What is a Digital Tachograph Card

In the rapidly advancing digital age, several innovations have entered the transport industry. One such essential tool is the digital tachograph card. But what is it and why is it so important for drivers and employers? Let’s break it down.

Understanding the Digital Tachograph Card

Simply put, a digital tachograph card is a device that records crucial data regarding driving time, speed, and distance. It acts as an electronic logbook, ensuring that drivers and their employers are adhering strictly to the rules governing drivers’ hours.

Purpose of the Digital Tachograph

Tachographs have been designed primarily to maintain safety standards in the transport sector. They:

  • Ensure drivers take adequate breaks and aren’t overworking.
  • Offer a detailed record for employers, ensuring that their drivers are compliant with regulations.
  • Provide an evidence trail in case of accidents, disputes, or audits.

Driving Without a Card: Yes or No?

The straightforward answer is no. Every driver operating their vehicle must always use a tachograph card. If for some reason the card is lost or stolen, drivers are mandated to take printouts both at the beginning and end of their shifts. However, even in such situations, the Vehicle Unit (VU) will continue recording all operations and show the absence of a card – a situation that can be perceived as “undeclared duty.”

Exemptions to the Rule

While tachographs are essential for many, there are a few exemptions:

  • Vehicles older than 25 years.
  • Non-commercial minibuses.
  • Vehicles linked to agricultural, horticultural, farming, fishery, or forestry businesses, provided they are operating within 100km of their base.
  • Vehicles transporting live animals for less than 50km.

Who Requires a Digital Tachograph Card?

If you drive goods vehicles weighing over 3.5 tonnes (including trailers) or passenger vehicles that can carry more than nine people (including the driver), and your vehicle was first registered on or after May 2006, you will need a digital Tachograph Vehicle Unit (VU).

How to Apply for a Card

  • Online or by post applications are the general methods.
  • For your first GB (Great Britain) driver digital tachograph card, apply online if residing in England, Scotland, or Wales. However, for exchanging foreign tachograph cards, you must apply by post.
  • Renewing cards expiring within 90 days, or replacing lost/stolen cards, can be done online.
  • Postal applications are exclusively for changing the name/address on the card, replacing damaged cards, first-time GB applications from abroad, or for those with a paper driving licence.
  • Changing EU, EEA, or Northern Ireland cards to GB cards requires a post application.


  • £32 for the first GB card.
  • £19 for renewal or replacement.
  • £32 for changing from EU, EEA, or Northern Ireland cards to GB card

In conclusion

The digital tachograph card is essential for ensuring safety, compliance, and accountability within the transport industry. Ensure you have one, keep it updated, and always follow the rules. Safe driving!

For a more comprehensive understanding of digital tachographs, their functions, and the pictograms associated with them, consider exploring the informative resources available at NTP Online Learning. This platform can enhance your knowledge and ensure that you’re well-equipped to make the most of this essential tool in the transportation industry.

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