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.

 

 

 


Epperson Family

Epperson Family

We are Jason, Abby, Jack, Ethan, and Henry and we travel full-time in our converted 2002 Thomas school bus. On the road since 2016, we document our adventures here, across social media and on our weekly podcast RV Miles. Join us as we explore our National Parks and discover all that a life on the road has to offer.

19 Comments

Jim Erickson · May 31, 2017 at 5:06 am

What did the switch cost you?

    Epperson Family

    EppersonFamily · June 1, 2017 at 9:33 pm

    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 at 7:42 am

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?

    Epperson Family

    EppersonFamily · July 1, 2017 at 11:31 pm

    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 at 9:50 pm

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?

Deborah M Dunlap · November 13, 2018 at 10:00 am

I bought a large school bus for the primary purpose of moving my furniture to another state. That’s it! What do I need to do to do this? I move at the begging of Jan 2019.

    martin · May 31, 2019 at 9:50 am

    deb, have you moved? which state is the bus in now, would you like to sell it? let me know the update please.

Carrie Donohue · May 3, 2019 at 11:34 am

Hello! We live in Texas and not sure what a Currency Exchange is … I thought you were referring to a government agency money exchange type facility, but I think its something different. Is it a check cashing place?

    Epperson Family

    Epperson Family · May 3, 2019 at 11:31 pm

    Hey Carrie, a Currency Exchange is a check cashing type place, yes. It’s also the type of place where you can renew your license plates, pay parking tickets, etc. I’m not sure what the Texas version of that would be though.

Marcos · May 7, 2019 at 2:42 pm

Hi,
I’m planning to purchase a short school bus (22 seats) and convert it to an RV. I’d like to buy it in Alaska or the closer the better. Do you have recommendation on dealers? do you know if regulations in Alaska are suitable to convert the School Bus into an RV?
If not, do you recommend any particular state? Is it possible to drive it with a regular driving license (up to 3500 Kg)?

    Epperson Family

    Epperson Family · May 15, 2019 at 11:57 am

    I don’t know much about Alaska. Most people buy them from private sellers though. Ideally, get it in a state that doesn’t use salt on the roads to avoid rust. You should be able to drive on a regular license if you get the title converted to an RV. -Jason

Lisa · June 6, 2019 at 10:59 pm

I live in the Chicagoland area. I’m thinking of purchasing a shuttle bus for a conversion. This is all new to me! It’s a commercial vehicle, so how am I going to walk into a currency exchange and have them just change it to RV? Do I just tell them, I’d like to register my RV? and hope sooner or later one of them just does it without any questions, and the commercial vehicle will now be a personal vehicle?

    Epperson Family

    Epperson Family · July 26, 2019 at 11:05 am

    Yep, just say I’d like to register my RV and hand them the paperwork. Good luck you find the right one!

Meghan · July 10, 2019 at 8:16 pm

Thank you for sharing this information! My name is Meghan, and my partner David and I are in the process of getting our skoolie registered here in Illinois and it scares the bejeebus outta me! I think we will definitely go the Currency Exchange route and see where that takes us to potentially avoid some drama. Thanks again!

    Epperson Family

    Epperson Family · July 26, 2019 at 11:07 am

    I feel you, Meghan! Good luck to you and keep us updated. If you are on Instagram and documenting the build, we’d love to follow along, so please find us and we’ll follow you back. Fingers crossed you find a good Currency Exchange!

Charles · July 27, 2019 at 3:56 pm

I have found out in Oregon. You. Need a perm bed and cookiing facility. It is inspected by any DMV employee avail. Best way so far imo.

Sarah · July 31, 2019 at 2:07 pm

Hi Epperson Family, I looked over your amazing and insightful site and still have one question for you. I am wondering if you were required to get a CDL to drive the bus from the place you bought it from? Or how did you go about driving it before transitioning it to a RV title? Did you hire a driver to get it to the storage property? Any and all insight in this subject is helpful. Also, thanks for sharing all of your other great information too! -Sarah

loveylord · August 3, 2019 at 12:56 pm

I recently helped my son figure out how to register a schoolie as an RV in Illinois, It was so frustrating so I thought I’d pass along what we found out after days of infuriating calls and trips to the to the DMV and the Secretary of State’s offfices.

In Illinois to get a schoolie registered as an RV,
you must do the following:
1. Go to your local DMV and get forms
a) SOS DOP247 This will give you a check list of things you will need to do to make your bus an RV
b) Form VSD 190,26 (you will need the copy from the DMV not an online copy)/ This form goes to
Springfield. It also must include pictures, weight and a certified check. (Any questions call the
Secretary of State Reconstruction Dept. at 217-558-2406.)
2, After the application is approved, you will have to schedule an appointment with the Secretary of
State police to inspect your new schoolie. I’m sure you will have to send the inspection
back to Springfield before you can get your registration and plates. This process can take up to 3
months.
Alternatives:
1. Vehicles over 12,000 pounds can get class D plates. $158.00 annually but they will also need to 2 annual inspections. The first one immediately.
2. Vehicles over 10,000 pounds can get class C plates $118 annually and no inspections.
Good luck to Illinois schoolie people getting your plates.

    Epperson Family

    Epperson Family · August 5, 2019 at 10:44 am

    Thanks for sharing your insight! Thankfully, we were able to by-pass that headache and work with a Currency Exchange. We know not all are that lucky, so appreciate you sharing the very lengthy process.

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