How heavy is a van?
Seems like a weird question, but the answer will likely affect your choice of vehicle, the required license, the usability of the van, parking choices, taxes, air pollution regulations, ferry costs, and many other outcomes that you may not even consider at first!
So, how heavy IS a van?
The answer varies a bit by local regulations in each country, but in general terms, and if we consider Europe as the basis for our rundown, a van up to a weight of 3.5 Tons, follows much of the same rules that apply to cars. It makes no difference that it can be over 7 meters long – the first and foremost important factor is vehicle weight.
Up to 3.5T, any driver’s license will be fine. that means that anyone can drive your van if need be and that any driving license from any country will usually be OK to drive in another country.
Second, up to 3.5T, you can generally park in any residential parking spot, the same as a regular car. Heavier vans may be forbidden from parking on certain streets, on certain sides of the street, at certain times (like, at night), or in certain areas (like the city center), or, may be subject to a much more costly parking rate.
Third, when using certain highways, there are greater costs involved. This may mean a different Vignette sticker, a different toll at toll stations, at tunnels, passes, etc.
Cities with low pollution considerations, may limit, ban, or levy a greater toll on larger vehicles, over 3.5T.
Campgrounds, national parks, zoos, festivals, tourist attractions, and many others that may charge by the vehicle, may charge vans over 3.5T more than vans up to that weight.
Fuel, whether diesel or gas, is a major cost of van life. Any additional weight that you carry, will be directly related to the cost of running your van and its usability.
It is worth noting, however, that many vehicles can have the exact same chassis while having a different “legal” weight. It is very common to see a certain model with weights that range from 3 to 5.5 Tons. sometimes the change is subject to alterations in the van, like engine size/power, sometimes it is a matter of front/rear/all-wheel drive, sometimes a matter of single vs. double rear wheel/axle.
But in many cases, the vehicle is exactly the same, and simply designated a different weight category.
In these cases, it is worth noting that if you happen to weigh your van too much and exceed your weight category, then it is possible to relist the van to a higher weight tier. Just a bit of paperwork, but usually not too much.
In all other cases, it is well worth it to try and stay within the 3.5T limit, for all the reasons mentioned above!