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Tachograph Readout Equipment

If you are required to use a tachograph, then there is a second important obligation attached to it. You must read and archive all tachograph data periodically and check it for possible violations. The purpose of the registration is to make the driving and rest data irrefutably legible, both for the vehicle owner and for an inspection body. Reading means, that the data is copied or downloaded, and stored on a server or on a computer located at the site of the employer or client subject to a tachograph obligation.

Why driver card reading?

The tachograph obligation also includes reading the driver card. The data that the tachograph registers is stored on the driver level as well as on the tachograph. This is done on the personal driver card with which a driver must identify themselves in the tachograph.

Why Tachograph reading?

In addition to the aforementioned reading of the driver card, the tachograph obligation also includes reading the so-called mass memory of the tachograph itself. The data that the tachograph records are automatically saved on the mass memory of the tachograph itself.

Reading equipment (overview)

An overview of the types of readout equipment for tachographs and driver cards. Please note: from 15 June 2019 the smart tachograph is mandatory. Check whether the reading equipment is also suitable for reading this new smart tachograph.

Types of readout equipment  
Chip card readerDriver cardManually
Download terminalDriver cardManually
Black Box (Remote Tacho Download)Tachograph and Driver cardAutomatically

Tachograph obligation
The data that is stored on the tachograph (the mass memory) must be read out at least once every 90 days. The data stored on the driver card must be read at least once every 28 days in Europe. In Ireland, a period of 21 days applies. The fine for not reading and transferring registered data to the employer’s location in time is up to £5000 per record. If data is missing in the archive, the fine can even amount up to £2500 per violation.

How can tachograph data be downloaded?

Tachograph data can be read manually by reading it digitally at the location of the vehicle and storing it with a so-called ‘download key’. It is therefore necessary to go to the vehicle to read the data. Reading the driver card is often also possible with the same download key, but in some cases a separate card reader is used for this.

Reading the tachograph remotely is more efficient, whereby a black box is linked to the tachograph which automatically downloads all files to a central location (from both the mass memory and the driver card).

Software for reading tachographs?

Once the data has been downloaded and collected at a central location, special software must be used to check for completeness and violations. There are different suppliers for such software.

Four types of hardware for reading tachographs

Each tachograph manufacturer has its own reading equipment, such as a download key or download terminal, to manually read the tachograph and driver cards. Check with the relevant manufacturer to see which options apply to you.

1: Download key

A download key is a device with which you can manually download and archive the data from the internal memory of the tachograph as well as the data from the driver cards of a digital tachograph. From the key, the data can be stored via USB directly on a computer or on an integrated SD card.

Downloadterminal-Pro-VDO (1)

2: Chip card reader

The chip card reader is an integrated part of a download key or other type of device with which the data can be read from a card.


3: Black Box

The black box is a kind of communication modem that is built into the vehicle and linked to the tachograph. Depending on the technical implementation, the black box can read and store all vehicle location and movement information as well as engine management information. A fully-equipped black box has GPS and GPRS technology and can be connected to a tachograph and FMS. A real-time data connection is established via a SIM card, with which a fleet management system via an online telematics platform can access all the information.


Remote Tacho Download
The Remote Tacho Download solution from FleetGO enables the reading obligation for a whole fleet to be fulfilled automatically. In addition to the security of automatic storage, there is the additional data analysis option. It is also important that it is easy to meet the monitoring obligation on a daily basis.

4: Download terminal

A download terminal is a mobile device for reading out tachograph and driver cards manually. A terminal works with an integrated card reader for the driver card and a separate reading key for the tachograph. From this terminal the data can be transferred via LAN or USB to a PC or the cloud.
The download terminal can for example be placed in a driver canteen or be used mobile on the transport company’s site.

De download terminal kan bijvoorbeeld geplaatst worden in een chauffeurskantine of mobiel gebruikt worden op het terrein van een transportbedrijf.

Downloadterminal-Pro-VDO (1)

Two types of remote wireless tachograph download

Remote reading is an effective method for automatically reading all data from tachographs on time; manual reading is avoided and deviations can be acted on immediately. There are two ways to download remotely. An advanced board computer can read and send the data, or the data is made available in real time via GPRS and the cloud via an inbuilt black box.

1: Download via Wifi

Wifi is one way for the tachograph to be read remotely. The disadvantage of reading via a wifi connection is that it is location-dependent and only offers as much security as the wifi network itself.

2: Remote Tacho Download

With Remote Tacho Download, a vehicle owner never has to manually download the .ddd files from vehicles or driver cards again: all files are downloaded automatically regardless of where the vehicles or drivers are located. All encrypted files are sent wirelessly to secure file storage within the cloud, archiving included.

Tachograph Symbols use in Tachograph Analysis software

How can tachograph data be read for free?

Hardware and software are always required to read data. In such a case, free modules are (temporarily) part of a wider product.

Responsibility for downloading tachograph and driver data

The duty to carry out readings lies with the carrier as standard. Even in the case of rented vehicles, it lies with the renting carrier. The prior registration of the digital tachograph with the company card as well as the locking by the driver is crucial in this case because recovery afterwards is not always possible. There are also fines for incorrect registration and deregistration.

Different types of tachograph readings: VDO Siemens, Stoneridge, Intellic

The two largest manufacturers, VDO and Stoneridge offer several solutions for reading digital tachographs. Remote Tacho Download from FleetGO is by far the most efficient (and brand-independent) reading solution. For this purpose, a telematics box is built into the vehicle. It is equipped with all possible connections and associated firmware so that all tachograph data can be downloaded remotely and completely automatically. The solution includes hosting the (2nd) company card and the data connection subscription has no cancellation period.

IMPORTANT: This is just a short guide. Every driver or company must always rely on the complete legal document.

Tachograph Analysis Software

Image: Tachograph Readout

Remote Tacho Download Solution

Automatic Download of Digital Tachograph Files

Remote Tacho Download Solution

Automatic Download of Digital Tachograph Files

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