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Digital tachograph cards guide

By Simon Austin-Beckett2021-02-24

A guide to tachograph cards

The digital tachograph unit is a valuable tool for fleet managers to monitor the activity of their drivers—including drivers’ hours and rest times. In a competitive industry, this data is vital both for simplifying compliance management and for helping increase operational activity. Digital tachograph cards are a key component of the tachograph system and help streamline the process of recording and accessing driver data.

In this article, we’ll take you through what you need to know about tacho cards.

What are digital tachograph cards?

Tachograph cards form part of the overall digital tachograph system alongside the motion sensor and vehicle unit (VU) that are installed in heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), lorries and buses. Unlike analogue tachographs, the digital system records driver activity to two locations – the tachograph cards and the vehicle unit. The activity recorded includes all relevant information for operational compliance, such as driver ID, dates and times used, vehicles used and driving and rest times.

There are four types of card:

  • Driver tachograph cards
  • Company tachograph cards
  • Workshop tachograph cards
  • Control tachograph cards

Here is an overview of each type of card, what they’re for and their features:

Digital tachograph driver cards

Commercial HGV drivers require a driver card in order to drive vehicles equipped with a digital tachograph legally. Similar in appearance to a standard driving licence, they are plastic photo ID cards. However, they also contain a microchip for recording and storing all driving activity over approximately the past four weeks (typically 28 days). This data can also be stored in the tachograph unit memory. Digital tachograph driver cards are unique to each driver, who must insert them into the VU driver slot of each vehicle they drive. The cards are valid for five years and must be produced to law enforcement officers on request, such as during a roadside check.

Company tachograph cards

Company tacho cards are issued to fleet operators, who use them to download data about their drivers’ activity from the digital tachograph memory. The digital tachograph company cards also allow operators to place locks on the driver data in order to prevent it being accessed by unauthorised third parties, such as other operators. The tachograph information not only helps fleet managers to simplify compliance with driving and rest time regulations, but also to optimise performance and assign jobs more efficiently. 

Workshop tachograph cards

These cards allow approved workshops to install and calibrate digital tachograph VUs. Workshop cards contain data logs on all system changes performed on the tachograph system, as well as the details of the workshop itself. For security reasons, they are protected by a PIN code. Workshop tachograph cards are valid for one year.

Control tachograph cards

Law enforcement authorities, such as DVSA examiners and the police use control tacho cards when performing roadside checks on vehicles. The cards allow them to access tachograph data in order to simplify compliance management and the proper usage of the digital tachograph. The authorities can use the card either to retrieve from a driver card or the tachograph vehicle unit. Furthermore, the control cards give them the authority to override any tachograph data locks put in place by operators. 

How to apply for tachograph cards in the UK

The responsibility for issuing digital tachograph cards and the application procedures can vary from country to country. In the UK, this is done through the DVLA. In order to apply for a driver card, you must fill out the ‘D777B/DL - Application form for a digital tachograph driver card and post it to the DVLA. In addition to new applications, this form is used for applying for a replacement card, in the case of malfunctioning cards and damaged cards, issuing renewals for expired cards and amending personal details, such as change of name. Fleet operators can also apply for tacho cards on behalf of their drivers.

NOTE: Each driver must only possess one valid driver tachograph card. In order to ensure this, there is an EU-wide telematics network in operation, called TACHOnet. This network facilitates the automated exhange of tachograph card data between national issuing authorities across the EU.

Telematics and digital tachograph: a smart match for fleets

Utilising a fleet management solution such as Verizon Connect can help you make the most of the digital tachograph in terms of compliance. For example, it can help you avoid costly fines due to human error like driving without properly inserting the driver tachograph card in the VU slot. With a connected digital tachograph from Verizon Connect, you can see the current readings for any of your drivers and set up the software to alert you if drivers are not compliant. 

But the benefits go beyond simply adhering to driving hours regulations. Knowing the current compliance status of drivers can also help dispatchers assign jobs faster and more efficiently, based on up-to-date information available through the web-based dashboard. Furthermore, the fleet management solution gives you near real-time access to driver status, vehicle data and engine data, in addition to the tachograph data. All this information provides you with great visibility of your entire fleet, helping you make better informed operational decisions.


Simon Austin-Beckett

Simon is the Sr. Marketing Manager, Atlantic & Benelux. With over 15 years marketing experience in the IT software and business analytics industry, Simon believes passionately in the power of data and how it can help business realise their full potential faster.


Tags: Compliance, Data & analytics, Productivity & efficiency

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