Updated: Jul 15
In this guide we will look at the complete process of converting a campervan in Ireland. Where to purchase your van, where to buy supplies, how to do the conversion, and how to navigate the tricky politics of getting it on the road! I'm Shane, van conversion instructor at Udemy, digital nomad, and proud owner of a beautiful self-build campervan called Beans. Now, let's dive right in!
The Irish Campervan Boom
The #VanLife movement has exploded in Ireland over the past few years. People are seeking freedom and simplicity, in a time when everything seems hard and complicated. Spurred on by social media and travel bans, 1000's of campervans were bought and sold in Ireland in 2020, bringing in a new age of domestic wandering. It's the reason I created The Van Conversion Course!
In this article, we will look at the key things to be aware of when converting a campervan in Ireland.
Buying your van
There are three primary options on where to purchase your van from:
The best sites for purchasing vans online in Ireland are:
2. Used Car Dealership
Used car dealerships are scattered throughout the country, many can even be found selling through the online sites mentioned above.
Some dealerships include:
3. Van Dealership
If you have the cash lying around, it can be nice knowing that you have a brand new van which will last you a while. No inheriting other people's problems.
Here are some of the biggest van dealers in Ireland:
You could also think about buying your van from Northern Ireland, there have been some pretty good deals going up there since Brexit talks began! Bear in mind, you will have to pay VRT for any vehicle imported access the border; for panel vans this is a flat fee €200. Check out some NI vans on AutoTrader.
Before Buying your Van
If you have chosen to buy your van online or from a used car dealership, make sure to do your due diligence.
Check the VIN number on AutoCheck
Check if there is any finance on the vehicle.
Be sure to get a mechanic / engineer to check it out before you head out.
Ask if the logbook and service history is available
How many previous owners were there?
What was the van used for?
What is the age and mileage like? Rough rule of thumb: go for <100,000km
When building out your van, you will be purchasing supplies from two places: online and from physical stores. As a rough guide, you should spend about half the price of the van on the conversion itself.
You can find the complete list of supplies for a van conversion in Ireland (all the supplies I bought) here: supplies list
I purchased most of my van supplies online. Everything from the fridge, to the solar panels, to the wiring. Here are the sites which I used:
There were some things which simply couldn't and shouldn't be purchased online. From the enormous amount of wood needed, to the insulation, to the mattress for the bed. I used the following physical stores
Chadwicks (For pretty much everything)
Woodies (More expensive than Chadwicks, but needed sometimes)
Ikea (For making the van feel like home)
Cosy Campers (for campervan specific gadgetry)
I bought most of my supplies brand new, but obviously this isn't necessary. Pallet wood has become very popular due to its rustic look. You can also pick up used supplies from Adverts, DoneDeal, or the array of other second hand sites out there.
Building your campervan
An entire guide to building a campervan wouldn't fit in a single blog post, so check out The Van Conversion Course if you are interested in building your own campervan. It's a start to finish video course on Udemy, walking you through the entire process of building a campervan.
A complete guide to getting you van on the road (VERY IMPORTANT)
Once you have built your camper, you are about halfway there, the next step is to get it on the road. I'm not going to lie, the politics of getting your newly built campervan on the road can be a bit of a headwrecker and more than a little confusing, so here is a complete guide on how to do it! You can find revenue's requirements here.
The following steps are in chronological order:
Get an SQI Engineer to inspect your campervan, they will give you a certificate saying it is a safe build, and also some forms to send to revenue. I would highly recommend Cillian O'Cinneide (Based in Dublin), send me a message if you want his contact details.
Book a CVRT test for a month out (The waiting list is long and this give you time to get everything in order). The CVRT is the road safety test for commercial vehicles.
Send all documentation to revenue including:
SQI Engineer's report
10 photos of the campervan (6 inside / 4 outside)
Declaration of conversion (SQI gives you this) - you need to put the estimated total cost of the conversion on this form, ie. the total from all receipts of materials purchased.
Copy of ALL receipts of everything that was used in the conversion
4. After 10 days or so you should receive confirmation that revenue are happy with your conversion and a request to pay VRT by bank draft. The VRT is 13.3% of the estimated current value of vehicle (average cost of a van of similar age + cost of conversion). To give you an Idea, I paid €1600 in VRT, so they estimated my current value was about €12,300. Go to your bank, get a bank draft and send it by mail to Revenue in Rosslare harbour, Wexford.
5. After a couple days you should receive a confirmation of assessment of declaration of conversion form. Revenue have received your payment, wooop!
6. Time to insure yourself, here are your options: Dolmens require a walkway between front and back, but don't require 5 years no claims. Stuarts insurance requires 5 years no claims, but doesn't require a walkway. The Motorcaravan club of Ireland simply require 'bodily access' to the front of the van, however they are about twice the price. All insurance suppliers have the same requirements as revenue (window, cooking facility, bed, etc). Note that only the motorcaravan club will insure you if your roof is less than 6ft high. Last resort: Here's a horror story... I had no walkway in my van, nor did I have 5 years no claims as I lived in Canada about 4 years ago. So, I got declined insurance by ALL THREE suppliers... I had to approach Insurance Ireland, a government body to help me get insurance. If you have no other option, the ombudsman at Insurance Ireland will get you sorted.
7. Next, you need to bring the van into your local Motor tax office so they can inspect it. You will need to give them the original vehicle registration certificate and sign the RF111 form. When they are happy, you will pay the motor tax and then receive the new logbook for the vehicle stating that the class has changed from Commercial (C) to campervan (M1). Lockdown Note: During lockdown, the motortax office has been closed - they are only accepting forms by mail. Send photocopies of the following to them: SQI report, photos of inside and outside, vehicle registration certificate (original), Checklist, RF111 form, Declaration of conversion.
8. Final step: go get your CVRT test. They need you to be registered as a camper class (M1) first.
Happy days. Stress over. Camper done.
Building a campervan is super fun, you get awesome DIY skills, it can be cheaper than purchasing one, it's totally custom, and you might be able to sell it for a profit. GO DO IT!
Let me know if the comments if you have any more tips or tricks for converting in Ireland!
Happy van converting :)