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Old 02-16-2014, 04:34 PM   #1
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Commercial or not?

Hi Everybody,

I'm starting a new topic, in which I hope to present my questions more clear.

-I want to convert a 40 ft bus into a hostel on wheels. Clients will pay through our website via paypal. Our journey will be 6 months through the US and 6 months through Canada. Our goal is to visit as many ski resorts as possible in order to spread a message in inform the ski community about environmental issues and solutions (like climate change) which are taking more and more snow away every year. Half of the profits (which we will only starting our seccond year) will go to Beyond Boarding (a Canadian production company full of volunteers with the same goal as us) and half will be re-invested in the project.

-We want to make it as legal as possible but we don't really know how. The problem starts with us being European, 'just' starting a business in the US is not really an option. Is there a way you think this is possible please let us know. The other option is to use the non-profit license from an official non-profit in the US, but again, we don't have the right contact to do so. Which leaves is with one option, just driving through the US without being official, with only the stickers of sponsors on the bus but no logo. All clients (5 at a time) will be seen as just snowboarding buddies. In total we are with 8 people in the bus (me and my boyfriend, a cameraman and 5 clients). In this case we won't be a commercial vehicle, or are we?

-Is it easy to get a CDL and how long does it take?

-Finding insurance is then the next step: we do have clients, so we want to make sure they are covered when driving with us in the bus. Can we 'just get a coverage' for everybody in the bus? How does this normally work?

-We were planning on buying and doing the conversion in California, as most of our contacts are there. For registration and insurance it's not best in California, so it seems that another state would be better. Can we drive into another state after converting without insurance? What would be the best state near Colorado, Utah or California?

I know these are hard questions, but I'm hoping that maybe one of you had faced any of these problems.

Thanks heaps for helping out.
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Old 02-16-2014, 05:48 PM   #2
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Re: Commercial or not?

I would think that if you are registered as a business, and you are using the bus for business purpose, and it sounds like you are cause money is changing hands, then I would say that you would have to have commercial insurance, as long as you keep your bus registered in one place you just leave it and don't worry about Canada, whit that being said, you yourself may not be allowed more then six months the bus can stay as long as it wants
as for less snow? drop by my house with your buddies and shovels, we have record breaking amounts, there is just over 4 feet , you can walk onto my roof from the snow bank
my bus build viewtopic.php?f=9&t=5931
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Old 02-16-2014, 08:35 PM   #3
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Re: Commercial or not?

Letsbenomads, you need to seek the advice of an attorney. What you are trying to do is illegal.
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Old 02-17-2014, 01:39 PM   #4
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Re: Commercial or not?

We are looking for solutions to make it legal, so any advice on that is more than welcome!
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Old 02-17-2014, 01:46 PM   #5
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Re: Commercial or not?

I don't have any advice from the business/insurance standpoint, but I can say that getting a CDL is pretty easy. At least it was in MN. I had to take a written test, which they gave me a study booklet for, and then I had to do a driving test with inspection and I was set.

One idea that would simplify the business aspect would be getting a trusted contact/investment partner in the US who was a resident and could be the official "owner". It would then be a legit US business.
The journey is the destination...

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Old 02-17-2014, 02:00 PM   #6
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Re: Commercial or not?

Oh my, insurance, CDL, DOT stuff, its pretty think and detailed if you are going to go that route.
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Old 02-17-2014, 05:59 PM   #7
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Re: Commercial or not?

I doubt if anyone will be able to give you all the info you need, those that can probably wont unless you pay them,
but.... housecar

assuming my reading of the regs are wrong, if your bus is 40ft long or less you can normally just use the normal class C non cdl license, the same one used for cars, this assumes you are driving a normal skoolie,

I have not looked up what it takes to be a calif resident which will be needed to get the license, what you want to do is probably more like a taxi than a bus since you are carrying less than 14/15 people,

I see your biggest problem and what would be my biggest fear (were I in your shoes) is the insurance/liability issue. Most skoolies only get liability insurance which means it pays for the other guys car in a wreck and pays for yours and the other guys medical expenses, to be totally legal you would need to get some type of business/taxi/bus insurance and since you are doing this for a business it will be 10 to 100 times more expensive,

I doubt if any cop would give you an issue (under normal circumstances) assuming you had the bus titled/registered/inspected and in good working order, but the issue is liability if there is a wreck and or if someone gets hurt, their is huge personal financial/civil liability to run a business without all the proper paperwork and in some states it may even be criminal liability.

It took me about 10 minutes to search the california dmv site for the information links I posted above,

I certainly dont know for sure but from what I can tell you have done little to no research yourself which leads me to give you some friendly advice, the purchasing/titling/conversion of a school bus to turn it into a skoolie may be beyond your skill especially considering your foreign status and your wish to do it as a business while staying here on a tourist visa.
The tourist visa in itself may legal prevent you from titling/registering/insuring the bus.
My conversion thread, viewtopic.php?f=9&t=466746
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Old 02-17-2014, 06:54 PM   #8
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Re: Commercial or not?

I have a small 25' bus I use for business (I converted it into a mobile woodshop) I kept the registration commercial and maintain commercial liability insurance on the vehicle. I pay $500 per year for registration (based on vehicle weight) California now has a requirement for commercial vehicles to maintain a minimum of $750,000 liability coverage when used for business (when I first started it was a minimum of $50,000) this costs me $1500 a year through Geico Commercial for liability coverage only. I had a hell of a time finding insurance, I was turned down flat by 4 other insurance carriers. To get this coverage I had to prove that I was not going to carry ANY passengers. I had to prove this by providing several photos of the completed interior showing there wasn't any passenger seating.
The gentleman I bought the bus from had purchased it to transport families to and from church. He decided to sell it after getting quotes of $9000 per year for liability insurance (he tried many carriers).
At some point I was hoping to get full coverage but cannot even think about it with what I pay for liability only.

Stephan Willner
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Old 02-17-2014, 06:59 PM   #9
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Re: Commercial or not?

Thank you very much BUBB for you info. It might not seem so but we have been doing research for months.
I guess it's easier when you know what you're looking for, and we're only getting to that stage now.

I'll check out the links and think about your opinion.

Like you said the liability part is the biggest problem. Today we took our whole plan back to the first idea and though: 'Why not in Europe?'
Maybe that would be a bit eadier

Really thanks for looking at our plan with an open mind!
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Old 02-17-2014, 08:09 PM   #10
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Re: Commercial or not?

Originally Posted by Letsbenomads
First of all, thanks for all the positivity surrounding our questions.
At least we know now it is not going to be easy.
We are looking for answers that can contribute to making our project legal and happen, not the other way around.
Thanks for pointing us into the direction of DOT for example.
We are trying to get answers from lawyers, but that's also not so easy.
Anybody knows if we would start a business in Europe and come over to the US, would that make it legal?
Nothing hard about getting answers from lawyers.

What is hard is trying to get anything for free from a lawyer.

Why don't people just get a real job?

Are you already in the USA?

If so, under what status are you here? Working while on a tourism pass may also be illegal.

What did you tell customs when they asked you how you were going to support yourself while in the USA?

Coming into Canada is a privilege, not a right. Do something illegal, or stupid while here, you will get your but shipped back to your homeland in a hurry.

Do you not have any mountains to go ski on where your from? Try to tell your own people about climate change.

Why is it that foreigners keep invading other country's and try to stick their nose in something that is none of their business. Like the idiots going to Russia trying to protest bans on gay rights.

We have taxes and rules to help support the systems that you will be using while here. Hospitals, roads, ect don't get built for free. If you don't contribute $$, you are just a parasite leaching off our system.

I'm all about looking after our planet. I spend big$$ making my life have a smaller carbon footprint. How is driving a huge fuel pig around the rocky mountains helping save the world?

"Don't argue with stupid people. They will just drag you down to their level, and beat you up with experience."

Patently waiting for the apocalypses to level the playing field in this physiological game of life commonly known as Civilization
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