Is It Illegal To Live In A Camper Van Permanently?

Can you live in a Camper Van? As I’ve Probably mentioned numerous times, I live in the UK. I used to live in Spain until recently, and I’ve travelled widely. My knowledge of Law is limited, but I have researched this subject thoroughly enough to give an answer in Layman’s terms.

There is no current law in the UK stating that anyone can’t live in a Camper Van permanently.

However, with that being said, there are numerous Laws relating to the Camper Van itself, it’s condition, where it is placed, whether it is considered a mobile structure or not and if it is preventing access to emergency vehicles or other residents.

So we’ll discuss the main points that I unearthed during my research and finish up with some FAQ’s and other points that you should probably consider before you take the plunge and opt for a full on “Van Life“.

Does My Camper Van Have To Be Roadworthy For Me To Live In It?

Is It Illegal To Live In A Camper Van Permanently - Roadworthy

Yes, and No.

If you plan to live in a Camper Van and it is on a Public Road in the UK and you are in charge of operating it, you must hold a Full Driving Licence (showing that you are actually capable or operating it).

The Camper Van itself needs to have a valid MOT Certificate stating that it is currently roadworthy (The MOT is a test showing that it reaches the basic minimum safety and emissions requirements to be allowed on the roads amongst other vehicles and pedestrians), It needs to have Road Tax (showing that you have paid your fair share towards the upkeep of the road networks that you are using) and you need to have Insurance (Generally, you need Insurance in case of fire, theft and third party liability, but you can get away with just having third party liability insurance by Law).

These are the minimum requirements to have a vehicle on a Public Road in the UK. I know that the majority of Countries Worldwide have similar requirements, so if you’re not from the UK, look your own Country’s requirements up.

If you are going to live in a Camper Van any place other than a Public Road, then there is no requirement for your Camper Van to be Roadworthy, nor for it to have any of the other things listed above. It can basically be a vehicle shaped shell that does not move.

Are There Laws Preventing Me From Living In A Camper Van?

Is It Illegal To Live In A Camper Van Permanently - Illegal or Legal

There are currently no laws stating that can’t live in a Camper Van. The issues in Law all concern where the Camper Van is situated when you are living in it, and how long it is going to be there for.

How Can I Get Mail If I Live In A Camper Van Permanently?

Is It Illegal To Live In A Camper Van Permanently - Getting Mail In A Camper Van

Taking the plunge to live in a Camper Van permanently can bring with it a few other problems, one of the major ones being, how to get your mail.

Certain Government Agencies will insist that you have some form of “Care of” address as a minimum for official correspondence. Most will accept a “PO Box“. However, some agencies, such as Tax Officials and Pension Providers may not.

My Government Pension Provider (I retired young at 47!) insisted that we had to have a “Care of” address otherwise they would stop my pension payments, which they did, briefly, while I was sorting something out.

We got around not having an address when we were travelling by asking my Brother if I could use his home address for my mailing address, which he kindly agreed to.

If you have a trusted family member, this could be an easy solution for you too, providing you don’t mind them opening your mail, which I didn’t.

I also remember reading many years ago in Tim Ferriss’ enlightening book “The Four Hour Work Week“, that there are also Companies that will provide you with a mailing address, open your mail for you, scan it and email you copies of anything that seems important. This could be an option if if you decide to live in a Camper Van and a Family Member isn’t willing to help out, or if you don’t have one.

What Are The Implications Of Becoming “Of No Fixed Abode” (NFA) If You Live In A Camper Van?

Is It Illegal To Live In A Camper Van Permanently - No Fixed Abode

The implications of becoming of No Fixed Abode (NFA) can be far reaching. As I’ve just mentioned, Government Agencies generally want to know where you are, for all sorts of different reasons. Here’s a list of people who may insist on you having a “Fixed” address, or at least a “Care of” address:

  • A Doctor
  • A Dentist
  • Your Bank for your essential Bank Account
  • A Credit Card Provider
  • A Hospital for ongoing Hospital Appointments, Treatment and Prescriptions
  • Your Pension Provider if applicable
  • The Tax Man
  • Your Insurance Company for Vehicle, Personal Possessions and Life Insurance policies

I’m sure there will be several more, but you can get the general idea that it won’t be as easy as you think to live “Outside of the Matrix” so to speak from seeing the list above.

Can I Buy A Cheap Piece Of Land And Live In A Camper Van On It?

Is It Illegal To Live In A Camper Van Permanently - Living On Agricultural Land

Yes, and No once again.

Some land will be fine for you to live in a Camper Van on, for a limited period, usually set at 28 days, providing there are no other legal reasons stating otherwise.

Some land is sold with an Agricultural Tie in the deeds. Such as having a stipulation stating that the land must be used for Farming or for the Grazing of Animals. If you buy this type of land and don’t use it for the stated purpose, you won’t be allowed to legally live in a Camper Van on it.

If you do put your Camper Van on land with an Agricultural Tie, you will have to prove that you have a profitable farming business within 3 years (earning at least £26,000/year, the UK minimum wage), and you will have to prove that you are actually, physically farming the land. You will also need planning permission to live in the Camper Van while you farm!

I came across a very informative post on putting a Mobile Home on Agricultural Land in the UK. It it worth reading, you can find it here…

Can I Live In A Camper Van On Non-Agricultural Land

If however you buy a piece of land without Covenants and without an Agricultural Tie, you can live in a Camper Van on your own land for 28 consecutive days, then you will have to apply for either a licence or planning permission to stay for longer. Failure to apply for either or these after the 28 days carries a £2,500 fine and you will be evicted.

There are some odd ways to get around these restrictions, such as splitting your plot into numerous smaller plots with the land registry, and moving every 28 days to the next one. Is that really worth the hassle? It might be easier and cheaper to just apply for planning or a licence!

If you own a house on the land where you plan to park and live in your Camper Van, there is no restriction on how long you can live in the Camper Van for. It counts as an additional room, by law. However, surely this defeats the object of having a Camper Van, as you could just stay in the house instead!

Where Is A Good Place To Park A Camper Van To Live In It?

Is It Illegal To Live In A Camper Van Permanently - Living On Aires

Mainland Europe is covered with a network of Aires (places to stop, empty your sewage and fill up with clean water), many of them are free. I have used quite a few.

There don’t appear to be any Aires in the UK, but there are numerous Camp Sites which are easily affordable and where you can do all of the above.

Many Farms are amiable to have you stay on their land for a small fee in the UK. Alternatively, you can Boondock regularly for overnight stays in different towns and cities.

Is It Legal To Sleep In A Camper Van On The Public Road?

Is It Illegal To Live In A Camper Van Permanently - Sleeping On Public Roads In A Camper Van

Yes, it is legal to sleep in a Camper Van on a public road, providing your Camper Van complies with all of the regulations regarding Roadworthiness, Insurance and Licensing ,as mentioned above, and you are not obstructing any access routes.

Is It Illegal To Live In A Camper Van FAQ’s – Other Considerations

How often will I need to empty sewage and top up with water?
Each Camper Van will be different and there are many different types of Camper Van Toilets as well as Fresh Water and Waste Tank sizes. However, a good park figure to keep in mind for planning purposes would be every 3-4 days.

Can I have Internet in the Camper Van?
You can and should have good reliable Internet coverage when you are in your Camper Van. Having Camper Van Internet is almost a must in this paperless, information age. There are multiple ways to get good, reliable Internet coverage for your Camper van, both expensive and affordable ways. I will be writing a detailed post on this subject soon, so watch out for it.

Do I need a TV Licence to watch TV in the Camper Van?
Strangely to me, if you are in the UK, you must have a TV Licence if you have a device capable of watching or recording the BBC Channels in the Camper Van.

If you maintain a fixed residence as well as living in a Camper Van with a TV, you can fill in a declaration form stating that you do not watch TV at your Main Residence and in your Camper Van at the same time, but you will still need a TV Licence for your Main Address, so if you have a TV in the UK, you will need a TV Licence registered somewhere.