Tachograph Cards

There are four types of smart cards that can be used with the digital tachograph: the driver card, the company card, the control card and the workshop card. In this article you will learn more about the use of these specific cards, their design and key features.

Tachograph Driver Cards

Whenever a bus or truck is equipped with a digital tachograph, the driver needs a driver card to be allowed to drive this vehicle. The driver card has a predominantly white background.

Tachograph Cards

The driver card registers dates and times the card was used in order to drive a vehicle and the vehicles it was used in. It records the vehicle’s odometer readings, registration number, the time and total distance of each trip taken, as well as the activity states of that specific journey. It also logs the presence of co-drivers and their details. The driver card stores the recorded data for each day the card is used and has an average memory capacity of 28 days. The data from the last 365 days is also stored in the internal memory of the digital tachograph the card was used in and can be downloaded or displayed on the tachograph screen. Driver card data can be displayed on the tachograph screen, printed out by the vehicle unit of the tachograph or downloaded via a card reader or any other other dedicated equipment. It is technically feasible to operate a vehicle without a driver card, but this is against regulations and the vehicle itself will make a note of any time it is used without a card. A driver may hold only one card and the personal driver card is valid for five years.

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Tachograph Company Cards

The company smart card is issued to transport companies by the competent authority of the Member State where the company is established. It is to be used in order to download data stored in the tachograph mass memory and to lock the data belonging to this company against any unauthorised access by third parties. The card also keeps a record of the driving and rest time data from the various vehicles for the benefit of the company’s administration. The company card is predominantly yellow and contains details of the company that carries out the transport. Before bringing a vehicle into service a company has to enter the company information in the tachograph. This is done by inserting the company card in the tachograph slot and following the instructions. The company card contains a maximum of 230 records related to locking and downloading performed and has no administrative expiry specified in the Regulation.

Tachograph Control Cards

Law enforcement officers must be able to monitor the correct use of the digital tachograph, and so they need a control smart card when they carry out checks to enforce the legislation such as the Working Time Directive and the Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations. The driving and rest times can be read out with the control card in order to verify compliance. This can be done either by reading the data on the driver card or by reading the retrieved data from the digital tachograph. The control smart cards give the police and law enforcement officers unlimited access to all information stored within the digital tachograph system, even if a company put in place a “lock”. The control smart card is predominantly blue and can store 230 records of control activity data. The card has no administrative expiry specified in the regulation.

Tachograph Workshop Cards

A workshop card is a predominantly red smart card issued to, basically, approved workshops and/or their fitters to install, activate, calibrate, check and download digital tachographs. Any changes to the system are recorded for future reference. The data registered on the card are the details of the card’s owner and the data relating to the last 88 calibrations performed with this workshop card. The workshop card is the only one issued with a PIN and has a validity of one year. This PIN code is personal and is only provided once. A workshop may hold several workshop cards.

The temporary driver card

A temporary driver card is intended for a driver from a non-EU / EEA country working at a Dutch company. The card is issued once and has a maximum validity of 185 days.
Drivers from a non-EU / EEA country working at a Dutch company and carrying out a professional transport of goods or passenger transport on a coach, need a temporary driver card.

The temporary driver card is a personal tachograph card with three functions:

  • Means of identification (with passport photo on the card)
  •  Gives access to the digital tachograph.
  • Registers driving and rest times.

The maximum period of validity of the temporary driver card depends on the duration of the work permit or driver attestation, but the card is never valid for more than 185 days.

How to obtain a tachograph card

The issuing process for digital tachograph cards is ruled by Regulation (ECC) n° 3821/85 and the AETR as last amended. It is placed under the responsibility of the relevant Member State. Member States shall decide upon their own issuing procedures, which may vary from one country to the next. In order to ensure that an applicant driver is not already in the possession of a valid driver card, the European Commission and the Member States established a network at EU level connecting national issuing authorities. The aim of that network, which is called ‘TachoNET’, is to exchange data concerning cards that have to be issued or that are issued, stolen, lost or withdrawn.

How to get a digital tachograph card?

If you need to get your digital tachograph driver card or company digital tachograph card, you can find all the information you need on the website of the GOV.

Instructions to get your digital tachograph driver card
Instructions to get your digital company tachograph card

Both applications can be done online, which makes the process simple and fast

Lost, Stolen or Damaged Driver Cards

The driver must apply for a replacement card within 7 calendar days of the driver card being defective, lost or stolen. The issuing authority must issue a replacement card within five working days of receiving a valid application. In the meantime, the driver must print out data on his driving and rest times recorded in the vehicle unit of the tachograph at the end of the journey, add his personal details and sign the printouts. It is forbidden (except in some restricted circumstances) for a driver to continue to drive for more than 15 calendar days without a valid driver card. Issuing authorities keep a record of issued, valid and invalid cards and exchange data through TACHOnet. If you use a card that has been declared as faulty, lost or stolen, you will be detected.

How long is a digital tachograph card valid for?

The digital tachograph company card is valid for 5 years, a driver card as well. A workshop card is valid for 1 year. In all cases, it is important to apply for a new one in time, preferably 3 months ahead.

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