Drivers’ hours and tachographs: goods vehicles

2. Great Britain domestic rules

How the drivers' hours Great Britain domestic rules work for goods vehicles.


The Great Britain domestic rules, as contained in the Transport Act 1968, apply to most goods vehicles that are exempt from the EU rules. Separate rules apply to Northern Ireland.

2.1. Domestic rules exemptions

The following groups are exempt from the domestic drivers’ hours rules:

  • drivers of vehicles used by the Armed Forces, the police and fire brigade
  • drivers who always drive off the public road system
  • private driving, ie not in connection with a job or in any way to earn a living

2.2. Domestic driving limits

Driving is defined as being at the controls of a vehicle for the purposes of controlling its movement, whether it is moving or stationary with the engine running, even for a short period of time.

Daily driving

In any working day the maximum amount of driving permitted is 10 hours. The daily driving limit applies to driving on and off the public road. Off-road driving for the purposes of agriculture, quarrying, forestry, building work or civil engineering counts as duty rather than driving time.

Day: The day is the 24-hour period beginning with the start of duty time.

Daily duty

In any working day the maximum amount of duty permitted is 11 hours. A driver is exempt from the daily duty limit (11 hours) on any working day when they do not drive.

A driver who does not drive for more than 4 hours on each day of the week is exempt from the daily duty limit for the whole week.

Week: Is the period from 0000 hrs on a Monday to 2400 hrs the following Sunday.

Duty: In the case of an employee driver, this means being on duty (whether driving or otherwise) for anyone who employs them as a driver. This includes all periods of work and driving, but does not include rest or breaks. Employers should also remember that they have additional obligations to ensure that drivers receive adequate rest under health and safety legislation.

For owner drivers, this means driving a vehicle connected with their business, or doing any other work connected with the vehicle and its load.

Drivers of certain vehicles are exempt from the duty but not the driving limit, namely – goods vehicles, including dual purpose vehicles, not exceeding a maximum permitted gross weight of 3.5 tonnes, when used:

  • by doctors, dentists, nurses, midwives or vets
  • for any service of inspection, cleaning, maintenance, repair, installation or fitting
  • by commercial travellers when carrying goods (other than personal effects) only for the purpose of soliciting orders
  • by the AA, RAC or RSAC
  • for cinematography or radio and television broadcasting

2.3. Record keeping

You must keep written records of your hours of work on a weekly record sheet if you are the driver of a goods vehicle that requires an Operator Licence and you drive for more than 4 hours in that day. An example of such a sheet is at Annex 3. Operators are expected to check and sign each weekly record sheet.

Suppliers of record books containing weekly record sheets can be found on the internet.

Alternatively, an EU-approved and sealed tachograph may be used to record a driver’s activities while they are subject to domestic drivers’ hours rules. When recording in this manner, and where domestic records are legally required (see flowchart below), all rules on the fitment and use of the tachograph must be complied with see Section 4

Where a tachograph is fitted to a vehicle subject to the domestic rules but is not used to produce a legally required record, the operator and driver should nevertheless ensure that the tachograph is properly calibrated and sealed. The tachograph does not have to be recalibrated provided the seals remain intact and the vehicle remains out of scope of the EU rules.

Exemptions from keeping records

Some groups are exempt from requirements to keep records under domestic rules on drivers’ hours.

Follow the flowchart below to determine whether you must keep records.

2.4. Emergencies

The GB domestic rules are relaxed in cases where immediate preventative action is needed to avoid:

  • danger to the life or health of people or animals
  • serious interruption of essential public services (gas, water, electricity or drainage), of telecommunication or postal services, or in the use of roads, railways, ports or airports
  • serious damage to property

In these cases the driving and duty limits are suspended for the duration of the emergency.

2.5. Records for vehicles carrying postal articles

Tachographs must be fitted and used on all vehicles with a permissible maximum weight in excess of 3.5 tonnes that carry parcels and letters on postal services. Drivers of such vehicles may be exempt from the EU rules on drivers’ hours (see EU rules exemptions) but, if so, must still comply with the GB domestic rules.

2.6. Travelling abroad

The GB domestic rules apply only in GB, but you must observe the national rules of the countries in which you travel. The embassies of these countries will be able to assist in establishing the rules that might apply.

For example, German national rules require drivers of goods vehicles between 2.8 and 3.5 tonnes to record details of their journeys in an AETR-style log book. This means that UK drivers have to use the log book when they set out and while driving through the countries on journeys to or through Germany. Copies of these log books can be obtained from the Road Haulage Association (Tel: 01733 263434).

2.7. Mixed vehicle types

If it occurs that a driver divides their time driving goods vehicles and passenger vehicles under GB domestic rules, then in any working day or week, if they spend most of their time driving passenger vehicles then the appropriate GB rules for passenger vehicles apply for that day or week.

2.8. Working Time Regulations

Drivers who are subject to the UK domestic rules on drivers’ hours are affected by four provisions under GB Working Time Regulations 1998 (as amended).

See Annex 2 for more details.