Is It Legal to Sleep in a Van in the UK? [LAWS EXPLAINED]

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For example, can I sleep inside my camper if it’s parked on the side of the road or in a layby?

Giving a clear, straightforward response is particularly challenging since so many different pieces of legislation—including the Caravan Sites & Control of Development Act and more recent legislation protecting gypsies and travellers—may be relevant.

 The law can classify a motorhome or campervan as a “caravan,” and sleeping inside one may be considered “human occupancy,” which is regulated by the Caravan Sites & Control of Development Act. 

Other than that, we know no specific UK law prohibiting sleeping in a vehicle.

You must be careful whose land you end up on if you want to set up camp somewhere, even if you only intend to get an hour’s sleep, that is not in a campground for campervans or caravans.

In the UK, someone usually owns the land. So, if you wish to practice some “wild camping,” you must have the landowner’s express consent. You will likely break the law if you don’t get the landowner’s permission.

Wild camping is generally against the law in England and Wales (unless you have the landowners’ express consent) but is lawful in Scotland according to the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, which permits the public to camp on the majority of unenclosed properties.

There are still spots in England and Wales where you can go wild camping, like the Lake District and some of Dartmoor.

No matter where you choose to wild camp, you should try to steer clear of parking along walking trails or on verges. Additionally, make an effort to keep your visit brief by arriving late and departing early.

Where Can I Sleep in a Campervan in the UK?

Unfortunately, you’re not allowed to park your campervan anywhere you like.

Consider what would happen if you parked on someone else’s property, even with the best intentions, for only one night. Still, you didn’t get the landowner’s permission? 

If the land owner wanted early morning access to their land and you’re blocking the entrance, there will be some harsh words spoken, I’m sure. 

The best place to park for one or more nights is at a campsite. However, you’ll still need to check your vehicle’s dimensions to ensure you can legally take your motorhome or van to the campsite. 

Suppose you’re looking for somewhere free that’s pretty safe and secure. In that case, you can always check the local supermarkets in any town you happen to be travelling through.

Other accessible parking areas include some lay-byes, park & ride facilities and woodland car parks. However, once again, carefully check that it’s legal to park there to avoid any fines.

Is It Legal to Sleep in a Van in the UK?

 If you’re near a public highway and you are not causing an obstruction, no specific law prohibits you from sleeping in your van in the UK. However, don’t be shocked or surprised to find yourself woken in the middle of the night by the police and told to move your vehicle.

On private property, you should generally ask the landowner for permission. Some parking lots allow overnight stays, such as some supermarket car parks. But, you may not be allowed to spend the night in your van if the parking lot is controlled by a business, local government agency, the NHS, etc. For instance, spending the night in your van at an NHS parking lot is mostly forbidden.

Can You Sleep in Campervan Anywhere?

The crucial thing to remember about overnight parking is that it is not always permitted. You should never assume you can stay somewhere, as this can result in an angry confrontation with the land owner or the local constabulary. In addition, because you’re allowed to park somewhere, that doesn’t give you the right to stay all night! 

Finding overnight campervan parking outside campsites and adequately designated areas are tricky. But there are apps available these days that can prove helpful. 

If you’re looking for overnight parking in the UK, the latest edition of the Brit Stops book is your best bet. 

The book has a wide selection of locations providing free overnight campervans parking.

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