Should I class my Transporter as a car, a van or a motor home?

The Transporter ferry classification of both the VW T4 and T5 and more recently the T6 Transporters has long been debated when it comes to ferry crossings. VW Transporters start their life in different styles and trims, most commonly either as a Transporter panel vans or as Transporter Shuttles (people carriers).

Shuttles are actually classed as cars on the log book (class m1 usually). To add even more to the confusion whatever it started out as it is important to note that not all are re registered on the logbooks to a camper van as the process can be quite labour some.

You can read more on specific model classification on this article HERE where we explore other implications of the M1 and N1 class such as speed restrictions and MOT’s.

One could reasonably argue that a transporter could be classed as a Large car, Small van and even a Motor home all in the same sentence!

With some ferry operators it does impact on the price quite significantly, so it is important to get the booking correct.

VW T5 On a Ferry

Transporters loading a ferry to Holland. Are they a car a Van or a Motor Home!? My Transporter ferry classification was a “Car” on this particular trip!

Make sure you comply with EU rules

Before booking your trip to Europe make sure you have the correct items onboard your VW Transporter which are a legal requirement and are quite frequently enforced with fines (especially in France)

Classification of a Transporter?

To answer the question without manipulating any of the many grey areas. You should aim to book your VW Transporter ferry category based on the Log book category and take your Log book along to the port with you as evidence if you are challenged.

T6 Classification

Transporter Travel tip

If you are going on a long crossing especially. I highly recommend using some cheap tie down bungees to ensure you don’t get caught out by rough seas. I personally experienced a rough crossing to Holland and managed to lose a few glasses and plates in the process!

I highly recommend using bungee nets such as the ones linked below which are also useful for bumpy roads.

Transporter ferry Classification grey area

From a personal experience point of view I have sailed with several of the ferry operators that I have discussed further down in this blog and have always classed my VW SWB T4 as a large car when booking and probably saved my self quite a considerable amount of money over the years.

I have never actually been challenged on this when arriving at the port however, I do always arrive with the open mind that one day I will probably get challenged and my response will be along the lines of my statement above

”One could reasonably argue that a transporter could be classed as a Large car, Small van and even a Motor home all in the same sentence!”.

My VW T4 camper is still registered as a panel van by the way, but I very much doubt they would demand to see the log book in any event. Worst case I figure you would have to pay a small top up on your fare right?

Dimension of VW Transporter

VW Transporter dimensions for ferry T4 & T5 & T6 for the most common variants

Model
Length
Height
Width

VW T6 SWB

4.892M 

1.990M

2.297M

VW T6 LWB  

5.292M

1.990M

2.297M

VW T5 SWB

 4.892M

1.990M

2.297M

VW T5 LWB  

5.292M

1.990M

2.297M

VW T4 SWB

4.707M

1.940M or
2.403m Highroof

2.175M

VW T4 LWB  

5.107M

1.940M or
2.403m Highroof

2.175M

If you have a slightly different variant that you think might impact the ferry classification, then you should double check the exact dimensions. Try our detailed guide on dimensions HERE

Transporters with roof top box, bicycle racks or trailers

If you are travelling with any accessories fitted to your vehicles or anything else that maybe none standard then it is important that you factor these into your dimension calculation. To be 100% sure I would suggest you go back to the good old-fashioned tape measure so that you have the dimensions that are unique to you.

Remember lowered or raised springs, big alloys, roof rails, aftermarket wing mirrors could all have an impact.

I have travelled in a VW T4 quite a few times over the years with various ferry operators, I have never personally had a problem with them checking dimensions at the port but I am sure that there will be occasions where they challenge customers on their vehicle booking information/category so it is better to be safe and within the class limits.

Ferry crossing with Transporter

The most common UK ferry classifications (2020)

Just as an interesting exercise I have put in the credentials for a VW T4 into the P&O website just to show you the difference in pricing depending on category. Bear in mind that the dimensions of the T4 would work within each of these categories as a large car can actually go up to 6m on their website!

So for exactly the same sailing days/times but only changing the category on the Transporter gives the following result.

P&O Ferries

£310 as a van, £310 as a motorhome £260 as a car (less than 6m long)

Cost for Ferry
VW Transporter Ferry Classification on P&O

I’d book it as a car and be ready to defend your justification

DFDS

£238 as a private van, £200 as a small motorhome £160 as a “high car”

On DFDS we can actually class the Transporter as a high car based on the dimensions

DFDS Ferry class
VW Transporter Ferry Classification on DFDS

I’d book it as a car and be ready to defend your justification.

Euro Tunnel

£140 as a private van, £168 as a small motorhome £112 as a “high car”

The Euro Tunnel is a bit more specific in it’s car categories and if you input VW Transporter it actually takes you to Van/Minibus so I think it would be quite a hard push to book even a Transporter Shuttle in under a car (despite its class on the log book).

For some reason if you class your transporter as a motorhome however it inflates the price further even though it is technically the same size which seems very unfair.

With Euro tunnel my advice is to play around with the categories and book which ever you think you are most comfortable defending if challenged.

For me personally I would go with the panel van option as a safe middle ground. I’d be REALLY interested to hear from any fellow VW Transporter owners on your take on this. Leave me a comment below and let me know what you do!

Conclusion

Having spoken with other VW owners of T4, T5 and T6 the views are very varied. Some choose to go with what ever it is stated as on the log book which is the cautious approach. Others such as myself would have a play around with the categories and see how it impacts the price.

If you feel confident that you could reasonably justify your choice or are happy that if you are challenged (and lose)  you may need to pay a top up fare then I’d book what ever makes you feel happiest!

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