Vanlife in the UK, The legal bits….

It’s crazy to think I’ve been back in the UK 20 months now and still living in the van fulltime. It’s also been a busy 20 months as I’ve worked around the country, training and supporting new managers and staff all over the north of the UK.

Now I’ve experienced all 4 seasons in the UK I can prep myself for the future much better. More and more people are also asking about how life is like living in a van and as some of you may have seen, the BBC also made a mini film for The One Show, which many thought it would only cause problems for others living in a van but the film was nothing but positive and great to receive the comments and feedback after the show was on TV at prime time on that Wednesday.

However, I wanted to share some questions that were asked before and after the filming, as these do come up quite often from those looking into changing to the vanlife lifestyle instead of a house or other means of living.

  1. Is living in a van illegal? – I’ve contacted many different organisations to get their thought on legalities behind this, everyone from the Department for Transport, Highways England, and the police to the National caravan council – people living in vans is in its infancy, it’s still grey area and is likely to be dealt with on a case by case basis.
  2. How easy is it to find somewhere to park? – It’s not illegal to park up and sleep in a van, but you’ll have to stick to the parking restrictions, and some places there are strict bylaws. These are usually found in tourist hot spots such as the New Forest, where there is a ban on overnight camping/parking except in designated areas (usually licenced campsites). Ultimately if you ended up in the wrong place, it’ll be down to the local authorities or land owner to decide if they want to move you along. The NCC suggests you always stay at a motorhome/caravan park which will have the right license (and want your money)
  3. Have I ever been asked to move along? – No, I’m always careful to make sure I park in the right places, adhere to restrictions and find a safe space to stop.  There are lots of different apps I use where other people can recommend places to stay that are fine to go e.g free carparks and show what facilities are there to use. Unless I have permission to be there (e.g in the car park of the gyms I work at), I don’t stay for too long, one night and then I’m gone before 8am in the morning (normally when carparks start charging again), most importantly I always leave the space how I left it, clean and tidy. What really annoys me is I’ve have seen plenty of people like lorry drivers who leave crap after them and it’s motorhome and vanners who get the blame.
  4. Not having a permanent address must cause some problems? – Without a permanent address, it might be more difficult to do things like register for a doctor, sign up for a bank account, register to vote or receive post. GPs are not allowed to turn people away for not having a fixed address, but there re some anecdotal reports that some people haven’t been able to sign-up with no fixed abode. You can register to vote without a fixed address, the government says to register at a place where you spend a lot of time or where you have a connection. In practice, people might decide to use an address they are connected to in order to do these things e.g a family member’s house. I have a house that I now rent out after deciding to live full time in a van. I also use my mum’s address for my post and bank accounts were already registered from there since I was a child.

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