Tachograph Rules

Tachograph Rules Made Easy

The European tachograph regulations consist of a complex set of rules which can be difficult to understand, not to mention to apply. A lack of knowledge of the rules can easily cause serious problems for any organisation that deals with tachograph liability. This article intends to be a brief guide about the most important rules on drivers hours and tachographs. Therefore, it will be useful for drivers, planners and fleet operators who have to deal with tachographs, tachograph files and compliance.

Tachograph Rules

Download the HGV Driving Hours Cheat Sheet

Download Now

Get it for FREE!

Tacho Rules Quiz

Do you think you know all the rules regarding driving and rest times? Test your knowledge with our Tacho Rules Quiz!

Take the FleetGO Tacho Quiz
Tacho Rules Quiz

European tachograph regulations

The rules are regulated by EU-regulation (EC) No 561/2006[5] which entered into force on April 11, 2007. The rules apply both when using a digital tachograph or analogue tachograph. Violating the rules result in high fines (see also: tachograph fines).

It’s important to know that a ‘week’ in tachograph terms does not have to be aligned with a week as we know it (from Sunday till Monday) although it does last for 7 days as well. A tachograph week starts at the end of a weekly rest period. So a tachograph week can start on any day of the week.

Tachograph rules

Maximum drive hours rules

  • The maximum two-weekly drive time is 90 hours
  • The maximum weekly drive time is 56 hours
  • Maximum daily drive time is 9 hours; this can be extended up to 10 hours for a maximum of 2 times each week.

Tachograph rules on breaks

  • After every 4.5 hours of driving time, the driver should have at least 45 minutes of breaks. The driver can take 45 minutes at once, or split into one break of 15 minutes, followed by a 30 minute break (45 minutes in total).

Daily break/rest rules

  • Daily rest: a driver should rest at least 11 hours each day. This rest period may be split up into 2 separate periods over 12 hours in total:
    • the first period of at least 3 consecutive hours;
    • followed by a period of 9 consecutive hours.
  • In between the bi-weekly rest period, a shorter rest period is prohibited with a minimum of 9 consecutive hours but not longer than 11 hours.
  • All daily rest must be completed within 24 hours of the previous resting period.

Weekly rest rules

  • The regular weekly rest is a period of at least 45 hours.
  • The reduced weekly rest is a minimum of 24 hours. This must begin within 6 days (6×24 hours) since the end of the last weekly rest.
  • Any reductions made in the minimum weekly rest of 45 hours must be compensated by adding these missed hours to another resting block (daily, weekly or bi-weekly rests) and must be compensated before the end of the third week after the reduced weekly resting period.
  • In any two-week period, the rests must be at least one 45-hour rest and one 24-hour rest. Rests that stretch across two one-week periods may be counted to one of these two weeks, but not both.

Never risk any tachograph fines again!

Get started with analysing your tachograph files with the FleetGO all-in-one tacho solution. Never miss an infringement again!

Chances of getting invested are higher than ever!

Double manning

A vehicle is considered to be double-manned if, during any driving period, in between 2 daily or a daily and weekly rest period, the vehicle has 2 drivers on board (who are both able to drive and have a personal tachograph card). The first hour of this driving time is optional, which makes it possible to pick up the second driver within 1 hour after the shift has started. In general, the same tachograph rules apply to both drivers, except for the daily rest rules. If double-manned, each driver must have a daily rest period of 9 hours within a 30-hour period that starts after the last daily or weekly rest period ended.

The first 45 minutes of availability time of the co-driver (if not working) are considered as a break. Also read this article about double manning.


If the vehicle has a suitable sleeping facility, the rest may be taken completely in the vehicle when it’s stationary (but not in all countries!).

Tachograph rules for ferry crossings or train journeys

When a ferry or train is involved in the journey, the rules for daily breaks/rests are more flexible, but only if suitable sleeping accommodation is available during the resting period (it can be in the truck). The regular daily rest of 11 hours may be interrupted twice with other activities if the total of these 2 interruptions does not exceed 1 hour altogether. The total of this rest must still be a minimum of 11 hours in total. This allows the driver to be in the vehicle on or off the ferry or train without using his regular driving time.

General working and rest time rules

Besides specific tachograph rules, general working and rest time rules apply in the EU. Please note that these rules can differ from one country to another.

  • The maximum working time in a week is 60 hours, and the average maximum working time over a period of 16 weeks cannot exceed 48 hours.
  • All breaks must take place after at least 6 hours with the following times:
    •  30 minutes after 6 hours
    • 45 minutes after 9 hours
  •  All breaks are to be taken in increments of at least 15 minutes.
  • The total hours of night work cannot exceed 10 hours in every 24 hours (unless a collective workforce agreement applies which states otherwise).

Unforeseen events

Of course, sometimes a driver simply can not meet exactly the tachograph rules that apply. So whenever a driver isn’t able to reach a suitable stopping place, the rules can be departed from. But only if general safety is not jeopardized. Whenever this situation occurs, the driver should note the actual causes on the back of their tachograph printouts, at the latest when a suitable stopping place is reached.
Although this is a bit of a grey area – regular and/or repeated unforeseen events might be due to bad scheduling or a general lack of compliance with the rules.

Tachograph rules in the EU & AETR

Please note that the tachograph rules we’ve explained here only apply in the EU countries which are listed below:

EU countries

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom.

AETR countries

A different set of rules, called “AETR” apply when a truck drives in one of the AETR countries: Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kazakhstan, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Switzerland, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

IMPORTANT: This is only a brief guide. Any driver or company should always rely on the full legal document which can be found here: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/eli/reg/2006/561/oj

Digital Tachograph Download Rules

HGV and 0-licence operators must be familiar with the digital tachograph download rules to ensure compliance. Most drivers are familiar with EU tachograph rules around driving hours, minimum rest daily and weekly breaks. Digital tachographs record the information on the period of activity and inactivity to ensure adherence to stipulated laws. The data is saved and stored on the driver cards and vehicle unit memory. Due to the significance of the information, there are rules surrounding digital tachograph downloads.

Rules of Tachograph Data Downloads

Two types of tachograph data downloads are available with unique rules, including the following:

  • Vehicle data downloads: Downloads are completed every 90 days and before transferring vehicle use to another person. It’s essential to download the information before removing the vehicle unit permanently in case of a malfunction. After successfully downloading the vehicle’s data, the fleet manager must analyse the tachograph data to ensure rules haven’t been breached or broken.
  • Driver card data downloads: Drivers are expected to upload the information to the driver cards every 28 days. Tachograph downloads are also done when a driver terminates their contract with the fleet company or the card malfunctions. The data must be downloaded if there is a possibility of losing the data or the driver’s card is stuck, and the driver needs to download the tachograph data before stopping the vehicle.

After downloading the data, fleet managers rely on tachograph analysis software to evaluate the tachograph data and check for infringement of data download laws.


Using a digital tachograph helps managers track fleets and monitor drivers’ activities, but it is essential to remain compliant with the data handling procedures. The digital tachograph download rules promote compliance and simplify tachograph data analysis.


This content is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to be an endorsement or representation by FleetGO.com or any other party. This information may contain inaccuracies or typographical errors, despite our efforts to ensure accuracy. FleetGO.com accepts no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions, and is not responsible for the contents of any linked website or any link contained in a linked website. Please refer to our full disclaimer for more details.