Campervan conversion through customs

Hi All,
My friend in Normandy has offered to help with converting my van to a camper as he has plenty of off road space and a great workshop.
I want to bring materials over from UK to do the conversion and then take the finishes van back, but wonder if they’ll be subject to duty.
Any thoughts welcome :thinking:

Have you checked that you will be allowed to put it on the road afterwards?

Probably. Ask the douanes, there will be a number for them on line.

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Having just paid to import my GB reg Trafic, I can’t imagine that a load of bits in boxes in the back for some kind of conversion wouldn’t also attract VAT and duty.

Tho’ oddly, Douanes didn’t inspect my van or look inside. Thus I got away with a jar of Frank Cooper’s Fine Cut and a Tesco Spanish tortilla ! :grinning:

As for getting it on the road, if it’s still a GB vehicle I don’t see why it would have to conform to FR regs as far as camper fit-out goes. Why should it? It wouldn’t if the finished article arrived in FR to go on a jolly, as hundreds do, inc my old Movano over the years.

I’m with you on sourcing bits in UK. Trade Glass UK will supply two opening windows for my Trafic, with the complete fitting kit, inc next day del, for £315.

The cheapest I can find on is a German supplier - just for one window.

Having done a fit-out [more or less] of a van, I recommend you fit the expensive bits in UK. You will save hundreds of pounds.

Windows, solar panels, service batteries and controller, roof vents, insulation …

All these are pricey items but easy to instal. There are masses of YT vids of how to do it.

If you bung a mattress in the back, with the above already installed, you have what I had - a camper van. The fact that it’s not the complete article is neither h no t.

What’s your van?

Addendum: For anyone thinking about DIY converting a van.

It seems - I’ve been told by a Frenchman who did his own conversion - that the rules have changed and it is extremely difficult/impossible to get a DIY camper thru CT. There has been an account on this forum of the difficulties of getting a non-coachbuilt ‘ready made’ camper accepted, even tho’ the conversion was done by a professional company.

However, there is a work-around. My neighbour has a camper van he fitted out himself. The trick is to make it modular and remove enough bits to get it thru’ CT. He said that he didn’t have to remove much to get it to this state and CT’d.

As my fit-out will not include cooking or water facilities, just a bed and storage, this should be easy.

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It doesn’t sound (to me anyway) that the OP is importing the van to France, just bringing it over with materials to have work done then taking back to UK .

Thanks Mark - that’s the plan if the travel and any duty don’t add too much to the cost :slightly_smiling_face:

Thanks for all that info much appreciated👍

The van is a Transit Custom and, like you, I’m not plumbing in gas or water - we’re simple folk!
Side windows, solar, diesel heater, and a convertible table/bench/bed layout.

I can ask him about use of the space, but he’s a grumpy bugger so no guarantees :grin:

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Ah. to clarify… you are bringing a vehicle to France, along with bits and bobs… and your friend in Normandy will do the “fitting out” and you will then take the vehicle back to UK… is this correct ???

It’s worth installing ‘shore power’ mains hook-up and getting a double hob induction table-top cooker.

I found that I got along perfectly well using ‘shore facilities’ for ablutions. FR s/mkts have laundrettes and frequently permit overnight stays.

A great resource for places to park up is a Dutch app called ‘Camper Contact’. It’s all in English

Cheers - that all makes sense. We used camper contact when we travelled round Europe in our (very old) previous Moho and it was brilliant.

That’s the plan Stella - assuming the stars align.

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Be sure your Insurance company knows what’s what with the vehicle…
I’ve no idea whether or not they need to be told about the changes… but if you’re having cooking facilities fitted (for example) that is (perhaps) an unforeseen hazard on their part…

just wondering aloud… as I hate the thought of an Insurance company wriggling out… if an accident should occur… :wink:

best of luck…

Bringing the van in and take it back on its own does not pose a problem.

Technically though, you should declare the value add work to HMRC, but they will not know unless you declared the reaon to vist France is for some value add work to be done… :lying_face:

Technically you will have to pay duty and TVA on any ‘parts’ in the back of the van. It purely depends on whether or not you declare them, as you should, or you take the risk that the Duane will not single you out for an inspection.

Mind you - there might some hope in your forthcoming budget that he may re-adopt tax free shopping, when you can then buy your fittings VAT free and pay TVA here, which will save you 20%, but duty still applies - for car parts it is 3%…

I am not totally au fait with tax free shopping - I think you might have to live outside the country who is waiving the VAT - so maybe your friend in France should visit and return with you. But it is all academic untill your govt allows the scheme to return :grinning:

Thanks for all the thoughts and advice everyone. Much appreciated :slightly_smiling_face:

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Re Adam!'s post re VAT. Much the simplest and probably much cheaper m.o. would be to buy/instal the big-ticket bits in UK. The tedious/skilfull element of a camper fit-out, which is where the value of your pal lies, labour - is wiring and interior ‘decor’.