Decoding caravan VINs | Meet the Trudgians

Decoding caravan VINs

Posted by on Mar 23, 2022 in Featured, Technical | 0 comments

Decoding caravan VINs

The caravan VIN or sometimes referred to as the CRIS number or indeed the chassis number holds a lot of useful information about the caravan. I recently made a video about the very subject. Below is a written version of that video, where I explain what the VIN is, what information it holds and how you can use it – but of course if you just like the video version well here it is.




The Caravan VIN

The VIN will be dotted around the caravan. It will be stamped onto the A Frame, either etched onto or have a no-tamper sticker on windows and can be found in some gas lockers. The 17 digit code has 3 main parts, each of which can be broken down into more information.

The first section is the WMI (World Manufacturer Identifier) which shows the region, country and manufacturer of the caravan. The next section is the VDS or Vehicle Descriptor Section. This part of the VIN gives general characteristics of the vehicle, the final section is the VIS or Vehicle identifier section which gives clear identification of a particular vehicle. All 3 sections bound together make a completely unique vehicle identification, so let’s get further into what this all means.


The 1st, 2nd and 3rd digit

As I mentioned, The first 3 digits conforms to the World Manufacturer identifier standard as used on motor vehicles, it identifies the region, country and manufacturer of the vehicle. The very 1st character is the region. There are 6 worldwide regions, but what we are interested in is European countries including UK. This means the leading character will range between S and Z. The combination of the first and second character denotes the country. Caravans built in the UK usually start with SG followed by a single digit that represents the manufacturer. In this example B identifies Bailey as the constructor.

If you own a caravan that was built in Mainland Europe, you will see something different. For example ZY1 shows country code of Slovenia and manufactured by Adria, and Hobby which is built in Germany will show WHB. In fact Germany is a bit different. Only 1 letter denotes the Region & Country “W” the following 2 characters show the manufacturer. So HB = Hobby. Below are the current Country codes for the European region. Use the table by selecting the first digit on the left, then the 2nd digit across the top. So, we can se that S & G is indeed United Kingdom.

As I mentioned, the third character is a single digit to show the manufacturer. Have a look further down for a list of WMI codes and manufacturer codes.

The 4th Digit

The forth Digit details how many axles the caravan has. This will be either an S or an T. S is for single axle and T is for twin axle.

The 5th, 6th & 7th Digit

The next three digits are for optional manufacturer data, this can sometimes relate to the model of the caravan or trim level. Each manufacturer will use this section differently and sometimes it is not used at all and just holds 000.

The 8th & 9th Digit

The next two letters identify the manufacturer. There is a long list of manufacturer codes for companies that are still trading and that are long since defunct. In our example it’s a Bailey, so the code is BY. For Swift it is SW and for the Erwin Hymer group, it’s EX. This was to originally signify the Explorer Group.

The 10th Digit

The tenth digit is the model year encoding. For caravans, this started in 1992, with the letter N and can run all the way to 2029 with the letter X, below is the years and their corresponding letters.

Year encoding

An easy way to remember what letter represents what year, is in 2010 it was the letter A You will notice so far that the VIN doesn’t include the characters I, O and Q. Well, on top of that that, the characters U, Z and the number zero are also not used in the model year encoding.

A point worth noting is this is the year of the model and not the build date and just like vehicles, the new year starts on the 1st of September and ends on the 31st of August the following year. So you can have the situation like us where we have a caravan that was built in 2018 but has a year code of K, which shows it as a 2019 model.

The 11th, 12th & 13th Digit

The next 3 characters are for more optional manufacturer information, in this example you can see that it means nothing to you or me, but some manufacturers can refer to specific ranges of caravans. A good example is Elddis store BUC here to denote a Buccaneer caravan.

The 14th, 15th, 16th & 17th Digit

Finally you will see the last 4 digits are in fact a serial number. Again, it is up to the manufacturer on how this sequence works.



So, there we are completely useless information to anyone. Or is it? well, to be honest with a bit of information it is easy to check that the caravan is the same as what is advertised and that the caravan is the same specification as detailed above. Of course, if you are suspicious of the caravan in anyway, use to check details from its past. Information such as if its ben registered as stolen, if it is been an insurance write off or if there is outstanding finance left on the caravan.

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