5. Keep to all the traffic laws of any country you visit.

What to Do if Your Caravan is Stolen

CRiS has significantly reduced the number of caravan tourer thefts in the UK since when it was conceived. It is a lot harder for caravans to get stolen and for thieves to sell these stolen caravans.

However, even with the restrictions, it is still possible for caravans to get stolen. So, if your caravan gets stolen, you have to do the following:

  1. Reach out to the police and obtain a crime reference number.
  2. Inform your insurance as soon as possible and provide details of the theft. Also give them other documentation, registration details, and VIN.
  3. If you have any tracking device fitted to your caravan, you should inform the provider so they can take action.
  4. Call CRiS on 0203 282 1000 to notify them of the incident. Provide them with any information you have so they can record it as stolen and make the information available to anyone that has an interest, including potential purchasers and the police force.
  5. Let CRiS know of any other development that might happen regarding the case so they can update their database.

All stolen caravan alerts will be sent to specialists in the CRiS team who work with the police in the UK and Europe to investigate the case.

How To Check Someone Is The Owner Of A Caravan

The CRiS check works great for validating caravan ownership.

CRiS Check

When you want to buy a second-hand caravan, the CRiS number is the fastest way to get relevant details about the caravan. The VIN should be etched into the windows of the caravan or stamped on the chassis. You can also request the CRiS document from the owner.

As soon as you get the number, call 0203 282 1000 or fill the appropriate details here.

It is important to do a CRiS check on a caravan before purchasing it. A CRiS check will show you:

  1. If a caravan was stolen and it had been inputted in the system.
  2. If a caravan has any outstanding finance on it.
  3. If an insurance company has written it off.
  4. If it has been registered to a keeper as the name will be given, thereby allowing you to confirm this.

A CRiS check will cost you just £14.95

Buying a Caravan

Caravans are not cheap. So, before you buy one, be sure to take precautionary steps. The first step is finding the right place to buy a caravan.

After checking the prices, you need to decide whether a brand new or second-hand caravan will suit your needs and budget. There are several other factors to consider before making a purchase.

In the guide below, we’ll provide all the information you need to get the best value for your money.

Best Places to Buy a Caravan From

1. Dealers

This might be the overall best place to buy caravans from – new or old. You will be given a warranty and you should check the small print for any restrictions or exclusions.

You should also check the expiry date. Regardless of whether you wish to take advantage of the warranty or not, always ask if one is available. If the dealer does not offer a warranty, you should be sceptical as it could indicate a problem with the caravan.

Some laws protect individuals from buying anything from dealers. You need to know your rights as a buyer, the most important things to know are:

  1. The caravan’s condition must be exactly how the seller has described it
  2. The caravan must be of satisfactory quality and must fit its purpose.

The second point doesn’t follow for defects that the seller drew the purchaser’s attention to or defects that should have been discovered from examinations.

Satisfactory quality means that the goods meet the standards that a reasonable person would consider as satisfactory while considering the price, age, description of goods, and other important circumstances.

Consumer legislation in 2003 gives more rights to purchasers called the “Sale of Consumer Goods Regulations” which allows purchasers to ask for replacement or repair of any items that do not meet a satisfactory quality. It also gives the courts the authority to order sellers to repair or replace defective goods.

The most important part of the regulation is that there is an assumption that all defects discovered within 6 months of the sale must have been there at the point of sale except the seller can prove they weren’t.

Before you leave the dealer’s premises, your caravan should have undergone a comprehensive check to ensure all the road lights, appliances, and brakes are working properly.

Make sure to double-check all the paperwork on all the examinations because once you’ve bought the caravan and left the premises it is your responsibility.

2. Private Sale

Buying from a private sale will help you save more money than buying from dealers. Since you’re directly negotiating with someone, you can land some sweet deals.

However, it does mean that you will have to do in-depth research into the caravan you’re thinking of buying. “Buyer beware” is paramount in this scenario and you need to inspect the caravan and all the documents thoroughly before you decide to buy. Be sure to prepare a checklist before going to buy so you can remember all of the important areas to cover.

Also, if the seller does not have any service records, you should service them before taking the caravan on the road. A service typically costs around £165 but if any problems are detected in the vehicle, the price could increase dramatically.

You should also consider this when comparing prices from the dealer.

Like the rules listed above, the caravan should be as the seller described, but the buyers must also satisfy themselves that they are buying what they believe they are buying.

You can also take a friend along with you to the private sale so they can help you independently verify the answers to your questions and check the receipts or documents that show the history and servicing of the caravan.

3. Manufacturers

You can buy directly from the manufacture if you want to buy a brand-new one, but it could take sometime before it is delivered to you.

It is also possible that some second-hand caravans could be made available by the manufacturer if you keep monitoring them. Sometimes, manufacturers of the most up-market models release refurbished models out for people to buy.

4. Overseas for Private Import

Sometimes you might find a new or used caravan that you intend to buy but isn’t available in the UK. You can always choose to import the caravan so long as it meets all of the legal requirements for you to use in the UK.

You also need to confirm that spares and servicing are available in the UK so getting insurance for it won’t be a challenge. Take note that you will have to register the vehicle with CRiS and get a unique VIN.

5. Auction

You might be able to find some great bargains from auctions. Even though caravans are not typically sold through auctions on a large scale, there are some good deals if you know where to look.

Local auction houses and Larger companies like the BCA for specialist sales are great places to start. You just have to stay confident in what you’re searching for to reduce your risk of purchasing a caravan you’ll not like.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Caravan

1. Second-Hand or Brand New?

This is probably the first thing to come to mind when you decided to buy a caravan. There are no shortages of new and used caravans in the market each with its pros and cons.

While new caravans often give you wider choices to choose from, they often cost more and lose their value much faster than used caravans.

2. Driving License and Weight Restrictions

You should check the towing limit for your car’s model to make sure you have the necessary licenses to drive it. The recommended wight of your laden caravan should match up to 85% of your unladen car’s weight.

If you got your drivers license after 1997, your standard drivers’ license should cover Category B. Category B means that you can drive vehicles of up to 3500kg and can tow trailers that are up to a weight of 750kg behind it.

If your caravan and car are more than that weight, you will need additional licenses to allow you to drive it. The BE category driving test will give you the license to drive car and caravan combinations of up to 8250kg.

As for those that passed their driving test before 1997, they will have the BE category entitlement automatically.

3. Size

Caravans come in all shapes and sizes so you have to decide which you’re looking for that can suit your needs or lifestyle. Typical things to consider are the number of people that will be using it and the layout that would best suit the users. Normally, you should go for the lightest and shortest caravan that can suit your needs.

You should also factor in the car you intend to use to tow it, as the size of the car can limit your caravan options. A large caravan with more space and better equipment would also need a more powerful car to tow it.

A nice compromise is getting a compact caravan and getting an awning for it, instead of buying a large caravan. Caravans that are longer than 7 meters and wider than 2.3 meters will need a commercial vehicle for towing.

You should also consider your garage or wherever you intend to store the caravan. It would be disappointing to get a large caravan and then find out it cannot fit in your garage.

4. Budget

Caravans come in different price ranges and it’s up to you to decide how much you want to spend and balance it out with what you’re looking for. These prices can be significantly different sometimes even among the same brand names.

After getting the asking price, also confirm to make sure all the extras are included and if they’re not, find out how much the extras will add to the cost.

]Ask the seller and check if you need to service the vehicle, change tires or any other hidden extras. The type and cost of insurance should also be considered in the overall cost.

Besides the CRiS Check, What Else to Check Before Buying a New Caravan

1. Check the History

Ask for all the details about the history of the caravan. Check the coded etchings on the windows for the last two numbers so you can determine the caravan age.

Generally, caravans have a practical life of 14 years so stay away from any products that go beyond this. Spare parts availability is also a factor you should consider along with its age.

2. Check for Signs of Damp

Inspect the walls and floor of the caravan for any signs of damp as it could be an indication that the caravan will start rotting away in the nearest future.

Check for bumps on panels, any type of moulds or stains and make sure the floor isn’t spongy underfoot. If you also have a damp meter, you can use it to check the caravan on a dry day.

3. Check the Electrics, Gas and other facilities

If the caravan has mains electricity installed, ask for the latest inspection certificate from a qualified electrical engineer. Faulty systems are dangerous and costly so it might be better for a professional to check it out.

Newer caravans should have hot water system with the shower, oven, heater, fridge and a cassette toilet. Check all of the features in the interior and make sure they are working as they should especially areas with waste and water systems.

4. Check if it’s Watertight

It is important to make sure your vehicle does not allow water penetration as that could also cause extensive damage to the caravan. Check the doors and windows to make sure it has a watertight fit and check if there are any cracks in sealants.

Oil-based sealants typically last for 5 years, acrylic compounds last for 10 years, and silicone-based sealants last for 20 years. Check for the type in the caravan so you’ll know when to reseal.

5. Check the Body

Inspect the chassis of the caravan for any signs of rust and stress cracks. Also, check under the caravan for corrosion and if it is newly painted, you might need to check more carefully as the paint job might be to hide something.

Check the brake components or automatic transmission for any leaks and also inspect the tires as they should ideally be changed every 5 years. Inspect coverings such as stickers because they can hide defects in the vehicle.

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