Once you’ve found a bus that you want to convert into an RV for registration, it’s not as difficult as you might think. The rules do vary depending on which state you live in, but as long as the bus meets those requirements, you should have no problems.
Read on to find out how to register a bus as an RV.
General Requirements to Register Your Bus as an RV
Always be sure to check the title if you have one before you head off to your local DMV. If you don’t have one, the DMV should be able to replace it after you fill out some paperwork.
Bill of Sale
This will be important so the DMV knows that your bus belongs to only you
Certification of Weight
You’ll need to know your bus’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). Normally this will be included with the paperwork for your RV, but if not, just head off to just about any truck stop to use a certified CAT scale that will accurately weigh your bus.
Photos of Your Conversion
Take as many detailed pics as you can when you make any modifications, especially when adding things like appliances and furniture.
Always be sure to get your bus inspected at a Certified RV Inspection point. You can find these stations nearly anywhere, or just go to the National RV Vehicles Inspectors Association (NRVIA) website to find the nearest inspection point.
Proof of Insurance
Be sure your insurance properly covers your bus-turned-RV and to bring a copy with you to the DMV.
Meeting the Definition of an RV
When we’re talking about the “definition” of an RV, please note that the following items are PERMANENTLY installed on your bus/RV.
Designated sleeping area with beds
This includes any type of furniture including regular beds, bunk beds and any furniture that converts into a bed.
This can be any space that will be used as a toilet area, shower, steamroom, etc.
Food Preparation Area
Areas designated as a kitchen will normally include a sink, drain area, cupboards, countertop and other goodies.
Stove With a Fuel Source (Propane or Electric)
It’s really your choice when building out your kitchen with how you wish to power it. Some owners use propane or electric, and some people use both.
“Refrigerator” can be defined as nearly anything to keep you perishables such as vegetables and meats fresh. Refrigerators are not size restricted.
Water Source (Freshwater Tank and/or a Connection to a Shore Water Source
Most RV water tanks are designated as:
- Fresh Tank: Holds a fresh water supply
- Black Tank: Holds waste water (Toilet)
- Gray Tank: Holds you RV’s main water supply such as sink, shower, etc.
Electrical System Installed (States That Require This Will Want to Verify That it’s Going to be at Least 110 Volts
Of course other, higher voltage systems can be used, but as a standard, a 110 Volt system that powers most kitchen appliances, phones and more are what will be looked at.
Valid Driver’s License
Yes, we know, but you’d be surprised at how many people either don’t know where their license is or find out that it’s expired.
Step by Step Guide
Gather Your Documentation Once the Bus Is Converted
You will need the VIN number of the bus, the title, proof of insurance, the bus license plates and a weight certificate showing empty weight. There will be variations from state to state, but these are the most common requirements.
Make Photocopies of All Receipts for Your Expenses To Convert the Bus
Focus on major expenses like appliances and lumber, not nuts and bolts. Take photos of the bus conversion. Before and after photos are good, but include at least an interior and exterior shot of the completed work in your documentation.
Download and Print Out an Application for a Motor Home Title From Your State’s DMV Site
If that is not possible, pick one up at your local DMV office, and fill it out completely.
Take the Application and Documentation to the DMV
If a physical inspection of the conversion or verification of the VIN is needed, you will need to take the RV as well. Check your state's requirements by calling your DMV office, or checking their website.
The State of Vermont: An Exception to the Rules
Age of The Bus
In Vermont, the age of your bus will determine if you receive a regular title or what’s known as a transferable registration. If the bus is less than 15 years old you’ll receive a title.
If more than 15 years old, you’ll receive a transferable registration. The registration will allow for registration, but is not as powerful as a full title.
Registration and Titling
Go to the state website to download Form VD119. In some cases Vermont residents may also need to fill out Form VT-010-VIN for their VIN number verification. All filled forms will need to be given to the local DMV office.
As you read, registering your bus as an RV is relatively simple as long as you make sure you are prepared and have the correct paperwork in hand. So get your bus registered and get out on the road to enjoy life.