HMRC internal manual

Employment Income Manual

Tax treatment of lorry drivers: purchase of digital tachograph cards

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Section 336 ITEPA 2003

Since August 2004 new lorries with a GVW above 3.5 tonne have been required to have digital tachographs. All lorries must have them from May 2006.

Drivers of these vehicles are required to have their own “smart card” - a card similar to a credit card that has a chip and is inserted in the digital tachograph. The card chip then records the mileage/rest periods etc. covered by the driver.

Drivers have to apply for their own card and the cost of the first card is £38. If the driver already has a new style driving licence with a photo on it, DVLA will use the same photograph on the tachograph card. If not, the driver has to supply passport style photos - the kind that can be produced for about £3 - £4 in photo booths. The card then has to be renewed every 5 years.

HMRC accept that the tachograph card is used by the driver wholly, exclusively and necessarily in performing his or her driving duties. Accordingly the expense of purchasing a digital tachograph card can be allowed as a deduction under s336 ITEPA 2003. The cost of photographs used on the card can also be allowed as part of the overall cost, even though the photographs can also be used to apply for a new style licence should the driver decide to do so.