Registering a school bus as an RV can be difficult or easy based on the state you’re in. We’re from New Jersey, which means the registration process was not going to be easy.
Luckily, there was an incredibly easy solution that didn’t require us to move. So, before you get too overwhelmed with the process, let’s dive into it Registering a School Bus as an RV!
Registering a School Bus as an RV in ANY US State
Vermont Bus Conversion Registration Process
Unfortunately, we’re from New Jersey which makes registering a school bus as an RV a challenging issue. In order to convert our Thomas Built’s title from Commercial to Recreational Vehicle in NJ, we were asked to pretty much jump through hoops and do the following:
Remove all lights above the windshield on all sides, install a permanent stove, bed, and sink, remove the seats, remove lettering/signs, paint it, take colored photos of all work and door tags, get a certified weight slips, and send all information to the DMV. If that wasn’t enough, you may not receive a response for up to a month!
Upon further research, we discovered that we could register our school bus as a motorhome using Vermont without any issues. They don’t require an inspection, proof of conversion, or don’t care whether or not you have air or hydraulic brakes. But, you should check to see if the state you have a Driver’s License in requires a CDL for air brakes (if you have them!). All they request is for you to repaint the bus and remove any school signage, which I’m sure you planned on doing anyway!
Vermont will offer a transferrable registration for any vehicle 15 years or older. While it’s not a title, you can easily take the registration and title your bus in the state you reside in. We just wound up keeping it registered only in VT since it wasn’t that big of a deal for us! On the other hand, if your bus is newer, you will receive at bonafide Vermont title.
How Do You Apply?
You can access the Vermont Title and Tax Application here. The only sections that we filled out were Section 1 (personal information), Section 3B (seller’s information), Section 4, (we listed it as a “New Registration” and included “Motor Home 19” under registration/plate type), Section 5 (bus information regarding title, axles, empty weight, and gross weight), Section 6 (our net taxable was calculated by multiplying 5,000 x .06) and Section 9 (include an extra $35 if your bus is newer than 15 years). Finally, we included a handwritten page outlining exactly what we were looking to accomplish with the registration.
Back in December 2018, our turnaround time was about 2 to 3 weeks. If you’re looking for a more in-depth explanation, check out the article at skoolie.net.
Registering a School Bus as an RV in South Dakota
We’ve also heard that South Dakota is another solution for out-of-state residents registering a skoolie. We sold and purchased another car while traveling and easily got plates for it in South Dakota. Each county is different, so you would have to call up the location’s DMV beforehand.
However, we got our 1985 VW Rabbit registered in South Dakota as out-of-state residents with just our Driver’s License and a copy of our social security card. Getting your conversion registered as an RV in South Dakota, even without living there, is fairly hassle-free. You’ll have to set up a domicile first (simply a mail forwarding address) and must prove that you spent at least 1 night in the state (can be proven with a receipt at a local campsite).
We found this from Chapter 32-03 of South Dakota’s DOT:
An Application for Motor Vehicle Title and Registration must be completed and filed in the county of the applicant’s residence along with payment of applicable fees.
A purchase order, sales contract or bill of sale will be required if the Dealer Price Certification is not completed on the application.
Attach to the application the manufacturer’s statement of origin or title properly transferred to the applicant.
Motor vehicle titling and registration fees are done through your local county treasurer’s office. Click here for all applicable license fees that must be paid to the county treasurer.
Unfortunately, the real challenge comes when you need to find insurance for your skoolie conversion. Each state is different so you may be one of the lucky ones that don’t really need to worry about this nightmare! New Jersey’s bus conversion insurance process was awful, so we created a guide as to how we got our skoolie’s insurance plan: