All you need to know about camper vans and VRT
Take the stress out of buying a camper van and avoid extra expense with our guide to VRT on imports and conversions
If you’re buying a camper van advertised on DoneDeal it’s very important to be aware of vehicle registration tax (VRT) obligations before you pay over any money.
If the VRT is not already paid you will want to ensure you can afford the VRT due – it’ll be 13.3% of the taxable value – and the taxable value could be well more than what you’re paying for the vehicle.
How camper VRT is estimated
There are no trade guides that track the value of motor caravans because there are so many variables. The official word will come from Revenue who calculate VRT for these vehicles individually following presentation for registration or declaration of conversion.
Eamonn Campion is Assistant Principal, Central Vehicle Office, Revenue Commissioners, based in Rosslare Harbour.
“It’s not what you or I might sell our camper van for, it’s what we think a dealer in the State would sell it for,” he explains.
It’s important to understand that private advertisements (such as on DoneDeal ) aren’t a great guide to the taxable value: “I’d expect it to be cheaper actually [on DoneDeal], because the private seller is not trying to cover overheads and he’s not trying to make a profit and doesn’t have tax obligations.”
Left-hand drive versus right-hand drive
If you’re planning on crossing Continental Europe in a camper van, a ‘left-hand drive’ will make it easier to drive lengthy distances safely in countries that drive on the right-hand side of the road.
However, if the byroads of Ireland or the UK is as far as you will venture, then a right-hand drive camper van is more your style.
Paying VRT on imported factory-built camper vans
- Before you buy check that the logbook describes the vehicle correctly so that you don’t have to make a ‘declaration of conversion’ (see converted van section below).
- Imported factory-built camper vans must be presented to the National Car Testing Service (NCTS) which Revenue has outsourced vehicle registration to.
- The NCTS does a physical examination of the vehicle and will send Revenue over details so they can calculate its taxable value.
- Revenue uses photos of the vehicle to judge the condition, and do their valuation research. It can be a good idea for owners to submit photos (external and internal to illustrate make, model, version, extent and quality of conversion, overall condition) to the NCTS who may be able to transmit them as scans to Revenue in addition to electronically messaging the vehicle details. Revenue may have to contact owners where the NCTS is unable to provide scans to Revenue in time, or of a sufficient quality.
- The NCTS then asks you for 13.3% of the taxable value.
- When you pay you will get your registration number from the NCTS and when you tax the vehicle you will get the vehicle registration documents.
- Appeals are possible but must be supported with valuation research.
VRT on converted vans
There are also plenty of vans that have been converted to camper vans as a pastime or as a means to sell on a commercial vehicle.
Campion recommends that camper van buyers mustn’t assume that the VRT has been paid on that conversion.
“I think they should ask to see the vehicle registration documents. And they should try to satisfy themselves from the description on the vehicle registration document that the vehicle has been declared to Revenue as having been converted into a motor caravan, because otherwise they may find themselves liable.”
The typical candidate for conversion is be an older van, with three seats in the front – on which VRT of €50 VRT had been paid, explains Campion.
However, the VRT is unlikely to remain at €50 once converted. “When it’s converted into a motor caravan it attracts additional VRT and the rate then is 13.3% of its tax and duty inclusive retail value in the state.”
If someone who’s gifted with their hands converts a Transit, for example, into a motor caravan, they are obliged to declare that conversion to Revenue. However, this isn’t just clear-cut form filling – the vehicle must be first declared roadworthy by a suitably qualified individual.
What owners have to do
- Download the VRT CONV form.
- Fill out the Vehicle Owner’s Declaration of Conversion on this form.
- Get a suitably qualified person e.g. an engineer to draw up a declaration of conversion (details on form).
What Revenue does
- On receipt of the form Revenue is likely to request photos and other details from the owner to try and gauge the standard of conversion and the condition of the vehicle.
- Revenue will invariably ask for photos, so it would be more efficient for all concerned if owners enclose photos (external and internal to illustrate make, model, version, extent and quality of conversion, overall condition) with declarations.
- Revenue researches and calculates the taxable value of the vehicle, factoring in:
- the make
- the standard of conversion
- The owner’s local Revenue tax office will request payment (not MotorTax or the NCTS)
- Once payment has been confirmed the owner will be sent a document to submit when renewing motor tax for that vehicle.
Who to contact
Your local Revenue office is your first point of contact on a VRT matter.
Campers or camper vans are officially known as motor caravans. A motor caravan is a defined term in EU law and Revenue uses that definition as a tax category.
To be deemed a motor caravan, a vehicle must be a special purpose EU category M1, M2, or M vehicle 3, and must be constructed to include living accommodation which contains at least the following equipment:
- seats and table, sleeping accommodation – which may be converted from the seats
- cooking facilities and storage facilities
Quality of living accommodation
It should be noted that this equipment must be rigidly fixed in the living compartment; however the table may be designed to be easily removable.
Be aware some people have converted vans into motor caravans to a very basic standard. Have a think about whether you are looking for luxury or the bare basics before buying.
While you may be tempted to just pick up a camping stove for your camper van – it should be rigidly fixed in the vehicle. Any gas cooking appliance should be installed properly and safely.
If you’ve put in the cupboards yourself ask if you brake suddenly, are the cupboards going to stay where you put them? Also consider extra weight of what you install in the camper van and how this effects Gross Vehicle Weight e.g. the gauge of plywood that you might use in your home could be pressure heavy.