WHO CAN STAY WITHOUT A VISA?
What areas and which countries are included in Schengen zone? Click here for the list. Australian’s, Americans and New Zealanders do not need to apply for a visa at this point. Because things are changing and soon we will be required to apply for a visa to travel into Europe. As of 2020. For now you are ok to travel to Europe, enter and stay for up to 90 days in any of the listed 26 Schengen countries.
Also to note that UK (Which includes Scotland and Northern Ireland) allow us Aussies, Kiwi’s to stay for up to 180 in a 365 day period (you beauty). Ireland allows us to stay for up to 90 days (this is in addition to UK 180 days and 90 days in EU). So really, if you want to schlep around for a year you can. You just have to be prepared to move a lot!
EUROPEAN COUNTRIES THAT ARE NOT PART OF SCHENGEN
In addition to the time you can spend in UK and Ireland you can also legally stay in other European countries. These include Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Romania, Cyprus for up to 90 days in each of these aforementioned countries. Turkey is also another option if you are willing to drive that far. And, further afield you can also travel to Northern Africa, Morrocco, Casablanca, Fez.
SO, HOW DO I WORK OUT THE DAYS??? WHAT IF I OVERSTAY MY VISA?
Well, this is a good question, I was stressing about this one big time I must admit. It’s so tricky to work out the specifics. There is help though. There are other mad humans like us out there that want to travel the world and have some idea’s as you and me. So, thankfully there are some clever peeps who have made App’s that help you calculate you time in Schengen Zones. Phew, I hear ya.
Using an App to work out Schengen – OH GAH they are all terrible
These guys MSSDevLab have made an app that you can download both on Android and IPhone’s from Google play. The app is called Schengen calculator free or you may choose to pay a small fee for the premium app by same guys. It is not great but its the best one I could find. You can also search for other similar apps available via google play. If you find a better one please send me an email, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
WHAT’S MORE COST EFFECTIVE
Congratulations, you have made a decision. Because, it is the most cost effective way you can travel around the globe buying a van. To lease one for this period of time would cost way too much. Leasing is great for up to 3 months travel as you have the convenience of insurance, car break down, all your amenities on hand, the pick of the bunch. But, if you decide to travel for longer than 3 months, buying is your best bet!
WHERE TO BUY A VAN?
If you are from the USA, UK, Australia or NZ the best bet is to buy in the UK/ Scotland or Ireland. Buying in the UK means you can buy a right hand drive (although a bit challenging driving a right hand drive in Europe which is left hand drive you will adjust). If you are English speaking negotiations is much easier buying from English speaking country.
Then there is also the consideration that if you buy a reasonable van that you might also wish to ship it home to sell? Depending on the cost/value of your van it could be a viable option. And as long as you don’t spend over $66,000 AUD you keep you van under the luxury car import duty tax threshold. If you are not from Australia its worth while checking costs of shipping, duties and other taxes.
UK or EUROPE
There are several companies in Europe (namely, France, Germany and Netherlands) that offer buy back options where you can buy your van from them. Because, registration will be linked to their business address. And you will need to buy insurance still under your name, all you need is an address to link your insurance too. Once you have finished with the van you agree on terms of re-sale or buy back. The longer you have the van the less you will receive, losing a considerable amount of income.
SELLING IN AN ENGLISH SPEAKING COUNTRY
So we decided not to take this option. Because we wanted to be able to sell our van privately and to be honest with buy backs it seems much like renting really. Because, you end up selling back to they buyer at a premium. And, good van’s don’t depreciate that much over 12 months. The buy back system is convenient, but you will pay for it. I have not linked these companies here as I am not familiar with their practice so don’t wish to recommend as I have not had any personal experiences with them. If you google campervan/RV/Motorhome travel in Europe you will find them easily.
HOW TO BUY A MOTORHOME or CAMPERVAN
If you are buying a right hand drive in UK region then there are loads of FB pages with Campervan’s/Motothomes for sale! These are all private sales, or mostly private sells. Some of the pages I’ve been following are:
@Motorhome for sale around UK
@Hymer For Sale
@Motorhomes For Sale UK
You might also want to check out Auto Trader, Ebay and Gumtree for sales in the UK. Plenty there to choose from if you prefer to buy direct from a business rather than private sale. Please be wary though, not everyone is always upfront and totally honest. Our first van we had some guy say he was the owner of the van. When we went to view it, it was not his van but someone else’s.
BEFORE YOU HAND OVER ANY $$$
Once you have decided on a van, if you are not in the same country its really important you have a representative or friend, family member go and check out the van and make sure the sale is legitimate and all the books, history, motor registration known as MOT in UK checks out. And, once all is checked out if your friend, family member or representative is willing and able they can pick up the van for you.
Buying oversea’s or buying when you are in the country?
And they can store it until you arrive if you are planning on purchasing before you land. If that’s too much of a gamble for you then consider searching for your dream camper prior to landing and then make contact prior to landing with the owners/business and arrange times to view. We felt more comfortable buying Lottie once we landed. We only viewed 3 motorhomes in one day and bingo. We bought a van!
MAKE SURE YOU ARE BUYING A LEGITIMATE VAN
If you have decided to purchase prior to arrival, then make sure you representative/broker friend and or family can verify the legitimacy of the sale before ever sending or wiring any monies through. We preferred to wait till we arrived in the UK to buy our van so we could see it in the flesh. We wanted to view the van before we bought. Our representative went and viewed the van once we have narrowed down our preferences to 1 van that had all the bells and whistles and ticked all the boxes.
So, once the final decision has been made its time to hand over the DOSH right. So, this is always a bit scary, because lets face it most vans are anywhere between 20-60K. Its an expensive exercise. There are a number of ways you can transfer money from overseas if you decide to purchase and pick up direct prior to arriving.
The safest and cheapest option we have found to date is via Transferwise transactions. or you can also consider opening a HSBC Global account which is brilliant. Gives you the opportunity to load up in currencies and a debit card that doesn’t incur fee’s and exchange rate fee’s. You can check out their terms and conditions, costs as well via Google. Because, you will save you $$$ in transaction fee’s and conversion rates etc. We also use our ANZ Global account and international transfer as its relatively cheap, up to $9 per transaction (if you are in Australia).
REGISTERING YOUR VAN
Ok, so this is the tricky part. To be able to register your vehicle and insure it you need a UK address to register to. So, you need to be living or staying with someone such as a family or friend so that the V-LOG and registration papers can be sent to you. You will not be able to do it any other way unless you ask a family member or friend to insure it in their name which gets really complicated.
So best bet is to see if your family member, friend, or representative is happy for you to use their address when you go to insure your van and register it for the time that you own it. This will include MOT (Ministry of Transport vehicle safety check which is compulsory in the UK) as well as Insurance.
Once you have signed off on the deal you will need to transfer the previous owners name into your’s. In order to do this you need to sign a DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency UK) form and pay the transfer fee if you are purchasing in the UK its around 265 GBP. Ensure you hold onto the transfer slip as this allows you to on sell your van again.
Vlog and Registration
** Please note that you also need to ensure you pick up your V-LOG book if purchasing in the UK as this is a legal requirement and you will need to show this at border crossings in Europe if ever pulled over. This will show the officers that you are indeed the owner of van and you are legally allowed to drive it. Its basically a legal piece of paper stating you are the owner and its the transfer paper for when you sell, or export.
There are very few insurance companies that are willing to insure your van if you are not a resident of EU. We found that Down Under Insurance DUinsure.com.au are willing to provide insurance for Aussies Nomads whilst travelling in the UK. We chose Herts Insurance instead as they were considerably cheaper by around 400 GBP which is $800 in AUD. That’s a huge savings. For the same insurance.
Please**note Hert’s Insurance and Down Under Insurance will not cover your vehicle in Morocco, Montenegro, Turkey and further afield countries. However, when crossing over into these countries purchase insurance for the time you are there at the border. Border controls are stationed at each of these above mentioned crossings
INSURANCE INCLUSIONS AND EXCLUSIONS
Because there are limited options available premiums are very high. So, you want to travel on a budget for an extended amount of time, you have to pay the price. Make sure you check the policy, read the fine print and ensure it covers you for your whole intended stay and travels! **Note that you will not be reimbursed by either of the above underwriters if you do not have an immobiliser installed if your van is stolen. READ THE FINE PRINT ALWAYS. We ended up going with HERTS as they were 800 pounds cheaper than Down Under
WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE ANY FRIENDS OR FAMILY IN THE UK?
That’s what we were up against, so all this research only to come to another dead end, hence why I’m writing this blog to you good people out! You may instead nominate a representative instead. Please send me a quick email to find out all the details. We are really happy with our guy Mike or find Mike @Ukmotorhomefinder on FB
And, he is totally amazing and legit and really helpful to assist you on-selling your van (for a fee) and helping you to store it as well should you need to store it for a time. And, Mike will do all checks, ensuring that the van has not been stolen, or in a major accident, all the MOT registration checks and general inspection. If all checks out you are in the running for a new van!
WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A VAN
Time of the year you are travelling. If you will be travelling in winter, its so important to have heating! As well as cooling for hot summer days down the south. Consider seat belts. If you intend to have an extra friend stop buy or travel with you then having more than 2 seated belts is imperative. Check this out first. Storage, so you need to consider how much you can bring with you. If you have kids then you need to bring a lot less. You can buy when you are over there so make sure you are brutal when choosing what to bring.
Security – A safe is really important, if you buy a van with out one, then consider buying a good one to install, you wont lose money on this, it will be an added bonus on re-sale. Also, an Immobiliser is a must, an alarm, wheel clamp or steering wheel lock at the very least. Or you can buy individual alarms that are stuck to the doors and windows. These are cheap and easy to install. We bought Doberman Window Alarms and they are fantastic. You can attach to windows and doors and they will go off (loudly) if someone tries to tamper or enter your van.
Strap to ensure the doors can not be opened. Vans do get stolen all the time here so it pays to ensure you secure your precious belongings and expensive investment.
Bike Racks & Bikes – vans are usually longer than 5 metres in length, travelling in and out of ancient and old cities and villages can be really challenging. You want to make sure you stay outside of the cities. Park up in a RV campervan ground and then catch public transport. Better yet, get some exercise in and hit the road on your bikes. A great way to get around smaller cities and villages, you can lock them up and then just cruise back to your van when you are ready to hit the road again.
And, bikes will save money and time in the long run as you won’t be waiting for public transport (buses in Italy can be very unpredictable) as well as paying the extra costs to travel. Plus you are getting in your fitness as well. Bonus! We love walking everywhere and buses are usually great as well.
Solar panels and Refillable Gas – Rather than swap and go gas, which is 26 pounds per 6 kilo’s (UK). We opted to fit refillable LPG gas which is much cheaper when travelling for longer periods. for 14 kilo’s we can refill for around 18 pounds. We have an external filling point on the van, you can also connect your BBQ hose as well.
If you are wild camping you will need solar panels. Adding 110 watt solar panels which charges the leisure battery and gives us 12 volt from the sun for free. Installing in addition to the solar panels a power inverter, which is hooked up to the leisure battery. Converting 12 volt power to 30/23/240 mains power. We can plug in cords for mobiles, blender etc. The refillable gas and solar panels were an investment of an additional 900 pounds. Worth it in the end if you plan on travelling for longer than 3 months and want to save money on wild camping.
EXTRA’s and MUST HAVES on YOUR VAN
Below you will find some other must haves when buying your van. If it doesn’t already have them, these items will keep you safe, sane and savvy on your trip!
CLASS A, B, or C CAMPERVAN/MOTORHOME
As mentioned above, you need to check your current drivers licence and make sure that you are qualified to drive the van. Usually C class licences cover weight of the van for up to 3500 kg. Some drivers licences cover over this weight, make sure you check what you can drive before you purchase. Campervan’s/motorhomes that range from 5-7metres sit within this range and 3500 weight.
INTERNATIONAL DRIVERS LICENCE
You need to apply for your international drivers licence prior to leaving your country. Valid for up to 12 months. Check with your local Road Authorities. In saying that we have only had to show our drivers licence from home each time we have rented a car. They did not want to look at our international drivers licence. May be different if we were pulled over by police. Border police and wardens only ask for your passport.
We hope that you find this blog useful and would love to hear your comments or thoughts, or any feedback you might like to share!
Enjoy Van life. Its pretty magical. If you want to learn more about camping in Europe and UK and Home sits why not click here.