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DIY van conversion paperwork

Making your DIY van conversion road-legal

DIY van conversions: So hot right now. 

Whether you’re only just starting to ponder taking on a DIY van conversion project or you're putting the final touches on your new favorite adventuremobile, welcome to the world of vanlife! Like a lot of fantastic things in life, it comes with paperwork.

What boxes do you need to check to make sure your custom dreamride is administratively road-ready? Take a quick gander:

  1. Get up to snuff. Make sure that your van meets safety requirements. Check your state’s rules on seat belts, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and brake lights.

  2. Get expert eyes on. Take that big metal puppy to your closest inspection-certified mechanic to catch any issues that would make it a potential danger to you or other drivers, and get ahead of fixing them before your official inspection.

  3. Weigh-in. For all vehicle modifications, you must obtain a vehicle weight slip. You can get vehicle weight slips at most vehicle/metal scrapyards, and some auto-parts stores and mechanics, especially those specializing in vehicle modifications and camper body/equipment sales and installation. A couple reasons for this: You've likely just add a bedframe, mattress, interior siding, sink/shower, and appliances/furniture to what was once a shell of a van – it goes without saying that it got heavier in the process. Weighing in ensures that your van isn't overloaded – which can be both dangerous and illegal –and ensures that your van is properly equipped to handle the weight of any additional gear or supplies that you plan on carrying.

  4. Get registered – online or head to your nearest DMV. If your van was previously registered as Commercial, you can now register it as Passenger class providing it has 

    1. at least one side window behind the driver, and

    2. at least one seat or set of seat fittings that is installed behind the driver, or

    3. camping equipment that is installed behind the driver.

      1. 'camping equipment' indicates that you have a permanent bed, a permanent stove, or a permanent refrigerator in the vehicle

      2. if you install seats behind the driver, you must also install seatbelts that meet NY State Occupant Restraint Law requirements (source)

  5. Get inspected. You already know your stuff's up to snuff, so this should be pretty painless. Head to the closest inspection location with your registration in hand.

  6. Get insured. – Hey! That’s us! Roamly covers DIY van conversions, which is a pretty big deal – besides, bundling RV insurance with your existing home or auto plans can cost you big time. 

  7. Print out your documentation – proof of insurance, registration, inspection info, the works– and put it all in a spiffy folder for your glovebox.

And you’re good to go! Enjoy vanlife knowing you have your administrative ducks in order. 

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