Vans & Trailers: Tachograph Rules


Tachographs for Light Commercial Vehicles

The number of light commercial vehicles on the roads is increasing. Not only are they used for general deliveries, but they’re also used across a wide range of situations, from roadside repairs to utility servicing. Many LCVs weigh under 3.5 tonnes GVW, and so are not subject to tachograph regulations. Unfortunately, this means many drivers aren’t aware that they need a tachograph in their vehicle in certain circumstances.

As the manufacturer of the SE5000 Exakt Duo² digital tachograph, we understand that legislative requirements for light commercial vehicles are a bit of a grey area, and are  easily misunderstood by LCV drivers. We want to help change this because if a tachograph is required but not fitted, you can easily be in breach of legislation without knowing it, and may face legal penalties.

trailer tacho and van tacho rules are important to be aware of

Don’t forget the trailer

One of the main confusing areas is when a vehicle such as a van or a pick-up truck has a trailer attached.

There are van tachograph rules and trailer tachograph rules which may apply here. For example, if the combined weight of the van plus trailer exceeds 3.5 tonnes gross, then you will need to keep to the rules surrounding trailer tachos and get a tachograph fitted in your vehicle. A lot of agricultural vehicles – such as Land Rovers – are generally exempt. But as soon as a heavy trailer is attached, the gross weight often exceeds 3.5 tonnes, which then comes into the scope of the EU Drivers’ Hours rules, and so needs a tachograph.

Many owners don’t realise this is a legal requirement. One of the most interesting situations regarding light vehicles or vehicle-trailer combinations is one where they are used to carry materials, equipment or machinery for the driver’s use in the course of their work (such as an electrician or a plumber).

If the vehicle is a maximum weight of 7.5 tonnes, and driving the vehicle is not the driver’s main activity, these can be exempt. But again, it depends on the situation. They must not operate outside a 100 km (62 miles) radius of their base. If they need to drive further, a tachograph should be fitted.

LCV Tachograph Checklist

Evaluate your vehicle, and check which tacho rules apply.

What does your vehicle weigh?

  • If you are travelling internationally, go between the tacho rules for the EU, EEA countries or Switzerland depending on where you are.
  • EU Driver Hours rules apply to vehicles with a gross weight that exceeds 3.5 tonnes. In this case, you have to fit and use a tachograph.
  • There are some exemptions from the EU tachograph rules. However, these will be mainly vehicles used for non-commercial purposes. .

Which tachograph offences and penalties apply to Light Commercial Vehicles?

If you fail to install a tachograph in a vehicle that needs one, fines can range from £2,500 to £5,000. There is also the risk of a verbal warning, or legal proceedings. 

Fitting Tachographs in Light Commercial Vehicles

Tachographs must be fitted and used correctly to avoid penalties.  This includes an approved seal and calibration, plus the correct certificate. Installation must be done by a vehicle OEM, or at an approved tachograph calibration centre. You can find your nearest service centre here.

Analogue tachographs have to be inspected every two years and re-calibrated every six years.

Digital tachographs must go through re-calibration every two years. But if the tachographs have been repaired, or if the vehicle registration has changed, or even if there is an alteration which results in a change of the tyre circumference, the tachograph must be re-calibrated straight away.

If any equipment breaks or becomes faulty during the lifecycle of the tacho, it needs to be replaced or repaired as soon as possible. When repairing your tachograph, you should return it to the base within a week of the repair being made. If this is not possible, the repair can be made en-route. If you have a digital tachograph, you need to ask the repair centre to download any of the data being held on the tachograph unit before any repairs are made.

Are there any exemptions?

The following vehicles are the only vehicles that are exempt from the LCV tachograph rules: 

  • Vehicles which cannot exceed 40km/h
  • Emergency service and armed forces vehicles
  • Breakdown recovery vehicles that are within 100km of their base
  • Vehicles which are being road tested for any maintenance or repair work
  • Non-commercial vehicles that are less than 7.5 tonnes
  • Vehicles older which exceed 25 years in age or use
  • Minibuses which are used only for non-commercial passengers
  • Agricultural, horticultural, farming, fishery or forestry business vehicles which are within 100km of their base
  • Vehicles which transport live animals transport for a distance that is less than 50km
  • Mobile libraries and other educational vehicles

Licence checks

Operators should ensure that the drivers have licences that give them the permission to drive vehicles over 3.5 tonnes. Any driver who has a licence from before January 1st 1997 can drive a vehicle over 3.5 tonnes and up to 7.5 tonnes on the standard licence. However, if the driver has passed their test after this date, they need a Category B or BE entitlement to be able to drive anything exceeding 3.5 tonnes.

If you would like to know more about the legislation including van tachograph and trailer tacho rules, see the graphic below, which can also be downloaded HERE free of charge. We helped produce it to iron out the confusion surrounding this area.

rules for van and trailer tacho

Plus, if you have a digital tachograph you will need to download the data to stay legal, so check out our range of cost-effective download tools.

If you’re interested in updating your current tachographs, the SE5000 Exact Duo² is the smartest One Minute Rule tachograph on the market.  We want to help you stay legal, and the SE5000 Exact Duo² is can reduce infringements by up to 60%*.

We also offer a great option for data storage and analysis with our OPTAC3 Web Account, and our  OPTAC3 tachograph analysis software costs just £1 per driver per week, so why not sign up today and keep your business compliant?

We provide training and support for the SE5000 Exact Duo²  to help keep your business running as effectively as possible. Please view the support page here for simulators, manuals and quick guides, or visit the training area, full of handy ‘how to’ videos and instructions you can download.




*By implementing unique screens in the latest SE5000 to provide extra information to drivers, infringements in a sample of real data taken from 108 drivers, examined over 180 days using any digital tachograph manufactured prior to April 2012 for 90 days, followed by an SE5000 Rev 7.4 or 7.5 for 90 days, showed a 60% reduction in actual infringements.