Bus Registration – Workaround

Registering in North Carolina

Registering a bus in North Carolina as an RV is very cumbersome! If you just try to register as-is and get insurance it has to be commercial insurance and you must have a CDL to drive it. There are some regulations that say as long as it doesn’t exceed a certain weight then you don’t need a CDL but there’s too many conflicting reports to know if that one’s accurate. Based on my research you need to meet 4 of the 6 criteria listed below, and this comes directly from the NC Title Manual:

  1. Cooking facility
  2. Refrigeration or ice box
  3. Self contained toilet
  4. Heating or Air conditioning
  5. Portable water supply system including a faucet and sink
  6. Separate 110-125 colt electrical power supply or LP gas supply

Ideally we want to do everything in the list, but it’s going to take time and until we complete everything we won’t be able to drive it anywhere or get insurance. I don’t plan on cruising around town but we may want to drive it someplace else to do work on it. Until 4 of those 6 requirements is met the bus has to sit in one place until we completely finish the renovation and when we do go to register/re-title we’ll need a licensed driver to take it for us.

Or so I thought…

The Workaround

After an evening of research on what we’ll have to do for the conversion, I stumbled upon a forum post on Skoolie.net that may have solved all our problems!

So apparently you can register a vehicle in another state and not even live there. Huh? Yea, that’s what I thought too but it’s totally legit. Because of this, you can essentially shop around for the best state with the least requirements (every state is different)! In this post the OP suggested registering in Vermont because they have 0, yes zero, requirements to register as a motorhome. Depending on the year of the vehicle you follow one of two options, fill out some paperwork, send in your taxes & fees and voila; you have MH registration for your bus. I read through 10 pages of people trying this method and 90% received their new tags and registration within 3 weeks.

Vermont Postcard

Welcome to Vermont!

Vermont Bus Registration
A screenshot of the registration we completed.

Maple Syrup, Ben & Jerrys, Bus Registration? One more thing we can think about when we imagine the Green Mountain state. Vermont DMV will offer a transferrable registration for any vehicle over 15 years old. No title, but when registering in a new state the DOT uses the details from previous registration. If your bus is newer than 15 years then you’ll get a new title as well.

Here’s a link to the specific forum post by the user warewolff, but I’ll also outline the steps below:

  • Complete Vermonts VD119 Application used for title, registration and renewal.
    • Fill in Section 1 with your basic information
    • Skip Section 2
    • Section 3A is not needed but it’s recommended to complete Section 3b (We actually went back to the guy who sold me the bus and had him sign)
    • In Section 4 check the New Registration option, skip the Plate # & Expiration then under Registration/Plate Type type in Motor Home followed by 19
    • Fill in Section 5 with information from your title, or from googling your bus information. There’s a subsection for Trucks, and I don’t think it’s required but we went ahead and entered 2 axles and air brakes – wasn’t sure about the weight.
    • in Section 6, input your Purchase Price. The  post says to enter your Net Taxable but it’s a greyed out area and the document says to not write in there so we opted to leave it empty. We did however calculate the tax based on 6% and kept that number for later.
    • Skip Section 7
    • Read Section 8
    • Section 9 says to enter your information about the cost, but again the document says “do not write in shaded area”, so we opted to leave it empty.
    • Print & Sign the document
  • Determine Fees & Taxes
    • Taxes = Purchase Price x 0.6 (ex. $3,000 x 0.6 = $180)
    • Registration Fee = $76 (or $140 for 2 years)
    • Title Fee = (this is only required if newer than 15 years – $35)
    • My total fees were: $256
  • Place everything in an envelope and mail
    • Original Title (the post says a copy if older than 15 years but others stated that the DMV would not accept a copy so I highly recommend sending the original – they mail it back when done)
    • Bill of Sale
    • Completed Application
    • Check for Fees & Taxes
    • Handwritten note itemizing costs (We also used it as an opportunity to highlight that we were registering as a motor home)
Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles
120 State Street
Montpelier, VT 05603-0001


Within 2-3 weeks you should receive your title (returned or new), Vermont plates, a registration and sticker. If it takes longer you can always call them to check the status of the application.

Next Steps

Now we wait! Once we receive back all of our paperwork, we have two options, either leave it registered in Vermont or transfer to North Carolina. Because the registration identifies it as a MotorHome, NC will transfer as-is with no additional inspection to validate. I think there’s also a state inspection you can delay by up to a year as well. Honestly though, I’m fine leaving it registered in Vermont, it means no state inspection and as of yet I don’t see any downside to it. We’re not going to be driving it around locally enough to get pulled over and questioned, most of the time we’ll be out travelling.

So right now we’re  just hoping everything goes through smoothly and we receive our new plates and registration in the mail.

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  • Reply
    Bus Registration – Success! – Homemade Carolina
    June 13, 2017 at 3:22 pm

    […] If you missed the info on the Vermont registration workaround we did you can view it here. […]

  • Reply
    Earl McKenzie
    November 7, 2017 at 10:37 pm

    This is a great help. I am in Minnesota and trying to get our skoolie RV plates is a pain! Vermont seems like a great way to go! Thank you for posting this!

  • Reply
    January 17, 2018 at 2:40 pm

    So, was the title already in your name before registering in VT or still in name of previous owner?

    • Reply
      Carina Wilson
      January 29, 2018 at 11:01 am

      The title had just been signed over to us on the back of it at the time of purchase, it was not actually printed to be in our name. Hope this helps.

  • Reply
    January 17, 2018 at 2:55 pm

    P.S. Does the bill of sale have to be Vermont’s official bill of sale form?

    • Reply
      Carina Wilson
      January 29, 2018 at 10:57 am

      We did not use Vermont’s bill of sale form, we just found a simple form on google and used that. Good Luck!

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