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How to Register Your Bus as an RV: The Ultimate Guide

Registering a bus as an RV takes more than the required time. All states have their own rules and regulations for applicants that want to register their bus as an RV.

For example, some states have DMV or motor vehicle offices. In contrast, other states have departments known as SOS, commonly referred to as Secretary of State.

While it is easy to convert your bus and register it as an RV, meeting a few requirements is important. Worry less; the information here will guide you through registering your bus as a fully functional RV.

Necessary requirements to register your bus as an RV

How do you register a bus as an RV?
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If you’re looking to convert your bus into a fully functioning RV, your first step is to visit the DMV office. And it’s likely that the local DMV personnel may not be familiar with the guidelines required.

They can send you to their main offices that deal with such issues.

To register your bus as an RV, here are some requirements you are likely to find in most states. While some are more specific than others, you should ensure you meet the following criteria:

Current Title

It’s important to ensure you have your bus’s current title. But if you don’t have it, try and salvage your title before you go to the DMV.

On the other hand, you might have lost your original title, or your bus may need repair due to damages.

As mentioned earlier, each state has specific criteria, so it’s important to have the following documents with you.

Bill of Sale

Essentially, this acts as a receipt to show a purchase agreement between you and the other party that sold you the RV.

To ensure this document is acceptable at your local DMV, you need to check if it has all the necessary information required.

The essential information required will be stated on the DMV website. Essentially, the information required will include:

  • The bus identification Number
  • Description of the bus, including the make, model, and year
  • Buyer’s address, name, and number
  • The seller’s address, name, and number

Weight certification

You should find a place in your state where you can get scales that weigh vehicles. Most of these roadway scales are found in garbage dumps, truck stops, and recycling centers.

Contact them and ask them to certify your vehicle’s weight.

When they certify the weight, you can ask them to give you a form that you can use at the DMV during registration.

Take photos of modifications you have done.

How to Register A Bus as an RV?
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Before you send out your application, it is important to prove that you have converted the bus into an RV.

  • Take quality pictures of the RVs and ensure you highlight all the modifications you have made.
  • In some states, the DMV officials will ask you to remove the flashing lights during the inspection. 
  • Find out from the DMV some of the items you need to remove when submitting your application.

Inspection

You need to take your car to the DMV for a thorough inspection. They have to perform a thorough inspection to ensure you have done the necessary modifications.

Additionally, your bus must meet all safety guidelines when on the road.

Therefore, If you plan to register the bus as an RV, you need to determine what documentation the DMV requires.

And if you don’t have your title, the original title or bill of sale can be acceptable.

Insurance policy

Ensure you have an insurance policy before you submit your application.

Some insurance companies that deal with converted buses include Good Sam and Nationwide.

But before you contact any of the mentioned insurance companies, you need proper documentation; this will include the following.

  1. Purchase receipts
  2. A copy of your title
  3. Proof of conversation (Screenshots) and
  4. Other important documentation.

More importantly, the bus should have these items installed.

  • Bathroom facilities
  • Built-in refrigerator
  • Beds
  • Stove with a safe fuel source
  • Electric system
  • Freshwater source

Driver’s license

Another thing you may have to do during registration is to upgrade your driver’s license. 

For example, if the bus weighs over 26,000 pounds, you must apply for a license that caters to bigger vehicles.

This means you should familiarize yourself with some of the requirements that make you eligible to qualify for this type of license.

But if the bus exceeds 40 feet and weighs over 26,000 pounds, you may be eligible for a new license.

Are there any additional requirements needed when registering your bus as an RV?

Yes, there are some other requirements, but they are not necessary. Still, they should be considered when registering a bus as a rolling home.

Here are some additional tips to get you started when registering your bus as a fully functioning RV.

#1 Do a thorough research

When registering your bus as an RV, it’s important to research online to learn about your state licensing guidelines; this is necessary because converting a bus into an RV is a very complicated process.

For beginners, some states will ask you to provide an endorsement known as an air brake when applying for a driver’s license.

Some don’t have this requirement, especially if you intend to register the RV for recreational use.

#2 Check for ambiguity in the guidelines

There are certain cases where you might notice that your DMV guidelines have some ambiguity as far as the guidelines are concerned.

It’s, therefore, important to do additional research if you find any ambiguity in the requirements or guidelines.

Fortunately, some states have refined guidelines in their laws on RV conversion.

They clearly define what constitutes a fully functioning RV and how to license it.

Common requirements needed when registering your bus as an RV in Some states

As mentioned earlier, some states have different laws and regulations regarding converting a bus into an RV. Here are some common requirements you must meet in most states.

#1 Air conditioning or heating from reliable power sources

This clause is meant to prevent RV owners from idling their engines and relying on the engine for cooling and heating needs.

What’s more, the engine can emit harmful carbon monoxide that can harm you. To ensure your RV observes this requirement, you can install a propane gas for heating.

#2 Septic disposable

In some states, If you are converting your bus into an RV, you must install a decent disposal system, which is quite easy to do with the right knowledge.

#3 Portable water

You must also have a fresh drinking water supply in your RV. Simply install a water pump in the RV when designing the framework.

After installing your RV water pump, it is very important to prime the water pump before using it to enable the water to run smoothly without mishaps.

Also, ensure you have a propane-powered refrigerator. However, you can save on propane gas if you’re camping in an area with a reliable power source.

Converting your bus to RV: Is it financially practical?

Most people who choose to convert their bus into an RV do so purely out of passion and interest.

It is similar to rebuilding an old car from scratch, step by step. You can easily customize the bus with everything you need inside.

More importantly, you will be able to get the materials you need.

Remember that most automotive parts in a bus are designed to last longer. In fact, most engines can last up to 5 years with regular service and maintenance.

Therefore, you should check the bus regularly by a mechanic who can check whether everything works efficiently.

You also need to deal with cost considerations that are cheaper than modern RVs.

Most buses usually have robust aluminium bodies; adding installations like cabinets is quite easy. You can fix other permanent equipment as well.

It can cost about $10,000 to convert the bus into an RV. The overall cost depends on the fixtures you decide to install, which means you will spend more if you use quality materials.

Using second-hand equipment when customizing the bust is preferable to enjoy significant cost savings.

Another alternative you can try is buying a second-hand RV. While the cost can vary depending on the seller, you can buy an RV in pristine condition for under $10,000.

And though you may find an old-school RV, keep in mind that these vehicles are designed like tanks. With proper maintenance, an RV can last for decades.

Can you register a bus as an RV while still making modifications?

In some states, when you design and modify your bus to convert it into an RV, you are allowed to license the bus as a utility trailer. That way, you have the freedom to make modifications and transport the RV during the different conversion stages.

However, you need to answer this question yourself; do you intend to build the structure of the RV yourself and hire a professional to help you with the plumbing and electric system?

When you license the bus as a utility trailer, you can transport the bus to different locations during construction phases; this can help you save some money during this process and speed up the construction timeline.

Conclusion

If the conversion is your preferred step, you can make the modifications as personalized as possible to add that oomph.

It is important to research beforehand to know what you need to do to convert a bus into a fully functioning RV.

Here’s the catch, you don’t necessarily need any experience to modify your bus into an RV, provided you know a few basic things.

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