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How to get your skoolie home

How to get your bus home safely

Note: I am not a lawyer or expert, do your own due diligence and make the right decision for you.

So you found a bus, congratulations!! Now how do you get your new skoolie-to-be home?

First things – mechanics and insurance

We did not have our bus inspected before we drove her home. Instead, I did some basic research on our make, model and engine and decided to make the call when saw the bus. We lucked out and got a bus in beautiful condition, and had no problems on the drive home – a breezy 225 miles.

Depending on your skills and comfort level, you may want to find a mechanic in the area of your bus. This way you can get a professional opinion before you get on the road, potentially avoiding any surprises on the drive. Call around, a local shop can probably get you in for an inspection same-day.

At the auction yard, first time behind the wheel of a bus!

Pre-conversion insurance for the drive home

This topic gets a lot of confusion on the forums – you need insurance to drive your school bus legally, right? But what kind of insurance do you need? For the purposes of getting your new bus home, you need a Commercial Vehicle for Personal Use policy. This will cover you unit AFTER your conversion, when the bus becomes a motor home and private vehicle.

We got our policy through Progressive – six months full coverage Commercial Vehicle for Personal Use policy for about $250 USD. Coverage options may vary depending on your state, but some of the big names I have heard are Progressive, State Farm, and All State.

Do’s and Don’ts of commercial insurance for personal use for your school bus.


  • Call the insurance company, not an online quote
  • Be extremely friendly – this person is your new best friend for the next 20 minutes
  • State that you would like a policy for a Commercial Vehicle for Personal Use only. You will not be using this vehicle for any commercial purposes. You will not be using this vehicle to transport any passengers or goods
    I told my rep. that I would be using the bus for storage on our property
  • Provide the VIN# and any other information they ask for


  • Don’t tell them this is a bus conversion
  • Don’t say the word “conversion”
  • Don’t tell them you will be living in, working on, or building anything in this bus

You only need this insurance policy to cover the vehicle in it’s state as an empty commercial vehicle being used by an individual. You will cancel or let the policy expire when your conversion is complete and get a new motor home insurance policy. That is a whole different battle, so make this one easy on yourself.

Just remember, before your bus is converted this is still a commercial vehicle. You are using this commercial vehicle for personal use.

what about registration, and Do I need a CDL to drive my bus home?

I could never find a straight answer on registration or license status for the drive home – we operate in a grey area during pre-conversion and as such it is hard to nail down the “legal” way to do things.

TLDR: Depending on the length of your drive, you may be able to get away with a simple sign sign in the back window that says “JUST PURCHASED, IN TRANSIT.” You can worry about registering your bus when you get it home. You also don’t need to worry about a license upgrade until you’re finished with the conversion.

Pre-trip inspections and road safety

In my opinion, you should start by reading your state’s CDL or RV (non-CDL) study guide to get some professional information on road safety for larger vehicles and/or air breaks. You can check out the Nevada Class B RV study guide here, it has great information and could be broadly applied to any state or vehicle. It also includes a pre-trip inspection that the DMV uses to test drivers for their upgrade – use this every day!


Don’t worry about registration until you get to your home state. As far as I could tell, every state has different moving permit policies and practices that would cause you endless headache to obtain all in order for your drive home. Example: say you have to drive through 4 states on your way home, do you need temp permits in all states? Just the state you purchased in, or just your home state? You can see how that gets confusing fast! Our bus couldn’t even be legally registered in California, part of the auction terms required it be moved out of state, so we couldn’t get a moving permit even if we tried!

In our case, we had a short drive (only 5 hours), so I just hung a “JUST PURCHASED, IN TRANSIT” sign in the back window and made the drive home no problem. I passed 2 state troopers on the highway and the Nevada / California entry point with barely a head turn.

I have heard this works for people in the classic car world, often they are buying odds and ends and cannot register them legally until their rebuild is complete. Us skoolie conversions are similar – often we purchase a decommissioned school bus that cannot legally be registered in it’s home state, and will cause you a huge headache to register as-is in your own state (assuming you purchase your bus from a different state).

Do you need a CDL to drive the bus?

Check with your home-state’s DMV office for regulations regarding CDL and license upgrades for Motor Homes. In Nevada, it is based on vehicle registration and GVWR. Since our bus is registered as a Motor Home, is not used for commercial applications, and is over 26,0001 pounds GVWR, we had to obtain an upgraded RV license – a Non-Commercial Class B Motor Home licence with Air Brake endorsement, to be precise. The process was not hard, just a bit of red tape to jump through.

Nevada provides a study guide for the license upgrade, check with your state – if they provide a study guide, read it cover to cover as many times as you can – they aren’t playing around at the exam!

Read more about PREPARING the bus FOR CONVERSION

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