Transport regulations in international trade

Drivers' hours and tachographs

Drivers of goods vehicles on international journeys within the European Union (EU) must comply with EU and/or GB rules on drivers' hours and tachograph use. These rules prescribe maximum limits on driving time and minimum requirements for break and rest periods. They apply to most drivers of vehicles used for the carriage of goods where the maximum permissible weight of the vehicle, including any trailer or semi-trailer, exceeds 3.5 tonnes.

However, working time rules vary and there are certain exemptions. You can find more information on them and when EU, GB and/or mixed rules apply to drivers' working hours in our section on drivers' hours and tachographs.

Journeys to or through the countries that are signatories to the European Agreement Concerning the Work of Crews of Vehicles Engaged in International Road Transport (AETR) are subject to AETR rules. AETR rules apply to the whole journey, including any EU countries passed through.

You can find more information in our guide on AETR drivers' hours rules.

For countries not subject to the EU or AETR rules, such as Iceland or Morocco, you should contact their Embassies for the applicable rules.


Under the EU/AETR rules, it is compulsory to use a tachograph. On UK trucks they should be set to UK time.

When required, drivers must be able to produce, at the roadside:

  • tachograph charts and any legally required manual records for the current day and the previous 28 calendar days
  • the driver's digital smart card, if they hold one

On international journeys, drivers should carry letters of attestation from their employers in the language of each country to be visited to cover sick leave, annual leave or other periods of inactivity, or any time spent driving a vehicle which is out of the scope of EU/AETR rules during the preceding 28 days. However, use of the form is only mandatory in certain member states and this is set out in a table alongside the link to the form.

Digital Tachographs and digital tacho cards

Digital tachographs provide detailed information and enable a range of printouts including a daily activities sheet showing distances, speeds and the length of time the vehicle was stationary.

If your vehicle is fitted with a digital tachograph, the digital tacho card or driver smart card you use to operate it is valid for five years. The card's microchip will stop recording driver activity on the expiry date. If you don't receive a renewal reminder, you can find out how to renew your card in the page on renewing your driver smart card in our guide on drivers and digital tachographs.

You can find more detailed guides on all the topics on this page in our section on drivers' hours and tachographs.

Downloading tachograph and driver card data

European regulations set out the maximum periods within which you must download any data recorded by the digital tachograph - other than detailed speed data - from the vehicle unit and driver card:

  • 90 days for data from the vehicle unit
  • 28 days for data from the vehicle card

You must download the data in such a way that none is lost.