Snow place like home – Christmas in a VW California

Snow place like home – Christmas in a VW California

According to a survey carried out by Bassetts Vitamins, families are spending less and less time together – with 43% struggling to find time to eat as one – all of which means Christmas dinner may be one of the only occasions where everyone sits around the same table.

Of course, this was pre-pandemic, before working from home was at the same level it is now — but with our heads stuck in zoom calls and computers, it doesn’t mean the same does not apply.

So, we’ve revisited this article again to encourage families to spend quality time this Christmas, to remind of us the year when Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles challenged chef and founder of the 5 O’Clock Apron blog, Claire Thomson, to go off-grid in the New Forest with her family to create a festive feast in a Volkswagen California Ocean Campervan.

Kate Thompson, mother of two and Head of Press and Public Relations, of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, said: “While for many the Christmas meal is daunting enough in a fully equipped kitchen at home, Claire proved the iconic campervan is all you need to cook up a delicious three course meal.”

Claire and her husband – former Michelin starred chef, Matt Williamson – made use of the two gas hobs, fridge, and running tap that all come as standard in the California Ocean. The couple also propped up the preparation table and rotated the two front seats to create a spacious kitchen area in which to prepare their festive feast.

Claire created the original recipes to ensure they included all the essentials so her family weren’t missing out on the true Christmas experience. For a starter, Claire cooked pan fried scallops with hazelnut butter and spinach.

This was followed by a main course of turkey saltimbocca, served with sautéed potatoes, chestnuts and sprouts and dressed with spiced pickled pears. For the final touch, they had Christmas pudding fried with Marsala butter for dessert.

Claire Thomson, commented: “We have stayed in a Volkswagen California before and absolutely loved it. The kids like sleeping ‘upstairs’, in the top bunk and it genuinely has everything you need to create any meal – even a Christmas dinner. The hobs, fridge and sink make everything really simple, leaving you free to enjoy the time away with your family.”


Blogger Claire Thomson and family; cooking up a Christmas Feast in a Volkswagen California Ocean campervan 


Click here for the full festive recipe


Scallops with Hazelnut Butter and Spinach

Ingredients – Serves 4

12x large scallops
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tsp. picked fresh thyme leaves
30g skinned hazelnuts, roughly chopped 40g butter
Finely grated zest and juice of 1⁄2 lemon
100g washed baby spinach
Vegetable oil to cook


  1. Heat a large frying pan over a high temperature and add about 1 tbsp. of oil. Season the scallops well with salt and pepper and carefully place in the hot pan
  2. Cook for 1 – 2 minutes until nicely seared on one side and then turn the scallops over. Add the butter and the thyme leaves and cook for further 1 – 2 minutes, carefully spooning the foaming butter over the scallops as they cook
  3. Add the spinach to the pan along with the hazelnuts and lemon zest
  4. Remove from the heat and serve immediately together with all the pan juices

Main Course

Turkey Saltimbocca

Ingredients – Serves 4

4x 150g turkey escalopes
8x slices of prosciutto (Parma ham would be preferred)
8x sage leaves
200ml dry Marsala wine (optional)
2 tbsp. plain flour
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2x cloves garlic, peeled and slightly flattened with the side of a knife


  1. Flatten the turkey escalope out between cling film (or greaseproof paper) to about 1⁄2 cm, using a meat mallet or a rolling pin. Cut each piece into two and place a sage leaf on each, together with a good grind of pepper. Wrap each piece of turkey in a prosciutto slice and dust lightly in flour.
  2. Heat the oil and butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the garlic and allow it to just begin to sizzle. Add the meat and cook for about 2 minutes on each side until crisp, golden and cooked through. Remove and keep warm on a serving dish.
  3. Add the Marsala to the pan and bubble it over a high heat until thickened and reduced by half. Taste for seasoning, remove the garlic and serve with the sauce poured over the meat.
Devils on Horseback

Ingredients – Serves 4

12x dried prunes
6x rashers of streaky bacon


  1. Wrap 2 prunes together in a length of bacon.
  2. Fry the bacon wrapped prunes in a pan with a spot of vegetable oil over a moderate heat seam side down to begin with. Fry for about 2 – 3 minutes, turning the parcels until the bacon is crisp all over.
  3. Remove from the pan and keep somewhere warm.
Sautéed Potatoes with Chestnuts & Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients – Serves 4

500g small new potatoes, skin on
1x small onion, finely chopped
10 – 15 brussels sprouts, thinly sliced or shaved Salt and freshly ground black pepper
10x approx. cooked and peeled chestnuts, grated 30g butter
2 tbsp. vegetable oil


  1. Boil the potatoes in well-salted water for about 10 minutes until tender. Drain and cool on a large serving plate. When cool enough to handle, slice into 1cm coins.
  2. Fry the finely chopped onion in the vegetable oil over a moderate heat for about 5 minutes until soft and golden.
  3. Add the potatoes, turn up the heat and fry over a high temperature for about 8 – 10 minutes, at least until the potatoes begin to brown and crisp in places.
  4. Add the butter and brussels sprouts and cook for 1 – 2 minutes more just to soften the sprouts. Season with salt and pepper as necessary and sprinkle the chestnuts over to serve.

Spiced Pickled Pears


Ingredients – Makes 1 large jar

8x ripe pears, peeled, halved and cored
600ml white wine vinegar
300g caster sugar
A couple of thin slices of lemon
1x whole cinnamon quill
1x thick slice of fresh ginger
1x fresh bay leaf
1⁄2 tsp allspice berries
1⁄2 tsp black peppercorns
1 large glass jar – washed in warm water and heated in a moderately hot oven for about 5 minutes to sterilise.


  1. Combine all ingredients (except the pears) with the spices in a pan (big enough to put the pears into) and simmer until the sugar has just dissolved.
  2. Put the pears into the pan and simmer for about 15 – 20 minutes until completely tender and slightly translucent.
  3. Layer the pears in the sterilised jar and pour over the hot vinegar mix including all the spices.
  4. Leave to mature for at least a week before eating.
  5. Stored well, these pears will keep for several months.


Fried Christmas Pudding with Marsala Butter

Ingredients – Serves 4

60g butter
40g icing sugar
2 tbsp Marsala wine or use sweet sherry
400g approx. Christmas pudding, cut into 1cm slices Crème fraiche or thick double cream to serve


  1. Cream the butter and icing sugar together until completely combined. Beat in the marsala, then place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to set (do this ahead of time)
  2. Melt the masala butter in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat until just bubbling. Add the Christmas pudding and cook for about 2 minutes on each side until golden and fragrant
  3. Place the fried Christmas pudding, together with all the buttery pan juices on a large plate and serve with a dollop of creme fraiche or cream

If you’re considering a Volkswagen California for your winter adventure then why not check out our featured hirers page to try before you buy, or even go straight to our dealership map to find your nearest California specialist.


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Winter Travel in a VW California

Winter Travel in a VW California

Before setting off on a foreign trip during the winter months there are a few things you must research to ensure you are adhering to the particular laws of that country.

If touring there might be several different countries you plan to drive through and each country may have different rules and regulations for different seasons — so it is important to know what is required. A great place to start your research is the AA website; the link below will take you to the page where you can select the country/ies you wish to visit and download a PDF fact sheet for that region.

From seatbelt law to badge requirements and speed limits, we think the AA has it pretty much covered, and as such this article is more geared towards Volkswagen California owners — however, all campervan, SUV and motorhome owners may still benefit from the information contained here.


One good piece of advice is to fit winter/snow tyres from November through to February at least, even in if you are in the UK and especially if you are in a remote rural area.

From December 2010 it is has been compulsory in Germany to drive on winter tyres regardless of vehicle nationality so be beware and prepare if you are heading in that direction. If you have the space then it may be worth keeping some winter tyres on sets of steel rims and swap the wheels over in November/December.

Purchasing winter tyres does not need to be an excessively expensive investment, and is one you should consider seriously if you plan to drive your pride and joy in bad weather, let alone to the Alps.

Ask any tyre dealer and they’ll tell you that you don’t need premium tyres to feel the benefit; the sidewall of a winter tyre will be marked with a symbol showing a snowflake or snow-topped mountains, and this is what the German police will be looking for when doing checks!


Winter tyres use a rubber compound (high silica content) and tread pattern specifically designed to retain flexibility in low temperatures (below 7°C) and give improved braking/traction performance on snow/ice as well as on wet roads in cold conditions .

If you don’t fit winter tyres then you will need to ensure you have all weather tyres fitted and a decent amount of tread remaining for the countries you are travelling in. Laws in countries can differ on tread depth and at least 3 mm is required in Switzerland and some other countries. Again, check the AA or RAC websites for further information.

Do not forget to check your tyre pressures and if you pack a set of Snow chains practice putting them on. The alloy wheels and tyre sizes on a Volkswagen California can sometimes make getting the right fit difficult (17″ wheels and above). It may be worth noting that specialists such as Campervantastic stock Snow Chains and Snow Socks both for sale and for hire.

snow chainSNOW CHAINS

Snow chains offer excellent grip but are a bit awkward to fit when you are knee deep in snow and slush, and wrapping them around the wheels can be frustrating when you are cold. similar applies for removing them again, so be prepared to get cold and messy.

That is why you should choose the best chains you can find and look for self-tensioning chain for SUV, crossover, commercial vehicles and motorhomes. A good tip is not to leave it too long before fitting the chains; it is easy to think it is not that bad, only to get stuck later on. Vehicles you see passing without snow chains will probably be using snow tyres – so don’t be fooled into thinking you can get away with it; it could be a costly and even fatal mistake!


If you are travelling through France then you are legally required to carry two NF Certified Breathalysers.

These are not expensive and can be purchased in a twin pack by AlcoSense, these are as used by the French Police. The breathalyser must be compliant with French law and are designed to to alert you at the French Drink Drive limit of 0.5% BAC.


For those intending to travel through France you should be aware that from the 3rd January 2012 a new law in France made it illegal to be warned by Sat Nav & other devices about the location of speed cameras. However most manufactures like TomTom are introducing a 100% compliant Danger Zones service available in a free download for compatible products. If you don’t switch off your speed camera warnings or upgrade your product to the new Danger Zones then you risk a fine of up to €1,500.


A decent screen wash will protect down to -20°C but always check the label as some places sell screen wash that is absolutely useless in sub zero conditions.


Make sure that you get your campervan cleaned, especially if you return from your winter trip and leave it parked for an extended period of time. The road salt used to clear snow and ice can corrode many different parts of your campervan including your brake disks! This could result in pitting, brake noise and potential disk replacement.


If you are living in the campervan you can leave the fresh water in the tank as long as you keep the temperature above 0°C.

However it is better to drain the water tank when leaving the campervan uninhabited for any length of time – you also need to drain the waste tank and the residue of water from the sink tap otherwise it can freeze and break.

If you leave any food, drink or water bottles in the van in extreme cold then expect everything to be frozen! If you are parked for a long period it is also recommended to chock the wheels and release the handbrake to prevent the brake pads from freezing to the disks.

Be mindful if using the roll-out sun canopy in the extreme cold as it has been known to freeze, thus making it very difficult to roll back in.

For driving advice in winter from the Institute of Advanced Motorists see the bottom of this post and don’t forget to let us know your experiences and tips.


Storage can be a real issue when packing winter gear, Bulky clothing, skis, snowboards and boots all need their place. There are a variety of equipment and sleeping options available to make your winter trip a success; such as the Ski and Snowboard soft bags from Thule that can attach to your roof bars and removed folded and stored when not being used.

Also, think about hiring or buying your ski gear here in the UK as it can work out very expensive in some European Locations.


It is warmer in the lower part of the campervan, so here is a tip if you have small children. Put the campervan in first gear (or park) and chock the wheels – you will then be able to drop the handbrake and rotate the front seats to face each other to create a bed for a toddler. You can also get a hammock that fits across the front cab for older children.

The roof bed can be cold at night in winter so something like the Iso Top roof liner (the Iso Top deflects the heat away from the top air vents and acts as a wind breaker). Other options include the Vanorak or Khyam Kamper Cozi.

These all need to be fitted and removed after closing the roof – however, the advantage of the Iso Top Gore lining is that it can be left fitted when lowering the roof but does not offer as much protection in cold weather. Thermal screens (external or internal) are also recommended which fit over the windscreen and can be used in conjunction with insulation hoods.


snow vanThe lower bed area is really toasty – the heating system is amazing and can be used in temps of -18°C and lower; it can be left on through the night without an electrical hook-up and is fuelled by the diesel tank.

You may even get few nights or more if you’re careful with the energy and turn off the fridge etc to conserve power. Igniting the heater is a problem when power is low so turning the engine on also charges and can give the batteries a boost.

Check your heating in advance and charge your batteries using the hook up, as your journey alone may not be enough to provide significant charge!

While the heating is the most efficient and practical way to heat your campervan, it is also possible to run a small electric heater when on hook up. However some campsites only offer a 6 amp supply and most heaters are 13 amp so you’ll need to check the current rating of your appliance; a 6 amp supply will be good for a 1KW heater or you could look for one that can be set on half power for when you do not have a 13amps.

If in doubt seek advice from the campsite staff, and for safety sake always keep electric heaters clear from obstructions such as clothing and bags etc.


It is unlikely you will have any issues when using the gas burners. However gas can freeze below 0°C so if you find the gas is not flowing try to heat the campervan up first and see if that does the job. The water tank in a California does offer some protection for the gas bottle however you could consider insulating it as well.

Always ensure you have good ventilation when cooking and make sure the burners are turned off when you close the cover!


Subject to when you travel, there is also low temperature diesel available in the Alps which might be preferable in sub zero temperatures.

In very cold conditions wax crystals can form in diesel, block the fuel filter and prevent fuel flow. The European quality standard for diesel fuel includes winter requirements specific to each country which ensure that fuel is suited to the local climate.

Fuel capable of operation down to at least -20°C is normal in the popular winter resort destinations.


This is what the Institute of Advanced Motorists recommend…

  • When driving in snow, get your speed right – not too fast so that you risk losing control, but not so slow that you risk losing momentum when you need it – and brake, steer and accelerate as smoothly as possible.
  • Start gently from stationary, avoiding high revs. If you get yourself into a skid the main thing to remember is to take your foot off the pedals and steer.”
  • Only use the brake if you cannot steer out of trouble.
  • Double or even triple your normal stopping distance from the vehicle in front. Drive so that you do not rely on your brakes to be able to stop – on an icy surface they simply may not do that for you!
  • If your vehicle has ABS in very slippery conditions it will not give you the same control it would in others. Do not rely on it.


Top tips for driving in snow and ice

  • Plan your journey around busier roads as they are more likely to have been gritted. Avoid using shortcuts on minor roads – they are less likely to be cleared or treated with salt, especially country lanes.
  • On motorways stay in the clearest lane where possible, away from slush and ice. Keep within the clear tyre tracks if you can.
  • Stay in a lower gear for better control, and if it is slippery move off in second gear, rather than just using first.
  • On a downhill slope lower your speed low before you start the descent, and do not let momentum build up – it is much easier to keep low than to try to slow down once things get slippery
  • In falling snow use dipped headlights or fog lights to make yourself visible to others (especially pedestrians) – but as conditions improve make sure your fog lights are only on if necessary as they can dazzle other drivers and only recommended for poor visibility.
  • If you are following another vehicle at night, using their lights to see the road ahead can cause you to drive dangerously close – always keep well back from other traffic.


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The VW California British Destination Guide

The VW California British Destination Guide

Click Here to Download The GuideBack in 2018, in celebration of 30 years of the VW California campervan, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles UK  created the ultimate guide to campervan travel in the UK — a downloadable PDF to the top 30 places to visit in the UK, as chosen by California owners.

Now times have changed, and even though the pandemic is slowly become less of a problem, more and more people are opting for the ‘staycation’ as an alternative to foreign travel — and as such we thought we’d give this a boost to inspire people for their next UK excursion.

This fantastic download includes information on iconic British locations such as Durdle Door on the Jurassic Coast, Glastonbury in Somerset and the Isle of Skye to the Northwest of Scotland.

Along with a few lesser known favourites such as Llyn Gwynant in spectacular Snowdonia and Mundesley on the Norfolk Coast there is enough inspiration here for everyone.

Click here to download and explore this guide and plan your next campervan adventure!








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Selling a VW California Campervan

Selling a VW California Campervan

No matter how much we love our Volkswagen Californias, one day it will be time to say goodbye.

Yes, it’s true and nothing lasts forever — but before you rush to place that ad and move on to greater adventures (and maybe newer campervans), please take time to read our handy guide to selling your beloved California.

Remember, Volkswagen Californias are premium vehicles — they still fetch top money on the pre-loved market, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect the basics as this could make a signifiant difference to how much you fetch for your van and how fast it will sell.

You may also wish to check out our comprehensive buyers guide to see the recommendations we make for anyone purchasing a van. If you familiarise yourself with what people look for it will prepare you for any questions prospective buyers have, and give you a chance to correct or account for any problems before you and your vehicle part ways.

Please toggle through the sections below to view our recommendations:

1. The Big Clean

The first thing to do is to get your Volkswagen California into the best condition possible, and that means cleaning it both inside and out; maybe to a level not seen since you first bought it. While this seems an obvious step, it’s amazing how much we can miss when we get accustomed to day to day ownership.

  • Firstly, consider having a full professional valet as this will really do an amazing job on a vehicle. If you are intending to do it yourself then get some good quality vehicle shampoo and polish, and concentrate on the windows and wheels, and then the rest of the bodywork including the bumpers.
  • Look for tar spots, bugs and if there are any small scratches consider getting some T-cut (or similar compound) and applying some serious elbow grease. 
  • Drain off any waste water by turning the lever under the sink. Make sure there are no smells coming from the sink or cooking area.
  • Make sure the van is free from stains or other smells — including air-freshener smells as well as cooking, smoking and pet smells.
  • Check the seats, upper bed mattress, the shelf below the elevating bed, the space behind the rear seats, the blinds etc. and wash anything that isn’t clean. If you travel with pets take extra care to remove any dog hair etc.
  • Sweep out, vacuum and wipe inside all the drawers, cupboards and any other nooks and crannies. The compact nature of the California means a lot of places that may not get the same attention for general cleaning — use something like a paintbrush to sweep inside the seat rails, around the handbrake housing, under the seats, around the window frames, around the sink tap and so on.
  • Clear out any rubbish, clean the top loading fridge and remove any personal items that may still be inside. This can be difficult if you want to use your van while it’s for sale, but it will definitely make the van look more spacious.
  • Wipe and polish the dashboard, paying special attention to any ashtrays and cup holders as these are notorious for collecting dust.

2. Check Accessories and Extras

Do not assume any your personal modifications will add to your van’s appeal. Take a look at any extra hooks, towel holders, shelves, mirrors etc. and consider returning the California as close to its original specifications as possible.

  • Test everything electrical, the gas, the fridge and the hobs. Make sure everything is working properly and consider professional gas and electrical checks to be on the safe side.
  • It may be worth including a full gas bottle and filling the water tank in order to demonstrate the van’s camping functionality.
  • Update the software on the built in navigation system (if applicable).
  • Go through all the drawers, cupboards, tables, blinds and pockets and make sure the hinges and mechanisms work.
  • Check that you haven’t left anything behind. For example, sunglasses in the compartment above the mirror or personal items in the back of the seats.
  • Don’t forget to tighten the screws and bolts holding the deckchairs together.

3. Check the Paperwork

Before you sell your Volkswagen California you should really have a valid MOT Certificate — obviously this only applies to vehicles over three years old, but any older vehicles without a valid MOT will certainly raise eyebrows and drastically reduce the chance of a sale. This will also potentially limit your market to dealers who will take advantage of the unverifiable state of repair.

If you purchased your Volkswagen California brand new, then a stamped Service History book will show a well cared for vehicle and will make it a lot more desirable. From 2018 the service record is kept on a database with Volkswagen and they no longer issue vehicles with service books.

Of course, you will also need to have your vehicle registration document (V5C) to show details of the registered keeper. It is not a legal document of ownership, and as such it is also recommended to also have the original sales invoice if you can find it — this is not vital, but a good way of demonstrating authenticity.

As with selling any vehicle, you will need to complete the details of the new keeper and post this to the DVLA as soon as you can. The DVLA recommends not to buy any vehicle if the V5C isn’t available, so if you have lost it, it is important to apply for a replacement rather than expecting the new owner to do so.

If there is any Road Tax left on your vehicle, you can apply to the DVLA for a refund. As the old tax disc system is now obsolete, it is the responsibility of the purchaser to organise vehicle tax before driving away.

Along with legal documentation, also try to gather as much of the other paperwork you can find, including the Transporter Handbook and California Supplement — along with any instructions for accessories including trackers, bike racks and navigation equipment.

4. Value Your Van

Our Classified Ads section may give a rough guide to what you can expect your van to be worth, but we advise you to check out other sources too such as the motoring press, auction sites and franchised dealerships.

Be aware that some commercial sellers will list their price exclusive of VAT, something that may not apply to you.

While the Volkswagen California typically holds onto its value extremely well, a fully loaded van with every conceivable extra will not necessarily be as easy to sell at a significantly higher price. It will certainly be more desirable, but may fall outside of some people’s budgets who may not understand the reasons for the difference.

The same applies to customisations and additions that you may love but not necessarily to everyone else’s taste. For example, you might love your chrome trim, but it won’t sell so easily to anyone who prefers a more low key look.

This is a personal judgement call that only you can make, but some people will drop the price of their van in order to make a quicker sale; If you are prepared to be patient then go for a higher price at first and lower it gradually, bearing in mind that it’s impossible to negotiate a higher price once listed.

5. Decide where to sell

The quickest and most hassle free way to sell a Campervan is to part-exchange with a dealer in return for buying a newer vehicle. You are unlikely to get the same price as you would by selling privately, but because the sale and new vehicle purchase are completed simultaneously it will save you a great deal of time and energy, and if your California is under three years old you will find dealers much happier to do business with you.

While it can be tempting to accept the first offer, is always worth searching around different dealerships to ensure the best trade-in price as they often vary in their criteria.

An alternative to this is to sell your motorhome to a dealer only, without any part exchange. You will not get the best price unless your California is exceptionally low mileage and almost new, and as such it is even more important to get quotes from as many places as you can.

Selling privately requires investment, including your time and costs related to preparing it for sale. But the rewards can be the greatest, and not only will you get a higher price, you will still be able to use it while teaching for a buyer.

You can place an advert in your local paper or shop window but you may get fewer enquiries, so our recommendation is to use a specialist magazine or website offering classified ads services. If you place an advert in our own Classifieds Section we will also promote your advert via social media (Facebook and Twitter) in order to ensure maximum exposure.

Placing an advert on a popular auction or classifieds website can be cheaper or even free, but your van may end up lost in a crowd and you will potentially be inundated with questions from non-serious buyers.

Of course, it goes without saying to always be careful when selling privately and don’t part with any keys for any reason until the money is safely in your account.

6. Showing Your Van

Treat with extreme caution any offer to buy the van without seeing it first or anyone who asks you to meet them in an unusual location or wants to have a courier collect it. These are common signs of a scam and not worth the risks involved.

Therefore we suggest that you never agree to meet anyone in an unknown or potentially unsafe location; always meet at your home or place of work, preferably when other people are around. Also, never hand over any keys, instead unlock the doors and start the engine for them, If someone wants to take it out for a test drive, ensure they have insurance to cover them, and also go along for the ride. Make sure that you have your mobile phone with you.

Take time to show that everything is in working order and to explain the operation of the van — if it’s a cold day we recommend putting the heating on before any potential purchaser arrives for their viewing.

There is a lot to learn with these vehicles and our recommendation is to start with the cockpit, elevate the roof and then move to the rear, explaining all the functions a concisely as you go. Explain the importance of opening the windows when lowering the roof and the position of the seats when rotating them to face the rear.

When it comes to payment, the safest method is for the buyer to pay using a direct bank transfer. When the money arrives in your bank account, you can release the camper but do not do this before you are sure. Do not accept cheques, money services or the offer to pay via PayPal, unless the van was actually sold through eBay.

If you do choose to sell through eBay, then PayPal will offer buyer protection, but ensure this is done directly and not by ending the bidding early.

Even in this age of advanced technology, cash is still popular with many people. If you decide to take this option make sure you check each note before accepting them.

7. Legal Bits

As mentioned previously, any prospective customer is unlikely to want to buy your California without being able to take it for a test drive first. It is the responsibility of the keeper to check that the potential buyer has the correct insurance cover and licence beforehand:

  • The potential buyer can only drive a Campervan on your policy if it is covered for ‘any driver’, or if the potential purchaser has been added as a named driver.
  • The buyer may be able to drive your California on their own insurance policy, but this is likely to be 3rd party cover only.

We have also prepared a printable Van Preparation Checklist which you can download from here to use as a template when getting your van ready for sale.


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European Low Emission Zones

While this may not affect the latest Euro 6 version of the Volkswagen California, it certainly will affect anyone with a diesel powered vehicle registered prior to 2015. This article aims to forewarn our readers of any congestion / low emission zones you may encounter on your travels, including those where the age of the vehicle is irrelevent.

Over 220 cities and towns around Europe operate or are preparing to operate low-emission zones to help meet EU health-based air quality limit values. This means that vehicles may be banned from a zone, or in some cases charged if they enter when their emissions are over a set level.

Different vehicles may be regulated depending on local conditions. All restrictions apply to heavy vehicles, some to diesel vans, others also to diesel and petrol cars; while our website is geared towards Volkswagen California owners, it may be worth nothing that Italy and the UK have restrictions on motor cycles and three-wheelers in some areas.

A PUBLICLY FUNDED WEBSITE run by a network of cities and ministries that operate (or are preparing) Low Emission Zones gives up-to-date information on LEZs, such as which cities have LEZs, the vehicle types affected, the required emissions standards and their application dates. There is also some more concise information on THIS WEBSITE.

Click on the tabs below for a short overview of the restrictions that may affect anyone planning a European adventure. Please check back regularly as we will update this article as new information becomes available.


There are several cities that have restrictions in Belgium, but  you will need to pay particular attention if visiting Antwerp and Brussels.

  • In Antwerp, the entire city centre is designated as an environmental zone. You can read more about the admission requirements by visiting THIS WEBSITE.
  • If you are a restricted vehicle you can request a temporary exemption which allows you to enter for a period of time.
  • Another option is to purchase a LEZ day pass for €35 per day; available from parking meters in the zone.
  • There is a restriction however that means you can only use one for eight days per year.
  • If you plan to visit Brussels be aware that the capital has been a low emission zone since 1st January 2019 — and also requires a day pass to enter. Some vehicles fall outside of this rule and the restrictions are detailed on THIS WEBSITE.
  • Ghent is now operating completely car-free zones; you can find out more by visiting THIS WEBSITE.

Czech Republic

The Czech Republic will be introducing restrictions in 2020/21.

  • The Emission Badge “Emisni-Plaketa” will be mandatory for cars, trucks, buses and motorbikes.
  • We will give you more details of these zones when they become compulsory. Meanwhile you may wish to bookmark THIS WEBSITE for future reference.


There are several rules for heavy diesel vehicles that drive through a few larger cities in Denmark.

  • If you are travelling to Aalborg, Aarhus, Copenhagen, Frederiksberg or Odense in a motorhome weighing more than 3.5 tonnes, or vehicles with over eight seats, then you will need to display an ECOSTICKER to enter the environmental zones within the city centres. 


France has many different environmental zones and regulations where drivers need to display stickers in their vehicles to prove compliance to their emissions standards.

  • The most important places are in Lille, Lyon, Paris, Strasbourg and Toulouse.
  • Known as the “Ecovignet Crit’Air“, the stickers are available from THIS WEBSITE and cost just under €5 (including shipping within the European Union).
  • There are six types of stickers depending on the age of your vehicle and CO2 emissions — be aware that delivery can take up to six weeks.
  • There are currently two types of environmental zones — you can only drive into a permanent environmental zones with a valid sticker and are in force all year round. There are also temporary environmental zones that only need a valid sticker if there is long term or extreme pollution. There are occasional exceptions which are always signposted.
  • Anyone driving into the centre of Paris on weekdays between 08:00 and 20:00 has to display a sticker inside the bottom right of their windscreen. 
  • People with registered disabilities are allowed to enter restricted zones but will still need an emissions sticker.
  • Please note that cars and vans registered prior to the 1st January 1997 and motorbikes registered before 1st June 2000 are not allowed into any zone at all and stickers for these vehicles are not available.
  • In addition to the above, an all new low-emission zone will be introduced in Paris in July 2019. This is just for the capital and operates In addition to previously mentioned permanent and temporary zones. Other major cities, including Lyon, Reims, Strasbourg, Nice and Montpellier, will follow suit and the local authorities in those cities have until 31 December 2020 to set up them up.
  • You can find more information about the low emission zones on THIS WEBSITE (French).
  • In Lyon, including in the suburb of Villeurbanne, things are different as the zone only operates on days with extreme air pollution – these days are indicated on signs on the motorways and this is when a sticker is required.
  • The motorways through Lyon are exempt from the zone.
  • In Grenoble the use of an emissions sticker also depends on the degree of air pollution and applies to all roads and motorways.
  • Our recommendation is to get the sticker before traveling to France — driving in a restricted one without them carries a fine of at least €68
  • Over the next few years other cities will introduce environmental zones, thus far these are planned for Avignon, Bordeaux, Cannes, Clermont-Ferrand, Montpellier and Rouen.
  • News and updates are published on THIS WEBSITE.


Germany has environmental zones in many large cities. Known as ‘Umweltzones’ you can only access these zones with an emissions sticker known as an Umweltplakkette.

  • The sticker is valid so long as your number plate is recorded on the sticker.
  • You will need a separate emissions sticker for each vehicle issued at a cost of €6.
  • Vehicle owners who have a European Disability Parking Card (clearly visible behind the windscreen) are exempt from purchasing a sticker.
  • You can see a list of cities where you will need a sticker on the German Government Website. A few examples include Berlin, Bonn, Cologne, Karlsruhe, Leipzig and Munich.
  • Very often you will find suburbs that also fall within the zones, so be mindful of this when entering or leaving the areas.
  • You will not need a sticker on motorways.
  • There is fine of €80 for not displaying the correct sticker.
  • Bonn, Hamburg and Stuttgart have recently banned older (Euro 5) diesel vehicles completely and and other cities will implement their own diesel ban this year including Berlin, Darmstadt, Essen, Gelsenkirchen and Mainz.
  • These plans may be subject to change and therefore it is advisable to check THIS WEBSITE before visiting.


Budapest and some other large cities a smog alarm will operate at certain times; at these times there is a ban on certain types of vehicles entering the cities.

  • Often this will include vehicles that do not meet Euro 6 standards
  • THIS WEBSITE has more information on which vehicles meet Euro 6 requirements. The smog alarm is often announced a couple of days in advance of restrictions.
  • In Budapest there are many streets in the historic centre where vehicles are always prohibited regardless. In this instance it is advisable to park outside the city and use public transport.


Environmental zones operate in quite a few Italian cities. Known as “Zona a Traffico Limitato” (ZTL) they include Florence, Palermo, Pisa, Rome and Verona. 

  • These environmental zones are closed to motor traffic at certain times; there are no fees, but if you drive in those zones when disallowed you risk a hefty fine.
  • There are indicator signs at the entrance to these zones that also signify the times traffic is banned.
  • There are also environmental zone in several tourist areas; for example it is no longer possible to drive a car or motorhome within the city walls of Lucca or Pisa.
  • In Milan you will need  what is called a “vignette” to drive into the city centre on work days between 07:30 and 19:30. This is a one day pass which you can purchase for €5 at newsagents and kiosks. You can find more information HERE.
  • In some areas you will need a temporary permit in order to make simple drop offs — for instance, if you have booked an apartment or hotel and need to drop off your luggage you can request a permit from the owner.

In the Netherlands Rotterdam and Utrecht have Low Emission Zones.

  • In Rotterdam this applies to trucks with a diesel engine that fall under Euro 1, Euro 2 and Euro 3 of the EU emission standards; typically these are diesel engined delivery vans and passenger vehicles registered before 1st January 2001 and petrol engined delivery vans and passenger vehicles registered prior to 1st July 1992.
  • In Utrecht the rules only apply to diesel vehicles registered prior to 1st January 2001.


The only environmental zone in Norway is in Oslo.

During times of poor air quality the city centre is closed for all diesel vehicles. However, there are exemptions for vehicles carrying anyone registered as disabled.

Closures are usually announced on the radio in advance. If you aren’t ahead of local news then public transport will almost certainly be the best option.


Quite a few Spanish cities have environmental zones with many areas you can only enter with a sticker. Others zones forbid all vehicles completely.

  • These zones are indicated with signs reading “ëArea de prioridad residencialí”.
  • Cameras check the zones remain car-free.
  • In Madrid you risk a hefty fine if you drive into any of the central zones. Permit holders receive an exemption.
  • Barcelona is one large environmental zone.
  • Since 2017 traffic has become increasingly limited in the city. Every different type of vehicle needs to have a particular sticker to drive into the city.
  • You can find more information on THIS WEBSITE.
  • There are four types of emissions stickers: blue, green-blue, green, and yellow. You can buy these stickers at post offices for € 5 (2019).
  • You can find out which sticker you need for your vehicle by visiting THIS WEBSITE.


Car traffic is limited in Gothenburg and Stockholm city centres from Monday to Friday.

  • If you are visiting either of these cities with a car, campervan or motorhome you will need to pay a charge.
  • However, on public holidays and for the duration of July the charge is lifted and access is free.
  • The charge depends on which time you enter the area — prices are listed on entry and cameras will record your licence plate.
  • You will receive a bill at the address your vehicle is registered to.

United Kingdom

London is subject to three restricted areas, the Congestion Charge Zone, The Low Emissions Zone and The Ultra Low Emissions Zone.

  • You will need to pay the Daily Congestion Charge in order to drive into the centre of London. This is an charge that nearly all vehicles have to pay, including cars and motorhomes with foreign registration. 
  • The zone is indicated with signs at the entry points where cameras record your car registration plate.
  • You can only pay for the entire day at a cost of £11.50 (2019). The rule only applies on weekdays between 07:00 and 18:00.
  • On 8th April 2019 a new Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (or ULEZ) was introduced within the same boundary as the Congestion Charge. Vehicles that do not meet strict requirements can enter the zone on payment of £12.50 (2019) on top of the existing congestion charge.
  • The rules for the ULEZ are explained on THIS WEBSITE and affect most diesel vehicles that do not meet Euro 6 requirements and most petrol vehicles that do not meet Euro 4 requirements (including motorbikes). Historic vehicles registered prior to 1980 are exempt from ULEZ charges, with this date rolling forward every year.
  • In 2021 The ULEZ will be extended to cover a much larger area of London — we will update this article with new information nearer the time.
  • The last thing to be aware of is that there is another wider Low Emission Zones (LEZ) around the outskirts of London that may apply if you are entering with a motorhome or larger vehicle. Depending on the weight and age of your vehicle you may need to pay to enter this zone and foreign vehicles must register in advance. You should do this two weeks in advance of your visit by going to THIS WEBSITE.
  • You can find an overview of the most important LEZ rules HERE.


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Campervanning Post Brexit

Campervanning Post Brexit

While we still do not know definitively what will happen post our withdrawal from the European Union, the way we travel into the EU from the UK will almost certainly be subject to change.

According to the Schengen Border Regulations, passports must have been issued within the last 10 years on the date of arrival in a Schengen Area country and need to have at least 6 months remaining on the date of arrival.

Please note however, If you renewed your current passport before the previous one expired, extra months may have been added to its expiry date. Any extra months on your passport over 10 years may not count towards the 6 months needed. Therefore, if your passport is older than 9 and a half years old on the date of travel it is probably a good idea to renew it in advance.

Visas after Brexit

At the point of writing, the official advice from ABTA is that you shouldn’t require any visa to travel into the EU after we leave the European Union. In November 2018 The European Commission announced that, even in a no-deal situation, UK citizens will still be able to visit the EU for up to 90 days without a visa — on the condition that the same is offered to European citizens visiting the United Kingdom.

The European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) is the electronic exemption system that the EU is planning to introduce in 2021. This is similar to the ESTA scheme in USA and will track individuals entering the area from countries that do not need a visa. UK citizens may need to pay a fee of about €7 for this exemption.

Whatever the outcome, you should still check both theABTA and the government websites in case of any changes.

Health Insurance

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) allows any EU citizen access to state medical care when they are travelling in another EU country – although here are often limitations to the level of treatment UK citizens are able to receive.

If the UK does leave the EU without a deal, the UK registered EHIC cards may no longer be valid — and because of this it is even more important to have personal health, accident and breakdown cover for your vehicle when travelling into the European Union.

Other Considerations

Many cities in Europe are introducing Low Emissions Zones in an effort to reduce pollution, you may wish to check out our other article that covers this in more depth.


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