March 7th, 2019

Do I need a tachograph for my vehicle transporter?

We all know what Tachographs are devices which record driving time, speed and distance of a vehicle. Their primary use is to ensure that both drivers, and their employees, follow the rules around drivers’ hours.

However, it can be easy to fall foul of new rules regarding the use of tachographs as some of our clients have found out. If your transporter is insured as part of your motor trade policy, then you may be considered as using the transporter for commercial use.

To find out if you need to use a tachograph on your transporter, you’ll need to know the combined weight of the transporter and its vehicles, and the countries you’ll be driving through.

The answers to these questions will determine which set of rules you need to follow: domestic GB, EU or AETR (Agreement Concerning the Work of Crews of Vehicles Engaged in International Road Transport) rules.

GB Domestic Rules

GB domestic rules apply If:

  • the combined weight of the transporter and its vehicles does not exceed 3.5 tonnes
  • the vehicle is operated entirely within England, Scotland & Wales

If the vehicle is not operated within England, Scotland and Wales then the domestic rules of the countries visited apply. To find out more about these rules, you will need to contact the relevant embassy.

If GB domestic rules apply, driving hours can be recorded on a weekly record sheet or on a tachograph. Using a tachograph is completely optional under these circumstances.

GB rules don’t apply if you drive for less than 4 hours in any given day.

EU Rules

EU rules apply if:

  • the combined weight of the transporter and its vehicles exceeds 3.5 tonnes
  • the vehicle is operated in the UK or within/between the EU, EEA or Switzerland

All driving under EU rules must be recorded on a tachograph. For more information on drivers’ hours rules within the EU visit

A key exemption to the EU rules is if you are using a transporter non-commercially. In this instance, if the combined weight of the transporter is under 7.5 tonnes, then you are exempt from following EU rules.  However, beware of relying on this exemption if you are driving your vehicle on a motor trade policy, as the insurance is deemed ‘commercial insurance’ we have seen a hard line being taken by authorities who deem any use when using the motor trade insurance as commercial use.

Vehicles manufactured more than 25 years ago are also exempt from EU rules.

AETR Rules

AETR rules apply if:

  • the combined weight of the transporter and its vehicles exceeds 3.5 tonnes
  • the vehicle passes through an AETR country

AETR rules are now the same as EU rules on drivers’ hours, and therefore a tachograph must be used.

To find out which counties are covered by AETR rules, visit


If you need a tachograph and your vehicle was registered on or after 1st May 2006, then it must be fitted with a digital tachograph. If your vehicle was registered before this date, you may choose from an analogue or digital tachograph.

With these rules now laid out, you can see that the answer to the question “do I need to use a tachograph” can change for every journey, and even for each leg of the journey if your unladen transporter is under 3.5 tonnes in weight.

For more information on the legal requirements for tachographs and drivers’ hours, visit the website.

Did you know that Footman James can provide insurance for support vehicles like transporters? If you’re transporting for commercial use, our Motor Trade insurance policy can ensure that you have the right cover in place for your business needs. If you only use a transporter for personal use, then our Support Vehicle insurance policy can offer protection for your vehicle when you’re attending events and competitions.