Tachographs record information about driving time, speed and distance. They’re used to make sure drivers and employers follow the rules on drivers’ hours.

When you need a tachograph

You must use a tachograph if the vehicle you’re driving comes under EU or AETR rules.

Find out if EU or AETR rules apply to the passenger carrying vehicle or goods vehicle that you’re driving.


You don’t have to use a tachograph if your vehicle isn’t covered by EU rules or if it’s exempt from EU rules on drivers’ hours.

Types of tachograph

There are 2 types of tachograph - analogue and digital.

All commercial vehicles first registered on or after 1 May 2006 must be fitted with digital tachographs. Otherwise you can use an analogue tachograph.

Information from digital tachographs is saved on smart cards so it can be checked later. There are different types of card for:

Further information

Read the guides on drivers’ hours and tachographs for goods vehicles and passenger carrying vehicles (PCVs). They include the rules on:

  • analogue tachographs - including proper record keeping and filling in ‘centrefield’ entries
  • digital tachographs - including using drivers’ cards, lost, stolen or faulty cards, setting the time and manual record keeping
  • common rules for all tachographs - including ‘multi-manning’ and keeping 2nd driver records, recording other work, rest-days and days off
  • responsibilities of operators - including calibrating and maintaining tachograph equipment
  • what happens if you don’t follow the rules

There are specific rules for tachographs and horse boxes or trailers and tachographs and recovery vehicles.

Tachographs in light vehicles         

If you use a smaller vehicle (eg a 4x4) for towing, you’ll only need a tachograph if its total weight is more than 3.5 tonnes.

Fitting a tachograph

Read the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) guidance on where you can fit a tachograph unit in a vehicle.

Buying or leasing a vehicle

If you buy or lease a vehicle and it comes under the EU or AETR rules on drivers’ hours you’ll need to make sure it’s designed to have a tachograph fitted.

Phone DVSA if you’ve already bought a vehicle and are having problems fitting it with a tachograph. They can tell you where your nearest Approved Tachograph Centre is.

The Tachograph Centre can give you advice and help you get it fitted. It’s not always possible to fit a tachograph, however.

0300 123 9000
Monday to Friday, 7:30am to 6pm
Find out about call charges

Further help

For further information about fitting tachographs in light vehicles email the DVSA tachograph section.

DVSA tachograph section

Smart Tachographs

The introduction of the smart tachograph has been confirmed for 2019 and with over six million trucks, buses and 4×4’s with a Tachograph fitted across the EU, the new smart devices are set to reduce the administrative process and tampering of current digital tachographs. The smart tachographs also come with new regulations that will strengthen the enforcement of key road safety rules that apply to larger commercial vehicles and buses.

Automated Smart Tachographs – GPS Locating

The smart tachographs will automatically record the location of a vehicle via GPS at the starting place, every three hours of accumulated driving time and the end place at the end of the work day. Previously the digital tachograph will only record the country code for location and not an exact location pinned to a city or town. This has led to issues of tachograph fraud or breaches of environmental conditions. Due to the GPS locator, drivers will no longer be able to specify incorrect locations.

Roadside Enforcement

Vehicles will also be able to be scanned wirelessly by road enforcement officers without having to stop drivers to detect potential offences. This technology will be installed at the earliest by March 2019. The exchanged data will relate to the following recorded by the tachograph:

  • The latest security breach attempt
  • The longest power supply interruption
  • Sensor fault
  • Motion data error
  • Vehicle motion conflict
  • Driving without a valid card
  • Card insertion while driving
  • Time adjustment data
  • Calibration data including the dates of the two most recent calibrations
  • Vehicle registration data
  • Speed recorded by the tachograph

This data will include information about the driver’s hours, break times and if they have exceeded daily driving limits. The data can not be retained for longer than three hours unless the data shows a misuse of the tachograph. If issues are detected this is likely to result in a full examination of the tachograph and could lead to further action.

Drivers will not only no longer have to manually input their location but the smart tachograph will also be allowed its data with other approved vehicle telematic systems. Enabling all information to be kept in one place and also in real time. This can also help when planning loads.