Digital Driver Cards

There are four types of digital cards that are used in conjunction with a digital tachograph or VU. These are:

  • Driver cards are used by drivers to record driving information
  • Company cards are used by operators to retrieve data regarding their employees from the tachograph head. It also allows a company to lock information so that it cannot be subsequently obtained by another operator
  • Control cards are used by law enforcement agencies such as DVSA and the Police to retrieve data from the tachograph head. A control card overrides any company locks put in place by operators
  • Workshop cards are used by authorised tachograph technicians to fit and calibrate tachographs at authorised calibration centres

Digital tachographs work by storing digital data on the driver and vehicle in their own memory and separately on a driver’s smart card.

Transport undertakings must periodically download this data from the digital tachograph (known as the Vehicle Unit or VU) every 90 days and from driver cards every 28 days and analyse the information to ensure that the rules have been complied with.

When driving a vehicle fitted with a digital tachograph on a journey that is not in scope of EU/AETR rules it is recommended, but not legally required, to select ‘out-of-scope’ in the tachograph. Details of how to do this will be contained in the user manual for the model of tachograph fitted to your vehicle(s).

Driver cards and records

It is a legal requirement for a digital tachograph-equipped vehicle driven in the scope of EU rules that the driver must use a driver card.

If the vehicle is used without a card being inserted, the system will not prevent the vehicle from being driven, but the VU will record the fact that the vehicle has been used without a card.

Drivers may only be in possession of one driver’s smart card, and must never use anyone else’s card or allow another driver to use their card.

Drivers must inform the DVLA if their card bears incorrect details, for example after a change of name.

When driving a vehicle that is equipped with a digital tachograph, drivers should:

  • Ensure that the instrument is calibrated by inspecting the calibration plaque or interrogating the instrument.
  • Ensure that their driver card is inserted into the correct slot (driver in slot 1, second driver in slot 2 from the moment they take over the vehicle, and that it is ready for use before the vehicle is moved.
  • Record the country in which they begin and end their daily work period. This must always be carried out at the time of the start or end of the period, even if the card is not to be withdrawn or inserted (for example if the card is left in overnight).
  • Carry sufficient supplies of type-approved print roll onboard the vehicle so that a printout can be produced at an enforcement officer’s request.
  • Ensure that all duties conducted since the driver card was last removed from a tachograph are manually entered onto the card record, using the manual entry facility on the tachograph.
  • Ensure that the tachograph is working properly.
  • Ensure that through the daily working period the mode button is used correctly to record other work, periods of availability, and rest and breaks.
  • Take reasonable steps to protect their card from dirt and damage.
  • Use only their own personalised driver card to record driving and other activities they undertake.
  • Ensure that the card is not removed from the tachograph during the working day unless otherwise authorised. The rules are not specific on who can authorise the removal of the card, but cases, where cards can be removed, include a change of vehicle, or where another driver will be using the vehicle during a break or rest period.
  • On multi-manning operations ensure that their driver card is placed in the correct slot (slot 1 when they are acting as driver and slot 2 when co-driver on a double-manned journey) when they take over driving.
  • Make their cards available for downloading by their employer.
  • Be able to produce at the roadside:
  • 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
  • Sign a hard copy of data when required to do so by a DVSA examiner or a police officer

Mode switch default: Depending on the preferences entered into the digital tachograph at the time of calibration the digital tachograph can default to recording either ‘rest’ for driver 1 or driver 2 or ‘other work’ for driver 1 and ‘availability’ for driver 2 when the vehicle stops. Drivers must use the mode switch correctly to ensure that rest and break periods are recorded correctly.

How to apply for driver cards

You can apply for a digital card by going to the .Gov website online at the below link:

Apply for a digital tachograph driver smart card

Lost, stolen or malfunctioning driver cards

Digital tachograph cards have passed all relevant International Organization for Standardisation (ISO) qualified tests and security certification requirements. They are designed to work reliably and securely for their period of validity but, like all smart cards, can be damaged by abuse. Take care of your driver card – treat it as if it were a credit card and do not subject it to excessive force, bending or extremes of temperature.

Where it is impossible to use a driver card (e.g. where it has been lost, stolen or damaged or is malfunctioning) a driver may drive without the card for a maximum of 15 calendar days (or longer if this is necessary for the vehicle to be returned to its premises) provided that they produce 2 printouts – one at the start of the day and another at the end so long as there is no change of vehicle.

Where there is a change of vehicle then a printout will need to be taken at the start and end of the use of vehicle 1 and then a printout at the start and end of vehicle 2 and so on. All printouts must be marked with: -

  • The driver’s name or driver card or licence number, so the driver can be identified
  • Any manual entries needed to show periods of other work, availability, and rest or break
  • The driver’s signature

The driver must report the problem to DVLA and apply for a new card within seven calendar days.

Smart Tachographs – Driver Cards

As a driver, you may receive a new tachograph driver card that will record the additional information under the new legislation. This includes the data for the Start/End point, improvements to ferry mode, and recording the new events and faults.

The new card will work in all tachographs (including 1B current tachographs), and will record the new set of data as well as the data it collects now.

Current driver cards will work in smart tachographs, but will only record the driving set that applies to current legislation. It will be legally permitted to use current cards in a smart tachograph, but you will only be able to replace them with new smart driver cards.

For information on Smart Tachographs, visit - Overview