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Old 02-22-2017, 05:26 PM   #1
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Massachusetts registration.

So I had the pleasure of registering my 02' freightliner fs65. I explained that all seat were removed and was being converted into an R/V. After much confusion, calls to Boston, other supervisors, and an hour at the counter it was understood that whether a bus has 1 seat or 60 seats it's still a bus and will be registered as such. Just a heads up just in case anyone is trying to register here in mass. Good luck. Because it's a unique situation it definitely isn't easy.


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Old 02-22-2017, 05:45 PM   #2
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So I had the pleasure of registering my 02' freightliner fs65. I explained that all seat were removed and was being converted into an R/V. After much confusion, calls to Boston, other supervisors, and an hour at the counter it was understood that whether a bus has 1 seat or 60 seats it's still a bus and will be registered as such. Just a heads up just in case anyone is trying to register here in mass. Good luck. Because it's a unique situation it definitely isn't easy.


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That's funny. I called RMV and they said it needed to be converted. I asked what that consisted of and was answered : a permanent bed, a sink, a toilet (may be a canister toilet) and a place to cook.
They don't actually make you prove it. But the police have the ability to ticket you for improper reg if they see an RV reg on a non RV vehicle (bus pre-conversion).
Best advice I ever got "don't give them too much info"
I asked how to register my RV that was converted from a bus.
I haven't actually done it yet, but it will be soon.
Will update with my saga when I go through it.
Maybe wait a few months and try to change the reg? Say it is converted.
I planned on insuring it as a commercial vehicle for private use until the conversion was completely finished, and wasn't going to title/reg it as an RV till then. I was afraid that the insurance company would get a notification that the title had changed and drop me.

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Old 11-06-2017, 12:28 AM   #3
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reg updates?

Do either you have have any updates on how the registration went? My wife and I are doing the same thing.
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Old 11-06-2017, 07:08 AM   #4
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Do either you have have any updates on how the registration went? My wife and I are doing the same thing.
The RMV rules are as clear as muddy water. In Massachusetts, you have to get a RMV1 form from your insurance company.
The rmv1 has to list what you will be registered as. Any time you change registration you need this form filled out. With that being said, I had to register my bus commercial. I am in the process of appealing that. The woman I initially went to said "you can't register it as a bus, and I think it's too big to register it as a private vehicle, so it will have to be commercial or you could register it as an RV"
That sounds perfect on the surface... Except the state will and does notify the insurance company of any title change...
I registered it commercial (instead of as a bus for private use) and got a call from my insurance company 24 hours later asking about the title change.
So if they offer you RV tags and you haven't found insurance for an RV... the insurance company will most likely drop you (as in "we don't insure school bus conversions")


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Old 11-06-2017, 07:11 AM   #5
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The RMV rules are as clear as muddy water. In Massachusetts, you have to get a RMV1 form from your insurance company.
The rmv1 has to list what you will be registered as. Any time you change registration you need this form filled out. With that being said, I had to register my bus commercial. I am in the process of appealing that. The woman I initially went to said "you can't register it as a bus, and I think it's too big to register it as a private vehicle, so it will have to be commercial or you could register it as an RV"
That sounds perfect on the surface... Except the state will and does notify the insurance company of any title change...
I registered it commercial (instead of as a bus for private use) and got a call from my insurance company 24 hours later asking about the title change.
So if they offer you RV tags and you haven't found insurance for an RV... the insurance company will most likely drop you (as in "we don't insure school bus conversions")


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As an edit, the insurance company was fine with it being commercial, and my rate actually went down 20 a month because it isn't being used commercially...

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Old 11-06-2017, 10:27 AM   #6
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Thank you

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As an edit, the insurance company was fine with it being commercial, and my rate actually went down 20 a month because it isn't being used commercially...

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Thank you for the response.
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Old 07-19-2018, 12:19 PM   #7
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So I want to resurrect this thread to ask a related MA registration question.

I am picking up a converted skoolie from Iowa at the end of August. It is already titled as an RV. My plan is to insure it and register it just as a personal RV when I go to the registry.

Maybe I am diluting myself in thinking that it will be an easy shot at the registry, but if there is no title change and the insurance is already set up then I cannot think of what would happen. It's not like it ever seems to go well for cars...

My next question: Where to get insurance? National General is not offered in MA. Progressive does offer RV insurance, but I'm not really sure how to begin the application. Are skoolies considered "Class A", or what?
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Old 08-08-2018, 03:12 PM   #8
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That's funny. I called RMV and they said it needed to be converted. I asked what that consisted of and was answered : a permanent bed, a sink, a toilet (may be a canister toilet) and a place to cook.
Yesterday, they told me that it had to have PERMANENTLY INSTALLED toilet. So it sounds like canister toilet isn't acceptable now?

I am headed to the RMV and very apprehensive. I just got insurance through Progressive, who said that it should be able to be registered as a passenger vehicle. I went with them after being turned down by everyone I could find to insure it as an RV. The Progressive rep who was doing my RMV-1 form asked me only how many seat belts it had. When I said two, passenger went on the form.

Am I going to get in trouble if I have a passenger license plate on my shortie?? This is turning out to be the most complicated thing I've ever done.
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Old 08-08-2018, 03:16 PM   #9
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Yesterday, they told me that it had to have PERMANENTLY INSTALLED toilet. So it sounds like canister toilet isn't acceptable now?

I am headed to the RMV and very apprehensive. I just got insurance through Progressive, who said that it should be able to be registered as a passenger vehicle. I went with them after being turned down by everyone I could find to insure it as an RV. The Progressive rep who was doing my RMV-1 form asked me only how many seat belts it had. When I said two, passenger went on the form.

Am I going to get in trouble if I have a passenger license plate on my shortie?? This is turning out to be the most complicated thing I've ever done.
If the title and registration have the same VIN, there isn't anything a cop can do.
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Old 08-08-2018, 03:18 PM   #10
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Thanks! I appreciate the reassurance.
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Old 11-18-2018, 05:24 PM   #11
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Thanks! I appreciate the reassurance.
Hey Boss, How was the process getting insurance and title?

Working towards getting a short bus early next year and looking to gather as much information as I can.
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Old 11-18-2018, 05:40 PM   #12
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I can shar my experience with a full sized bus... First I got insurance... Just like a car you need to insure it and get an RMV1 from the insurance company. Then I went to the RMV... where they told me I had to register it as a commercial vehicle, because... It's bigger than a car. It doesn't matter that I won't be using it for a business or that I don't have a business.
Now once it's fully converted, they made it seem like it would be a breeze to switch the title as long as I had the proper rv insurance.
Long story longer... I weighed my bus and added 1k lbs to the empty weight for registration purposes and it still cost over 400 a yr.
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Old 11-18-2018, 06:22 PM   #13
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Hey Boss, How was the process getting insurance and title?

Working towards getting a short bus early next year and looking to gather as much information as I can.
Well, the insurance thing was a nightmare through any regular broker as soon as the word "bus" came up. One guy was totally into it, said no problem, just asked me to send photos. I shot the pictures and sent them to him and he said, "Oh no, we don't do bus conversions" even though we'd talked about it for 10 minutes earlier.

Then I looked at the VIN and noticed it was only listed as a Ford Econoline E-350, so I went with that. Finally, I got insurance through Geico. Their rep on the phone didn't care at all about the conversion or that it had bus coachwork or anything, just asked me how many seat belts it had. I said 2. The RMV will go with whatever the insurance company puts on the paperwork. My registration says "Passenger normal" and the fee was $60. If I remember right, as an RV it would have been able to do a "Trailer Normal" registration for $20, but they were adamant that you need an installed toilet, not a canister, to get that, and I couldn't get insured that way anyway. I noticed afterward I could have registered it as antique (25+ years) for $50! Maybe I'll try that next time but who knows what that would do to the insurance. It's a juggling act. Registering as a bus has a per-seat fee, I think.

Geico and Progressive don't seem to care what the actual vehicle is, just what the VIN says. Those regular brokers, they ask too many questions.

Good luck!
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Old 11-18-2018, 06:29 PM   #14
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I can shar my experience with a full sized bus... First I got insurance... Just like a car you need to insure it and get an RMV1 from the insurance company. Then I went to the RMV... where they told me I had to register it as a commercial vehicle, because... It's bigger than a car. It doesn't matter that I won't be using it for a business or that I don't have a business.
Now once it's fully converted, they made it seem like it would be a breeze to switch the title as long as I had the proper rv insurance.
Long story longer... I weighed my bus and added 1k lbs to the empty weight for registration purposes and it still cost over 400 a yr.
Wow, on the rate chart it says "bus" is $80, plus $7 per seat. I also see "Auto Home Normal" on there for $50 so that chick on the phone who told me it was a trailer registration (she got pissed when I argued that it wasn't a trailer) was totally wrong. It surprises me they would insist on commercial considering the definition of "auto home" is "any motor vehicle originally designed or permanently altered and equipped for human habitation which is not used to transport property other than that property used for human habitation or camping purposes. A motor vehicle designed primarily to transport property which has been temporarily altered or equipped for human habitation shall not be deemed to be an auto home."
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Old 11-18-2018, 06:41 PM   #15
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Thank you for the quick reply!!!
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Old 11-18-2018, 06:47 PM   #16
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Without "special permission" or a business transporting people they would not reg it as a bus. They wouldn't register it as a passenger vehicle, even though it it only has seating for 4. My plan is to convert it (I will not drive it, due to that being fraud as I stated I would not convert it without cancellation of my insurance) and get rv insurance, hopefully through am general.
As an auto-home I would need rv insurance and no one will insure (that I could find) a bus pre-conversion. So I am in limbo. And now I live in CT so we shall see what fun awaits me in the future. Lol.
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Wow, on the rate chart it says "bus" is $80, plus $7 per seat. I also see "Auto Home Normal" on there for $50 so that chick on the phone who told me it was a trailer registration (she got pissed when I argued that it wasn't a trailer) was totally wrong. It surprises me they would insist on commercial considering the definition of "auto home" is "any motor vehicle originally designed or permanently altered and equipped for human habitation which is not used to transport property other than that property used for human habitation or camping purposes. A motor vehicle designed primarily to transport property which has been temporarily altered or equipped for human habitation shall not be deemed to be an auto home."
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Old 11-19-2018, 12:10 AM   #17
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Inconsistency seems to be the name of the game here, as if you look at the first post in this thread, it seems the RMV told that poster he would HAVE to register his bus as a bus. But they're telling you that you can't. This is one of those areas where the left hand doesn't even know what the left hand is doing, never mind the right hand.
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Old 11-19-2018, 04:24 AM   #18
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The devil is in the details :


"considering the definition of "auto home" is "any motor vehicle originally designed or permanently altered and equipped for human habitation which is not used to transport property other than that property used for human habitation or camping purposes. A motor vehicle designed primarily to transport property which has been temporarily altered or equipped for human habitation shall not be deemed to be an auto home."

In other words, you can't just cut out a few seats, throw in an air mattress, a composting toilet, and a few gallons of clean water and a camping sink and call it an RV. Which sucks, because it means that there's no real way to insure it while you're doing the conversion, only after it's converted.

I'm not actually sure what you would need to do for insurance. I thought with a cutaway van, since the VIN comes up as a van, the trick was to just register is as a commercial truck (but still under CDL weight) while doing the conversion, then convert it to a motorhome registration later.

The hard part I've heard is getting insurance on the conversion in the first place, since you need it to even begin the registration process in MA anyways.
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Old 11-19-2018, 07:38 PM   #19
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Every state has its quirks I guess. in CA any pickup truck must be registered as commercial, unless you put a cap over the bed. Doesn't matter why or where you're driving it.

I still don't get the insurance company's anti-skoolie stance. They claim conversions are unsafe. Yet RVs fold up like cardboard boxes at the slightest accident, while buses are very hardy and well built. I read on one site that insurers claim buses aren't meant to carry the kind of weight a conversion adds, and that causes a major risk of rollover. But after some hardcore Googling I haven't found one report of a conversion rolling over: the handful of roll over accidents I found were active school buses. Maybe they're jus not in the papers, I don't know, but it sure doesn't look like skoolies are accidents waiting to happen just by nature.

Now, considering how many people don't bother to bolt down their furniture, I thought THAT might be the reason they consider skoolies unsafe. But an simple inspection would solve that problem.
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Old 09-10-2019, 09:32 PM   #20
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Register in VT

I just got done talking to a guy about this and this was roughly his response.


get a notarized bill of sale saying it is an RV. Register RV to Vermont, 2 weeks later you get your plates. VT doesn't require an inspection and can be done by just sending in your paperwork and a check. All you have to say is that you summer in VT or spend a lot of time there skiing or hiking. The plate will show up under your home address if ever checked by police. The registration is good for 1 or 2 years, so when that is up you can register it to you mass address. You can do it sooner too, but that just seems to be a waste of money. It is a nice little trick to get around the not so clear system that we have here in mass.


I have not looked into this at length, but the guy has done a bunch of conversions and sounded reliable. If somebody checks this out, please tell me if im right or wrong. i hope im right, that could save us all a lot of trouble.


in the meantime, he also said put a post on craigslist and facebook market place saying you need a school bus towed for $100 and people will pounce. so you can get your new bus back home!
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