How to change the description of your mobile home to a caravan in South Africa.
You have taken the exciting step of buying and kitting out a van in South Africa. But, the vehicle is registered as a commercial vehicle (bus, taxi, panel van etc) and this means you need a professional drivers permit(PDP), a valid COR and possibly a code 10 drivers licence to be on the road.
There is a way around this, it's not an easy task but it's possible to change the description of your new home on wheels to a self-propelled caravan which means you can legally drive on the roads with a normal code 8 licence, no PDP or COR needed. According to Alta Swanepoel & Associates (specialists in the field of road traffic and transport legislation), A motorhome is a self-propelled motor vehicle that is adapted for living purposes. A motorhome is built on a chassis and cab that was originally intended to be a goods vehicle or minibus. Due to this, the manufacturer allocated a GVM or GA front and rear to the motor vehicle. As the vehicle is adapted and is neither a minibus or goods vehicle, the GVM of the vehicle is not relevant. Instead, a motorhome is classified in terms of tare mass for driving licence purposes. If the tare mass of the motorhome is less than 3 500 kg and it is not drawing a trailer that exceeds 750 kg GVM, then a code B driving licence is adequate; a professional driving permit or a code C1 driving licence is not required.
This process took us almost 7 painful months but hopefully by sharing what we learned - it will take you much quicker!
The first step on this journey is to contact the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS) once your build is nearly complete. The NRCS is located in Johannesburg. We communicated with them via email and telephone and the forms and information can be found on their website here. Our contact at the NRCS was Rosina and her email address is email@example.com
The forms you are looking for on the NRCS website are the ALA application form for modified vehicles by private person.
You'll need to have the basic structure in place including water tanks, gas bottles, mattresses, kitchen units etc. You can leave out the decorating / painting part as this isn't structural and usually doesn't add weight. As long as the inside looks like a complete permant mobile home. In order to change the description from commercial vehicle to self-propelled caravan the weight of the vehicle with the competed build must be under 3 500kg. The build inside the vehicle must be a permanently fixed build, in other words, it cannot be easily removed or taken down.
The NRCS department is going to provide you with the letter of authority (LOA) needed to change the description of the vehicle. To apply for your letter of authority you'll need to provide the NRCS the following documents and pay a fee -
This is the minimum documentation required and must be submitted with application.
Copy of applicants ID document.
Affidavit for built-up vehicle from SAP, including engine and VIN (chassis) numbers, and full details of the work carried out and type and source of major and especially safety-critical components.
Request for Police identification – RPI – or Police Clearance.
Road Worthy Certificate – RWC – and Inspection Report from the RWC test station
Weigh Bridge Certificate-WBC.
On trailers above 750 kg and all heavy vehicles a static or dynamic Brake Report must be submitted together with the
application. The SABS will advise the applicant if a dynamic test is required, consisting of the following:
a) Braking capability per wheel
b) Difference per wheel
c) Speed of roller
At least two (2) photographs of the vehicle.
I have attached the application forms here but please contact the NRCS for updated forms as things may have changed.
Please ensure that ALL documents that you gather during this process have an additional letter from each department/company (the affidavit, the weigh bridge, the road worthy etc) stating that when they inspected, weighed or saw the vehicle it was a converted self propelled caravan inside. Each department provides you with a print out certificate and on it states the description of the vehicle. We asked EACH company to ALSO provide an additional letter to say when they inspected / weighed / looked inside the van it was in fact a self propelled caravan. This whole process of extra letters is not needed for the NRCS but is needed later for your local licencing department. (Trust me, you'll thank us.)
Please also ensure that when you receive your letter of authority certificate from the NRCS that under the vehicle description it clearly states SELF-PROPELLED CARAVAN. You will need to remind the NRCS of this each step of the way including when the inspector is sent out from the NRCS to check the vehicle. Make sure every document you receive from every department either states self propelled caravan under vehicle description OR has a letter from that department stating that when they inspected the vehicle it was a self propelled caravan. (We had to redo forms multiple times and get the NRCS to reprint our LOA 4 times before they got it right)
Please keep copies of EVERY document you gather during this time as you will need to resubmit everything again to the licence department in a couple weeks. Keep copies as the departments tend to misplace documents often.
Once you have had the vehicle inspected by the NRCS and you have your LOA in hand (stating self-propelled caravan under vehicle description) it's time to gather another copy of all your above mentioned documents and head to your local licencing department.
At the licence department you will need to - Change My Motor Vehicle Particulars (Description and Catagory) To do this you will need to request a CNV(5)(2005/08) application form. Submit this CNV form (remember to write description as self-propelled caravan) and tick the self-propelled box, with copies of your certificate of roadworthiness (including letter stating that when inspected it was a converted caravan) and copy of the weighbridge (including letter stating that when inspected it was a converted caravan). We also submitted copies of ALL the forms we had also sent to the NRCS as by this stage we had fought so many battles. It proved in a favour because the licencing department required photos of both the inside and outside of the completed build and vehicle which we had included.
Once submitted you'll get a reference number and hopefully in a couple weeks you'll get the call to collect your new licence disk.
The process is long but it's possible and once you have that new license disk - it will all be worth it! We get stopped at least twice a month because our van is a heavy vehicle but once the traffic officers see the new disk, they are happy to let us drive off in peace. Goodluck and happy travels.