If you’ve stumbled across this post it’s likely that you’re in the same situation that we were when trying to figure out how to register our self-converted van as a campervan/motorhome in WA… confused AF. Sadly there’s very little information online about the motorhome and campervan registration process in Western Australia and the full conversion requirements and rules. Even worse, when trying to get clarity from the Department of Transport it seems the staff there are unsure on the process also. When we were researching the motorhome registration process we had multiple different contacts from the Department of Transport give us different and contradictory information on the registration process and conversion requirements.
Alas, we have successfully made it out the other side and our self converted sprinter van was successfully approved for a motorhome conversion and a seat removal (from a 3 seater to a 2 seater) on the 7th of November 2022. To try and prevent anyone else from going through the stress and confusion that we went through leading up to this we decided to put together this full guide on the motorhome/campervan registration process in WA, including running through in detail all of the conversion requirements and rules. We hope it helps.
Step 1: Finish your Motorhome Conversion (Ensuring it complies with all requirements outlined in the LH11 checklist)
Firstly, focus on finishing your motorhome conversion, ensuring it complies with all conversion requirements outlined in the LH11 checklist. I will attach the LH11 checklist here, this is what the inspector will go through when inspecting your vehicle. The checklist is quite sparse and doesn’t provide much detail, however these checklist items are expanded on in the LH11 information guide which I will attach here.
Some important requirements from the LH11 Motorhome/Campervan Conversion checklist that you will need to consider include:
- The motorhome/campervan must currently be registered. Our van was registered as a panel van prior to doing the conversion. If your vehicle is not registered currently you’ll need to confirm with the Department of Transport the process for getting it registered.
- The vehicle must include the minimum equipment requirements (seats and a table, sleeping accommodation, cooking facilities and storage facilities).
- All equipment must be rigidly fixed (equipment can be designed to be removable such as a convertible bed/dining area however you need to make sure the equipment doesn’t come loose while driving).
- The weight of the final build must be suitable to the vehicle capacity (we will discuss this more in the next step).
- The vehicle must be in a good mechanical and structural condition (we recommend getting your vehicle serviced prior to the inspection, this is not required but is great for your own peace of mind before travelling and is a great way to show the inspector that the vehicle is in good condition).
- The vehicle must fit within the maximum dimensions (length 12.5 metres, width 2.5 metres, height 4.3 metres and rear overhang should be lesser of 60% of the wheelbase or 3.7 metres). These dimensions include items or equipment that is attached to the vehicle, such as toolboxes or racks that are mounted on the back, solar panels that are mounted on the roof and bull bars or nudge bars that are attached to the front.
- Any cupboard doors should be fitted with latches and hinges of sufficient strength to ensure doors are held shut while driving.
- The driver of the vehicle must have a full and uninterrupted view ahead and to each side of the vehicle. The driver must also have a clear view of any following or overtaking vehicles.
- The number of designated seating positions must be equal to or greater than the number of sleeping-berths in the motorhome. For example, a motorhome that has 3 sleeping positions must also have 3 seating positions for use while driving.
- Any swivel seats must be able to be locked against rotation while the vehicle is driving.
- Sufficient ventilation is required when driving and when stationary. Unless other forms of ventilation are provided at least 50% of the windows must be able to be opened. Our sprinter van does not have any openable windows in the cargo area however we had a skylight and an exhaust fan to assist with ventilation.
- Any AC electrical setup must be installed by a qualified electrician who will need to provide you with an Electrical Safety Certificate. Any DC electrical work can be done by yourself and will not require installation by an electrician, just make sure it complies with Australian standards. However, if you’re not experienced with electrical circuits we would recommend discussing your electrical work with an electrical engineer or auto electrician to ensure your setup is safe. The electrician required for the AC electrical setup is a ‘standard electrician’ not an auto electrician. We struggled to find an electrician to provide this for us as many were booked out for months or were unwilling to assist as they had never worked on a motorhome before and were not comfortable doing so. Don’t feel disheartened if this is the case for you, we reached out to 20+ electricians and found one who was willing and happy to do the job. And although we didn’t end up going with one as we found someone else available sooner we had great success reaching out to marine/boat specialist electricians who were all willing to assist.
- If gas is being used in the motorhome you must provide a gas compliance certificate. All gas operated appliances and gas containers must comply with Australian Standard AS 5601 – Gas Installations and must be installed by a qualified plumber. We did not include gas in our motorhome conversion to make things easier so I cannot provide any additional insight on getting this certificate.
- A fire extinguisher must be installed in the campervan/motorhome to comply with AS 2444 Portable Fire Extinguishers and Fire Blankets – Selection and Location. The extinguisher must have an AS/NZS 1850 Portable Fire Extinguishers – Classification Rating and Performance Approval Mark showing it has a fire test rating of at least 5B. Make sure the extinguisher is in a position where it is easily accessible during an emergency and make sure the mounting bracket used for installation is fitted so the fire extinguisher does not become dislodged while driving.
- The contents of a toilet pan or urinal must not discharge directly onto the road and must empty into an externally vented tank which is securely attached to the motorhome. The tank must vent directly to the atmosphere. For example, we used a Natures Head composting toilet which vents outside of the van and contains waste in tanks that can be emptied.
- The contents of any basin sink or shower must not drain into any tank into which a toilet pan or urinal empties.
- You must hold copies of any information to assist with describing the vehicle modifications. We kept records of everything just in case and I’d recommend you do the same. For example; the electrical safety certificate, the weigh bridge certificate, the most recent service invoice, any equipment manuals and any invoices for work completed on the van.
I have only done a summary of some of the points here, I urge you to read through the full LH11 information guide to ensure your motorhome complies with all conversion requirements.
In addition to doing the LH11 campervan/motorhome conversion modification we also did the LK1 seat removal modification, changing our van from a 3 seater to a 2 seater. If you’re doing this also you can refer to the LK1 checklist attached here, this is the checklist that the inspector will run through. For more detailed information on what is required for a seat removal refer to the LK1 information guide attached here.
Step 2: Get a Weigh Bridge Certificate
As mentioned in the previous step the weight of the final build must be suitable to the vehicle capacity. There are a few things to consider when looking at an appropriate weight for the motorhome/campervan, these are listed below and are expanded on in the LH11 information guide linked to previously.
- The LH11 motorhome conversion only covers the conversion of any light vehicle (up to 4.5 tonnes GVM).
- The final build must be appropriate to the vehicles GVM (gross vehicle mass). Included in this is:
- The maximum loaded vehicle mass as per the ADR definitions.
- The mass of all equipment, such as toilets, fridges, gas bottles, showers, etc. When waste tanks (grey or black) are installed the mass of these can be reduced by the mass of the water stored in any fresh water tanks.
- The personal effects allowance of 60kg for each of the first two sleeping berths and then 20kg for each additional sleeping berth over the first two. This takes into consideration things such as luggage, cooking utensils and bedding.
- The weight should also be distributed equally throughout the motorhome with the Personal Effects Allowance distributed equally per axle group.
To put this simply, you need to make sure the weight of your final build is less than the GVM for your vehicle minus your personal effects allowance and including all of your equipment with your fresh water tank at full mass. So, we took our van to a weigh bridge when we had finished the build with all of the relevant equipment inside and a full tank of freshwater. Our van ended up weighing 3420kg, considering our Personal Effects Allowance that would take us to 3540kg and our GVM was 4100kg so we were well within our weight limit (which was a relief!).
To find a public weighbridge to have your motorhome weighed here is a link to the industry.gov website which has a map of nearby weighbridges and a full list of all registered public weighbridges you can go to. We went to Atlas Group Pty Ltd in Mirrabooka, it cost $33 including GST and the process was super quick, taking a maximum of 5 minutes. All we had to do was drive onto the weighbridge, get out of the motorhome and approach the counter to pay the fee and receive the measurement ticket. We held onto this measurement ticket to present to the inspector and to keep afterwards for our own records.
Step 3: Apply for a Simple Modification Permit
The next step is to apply for a simple modification permit on the vehicle with the Department of Transport. The LH11 motorhome conversion is classified as a simple modification that does not need written pre-approval from the Department of Transport but does requirement assessment by an Authorised Inspection Station vehicle examiner. Our seat removal was also classed as a simple modification. If you have made any additional modifications you can confirm whether these are classed as simple or complex on the Department of Transport website.
You can apply for the simple modification permit online. Login to DoTDirect, select ‘Vehicles’ and underneath your owned vehicles will be an option that says ‘Have you recently made modifications to your vehicle? You can pre-pay a vehicle modification permit fee’, select this and then pay for the permit. As of writing this post (November 2022) the permit fee is just $73.80. This permit fee covered both of our modifications; the LH11 motorhome/campervan conversion and the LK1 seat removal. Once paid you will be emailed a Vehicle Modification Permit Fee Receipt, keep a record of this and print a copy to present to the inspector on the day of your inspection.
Step 4: Book an Inspection with an Authorised Inspector
Now that you know your van is compliant with all of the LH11 motorhome/campervan conversion requirements and you have all of the documentation to back that up it’s time to book an inspection on the vehicle with an Authorised Inspection Station vehicle examiner.
You can find your local Authorised Inspection Station on the Department of Transport website here. Just give them a call, let them know what you need inspecting and book it in for a date that suits. We went with Kingsley Auto Care who are located in Kingsley. The inspection fee was $181.90 and covered both the LH11 motorhome/campervan conversion and the LK1 seat removal.
On the day of the inspection you will need to bring along your drivers licence, the vehicle modification permit fee receipt and the LH11 motorhome conversion checklist which I linked previously. Additionally you will need to bring along any supporting documentation for your build. In addition to the LH11 motorhome checklist, the LK1 checklist (as we removed a seat) and the modification permit we took along our weighbridge measurement ticket, our electrical safety certificate and the invoice from our recent service on the van. In one of the drawers in the van we also included all of the relevant equipment manuals, while we don’t believe these were required we thought they were good to have just in case the inspector had any questions on the equipment.
While we can’t confirm the process will be the exact same for everyone as we’re sure it varies between different Authorised Inspection Stations, we dropped off the motorhome first thing in the morning (at 7:30am) and left it with the inspector who said they’d let us know when they were finished or if they needed anything prior. We picked up the motorhome at 1:30pm and on pickup the inspector told us that everything looked good on their end but we had to wait for approval from one of the DOT offices. They weren’t able to give us a timeframe on when this would be complete but said they’d let us know. On the same day at 4pm we received a call letting us know we had some paperwork. On arrival we were given the Certificate of Inspection and Motor Vehicle Modification Approval Permit from the inspector who said we had passed.
Step 5: Take your Certificate of Inspection and Motor Vehicle Modification Approval Permit to the DOT
Once you have received the Certificate of Inspection and Motor Vehicle Modification Approval Permit from the inspector you will need to take these in to your local Department of Transport Driver and Vehicle Services Centre. They will take the Certificate of Inspection and will provide you with a Certificate of Variation to Vehicle Detail to confirm the vehicle changes. On this document our body was changed to MOBCVN (mobile caravan) and the seating capacity was changed to 2 (as we removed our 3rd seat).
Again, we can’t confirm the process will be exactly the same for everyone as we’re sure it varies between different Driver and Vehicle Services Centres however we went in to the Cannington centre where we didn’t have to join the waiting area (despite it being quite busy) and were instead told to immediately head up to a specific counter. At this counter we handed the worker out Certificate of Inspection, the Motor Vehicle Modification Approval Permit and our drivers licence and they provided us with the Certificate of Variation to Vehicle Detail. This process took a maximum of 5 minutes.
Step 6: Celebrate!
And now that you have the Certificate of Variation to Vehicle Detail that’s it! Once you reach this step go and celebrate as your vehicle is now successfully registered as a motorhome/campervan.
If you’re interested in learning about our van setup we’ve put together the post ‘Our Full Van Setup‘ which is a full list of everything we used in our van build and exactly where to buy it. If you’re interested in checking out our van you can watch our van tour in the YouTube video below:
Do I Need to Register my Van as a Campervan?
Since uploading this guide we’ve had a lot of people reaching out via our YouTube and via email asking whether you actually need to register your van as a campervan in Australia after doing a conversion.
Firstly, we’d recommend you clarify with your relevant department of transport and insurance company whether you need to register your van as a campervan.
We found putting in additional effort to get our van legally registered as a campervan was worth doing for many reasons, for example:
- Insurance Coverage – If the vehicle is used as a campervan but isn’t registered and insured as a campervan you can have issues with insurance if an accident were to happen. Prior to completing our build we’d heard stories where people had their vans written off only for insurance not to cover it because they weren’t registered correctly as a campervan. We didn’t want to take that risk.
- Resell Value – Having the vehicle registered correctly and having the conversion ‘approved’ increases it’s resell value. Having the build approved legally gives more confidence in buyers who may be interested in it. We spent a lot of money on our van build so it only made sense to get it legally registered and approved as a campervan.
Ultimately the answer to whether you need to register your van as a campervan in Australia will vary depending on your location and the transport regulations within your state so we can’t answer this for you. You will need to confirm with your insurer and department of transport. However we found the additional effort was worth doing things ‘correctly’ and making sure we were 100% covered, if you’re spending a lot of time/money in your build we’d definitely recommend doing the same.