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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/converting-a-van-to-carry-passengers-in-the-rear/converting-a-van-to-carry-passengers-in-the-rear
Regulations regarding converting a van to carry passengers in the rear
There are no specific regulations covering the conversion of vans into passenger carrying vehicles. However, Regulation 100 of The Road Vehicles (Construction & Use) Regulations 1986 (SI 1986 No. 1078) will apply. This requires:
- a motor vehicle, and all its parts and accessories
- the number of passengers carried, and the manner in which any passengers are carried in or on a vehicle
- the weight, distribution, packing and adjustment of the load of a vehicle
to be at all times such that no danger is caused, or is likely to be caused, to any person in or on a vehicle or on a road. This means that the conversion work must allow passengers to be carried safely.
Additional seats should be fitted securely so that they are likely to remain in place in the event of an accident. We recommend that you seek the advice of a reputable garage or vehicle converter.
Further to this, Section 40a of The Road Traffic Act 1988 (as amended by Section 8 of the Road Traffic Act 1991) Part II, Using a Vehicle in a Dangerous Condition, states that:
A person is guilty of an offence if he uses, or causes or permits another to use, a motor vehicle or trailer on a road when:
(a) the condition of the motor vehicle or trailer, or of its accessories or equipment; or
(b) the purpose for which it is used; or
(c) the number of passengers carried by it, or the manner in which they are carried; or
(d) the weight, position or distribution of its load, or the manner in which it is secured
is such that the use of the motor vehicle or trailer involves a danger of injury to any person.
Do I need to fit seatbelts in the rear?
There is no legal requirement for seatbelts to be fitted in the rear of a van. However, our advice is that the safest way for passengers to travel is in a proper seat with seatbelts fitted and, if you intend to carry children aged 12 years or under, the seatbelt wearing regulations require them to wear a suitable child restraint at all times.
When fitting seatbelts, they must comply with the latest British or European standards and be marked accordingly with either the ‘e’, ‘E’ or BS ‘Kitemark’. The seatbelt anchorage points should also be designed so that they will be capable of withstanding the high forces of an impact. We strongly recommend that seatbelts and anchorages are professionally installed by qualified persons (such as a commercial garage or seatbelt specialist).
Our advice is that passengers are safest in a forward or rearward facing seat equipped with a lap belt or, preferably, a three-point belt.
Although side facing seats, with or without seatbelts, are not illegal, we would not advise that they are used. This is because seatbelts are not designed to be used with such seats. In the event of an accident, seatbelts on these side facing seats may help to prevent the wearer being thrown around the vehicle or from being ejected, but in a frontal crash they can increase injury risk by subjecting vulnerable parts of the body to higher loads than seatbelts used on forward facing seats. You should also bear in mind that child restraints cannot be fitted to side facing seats. In order to fit the required child restraints, you would need to have forward or rearward facing seats with full three-point seatbelts.
If you intend to carry children aged 12 years or under, the seatbelt wearing regulations require them to use a suitable child restraint. You should bear in mind that child restraints cannot be fitted to side facing seats. In order to fit the required child restraints, you would need to have forward or rearward facing seats with full three-point seatbelts.
How many passengers can I carry?
Whilst there is no specific limit on the number of passengers carried, vehicles designed or modified to carry more than 8 seated passengers excluding the driver will fall into the ‘minibus’ category and must comply with specific construction requirements which are set out in Schedule 6 of The Road Vehicles (Construction & Use) Regulations 1986. It is also important that you confirm the number of passengers and the manner in which they will be carried with your insurance company.
Do I need to fit additional windows in my van?
No. There is no requirement for windows to be fitted in the rear of a vehicle. However, if you choose to fit windows, these should be made of non-glass safety glazing or safety glass. Separate information is available on the requirements for vehicle glazing.
Is a goods vehicle still a goods vehicle, even if it has seats in the back?
That depends on the particular circumstances. A goods vehicle is ‘a motor vehicle constructed or adapted for use for the carriage or haulage of goods or burden of any description’. A passenger vehicle is ‘a vehicle constructed solely for the carriage of passengers and their effects’.
If, by adding extra seats, all the load space was now taken up by passengers and their effects, a court might decide that the vehicle now fell under the description of ‘passenger vehicle’ rather than ‘goods vehicle’ and would need to meet the regulations that applied to passenger vehicles. This could affect the requirements for items such as seatbelts and brakes, as well as licensing requirements.
Can I carry goods and passengers in the rear?
Although there is nothing specific in the regulations to prevent you doing this, we would strongly advise against carrying heavy goods and passengers in the rear of a van unless the load is secured to the bodywork to ensure it does not move about. Alternatively, if you intend to carry passengers on a regular basis you can create a separate load area by installing an internal partition.
If a partition is fitted you should ensure it is strong enough to stop the load from being thrown about inside the van. Securing the load or fitting an internal partition offers some protection to any passengers being carried, which is particularly important in the event of an accident, as heavy, unrestrained items being thrown about are likely to cause death or serious injury.
If the vehicle has more than 8 seats in addition to the driver, it will be classed as a minibus or bus, whether or not it also has room for the carriage of goods.
Does the converted vehicle need to be checked?
There is no formal checking procedure for private conversions. However, if you have installed new seatbelts, it is advisable that you submit your vehicle for a seatbelt installation check (a class IVa check) which can be carried out as part of the annual MOT test.
Do I need to inform anybody of the changes?
It may not be necessary to have your vehicle’s registration details altered, but you should check with the DVLA or your DVLA Local Office.
You should also inform your insurance company of the changes made along with the number of passengers and the manner in which they will be carried.
Consolidated versions of national regulations can be found in Sweet and Maxwell’s Encyclopaedia of Road Traffic Law and Practice (Construction and Use) which should be available at most main reference libraries.
Copies of national regulations can also be purchased from:
TSO Orders / Post Cash Department,
PO Box 29,
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