Getting Legal: Registering a School Bus as an RV Getting Legal: Registering a School Bus as an RV
We knew this would be an issue. There are lots of horror stories online about the runaround people get from their state’s DMV or... Getting Legal: Registering a School Bus as an RV

We knew this would be an issue. There are lots of horror stories online about the runaround people get from their state’s DMV or DOT trying to convert their new School Bus’s title into a private RV. It’s a necessary step for several reasons: registration for a bus—which is considered a commercial vehicle—is often much more expensive ($165 as opposed to over $1200 in IL), so is insurance, and in many states the type of driver’s license you need changes depending on your title. Usually, a regular license is enough for a motorhome, but private buses and commercial trucks often have different requirements.

This can be a challenge because many states require an inspection of a finished vehicle to change the title. But what do you do in the build phase? Do you spend an arm and a leg to title it as a bus and then change when you are finished with the conversion? Do you pay higher insurance rates until then? Do you keep it in a lot and not drive it until you title it?

Our situation requires that we drive the bus during the conversion. We need to be able to take it over to Home Depot to get lumber. We’re taking it to family for a couple of weeks for help. So, we definitely needed to get it titled and insured.

In Illinois (and every state is different), there is a list of requirements that you must have to be considered an RV:
Cooking appliance with onboard fuel source
Gas or electric fridge
Toilet with exterior evac
Heat/AC with power other than engine
Potable (drinkable) water supply
110v power supply

There are few specifics offered on these systems, but you need to have 4 of the 6. Once you have these systems in place, you need to get an inspection from a special inspector who comes to you (this was also a problem for us, as we keep the bus in Indiana). They sign off on a form that you take back to the Secretary of State, and they will then switch your title. Maybe. You also need to have all of the school bus stuff removed (flashing lights, stop signs) and have it painted a different color. The problem many people encounter in this process is that usually, no one understands what you are talking about. They’ve often never done this before. Sometimes that’s good. Sometimes their ignorance leads them to just change the title without question.

So, we have just started our conversion—and we are now legally an RV. We were able to skip all the hoops of inspections, and we are ready to roll. How did we do it? Currency Exchanges. Currency Exchanges do titles and licenses in most states. They also don’t know the rules very well, or care very much. The first Currency Exchange we went to called the Secretary of State and had them explain the process to us. So we went to another one. 10 minutes out the door with temp tags. The new license plates arrive on Monday.

 

 

 

EppersonFamily

We are a family of five traveling full time in a converted school bus we call Wander Bus. We love our National Parks and believe firmly they are our Country's best idea. If you like what you see, please give us a follow on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and leave us a comment. We'd love to hear from you!

  • Jim Erickson

    May 31, 2017 #1 Author

    What did the switch cost you?

    Reply

    • EppersonFamily

      June 1, 2017 #2 Author

      We paid about $400 for the sales tax and registration. Should be about $180 per year for registration from here out.

  • sharon

    July 1, 2017 #3 Author

    I have a minibus, my question if you can do it class c? I do not have a parking spot and I want to park on the street. I have a problem with insurance. Like you say it’s fall between the chair, class C is the best solution for me. The motor vehicle wants registering it as motorhome. So my question is can you do it class C?

    Reply

    • EppersonFamily

      July 1, 2017 #4 Author

      Hi Sharon, “Class C” is just a type of motorhome built on a van chassis, so it’s usually not something the state cares about. That said, if your bus is built on a van chassis (like Chevy E3500) you might be able to classify it as a van.

  • Kris

    August 9, 2017 #5 Author

    What state did you get the bus transferred into an RV? I live in Indiana. Will it cost $400 dollars in Indiana? Also do you know any good insurance for RV’s that are less expensive than others, and will I have any problems getting insurance for it if I don’t get the title through the BMV? and can I get my plates renewed at the BMV or do I have to do it through the secretary of state office again?

    Reply

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