Register Your Bus without Conversion in Any State

Any State, Any State of Conversion, Any Year, Make or Model of Bus

DMV LINKS UPDATED 7/1/2019

We’re going to talk about how to register your bus without conversion today. Let’s start things off by doing a little visualization….

You’ve bought the bus, you’ve started ripping out seats and things are going well. So you start to think about all of the places you’ll go and the things you’ll see. Then, about that time, the realization will set in and the questions begin to form.

I’m doing all this work, but it’s still not registered as an RV. Does my state do an inspection? Does the fire marshall have to sign off? What constitutes a “conversion”?

That’s what this post is all about! We’ll go through the process of registering your bus without conversion or inspection. Links to each form is listed in the steps and there are detailed images of the areas of the forms which you need to fill out. If you have questions, feel free to head over to our FB page or our contact page and message me and I will be glad to help you out where I can.

REGISTER YOUR BUS WITHOUT CONVERSION IN ANY STATE

Step-By-Step Instructions - With Pictures

Lot’s of folks live in states that make it exceedingly difficult to get a bus, skoolie or coach, designated as an RV or motorhome. States have requirements ranging from a simple inspection to having to be inspected by multiple agencies with numerous requirements. Requirements like permanent waste plumbing (which for us was an issue since we’re using a composting toilet), installed cooking facilities (camping stoves don’t count), and a myriad of other requirements.

This is where the Green Mountain State of Vermont rides in on its white horse and saves the day. You can register your bus without conversion in the state of Vermont even if you are not a resident. They don’t require an inspection, proof of insurance or proof of conversion. Though you should check with your local DMV if you need any special endorsement if your bus happens to have air brakes.

If you register your bus without conversion in the state of Vermont you will not receive a title if your conveyance of choice is more than 15 years old. Instead, you will be given a transferable registration. I know this seems a little scary but you can use this registration to transfer the title of your bus to whatever state you choose. If you have a vehicle that is less than 15 years old, you’ll get a regular Vermont title.

Also, you’ll find some hopefully unobtrusive ads throughout the article. We use these ads (of stuff you were looking for anyway) to add a few cents into the gas tank on the Wanderlust Bus. We really appreciate the fact that you’re willing to put up with these things to help us out. Think of it as a no-hassle way to become a tiny sponsor… 🙂

STEP 1: Gather Your Documents

VEHICLES 15+ YEARS OLD: You’ll need to include COPIES your TITLE and/or your BILL OF SALE (if you have one.)

VEHICLES 15+ YEARS OLD and NO TITLE: If you do not have original ownership paperwork you will need to provide a copy of your signed and notarized bill of sale and a completed Bill of Sale and Odometer Disclosure Form (VT-005). You can find a link to this form here.

VEHICLES -15 YEARS OLD: If you have a more recent model of vehicle, you’ll need to send your ORIGINAL TITLE, signed and notarized. You’ll also need to send in form VT-010 – Verification of VIN or HIN (you can download that here)

STEP 2: Complete Required Vermont DMV Forms

VD119 - Registration Tax & Title Application

Start by downloading Vermont’s Registration Tax & Title Application here. This is form VD119 just in case they change the link. Once you have it fill in the information below as shown in each section as it corresponds to the sections on the form.

NOTE: I’ve highlighted the sections of each form that we filled in on the paperwork we sent in, which we know worked.

At the top of the form, you will see something similar to the image at right. A bunch of red text outlined in red boxes. This section is for Vermont DMV use only. DO NOT write in this area. Just move on past to Section 1.




Section 1

This is your standard personal information. Fill out anything that applies to your situation. You can leave the Vermont License # field blank unless you happen to have one. Also, if you have a partner (either in crime or in life) you can add them to the registration by filling in the Co-Owner section.

Section 2

If you filled out the Co-Owner section above you’ll need to select the relationship to the main title holder here

register your bus without conversion

3A: In the unlikely event that you are making payments on your bus, or if you have a lien on it for any reason, fill out this section completely.

3B: Here you will list the previous owner’s information. Again, fill this out to the best of your ability.

register your bus without conversion

This section is where your registration actually changes from a commercial vehicle to an RV.

First, mark “New Registration.” The only other section you need to worry about is the “Registration/Plate Type” Section. Here in the blank space, you’ll need to write in “Motorhome” and use “(19)” as the plate type designation number. Ironically this is the same designation as “School Bus” in their systems.

register your bus without conversion

This is your vehicle’s information. Fill it out completely in the top section. DO NOT fill out anything in the “Trucks” subsection. Even if you fit some of the descriptions in this section, you are not a commercial truck, you are a motorhome.

register your bus without conversion

Enter your purchase price. This is how VT will determine what to charge you in taxes. They will base this tax rate off of your purchase price unless your bus can be pulled up in the NADA database, which nearly all buses will not.

Multiply your purchase price by their tax rate of 6% to get your “Net Taxable” and enter it as well.

Example:
$3,500 (purchase price) x .06 (VT 6% tax rate) = $210.00 Net Taxable
register your bus without conversion

You only need to fill out this section if you are tax exempt. If so, enter you exemption number in the appropriate field.

If you are not tax exempt, please leave this section completely blank.

register your bus without conversion

Here you’ll find out how much you need to write on the check to the State of Vermont. The majority of folks will have a very similar fee schedule.

  • Registration Fee – Currently $76 for one year or $140 for two. If you’re vehicle runs on something other than gas or diesel, check the fee schedule.
  • 6% Vermont Tax – Enter the number you calculated under section 6 titled “Net Taxable.” You can also provide proof tax has been paid.
  • Title Fee – If your vehicle is newer than 15 years old, you will need to add $35 (currently, you can confirm here) for the new VT title.
  • Warranty Fee – Currently this is $6
    UPDATE: VT sent me a refund check for the warranty fee, so this may no longer be required.
register your bus without conversion

Now Sign & Date the bottom of the form and it’s ready to go.

VT-005 - Bill of Sale and Odometer Disclosure Statement

You can get form VT-005 – Bill of Sale and Odometer Disclosure here. This form will verify the facts of the transfer and the vehicle that Vermont needs to complete the registration.

NOTE: I’ve highlighted the sections of each form that we filled in on the paperwork we sent in, which we know worked.

At the top of the form, you will need to enter your info, the seller’s info, info about your bus, and some transaction info.

register your bus without conversion

You should not fill out ANYTHING, including the signature in this section unless you meet one of the criteria.

register your bus without conversion

You will need to fill in all the appropriate information and make sure you have signatures for all buyers and sellers involved in the transaction.

register your bus without conversion

After some verbiage, you will enter your vehicle information.

register your bus without conversion

You’ll enter your mileage and check the box that best applies to your situation.

register your bus without conversion

Enter the seller’s information and obtain a signature and date.

registering your bus without conversion

This is your information. Fill it in and then sign and date the form.

registering your bus without conversion

STEP 3: Cover Letter

Write a cover letter that describes everything you are enclosing in the package. Be sure to include an itemized list of fees, the amount of the check, and each of the  documents you are enclosing,

Also, be sure to include a phone number that Vermont DMV staff can reach you at in case of any problems. I threw in my email as well just to be safe.

STEP 4: Mail It All

Once you complete all your forms, write your cover letter, make copies and get any originals; stuff all that paper into a business-sized envelope. Put some stamps on it (be sure you have enough postage as it’s a little heavier than your standard letter) and send it off to:

Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles
120 State Street
Montpelier, VT 05603-0001

STEP 5: Wait

The state of Vermont processes tons of registrations every month and even though you can’t wait to get on the road… they can.

After 4-8 weeks (ours took 6) you should receive your new plates in the mail and a day or so later you’ll get your transferable registration (or title). When you get your registration, check to be sure that they designated your craft as a motorhome. If they did not, and there is a chance that they’ll miss it, simply call the Vermont DMV in a smaller city and talk to someone there. They are very helpful folks and will get it straightened out.

This is how you can register your bus without conversion, in any state!

We hope this helps anyone who is considering this method to register your bus without conversion. Please understand, these instructions are written from my experience when we registered the Wanderlust Bus. Your requirements may be different and your results may vary.

There are also lots of folks who are both joining the #buslife and who are using this method to get their plates. This could mean that things at the Vermont DMV could change at a moments notice and they could even stop doing this all together.

I also did a video that accompanies this post, which you can view below, but there is A LOT more in-depth info in the post. If you want to check it out, you can do so below. If not, you should still head over to our YouTube channel and subscribe!

You can also check out the original skoolie.net forum post that I used to mine and helped inspire this post here

ANYTHING YOU SEE IN THIS BLOCK IS AN AD - WE'RE EARNING SOME GAS MONEY



OKAY, THIS CONCLUDES THE ADVERTISEMENT SECTION. THANKS FOR PUTTING UP WITH IT!

42 thoughts on “Register Your Bus without Conversion in Any State

  • Hey I have a question; for section 5, under Bddy type our title says bus so we just put bus? The title doesn’t say a color. The bus is yellow but we’re painting it white. Should we put white or yellow do you think?

    • Body type should be listed as MH if you want your registration to indicate a private RV status vehicle. As far as color goes, it should be accurate as it will be when you are driving it. That way the registration will match if you ever get stopped by law enforcement.

    • Section 3B needs to be filled out either way. It should be whoever the title was issued to prior to your purchase of it

  • i have a few questions.
    1) do you still have the vermont plates on the bus?
    2) if you do, how is it insured if you live in a different state?

    • Hey David,
      We currently still do have Vermont plates, but once we are done with the conversion, we will register it as an RV in our state of residence. This method allows you to get the title converted to an RV without a ton of hassle.

  • So my question might be a bit weird haha. So lets say you live in Nevada or at least have your mailing address there. So you live in Nevada and buy your bus their.. Well then you register is in Vermont. Then after conversion you move travel to Washington state and stay their for a few months.

    So now you have a Nevada license, a skoolie with Vermont plates & registration, and are currently in Washington State.. Wouldn’t that look bad or funky to a police officer?? How do you explain that?? Would you get in trouble??

    I am just asking these questions because I do plan on converting a bus into a home and I do want to travel to all 50 states then pick my “home” state. So I am just confused on how that will all work out..

    Thanks for taking the time to answer as I am confused on this subject haha.

    • Hey Kim, first thanks for stopping by. You register the bus in VT, but this is only for the purposes of converting your commercially titled bus into an RV title. This is a legal “grey area” so I would steer away from driving on these plates but merely using the registration to then transfer your plates to your chosen state of residence. You must still abide by the laws of your state, most of which, say that you must register vehicles within 30 days upon moving to the state or acquiring the vehicle. Hope this helps.

      • But it takes more than 30 day to do a conversion. Some say up to a year to complete. So how will you register the vehicle when conversion not complete?

        • Hey Denise, in most municipalities you have to register any vehicle within 30 days of bringing it to your location, especially if you’re currently using it on the road. Now, if that vehicle is being worked on, fixed, restored, etc it may be longer before you can get that accomplished. You’ll still be able to register it in your state, but you may need to prove why there was a lapse in registration (though I’ve never experienced that). Hope that answers your question.

    • I bought an old Ambulance in Washington state back in 2000 after getting back from fishing in Alaska. I still had my Minnesota license at the time and ended up driving down to Salt Lake City and stayed for a few months. My insurance was actually taken out in Portland using a friend’s address there. I never did get pulled over, but I don’t think I would have gotten in trouble if I just explained my situation. I eventually had everything listed as Minnesota when I made my way back to home base.

  • Thank you for this awesome and helpful information. Couple of questions…
    1. If you later register it in your own state, do they want sales tax? I sure don’t want to pay it twice.
    2. Do I need the VT forms for bill of sale and VIN verification or can I use my state/ generic forms? I already have a bill of sale and VIN verification on my own forms.
    3. I have it insured in my state. Is that a problem?

    Thank you very much!

    • Hey Holly, sorry for the delayed response…lol. To answer your questions:
      1. Once you register it in VT it is yours and you have paid the sales tax. After you have it registered there, the process transferring to your resident state will depend on which state you reside. If you are asked to pay sales tax again, you may be able to show them the receipt showing the tax being paid and call it a day.
      2. I’m not sure as I had a title in addition to the bill of sale and I used the VT VIN verification.
      3. It shouldn’t be. Your vehicle should be insured in your state of domicile anyway.

      Hope this helps!

    • Thank you for making me aware of that. The links have been updated and I will do my best to monitor things to see if there are additional updates in the link in the future.

    • This method would work for any vehicle that is older than 15 years. If the vehicle is newer than that, the process is a little bit different.

    • Hey Brock, yes, this method would work for a sprinter van. Bear in mind that if your sprinter is newer than 15 years old, the process is a little bit different. With the bus being 30 years old, the process was pretty simple for us.

  • hi there!
    what if you don’t have a bill of sale or if we print one we don’t have any way of getting the sellers signature?

    • I’m not an attorney or anything here, but you need to get someone’s signature to transfer ownership… the previous owner or someone to act as their agent would be fine. Hope this helps

  • You generally only need a VIN verification if you bought your vehicle without a title or transferable registration. In the case you have no proof of ownership other than a bill of sale, you will need a vin verification performed and mailed in with the app.

    • This is correct, but giving people the instructions to do so if they need it or not is worth doing. That way, if a VIN is necessary the process is detailed for them. If not, please disregard that section… 🙂

  • Looking at all of this info. The one question I have is Vermont not issuing a title for vehicles over 15 years old. My bus is 27 years old. But Colorado, where I am, not only makes it fairly hard to convert the title from bus to RV, but also requires a title for anything — even if it’s from 1929. A lot of people moving from eastern states that don’t do titles on old vehicles run into trouble moving here because they Colorado essentially designates anything without a title as scrap steel. And I’ve also learned Colorado DMV doesn’t even like out of state titles very much, let alone non titles from back east. So… looks like I could fairly easily get a Vermont RV registration and plates for my bus, but then I couldn’t get it back to a Colorado RV title. Though my plan is to drive the bus to WA in a few months anyway, and then the bus would be parked on private property, so I guess it doesn’t really matter if it has VT or CO or WA plates or a title at all at that point…

    • Hey Zeke, Vermont does not issue a title for vehicles older than 15 years. They issue what is called a transferrable registration. This is used just like a regular title and can be brought to your DMV to transfer it to your state of choice.

  • I’m looking to buy a used school bus and use it for personal use. I will not be converting it into an RV but it will also not be a commercial vehicle either as I’m not using it for work. How would I go about doing that in the state of NJ? No one seems to know the answer to this question. Thanks!

    • Hey Steven, you would need to explain what your intended use is. If it’s on the road it will either need to be a commercial vehicle or registered as an rv. There is also the possibility of registering it as a farm vehicle depending on where you’re located.

  • I just want to know if the Vermont “gray zone” still working today May 2020, if so I will try It.
    And if so, I have my bus on PNO right now, that would be a problem for the Vermont aDMV?

    • Hey Javier, as far as I know, this method still works. If I find out otherwise, I will update the main post.

  • If I have a 1999 Ford sterling that was a dump truck in California but want to see if I can get it converted into a motor home, would Vermont be able to grant that ?

    • Hey Brian, not sure if this method would work for that, but if they can’t do it they’ll just return your check and tell you the reasoning behind their decision.

  • I live in SC and just bought a bus with air brakes and is 20 years old.
    To be clear,
    I would title in SC as a bus to get it in my name and pay state tax
    I would fill out forms above and send to vermont to convert to RV and receive the non-title thingy?
    Then when paperwork is received take to my DMV and transfer to SC RV Title.
    Im sorry if I sound confused. Just new to it all and dont want to mess it up.
    Side note i can get insurance as a bus non commercial use.
    Do I have to get a CDL either way? Or can I add air brakes to a class F locense?

    • Hey Darby, no you would use the documents you received from the seller to register it in Vermont using the greater than 15 years old method. Once you get the VT title you would take the info to your local DMV and transfer everything into SC. You don’t need to title it in SC twice.

      As far as insurance goes, yes you can get RV insurance on it once it is titled as such. If you want full-coverage, so-to-speak, you’ll need to ask about “Stated Value Coverage. Hope this helps.

  • In section 3B, it says we need a signature from the company we bought it from. That means we have to go back to the dealership for them to sign our application?

    • Hey Chris, as far as we know, everything still works. If I hear otherwise, I will update the post as soon as I know. Good luck!

  • Hi Johnny,

    I got a bit confused with your info and then one of the answers in the comments.

    I am considering buying 1 full size bus from a few choices. I thought from reading your article that it was better if the bus was less that 15 years so that I can get title from vermont (I understand over 15 yrs get transferrable registration). Then in the answers you said that the process is different and implied it was harder if the bus is less than 15 years.

    So since I have choices should I get a full size bus over 15 years and do the simple process and get a transferrable registration (not getting a title somehow scares me), or should I get a bus under 15 years and ask you to tell me what is the different process? So what is the different process?

    Final scary things for me: 1. Would this work in NYC where I live or are you aware of additional steps and considerations? 2. I only have a regular car driver’s license, do I need another license to drive a full size bus converted to a RV or mobilehome? 3. You use RV and mobilehome interchangeably, are they the same or are there subtle differences from a licensing/registration/driving perspective? 4. If anyone out there knows, I might as well ask it, I want to convert a full size bus to a mobile boutique to go to fairs etc. Any body tried that and if so do you have tips, problems, concerns etc you can share before I end up with a big yellow elephant doing alternate street parking in NYC for the rest of my life.

    Thanks

    KR

    • Hey KR,
      Sorry for any confusion, let’s see if I can clarify. Our bus is older than 15 years (’88 Eagle) so we did the transferrable registration route. This is the easiest way to do it to the best of my knowledge. Now, that being said, my knowledge is limited to my experience and I know that there have been those that have used this method with success with newer buses. I can’t speak to it though since I have no first-hand knowledge of the process. Also, don’t let not getting a title scare you, the transferrable registration is just as valid as a title.

      As far as I’m aware this process works in just about all locations but there can be hiccups that you need to overcome. Just remember that once you have a title or transferrable registration in hand, your BUS is now an RV/Motorhome (yes, interchangeable) and should be referred to as such. The second you say bus, the folks at the DMVs instantly switch their commercial brains on. You don’t need a CDL for a bus provided it isn’t registered as a commercial bus, hence the need for the RV designation.

      As for the mobile boutique, that’s a different ball of wax. I’m not sure whether that would force you back into the need to be registered as commercial. You’ll definitely need to do some extensive research about it before pulling the trigger. That could draw a significant amount of liability, but I wouldn’t know. I would suggest talking to a business lawyer to find out the specifics.

      Hope this all helps and if you have anything else feel free to ask… Also, thanks for stopping by and checking out the site. Hope to see you on the road!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *