For a van life mailing address, you can use a few options:
- Friends or family address (most common)
- Virtual Address
- Workplace Address
- Resident Campsite
- Buy the cheapest address
- Play the ‘not homeless, but addressless’ card
When you live in a van, an address becomes a problem if you don’t also own a house, which many full-time vanlifers don’t have.
Currently, we don’t own a physical address, as we live full-time in our campervan, so have this issue.
Why do you need an address as a full-time van lifer?
Addresses are used for everything, for:
- Hospital and medical treatment (NHS)
- General Post
- Government-issued paperwork (driver’s licence, passport, ID cards etc…)
- Education (if you have kids)
These are just a few, but you need an address for everything nowadays, even just to take out a phone contract.
Simply stating that you have no fixed address because you live in your van also doesn’t usually go down too well. I rang my bank saying I planned on moving into a van full-time and will have no address, and they were as clueless as a dodo!
You also can’t (legally) put down a random address since the all-mighty government can actually come and check whether you are actually ‘living there’. Plus, a random person will be getting all your mail.
So you need a van life mailing address.
Options for a van life mailing address
Borrow a Friend or Family member’s address
For those with close friends and family, the easiest option is to piggyback off theirs.
This is what most full-time vanlifers do for their van life mailing address, including us.
As long as the person has knowledge of you using their address, this is legal.
It does require them to receive your mail and for them to say that you indeed live at that address if anyone were to come and check.
Most places just want somewhere they can send you snail mail and they’re good to go.
The only hiccups are for medical care (your ‘local’ GP will be registered near this address) and for voting, as this is where you are classed to live, so all official services will be based on this address.
PO Box/Virtual Address
For more official services like taxes, insurance, banks and government-issued things, PO Boxes aren’t accepted, but virtual address boxes are.
These are often used for people who live on canal boats (a much more accepted form of alternative living), but many places will allow you to pay for a yearly subscription to house your address there.
Use Your Work Address
Your place of work might be able to register you at their work or central office address. This would be especially helpful if you work remotely, as your employer might be kind enough to forward mail to the nearest post office.
Sometimes, work addresses can also be used legally for more important documentation, but always check beforehand.
If you spend a fair amount of time in one location at a campsite, you can request for that campsite to receive your mail for you since you are a semi-permanent resident.
Many static caravan parks employ this tactic and have a central post bank (similar to a PO Box, but it is seen as a proper address).
Buy the Cheapest Address
It is possible to find houses for under £10,000 in the UK. Whilst not the cheapest workaround, it is a possible way of doing this. Buying the cheapest possible house and using that as your permanent address for all official documents is a way forward.
You might even be able to buy a plot of land that has a registered address attached to it instead of a full-on house!
Either way, you have got the added benefit of owning a property/land at the same time as solving your van life mailing address problem.
Play the “not homeless but addressless” card
This one is the most risky and least understood.
Technically, in the UK, if you are homeless, you still have legal rights to medical care and to vote.
Usually, these people can access services through homeless shelters, which often use their own addresses to register homeless people.
But you can also claim you have no address, and some services can process this on their systems without any trouble.
We have heard stories of people using the “I’m not homeless, but I have no address” card for A&E and to vote, with varying degrees of success.
But most services physically don’t have any policies permitting them to do anything without an address, so you’ll usually be causing more of a headache than is worth it.
We’d recommend using another method and only using this as a last resort if you have to.