Motorhoming is sold on the freedom it provides, but it’s important to be across all the rules and restrictions that you have to adhere to as you make your way around the UK.
At the end of the day, the last thing you want to do is to unintentionally upset someone or fall fowl of the law – it can be enough to ruin your trip if you do.
So, in this handy guide, we’ll help you to stay on the right side of the law and avoid any nasty fines, by answering the following questions:
- Can you park up anywhere in a motorhome?
- Can you sleep in a motorhome on the street?
- Can you legally live in a motorhome?
Just don’t expect definitive answers to all of those questions – we’ll explain why below.
Can you park up anywhere in a motorhome?
In short, no. If you want to park up somewhere off the beaten track – and not in a caravan or motorhome park – you need to be careful whose land you end up on.
Land in Britain is typically owned by someone. So, if you want to partake in a bit of ‘wild camping’, you’ll need to get explicit permission from the landowner. If you don’t, you could be in breach of the law.
The wild camping laws in the UK somewhat vary, as it is generally illegal in England and Wales (unless you get explicit permission from the landowners), whereas in Scotland, the rules are slightly different thanks to the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, which allows the public to camp on most unenclosed lands.
Bear in mind that the Act gives access rights for any non-motorised activity – so if you’re planning on taking your motorhome ‘wild camping’ in Scotland, you should still seek the landowners permission before setting up your motor.
If you’re travelling in England and Wales, there are still places that you can go wild camping, such as the Lake District and parts of Dartmoor.
Regardless of where you’re wild camping, you should try to follow the rule of ‘leave only footprints, take only photographs’, and avoid parking up on verges or in sight of walking paths. Also, try to keep your stay short and sweet – arriving late and leaving early.
The best advice we can give is, before parking up your motorhome, ask the owner of the closest establishment if you can settle in for the night.
If there’s nobody about, you might want to Google the piece of land to see if it is available for wild camping. If you want to know any places that you can potentially park at for free within the UK, read our guide on these places.
Can you sleep in a motorhome on the street?
It’s difficult to give a yes or no answer to this question, with it varying depending on which county of the UK you’re in.
But, other than the Caravan Sites & Control of Development Act – and more recent legislation covering gypsies and travellers – there is no specific law which makes it illegal to sleep in a motorhome at the roadside.
That’s not to say you won’t be woken with a knock on the door from the police, however, with local authorities taking ownership of highways (this includes lay-bys).
So, if they want to move you on, you have little choice but to search out a new spot, as you have no ‘right’ to park any vehicle on the road.
That said, you’re unlikely to run into any issues with parking up your motorhome on the roadside to get some kip provided that the vehicle is not causing an obstruction, you’re not disturbing anyone, and you’re not in the same spot for more than a day or two.
You could find it trickier going if you plan on bedding down in a public car park, operated by a local authority, which are usually covered by Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) which prohibit sleeping, camping and cooking.
The TRO may also have a clause that specifies the maximum vehicle weight, classes of vehicle and so on that are permitted to use the car park. Your best bet is to read any signage carefully and play it safe if you’re unsure.
Can you legally live in a motorhome?
This question is much easier to answer. Yes, you absolutely can live full-time in a motorhome, if that’s what you want to do. We created a motorhome parking guide explaining everything you need to know for motorhome life.
There are no laws stopping you from doing so – you must just ensure that your vehicle has passed its MOT and is fully road legal. If you're a senior, we made the a list of the best campsites to visit!
While it’s perfectly legal to live in a motorhome, however, it’s definitely not for everybody. There are lots of great blogs out there run by people who have quit their job and sold their house in exchange for a life on the road, which can be as tough as it is exciting.
If you’re thinking about making a life for yourself on the road, it’s wise to read some blogger accounts of what it’s like before making the big move. It’s also worthwhile weighing up the cost of living in a motorhome including motorhome insurance and park fees.
What’s the best motorhome insurance?
Speaking of motorhome insurance, we thought we’d slide in a bonus question.
If you’re planning to spend a fair amount of time in your motorhome, it pays to get the best motorhome insurance on the market – especially if you’re going to live in it full time.
Motorhome Protect can compare quotes on motorhome insurance, with policies including the following benefits*:
- Unlimited cover across all the countries that are part of the European Union.
- Cover of camping personal effects for up to £3,000.
- Up to 6 months to complete a self-restoration.
- Cover for motorhomes with a value up to £150,000.
- Unlimited mileage cover.
- Introductory NCB allowed.
- Consideration of all claims and convictions.
*These features and benefits are subject to eligibility and underwriting criteria. Get in touch with us to see which features apply to your motorhome.
Motorhome Protect can find policies that provide unlimited cover across all the countries that are part of the European Union.
Thanks to Motorhome Protect, you can rest easy, no matter where you are in the UK – in a layby, on a motorhome park or parked up somewhere slightly more romantic.