Importing A European Caravan – What You Need To Know

The vast majority of caravans in the UK have been produced by British manufacturers; with so many fantastic choices available, this doesn’t really come as a surprise! However, as more people develop an interest in caravanning and tastes change over time, imported European caravans are becoming more popular. The various European models which can be imported offer a range of benefits, but we should always bear in mind the negative points alongside the positives. In this guide, we will cover some of the main pros and cons of importing European caravans.

One of the main reasons why British caravanners tended to stick with British caravans was the limit on the maximum allowable width of a vehicle on the road. Now that these regulations have been changed, and wider vehicles are allowed on the roads, the number of road-legal caravans has increased significantly. The European manufacturer which appeals to you most will depend on the specifications and features you want from your new caravan; Adria offers an eight-foot wide model, Hobby and Dethleffs offer high-quality builds and durability and brands such as Freedom and Eriba are the go-to manufacturers for lightweight models, as they produce caravans without heavy equipment such as ovens and showers. These may seem like essential items but there are many caravan users who prefer to use onsite shower facilities and barbecues.

Now that we’ve covered the reasons behind why you may choose to import a European caravan, it’s time to look at the good and not-so-good points of doing so.

Pros

  • Widening your search to include European models will considerably increase the number of options available to you.
  • Wider caravans, taking advantage of the changes in maximum width limit, are more readily available in Europe.
  • Considering all manufacturers and models when shopping for a new caravan will mean you can access the highest quality, high tech, high specification holiday accommodation.
  • Some European brands, such as Freedom and Eriba as mentioned above, are more flexible about the specifications of your caravan. Removing unnecessary options will increase the available space inside as well as reducing the weight of your new caravan and, perhaps more importantly, the cost.

Cons

  • Due to driving on the opposite side of the road, many European caravans are built with the door on the right-hand side. While this may not seem like an issue initially, it can create some problems when pitching your caravan. Careful considering is recommended, particularly if you intend to fit an awning.
  • While the larger size of European caravans may be a major factor in your decision to buy from an overseas manufacturer, bear in mind that many site and park owners will request that these models are parked nose-first. Again, it may not seem like a major concern but it may mean that your view is a wall or hedge, rather than the surrounding scenery.
  • The size could be an even bigger problem with some sites, as not all are equipped to deal with the larger size. If you have preferred sites in mind, it is advisable to call them in advance to make sure they could accommodate your European caravan, should you go ahead with the purchase.
  • Bear in mind that importing an overseas caravan could potentially flag up some problems with obtaining insurance. If you go ahead with an import without assistance from an NCC approved dealer, you will need to do some work before insuring your caravan. All imported caravans should be registered with the Caravan Registration and Identification Scheme before insurance can be purchased.

If, after careful consideration of the points above, a European import appears to be the best option for your new tourer, the Caravan Club has published a handy guide to manufacturers and companies who import into the UK.

Do you have experience in importing a caravan? If so we'd love to hear about it - do you have any advice? Leave us a comment below.

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