Is It Legal to Live In A Van

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Last Updated on December 31, 2020

Van life has always been an attractive way to live for those who crave wanderlust.

Being able to travel to different countries or explore various parts of your own country can sometimes be difficult to do.

Organizing hotel stays, renting a car or finding public transport links, and even deciding where to go first can all add unwanted stress which can be avoided if you live in a van. 

Living in a van allows you to travel pretty much anywhere you want, whenever you want.

If you have got the travel bug, then it could be the perfect investment.

Over the last few years, we have all seen the trends of people completely ripping apart their vans and making them livable. You must have seen the vans which come with beds, sofas, ovens and even a toilet! They’re mini houses with wheels!

Any lover of minimalist houses or tiny homes will love the idea of living in a van. It is a lot more charming than you may initially think.

If you do up a van, the right way, it can seriously impress many people, including yourself! But you may be thinking is this legal and what do you put as your address?

Well, keep on reading because we will let you know the ins and outs of van life below.

Where in the world is it legal?

Before you start looking for a van, take some time to do your research. It may sound boring but just by reading this article, you can find out whether this way of life is suitable for you and the country you are looking to reside in. 

Let’s start with where we are based, the USA. Here, it is completely legal to live in a van. Many states have designated areas where you can park your van safely and even have areas to dispose of your trash and toilet waste. Making van life in the USA absolutely bliss. 

The rise of van dwellers in the USA is happening quicker than you may think! The youth of today are loving the idea of being able to travel through many different states without the stress of paying rent or securing a mortgage.

What makes van living even more attractive is that many places don’t even charge a fee for parking overnight. Sounds super cost-effective, doesn’t it. Have we convinced you yet?

If you are thinking about taking up van dwelling in Europe then there are different rules for different countries. A lot of countries will let you live in your van without any problems, for example, France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. 

However, there are some countries that deem it illegal and you could face a fine if you are caught living in your van.

In fact, camping is all together illegal in countries such as Greece, Slovenia and Austria. There are some occasions where you may be able to set up a tent or motorhome but you would not be able to get that wanderlust feeling in any of these countries.

In the UK, they are slightly more lenient depending on whether you pay a yearly road tax. Once you have made this payment, you are free to roam the island. There are plenty of sites available to park up but some may incur a charge.

The downside to van life

So, now you know if it is legal or not in certain countries, do you want to commit to the van life?

Before you make any hasty decisions, you should take into account the following disadvantages that living in your van may bring.

One of the most off putting disadvantages of living on the road is the problems you face with having no real address. In the USA, you need an address to apply for a driving licence, open a bank account and to be able to vote in any elections.

It is a bit confusing that the USA is so relaxed when it comes to people taking up life on the road but then also having these restrictions put in place.

You may think to yourself, what about the homeless? The government does allow homeless people to register an address of a relative or shelter in order for them to open a bank account or do any other tasks which require a household address.

However, they still have not considered these issues that can be faced by van dwellers.

Another issue that you may face is finding a place to set up for the night. Some cities do not allow van dwellers to stay overnight in parking lots so if you think that this way of life is the right one for you, then it could be a good idea to research which areas offer safe and legal parking.

There are many places in the USA which offer free parking overnight but you just have to find the right spots. 


Van dwelling is a great idea for those who wish to travel more and find some cool new spots.

Many young people have taken up van life to discover the places that they would like to call home. Life on the road has a great community which is so welcoming and are full of great travel stories. The freedom you feel when you are a van dweller cannot be beaten. 

However, living on the road does have some disadvantages. Not having a proper address can make it difficult to carry out certain tasks like voting in the general election or opening a bank account.

Not having a stable dwelling where you can receive mail regularly can be off putting to some people. 

You will be pleased to know that living in a van is legal in most countries including the USA. So, what are you waiting for?

With no need to be tied down to any mortgage payments and having the freedom to travel far and often, life on the road has never seemed so appealing.

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