Living With Our Rapido 963f Le Randonneur Motor Home.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

What Type Of MOT Test Does My Motorhome Require?

This is another aspect of UK motorhome ownership that causes confusion not only to its owner, but also to those within the MOT trade.
And it revolves around this - the locker or "garage" that is sometimes provided within the body of a motorhome that is capable of carrying "goods". The provision of such a garage in a motorhome could have serious implications in relation to how it is tested for being roadworthy as I will try and explain now.

Yesterday, I submitted our Rapido motorhome for a weighbridge certificate in it's fully loaded touring trim. It revealed that it's total gross weight as we intend to use it was 3340 kg, with a front axle weight of 1640 kg and a rear axle weight of 1660 kg. The plated weight limits are 3500 kg gross, front axle 1850 kg, and rear axle 2120 kg, so we are well within limits. This now opens up the possibility of placing an 85 kg 50cc motor scooter in the rear "garage". However, there is one last thing to consider.

Motorhomes are registered in the UK with DVLA with the body type "Motor Caravan". In the past VOSA (Vehicle and Operator's Services Agency), now called Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency from April 2014, applied the term quite loosely, but in recent years have become more strict in applying the regulations. There are two different vehicle definitions that apply here, and first we need to look at those.

A motor caravan is a motor vehicle, not being a living van, which is constructed or adapted for the carriage of passengers and their effects and which contains, as permanently installed equipment , the facilities which are reasonably necessary to enable the vehicle to provide mobile living accommodation for its users. Motor caravans are not classed as goods vehicles for MOT test purposes and are therefore in the class IV or V depending on their seating capacity but regardless of their size or weight.

A living van is a vehicle, whether mechanically propelled or not, which is used as living accommodation by one or more persons and which is also used for the carriage of goods or burden which are not needed by one or more such persons for the purposes of their residence within the vehicle. Living vans are classed as goods vehicles, and depending on their weight, are either class IV or VII within the MOT test scheme or are subject to HGV plating and testing.

This is all becoming a little legalese, but in plain terms what does it mean for the likes of me?

For vehicles with a gross vehicle weight between 3000 kg and 3500 kg.

Goods are not restricted to items carried for "hire or reward", and in this context are items that are "not needed by persons for the purpose of their residence within the vehicle", but could, and does throw open the possibility that cycles and mopeds could be classed as goods here.

It is up to the owner of the vehicle to declare at the time of testing what purpose the vehicle is to be used for. A class IV test could be conducted in these circumstances, even with the garage, but if carriage of goods intent is declared, then a class VII test will be conducted. If subsequent Police roadside checks reveal that the vehicle is being used for carriage of goods, and the correct test certificate is not in place, then a prosecution could follow.

Vehicles in these classes are the subject of testing after the first 3 years of use, and then annually thereafter.

For vehicles weighing over 3500 kg gross maximum vehicle weight.

Vehicles that are classed as "living vans" as above, and are over 3500 kg gross vehicle weight become the subject of the Goods Vehicle (Plating and testing) Regulations 1988, and as such are required to be tested after their 1st year of use, and then annually thereafter. The testing process for this class of vehicle is also more complicated.

See Vehicle Classes for MOT for information on classes of vehicle in relation to the MOT testing scheme.

A quick check of my own motorhome's MOT test history reveals that it has been tested as a standard class IV motor caravan in its past. However, the dealer who sold it to me submitted it for testing as a class VII living van, as it is capable of carrying a moped within it's "garage". Consequently, I am now fully legally entitled to carry a scooter for transportation once at our destination if I choose to do so.


  1. The classification for a motorhome can never be anything other than class 4 or class 5 regardless of weight, and the definition of goods carried do not apply because it is temporary accommodation.

    A live in van is a different thing altogether, it is living accommodation and in most cases are converted lorries or coaches and this is where the wording: which is also used for the carriage of goods or burden which are not needed by one or more such persons for the purposes of their residence within the vehicle.

    Some people are wrongly thinking and applying the terminology of the wording used for live in vans to motorhomes, I have read articles written by dft doing the same thing,

    This is how stupid the situation can be, if you are classing a moped as goods then we would have to include surf boards, canoes, guns, fishing rods, musical instruments,

    The only thing that would become a problem is if you are actually living in a motorhome and don't have a permanent address.

    I'm an mot tester for class 4, 5L, & 7

  2. Thanks for your detailed comment Roger. My point is the legislation here is not defined properly and open to interpretation differently by different agencies. Try explaining this to a Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (ex VOSA) officer at a roadside stop, or worse still, a Guardia Seville officer in Spain. My MOT test centre recommended I have the class 7 MOT carried out as I was carrying goods, (a motor scooter) in a vehicle weighing between 3000kg and 3500kg, that was not directly connected with my own or someone else's residence within my motor home, i.e camping equipment, food, clothes etc etc, regardless of whether the carried goods were for hire or reward or not. My article is simply to point out to readers the inconsistencies as a result of this, and the choice is theirs as to which type of test they choose, and as a result may make life easier if stopped at the roadside. The definitions of a motor caravan and a living van I used above, are defined in law, and would be used to prosecute any offence suspected to have been committed, and then also to prove that offence in court. It is irrelevant that "most living vans are converted lorries or buses". If your vehicle fits the definition, then that is what it is - in law. Ultimately it would be a court who decided if an offence had been committed or not by carrying a scooter within a motorhome on a class 4 MOT, but that doesn't mean the driver would not have had to endure much inconvenience on the way there. I am a retired police officer who specialised in road traffic law in relation to goods vehicles.

  3. An interesting development in this debate from me after this year's MOT test when I used a different test centre. They refused to test the motorhome as a class VII, as I suggested as necessary when carrying 'goods' other than those required for use while camping, and issued the standard class IV pass certificate. Doh!

  4. Your motor scooter is a personal possession, so it is not classed as goods. Goods are usually defined as items for carrying out a trade, transporting for money or sale. If that was not so, then anything carried (clothes etc.,) would also be goods.

    1. Unfortunately I can't agree. According to the Road Traffic Act 1988 a goods vehicle is " a motor vehicle constructed or adapted for use for the carriage of goods, or a trailer so constructed or adapted".

      "The carriage of goods" includes the haulage of goods.

      "Goods" includes "goods" or a "burden" of any description - a burden being anything that contributes to a "load", and not necessarily carried for hire or reward.

      The definitions I used in my article of "motor caravan" - the description most often used for the mot, V5 registration document etc. for most motorhomes states that " not being a living van it is constructed or adapted for the carriage of passengers and their effects, and which contains as permanently installed equipment the facilities which are reasonably necessary to enable the vehicle to provide living accomodation to its users". This means a motor caravan can legitimately carry clothes, food, awnings etc. Anything that the users might use for camping together with the vehicle.

      However, a motor scooter may be classed as unnecessary for any of the vehicle's users for camping and could be seen as an additional vehicle which could be used for further transport once at the destination, or, as in the case of race vans - a racing car or bike. This is when the scooter could be argued in law to be "goods".

      Therefor it could be then said that if a scooter is carried within the vehicle, it is a "burden" which would then define the vehicle as a "living can", also defined above in English law, and a "goods vehicle".

      As I have pointed out already, this scenario is too vaguely defined, and would be tested in court before any prosecution would take place, but that would not stop an enthusiastic police traffic officer or Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency officer from reporting a driver who they believed was committing the offence. This of course would be an inconvenience to the vehicle owner, and could also be costly if defence solicitors were required for court.

      It must be noted that ALL offences in English law have a definition. To successfully prosecute any offence in court, each aspect of the definition MUST be proved beyond reasonable doubt. Prosecution solicitors use the definition to do their job, as do defence solicitors. One example I can give that comes up often is theft. Theft is defined in English law as " a person dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it". To gain a successful prosecution in court, each aspect of the definition must be proved, and each part of it, such as dishonest, property, appropriate, permanently deprive, must all be proved beyond all reasonable doubt.
      So - if I enter a supermarket, pick up a sweater, walk outside with it without paying, and get arrested for theft, can I be convicted of the offence? If I could show that I had sufficient funds on me to pay for the item, and was just taking the item outside to check its colour in daylight, then probably not - there is insufficient evidence that it was my intention to "permanently deprive" the store owner of their property.

      A similar scenario would occur if the driver of a motorhome with a motor scooter on board was summoned to court for having the wrong MOT test certificate.

  5. One of my friends described all about My Car Check App and it helped understanding the simplest way of clearing MOT and paying road tax on time.


I appreciate your comment, but anonymous ones or those containing promotional links will not be published.

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.