How To Register An Old School Bus & Get RV Insurance In Ontario Canada

by | Skoolie, Skoolie Title & Registration | 12 comments

Nolan Reid dove through the Service Ontario hoops, leaped over the Insurance hurdles, and achieved something that so many people from Ontario have simply deemed impossible. He got RV Insurance on his old school bus AND to top it off, he got his bus titled as an RV with a simple yet temporary setup. 

If you’ve been calling around, and banging your head against the wall trying to figure this out… You’re definitely going to want to read Nolan’s story.

Learn how to get your school bus titled as a motorhome in the province of Ontario, with a temporary setup.

With all of our research, and talking with others who have obtained RV insurance for their skoolies, plus a motorhome title… We’ve learned that each country, province, and state does it a little differently.

The nice thing to know is that once you start to know the language behind the mysterious registration & insurance curtain, you can start to ask your local authorities the right questions.

We have heard of way too many people giving up on their tiny home on wheels dream because the initial set up of RV insurance and titling are too darn difficult.

This is why we are so grateful that we connected with Nolan because FINALLY, we got our fellow Ontarians an Ontario RV insurance & title success story.

In this article, we’re featuring Nolan Reid from Hamilton Ontario, who successfully got his bus insured & titled as an RV. Here is his story.

Nolan Reid - RV Insurance Ontario and Title - Skoolie Conversion

DISCLAIMER: Everyone's situation is different. Laws for titling and registering a school bus as a motorhome vary from country to country, state to state, province to province and even city to city. Also, laws, rules and regulations can change without notice. What works for someone in one place, may not be the same for someone else. Use this Skoolie Title Story as a guide to give you the language you need and to get you going. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to verify what's current in your area. This article is for entertainment purposes only and should not be substituted for legal advice. Please consult your local title and registration governmental agency for current processes & procedures.

How to register an old school bus and get RV insurance in Ontario Canada

When it comes to getting RV insurance in Ontario and registering an old school bus as a motorhome we had to really search for someone who had successfully gotten both.

Many people we had talked to had gotten the RV title, but then got dropped from insurance for one reason or another.

Because Brian + I are doing our conversion in Ontario this is the number one question we get asked! However, we ended up going another route for our RV title & insurance because we have a bit of a unique situation with Brian being American and me being Canadian. In this article, we go over why we chose to buy our bus in the USA, and what to consider before you buy an old school bus that’s for sale in Ontario Canada.

In short, something we discovered while bus shopping in Ontario was that the insurance & registration process really isn’t up to speed with this whole school bus conversion/tiny home on wheels movement.

Lucky for all of us, Nolan Reid from Hamilton Ontario was willing to share his RV Registration & Insurance story with us. Honestly, we’ve searched for months so Nolan really did us & our community here a solid!

Here’s what Nolan had to say about how to register a school bus as a motorhome & get RV insurance in Ontario.

Noland Reid - How to register an old school bus and get RV insurance in Ontario Canada

What first intrigued you about building a Skoolie?

Watching family’s on YouTube converting old school buses, and needing a space at the family cottage.

When did you acquire your Skoolie?

September 2020

Where did you buy your school bus?

A private bus company for a private school.

Noland Reid - How to register an old school bus and get RV insurance in Ontario Canada

When you bought your school bus, how did you get it from the seller’s lot to your conversion location?

The owner drove it to my parked location, and also got it safetied for me as well.

Skoolie Inspection FormWant our used school bus visual inspection form? Get It Free

What components did you need to install to meet the Ontario mobile home title requirements to go from school bus to RV?

There were 5 things that I needed:

  1. Kitchen sink
  2. Toilet
  3. Power Source
  4. Fresh Water
  5. Heating/AC

If you want more details about what we like to call The Ontario Method for getting an RV Title CLICK HERE.

What were the steps required to register & title your school bus as a motorhome / RV in Ontario?

  • Took out seats
  • Put in a temporary bed
  • Added a temporary cook top
  • Threw in a mini-fridge
  • Set up a generator 
  • Set up a bucket with a toilet seat on it
  • Painted the whole bus a different colour
  • Removed all bus strobe lights & stop sign
  • Got Emissions Test – Ontario Drive Clean
Nolan Reid - RV Insurance Ontario - Temporary Kitchen - Creature Comforts
Nolan Reid - RV Insurance Ontario - Temporary Bed - Creature Comforts
Nolan Reid - RV Insurance Ontario - Temporary Composting Toilet - Creature Comforts

What was your Ontario skoolie insurance process AND what kind of RV policy did you need?

To get an RV title for your school bus in Ontario, you needed to take pictures to Service Ontario to prove that your Skoolie Motorhome has at least 4 of the 6 Creature Comforts that are necessary. I made sure I had 5.

Learn more about the necessary documentation for Service Ontario & “Creature Comforts” HERE

Once the bus was switched to RV status, I had to get an appraisal from a registered appraiser.

“Economy” is my insurance company. I had a temporary bed, kitchen, and bathroom set up when the appraiser came to take pictures.

I also sent the insurance company photos of the ownership showing that I in fact had RV status. After that, the appraiser sent the report in.

Then with insurance, I could go and get plates and a sticker.

Nolan Reid RV Insurance Ontario - Bus Interior

Do you live in your Skoolie full-time?

I’m building it and planning for it to be our weekender or part-time home for our family.

What’s one piece of wisdom you’d like to give people who are considering converting a school bus into a Skoolie that you wish you knew before you got started?

It’s more money than you think to convert an old school bus into a motorhome.

Also, find a used RV parts supplier. There is a great one towards London Ontario.

Nolan Reid - RV Insurance and Title Ontario - Sunset Skoolie

Skoolie Inspection FormWant our used school bus visual inspection form? Get It Free

What do you think your superpower has been throughout your Skoolie build?

I work hard, and I am mechanically inclined.

Nolan Reid - RV Insurance and Title Ontario - Bus Interior
Nolan Reid - RV Insurance and Title Ontario - Floor Insulation
Nolan Reid - RV Insurance and Title Ontario - Bus Interior Framed Out
Nolan Reid - RV Insurance and Title Ontario - Bus Interior Spray Foam
Nolan Reid - RV Insurance and Title Ontario - DIY Couch

Love within, love around... Adventure On!
 - Erin Nicole Bick

Home » Skoolie » How To Register An Old School Bus & Get RV Insurance In Ontario Canada

Brian Garcia + Erin Nicole Bick

Hey, we're Brian + Erin. Currently, we're workin' on our bug out bus. Lucky the proverbial $hit hadn't hit the fan yet when we picked up this 40-foot beauty in Phoenix AZ and drove it up to Canada to convert it. Hopefully, we all still have time...

Honestly, this bus conversion has been the only sane thing in this insane world lately. We can't tell you how good it feels to BE working on something that lights our souls up and has such potential for a life that is entwined with nature, love, and happiness.

Our main goal is to inspire people to get off-grid and become self-reliant. We are well on our way and are super excited to talk about solutions with others who are shooting for a similar way of living.

Did This Blog Post Help You? If so, we would greatly appreciate it if you comment below and share it with a friend.


  1. John

    Amazing article and very helpful and you provided me all the information I need to proceed and buy a bus! I’m currently living in Ottawa (temporarily) but my company is in Montreal and I don’t want to go back to my apartment.

    • BE Adventure Partners

      Hey hey John! Great to see you on the LIVE stream the other day! We’re soo happy that our article helped you here in Ontario! If you ever want to visit Southern Ontario to find parts for your bus, we can get you in contact with “RV Dave” who bought a bankrupt RV dealership’s inventory and has a TON of really good parts!

      We have an update coming to the Ontario portion of this article and will send it to you when it’s ready (we became connected with a guy here in Ontario who laid out the entire process for us and it’s very similar to what we researched, but have some SOLID nuggets to publish for you!)

      Thanks again for hanging out with us!
      – Brian + Erin

      • Marly

        Thank you for writing this article!! I am 90% through the conversion of a 1995 International 3/4 length, and got denied by the Cooperators today because it is not a professional build. I am hoping the Ontario method saves me. I am in Northern Ontario and have not gotten any positive responses back from insurance companies. Right now the bus in considered a passenger vehicle and i got it safeties back in October soI’m hoping i don’t have to go through that process again but we’ll see.

        If you have any more tips for me ill be following along

        Thanks again


        • BE Adventure Partners

          Hey hey Marly! We heard that “Cooperators” insurance is not cooperative at all, which is unfortunate. If you haven’t read this article, give it a read! We someone in Southern Ontario submit an anonymous story on how they were able to successfully get their school bus titled as an RV even before they did ANYTHING to it! Scroll down to the section called “The Ontario Method” and read the “Anonymous Story” right after that section. Hopefully that process they went through helps you out! Keep us posted! Thanks for reading and commenting!
          – Brian + Erin

  2. Sean

    Hi, great info! I’m really worried about these hoops to jump through. The seller is a auto dealer, not a bus company. It’s being sold certified but it’s registered as a bus. Hasn’t been changed over to RV status. It’s in Toronto. I’m a couple hours away. I wonder if I can get a temporary plate to put on it to get it home? The certification only last 30 days I think. It’s a good clean 5 window bus. I guess I’ve read a few stories that’s giving me apprehension. I wondered if the dealer could somehow get it registered in my name. Ok thanks. I guess I really didn’t ask much!

    • BE Adventure Partners

      Hi Sean, It would be very helpful if the dealer could do the registration as a motorhome for you (since that’s what you are buying the bus to be… a motorhome). Definitely ask the dealer if they can do that. In Ontario, it’s definitely harder to jump through the hoops. However, there’s not really an easier way of doing it (which is why we wrote the article! To shed light on the process). If you haven’t read the anonymous story submission found here check it out.
      Thanks for reading! – Brian + Erin

  3. Joshua Krug

    “Economy” insurance doesn’t even exist

    • BE Adventure Partners

      We’re just sharing what other’s in Ontario have done. The “jargon” may be different from one company to the next.

  4. Carolyn Ralph

    Hi there. I really appreciate this post. I’m looking at purchasing a renovated skoolie that has the necessary components for rv status but I can’t find insurance. It’s currently registered commercial and not safetied. I feel stuck because it’s 3 hours away from me (I’m in Burlington).

    • BE Adventure Partners

      Hey there Carolyn, From what we know, skoolies have to be registered as an RV and be safetied in Canada in order to get insurance on it. So the title needs to be switched to RV before insurance will be granted. Check out this section of an article we had an anonymous submission who shared how they got it done. Wishing you the best of luck! Canada isn’t too keen on skoolies because of their “laws” and “regulations”, which seem to be getting stricter and stricter as the days go on. – Brian + Erin too

  5. Brooke

    This article was really helpful! Appreciate someone who is willing to take the time to share their knowledge!
    I’m looking into buying a mini bus but am having such a hard time finding a company who is open to ensuring it even with it being converted…. Do you have any sugguestions on companies in ontario?

    • BE Adventure Partners

      Hey Brooke! In Ontario we would suggest calling around to local insurance agents and not the insurance companies directly. A lot of times, if you just call the insurance company in Ontario, they don’t know how to handle insuring the Skoolie. But if you call a local insurance agent, they know how to present the Skoolie (RV/Motorhome) in a way that the underwriter will accept it and provide insurance. As for a specific company, they are all different, so you’ll need to call around to find one that will work with you. Best of luck! – Brian + Erin too


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