2. Great Britain domestic rules on drivers' hours

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


The Great Britain domestic rules, as contained in the Transport Act 1968 as amended, 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. See Annex 2 for more details.

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

Rest and breaks

Whilst the GB domestic rules make no specific provision for rest periods or breaks, employers are required, under The Working Time Regulations 1998, to ensure that drivers have ‘adequate rest’ (which includes adequate breaks). Adequate rest is defined as being long and continuous enough to ensure that a driver does not harm themselves, fellow workers or others and that they do not damage their health in the long or short term. Taking “adequate rest” means a driver’s personal circumstances need be considered when scheduling duty and driving periods. See the information in Annex 2 at ‘Driving under the GB domestic drivers’ hours rules (or are an occasional mobile worker)’.

2.3. Record keeping

Drivers must keep written records of their hours of work on a weekly record sheet for vehicles used for the carriage of goods that require an Operator Licence and driving exceeds 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 (also known as log 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 records must be kept.

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 electronic communications 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.

More information on use of the emergency exemption can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/emergency-exemption-and-temporary-relaxation-of-drivers-hours-and-working-time-rules

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 are used to 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 and keep a written record of their work.

2.6. Travelling abroad

The GB domestic rules apply only in GB, but drivers must observe the national rules of the countries in which they 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

Where a driver divides their time between driving vehicles used for the carriage of goods and passengers under the 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 GB domestic rules on drivers’ hours are affected by four provisions under GB Working Time Regulations 1998 (as amended).

See Annex 2 for more details.