Drivers’ hours and tachographs: buses and coaches


Overview of which drivers' hours and tachograph rules for passenger carrying vehicles apply in different situations.

About this guidance

This guide provides advice to drivers and operators of passenger vehicles, whether used privately or commercially. It explains the rules for drivers’ hours and the keeping of records, and updates previous guidance from 2011. The EU regulations also place a responsibility on others in the passenger transport industry such as tour organisers, contractors, sub-contractors and driver agencies. People working in these sectors of the passenger transport industry may benefit from an understanding of the guidance offered here.

Those who are involved in international operations are advised to check whether the other country or countries in which they operate produce equivalent guidance. We recommend that you contact the relevant embassy.

As with any legislation, previous and future court judgments may assist interpretation on a particular point. Where significant court judgments on interpretation are relevant, these have been incorporated in the text. Some important judgments are available – many in shortened form – in legal reference books held by larger reference libraries. If you are in doubt as to how these rules apply to you, seek your own legal advice.

Which rules apply?

Within Great Britain (GB), either GB domestic or European Union (EU) rules may apply. For international journeys, either the EU rules or the European Agreement Concerning the Work of Crews of Vehicles Engaged in International Road Transport (AETR) may apply. Which set of rules applies depends on the type of driving and the type of vehicle being used and, in the case of international journeys, the countries to be visited.

The carriage by road of passengers, by most vehicles that are constructed or permanently adapted for carrying more than nine people including the driver, and that are intended for that purpose, falls within the scope of the EU rules. Temporary removal of seats to less than nine including the driver will not take a vehicle out of scope of EU rules.

Carriage by road

‘Carriage by road’ is defined as any journey, made entirely or in part on roads open to the public, of a vehicle, laden or unladen, used for the carriage of passengers or goods. ‘Off-road’ driving is in scope of the rules, where it forms part of a journey that also takes place on public roads. Journeys that are made entirely off road are out of scope of the EU rules.

International journeys to or through countries that are outside the EU but that are signatories to the AETR are subject to AETR rules.

International journey

An international journey means a journey to or from another EU member state, an AETR or EEA country, including the part of the journey within the UK.

For journeys that are partly in the EU and partly in countries that are neither in the EU nor signatories to AETR, EU rules will apply to that portion of the journey that is in the EU. Countries outside the EU and AETR are likely to have their own regulations governing drivers’ hours, which should be adhered to while you are driving in that country.

Most vehicles that are exempted from the EU rules come under GB domestic rules on drivers’ hours while engaged in domestic journeys.

The following table will help you determine which rules apply.

Type of operation 8 or less passenger seats 9 - 12 passenger seats 13 - 16 passenger seats 17 or more passenger seats
Private, non PSV and permit operations        
Police, fire and Armed Forces purposes None None None None
GB journeys – non-PSV public ‘services’ or utilities purposes 1 None None 2 Domestic rules Domestic rules
GB journeys – non-PSV business use None EU/ AETR rules EU/ AETR rules EU/AETR rules
GB journeys - private use None EU/ AETR 3 rules EU/ AETR 3 rules EU/ AETR rules
International journeys including private use None in GB but must obey any domestic rules of country visited EU/ AETR rules EU/ AETR rules EU/ AETR rules
PSV operations        
Regular service on route not exceeding 50 kms Domestic rules Domestic rules Domestic rules Domestic rules
National or international regular service on route exceeding 50 kms Domestic rules on journeys in GB 4 EU/ AETR rules EU/ AETR rules EU/ AETR rules
National or international non-regular service e.g. commercial excursions, tours or private hire Domestic rules on journeys in GB 4 EU/ AETR rules EU/ AETR rules EU/ AETR rules

Public service vehicle

A public service vehicle (PSV) is a motor vehicle that is adapted to carry more than eight passengers and is used to carry passengers for hire or reward or, if adapted to carry eight or fewer passengers is used to carry passengers, for hire or reward at separate fares in the course of a business of carrying passengers.

Regular service

A regular service (which includes special regular services) is a service that provides for the carriage of passengers at specified intervals along a specified route, passengers being picked up and set down at predetermined stopping points. It does not have to be a service for the general public. It may be a service provided exclusively for a particular category of passenger (eg it may take children to and from school or workers to and from work). A service may be varied according to the needs of those concerned and still remain a regular service.

In relation to the 50 km threshold for a regular service (as defined above) a route would be regarded as a separate route if:

  • the route is individually registered with the relevant traffic commissioner (this does not apply to services operated in Greater London under stewardship of Transport for London)
  • the route ends at a recognised terminus (ie a destination in its own right, an established transport interchange or a garage):
    • the same vehicle is not subsequently used on another route or
    • there is a change of driver before the vehicle is used on another route in which case the two routes may be advertised as a through service or
    • the same vehicle is subsequently used on another route with the same driver provided the two routes are not advertised as a through service (they may be advertised as connecting services and passengers wishing to continue on the connecting service may do so without leaving the vehicle if they wish and through tickets may be issued)

Passenger vehicles, including any trailer towed, can carry the passenger’s personal effects without it affecting the applicability of EU rules. However where a passenger vehicle or trailer, regardless of the number of passenger seats, is used to carry goods other than the passenger’s personal effects then the vehicle will be in scope of EU rules unless one of the exemptions or derogations relevant to the carriage of goods applies. Further details can be found in our drivers’ hours and tachograph booklet for goods vehicles.

For any journey to an EU or European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland the EU rules will apply to the whole journey.

For any journey to or through an AETR country the AETR rules will apply to the whole journey. See the list, EU, AETR and EEA, below to help identify which rules apply to which country. Vehicles with fewer than eight passenger seats travelling through other countries must obey the relevant domestic rules.

EU, AETR and EEA countries

For the purposes of the table above, please use the following lists of countries.

EU countries

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom

AETR countries

  • Albania
  • Andorra
  • Armenia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Belarus
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Kazakhstan
  • Liechtenstein
  • Macedonia
  • Moldova
  • Monaco
  • Montenegro
  • Norway
  • Russia
  • San Marino
  • Serbia
  • Switzerland
  • Turkey
  • Turkmenistan
  • Ukraine
  • Uzbekistan

EEA countries

All the EU countries plus:

  • Iceland
  • Liechtenstein
  • Norway

Reminder: Switzerland is not a member of the European Union but follows EU rules.


  1. There are a number of specific exemptions from the EU/ AETR rules that may apply to operations by public authorities while operating in GB. See the section entitled “exemptions and derogations” for further details.

  2. Public ‘services’ or ‘utilities’ purpose vehicles with 10 to 13 seats (including the driver) must comply with the GB domestic rules when operated under a permit by employee drivers.

  3. For private use of a passenger carrying vehicle with between 10 and 17 seats (including the drivers) drivers will be exempt from EU/ AETR but only where the vehicle is used exclusively for the non-commercial carriage of passengers. If such a vehicle is used for any commercial purpose then any private use will be subject to EU/ AETR rules. 2

  4. EU/ AETR rules do not apply but the domestic rules of GB and any other country passed through must be obeyed. 2