School Bus Conversion Resources

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geminusprime 01-09-2019 05:50 PM

From Purchase To Tags In 1 Day, Non-RV [SC]
I've seen quite a few other threads here and on reddit about title, tags, and whatnot. I dug through everything I could, but found so little for SC that I almost ended up doing the Vermont Registration.

But, as it turns out you can purchase your bus and get your title/tags the same day in South Carolina for both In-State and Out-Of-State purchases. As there weren't many resources specifically for skoolies on this subject, only commercial vehicles and regular cars, I figured I'd describe my process.

Keep in mind as I did pick up from a Dept. of Education lot, they were open at 5 and I drove out around 6. It was a 1:30 drive back home, with stops and food the actual process started at 8:00AM.

I also may or may not change the tags to an RV, as long as I can stay under the GVWR of 23000. It depends on the advice on here I get as I'm doing my conversion, but during the conversion this allows you to legally get where you need to go in the bus with actual plates. As conversions can take upwards of a year or more, I see this as a practical solution during this time.

Purchase: I purchased from the NC Department of Education, which is neither an individual nor a dealer. Turns out DMV doesn't really care.
When purchasing, all you will need is the following:
  • Title
  • Bill Of Sale*

*You only need the bill of sale if the title does not include either Price or Odometer Reading. NC titles do not have purchase price, so a bill of sale is needed.

The Title is an official document, fancy paper and all. Bill Of Sale can be types up in notepad if you want, it just has to say the buyer info, seller info, terms, & price. Also both buyer and seller signature.

Insurance: Don't do this while driving home, even on speakerphone. Either do it at the lot before you leave or after you get home, or have someone else do it for you as a passenger.

Insurance was tricky, but not as bad as I had come to believe. State Farm turned me down, although their 24-hour line had approved me my local agent which I already have policies with called and said they couldn't provide insurance for it.

I went with AIG. I filled out the form at the lot, but ended up calling them at (888) 772-4247 when I got home. Took less than 30 minutes, they have some forms you'll need to fill out that require email, so be at a computer. I was in my bus and had to run home.

You can go with either RV or Non-RV. I went with the latter during the conversion, switching to RV after it's done. Specifically, they said I would be considered best as a "Covered Flatbed for Non-Commercial Purposes". They also told me my mistake with State Farm - I mentioned I was "hauling" junk (interior, seats, etc.) to the dump before I renovate the inside. It wasn't the potential conversion that got me turned down, it was apparently that "hauling" is a term used for commercial purposes. The agent was very helpful and understood the situation I was in.

After ~30 minutes on the phone and email, you'll have proof of insurance in your inbox that you can print out. It's needed for the DMV, but as it turns out nobody ever checks if the individual is actually insured.

I am NOT condoning driving without insurance, but if you are in a pinch for time and ABSOLUTELY sure you know the insurance company that will cover you, then you can skip this step for now and do it last. ONLY IF YOU ARE 100% SURE YOU WILL BE ABLE TO GET INSURANCE FROM A CERTAIN COMPANY!

TAXES & REGISTRATION: Go to your counties local Tax Assessors Office. You'll need the following:
  • Title
  • Bill OF Sale

You'll pay your SC taxes, and receive a receipt and your registration.

This one was easy. Except in my case, turns out when I purchased my previous vehicle I hadn't paid the taxes for it. Paid $600 for my actual truck, and $20 for the bus.
SC also states a value of the bus as $833, which is the absolute lowest a vehicle can be valued in SC according to my local tax office. This isn't the price you actually paid, this is just what the state assesses your vehicle value as. Don't mix them up and get in trouble just to save a few bucks.

FOOD: You're excited. You just got a bus and are likely muttering "What the heck am I doing" to yourself. Maybe. Calling these people and those people, making headway. You've also not eaten or thought about your hunger since you got behind the wheel of this amazing beast.

Go get you some protein, and don't get lightheaded and fall down the bus stairs in front of your house.

Good? Now on to the best part!

DMV & Tags: Head down to your local DMV, but first you'll need to fill out Form 400. Or not - you'll have plenty of time to fill it out while waiting.

You'll need to bring the following things:
  • Title
  • Bill Of Sale
  • Registration

The Body Type should be "Bus".

You'll need to specify you are pulling out all seats except the drivers, and going to renovate the interior over the course of a year prior to getting plates for a Recreational Vehicle. For the latter, you may also need to get a Class E/F license if you GVWR is over 26001 and/or you will be towing a vehicle.

As far as the RV portion, SC has the "Four of the six requirements" for being considered an RV, which can't be done in a single day. But, it will likely take some time to convert, and in the meantime its in a kind of limbo that's acceptable as long as you're not hauling passengers or using it for commercial reasons.

The plates issued are "Property Carrying" plates. There are kind of weird and it seems some people get these to be jerks and park in loading zones, but please don't do this.

DOT regulations stipulate that workers must hold a CDL if the vehicle they will be operating meets the following definition commercial motor vehicle means a motor vehicle, or combination of motor vehicles, used in commerce to transport passengers or property if the motor vehicle:

A. Has a gross combination weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more, inclusive of a towed unit(s) with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds; or

B. Has a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more; or

C. Is designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver; or

D. Is of any size and is used in the transportation of hazardous materials as defined by the DOT.

Even by the above definitions, anything but the largest skoolie would meet any of those criteria, and even then - it's not a commercial vehicle.

Commercial Vehicle for Private Use is the closest I've seen it described as long as it's not being used for commercial use. I did specify to the DMV this was a private vehicle not being used for commercial reasons. These were the plates issued, so I believe it should be kosher to drive according to SC law.

All that said - please do research into laws regarding other states. This is why I'm likely going to change the plates once the conversion is complete.


Have fun driving your bus with your new legit plates.

I came into this expecting so much trouble with all of this process that it almost made me just give up. Overthinking everything isn't always the best - it almost killed this amazing opportunity for no reason at all.

I'm not one to congratulate our state level governments for their "efficiency" or "ease of use". But in this case, it was incredibly easy compared to what I expected. The worst parts was the wait times and and the people outside the registration office smoking (assessor/registration office is adjacent to the probation office).

I hope this has been helpful to future people in my homestate of South Kakalaki looking to start their skoolie dream.

o1marc 01-09-2019 06:01 PM

Check with your local insurance and see if they cover you on a new purchase for a period of time. If you're with State Farm, they cover you for 7 days on "ANY" vehicle, including the bus they won't insure.:thumb:

PNW_Steve 01-09-2019 06:02 PM

Regarding insurance,

you may want to check with your agent and see if your bus purchase may be covered for a short period after purchase.

Things do vary somewhat from state to state and carrier to carrier.

I have had good luck with State Farm in WA and AZ insuring 3 buses.

I checked with my agent before picking up the buses and gave her the vin # and verified that I had 14 days of automatic coverage for vehicle purchases.

For "belt and suspenders" I sent a confirming email with the same question & vin #. I printed out the response and carried all of the sale paperwork, existing insurance card and print out of the email from State Farm with me when I went to pick up the bus.

Some members here have shared that they had anywhere from 7-30 days of automatic coverage on vehicle purchases. One (can't remember who) did report that their agent told them "automatic coverage on purchases, yes, but school buses were not covered".

It pays to check.

o1marc 01-09-2019 06:06 PM

Check with your local insurance and see if they cover you on a new purchase for a period of time. If you're with State Farm, they cover you for 7 days on "ANY" vehicle, including the bus they won't insure.:thumb:

Your experience in SC sounds as easy as here in Ga. Unfortunately many members live in states that are just not very cooperative.

geminusprime 01-09-2019 06:29 PM

Regarding the 7 day insurance, according to my Agent in York, SC I would actually have NOT been covered as it's a vehicle they simply do not insure.

However - I think this was more of an issue with my local agent, rather than strict policy. The 24 hour line I called right before my agents office opened understood and even gave me a quote, but said my agent would have to call me as they couldn't handle everything there.

On another note, I'm transferring all my vehicles to Progressive tomorrow. State Farm cost themselves quite a few standard vehicles at the expense of a bus.

EDIT: Also because she actually gave me a lot of hassle for referring to the bus as a vehicle. Which it darn well is.

o1marc 01-09-2019 06:46 PM

I verified with SF before I brought my bus home. We had already discussed no policy until it's converted, and referred me to a competitor. When we checked the wording on the purchase of "ANY" vehicle. I asked "ANY", including the bus you wfirst fuel upon't insure? The answer was YES. As it turned out I had an incident with a light pole at my . I had my insurance agent on the phone when the cop showed up. Here I am with no tag, registration, proof of insurance, and 2600 miles from home. I told him the story about my coverage and showed him my phone screen that said STATE FARM INS. He asked to talk to my agent and asked one question "Is he covered right now?" Agent said Yes, cop handed my back and said I'm taking a report, here's the case #. Nothing I can do be cause it's private property. Off I went at that point. Pole owner filed a claim which we denied because there was massive damage to the pole when I hit it, and really did no more damage to it.

geminusprime 01-09-2019 06:49 PM

I'm guessing I'm better off already planning on switching agents. I tried to contact the office a few days prior, but every time the person needed was "at lunch".

Almost 100% certain my agent didn't quite know what she was doing/what she meant to say. If SF covered you, they'd had covered me.

o1marc 01-09-2019 07:01 PM


Originally Posted by geminusprime (Post 304529)
I'm guessing I'm better off already planning on switching agents. I tried to contact the office a few days prior, but every time the person needed was "at lunch".

Almost 100% certain my agent didn't quite know what she was doing/what she meant to say. If SF covered you, they'd had covered me.

I think you are correct, it was your personal agent. Home company cleared me. I understood SF's position and would not leave them after 30+ years of good service just because they won't cover my bus until it's an RV. They were good enough to recommend someone who could in the interim, so that's the way I went.

The Perigrines 05-18-2019 01:23 PM

Thanks so much we are hopefully going to be owners of a skoolie soon

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