Operator's Frequently Asked Questions

  1. I am new to vehicle operating, what do I need to get started?
    (Operating Licence)
  2. I am new to vehicle operating, what do I need to get started?
    (Digital or Paper Systems)
  3. How do I keep Working Time Directive (WTD) records?
  4. What sort of tachograph charts do I need?
  5. I am the Transport Manager do I have to check the charts or digital data myself?
  6. What do I need if I maintain my own or other peoples vehicles and trailers?
  7. How do I schedule my vehicles for inspection and maintenance?
  8. How can I keep my charts or digital data safe for one year?
  9. Which vehicles in my fleet must have vehicle height indicators?
  10. How often should my vehicles be checked for defects?
  11. How do I record my time if I drive on domestic hours rules?
  12. How can I, and my drivers, be sure of the EU Hours and Tacho rules?
  13. Useful Government Documents (PDF format)

1. I am new to vehicle operating, what do I need to get started?

You need an Operating Licence if you intend to “use” a vehicle of over 3,500Kg (3.5tons) gross vehicle weight, on a road, to carry goods (or burden), which is connected with any trade or business.

There are 3 types of operator licence:


2a. I am new to vehicle operating, what do I need to get started?
I have an old paper chart tachograph system

You will need paper tachograph charts (check the speed rating), to ensure that the correct chart for the vehicle type and speed rating is being used, and a wallet to securely store charts for the previous 28 calendar days (your legal minimum to be held in the cab). Charts must be handed in to employers no later than 42 days. In the office you will need to store the last 12 month's charts for legal record keeping purposes however if the charts are also used to record the Working Time Directive, the charts will need to be retained for 24 months. Check out the Wallets & Chart Storage section. You will also need some form of defect reporting system, such as our Driver Defect Report Pads. This is the minimum you will require to operate an analogue equipped vehicle. Remember if your vehicle has a travelling height over 3 metres, then you will also need a vehicle height indicator.

2b) I have a digital tachograph system

You need all the items described above but WITHOUT the paper tachograph charts. Instead all drivers MUST have 'Driver's Cards' available by obtaining an application form from the DVLA. [Tel: 03007906109]. Call us for support and training on digital tacho operation or see our Driver's Handbook. Operators will also need to apply for a Company card. This will allow the Vehicle Unit (VU) data to be downloaded (a requirement every 90 days) to a download key. To access the data on both the drivers’ card and the VU, software will be required. All the necessary equipment to assist you in this process is available on our web site.

Legal requirements include having a spare Digiroll in the cab, as the requirements state that there should be sufficient paper in the VU to allow a printout to be taken at the roadside, by an enforcement officer. Other requirements are that the downloading of driver's cards should take place at least every 28 days and also downloading the tachograph in the vehicle (the VU) at least every 90 days. For options and all the legally required items see our Digital Tachograph section. Downloaded data is copied and not removed from either the driver card or the VU however, after 28 days the data on the driver card can start to be overwritten.

3. How do I keep Working Time Directive (WTD) records?

If you follow the guidance in our recently updated Guide to Working Time Directive, it explains how using the times taken from the tachograph chart, helps to provide some of the basic data you will need. If you don'tt have your charts analysed, then you can use a Chart Checker to check drive and work times, then enter them into our Weekly Report Books (WTD). That will then provide the records needed for the Working Time Directive regulations. Use the Chart Analysis Books  in the office to keep a running total for all mobile staff and assist in the average calculations. If you need simple guidance on the Working Time Directive regulations, drivers’ hours and tachographs please see our WTD Page which now includes the practical aspects of Working Time Directive compliance.

4. What sort of tachograph charts do I need?

It is an offence to use the wrong chart in your tachograph. There are two styles of holes: LK pear shaped and VR with three holes.

The LK type has pear shaped holes whereas VR types have 3 holes (a large centre hole + 2 smaller ones). You should ensure you choose the right type of chart by checking the tachograph itself to match whether it is a mix of manual or automatic / Electronic or Mechanical. The law requires that the code shown on the label in the tachograph, that begins with an e, such as e1 46, that same code must also on the tachograph chart in use.

Tacho Speed Ratings - The speed rating of pear shaped centred charts need to be checked by looking at the speedometer part of the tachograph and noticing the figure shown after "Max Speed". This could be 125kph (the most common) or 140kph or 180kph for lighter vehicles / weight.

All our charts comply with the quality standards for tacho charts. Don't forget to check your stock or leave a re-order note when down to your last few boxes. You can't afford to run out!

5. I am the Transport Manager do I have to check the charts or digital data myself?

The law obliges the operator to ensure that the drivers are not breaking the hours and tacho rules. If you feel sufficiently knowledgeable about the rules then general advice is to quickly look through all the charts coming in, but where offences like not taking breaks, or driving too many hours could occur, these charts need to be checked more accurately with a chart checker. If you are not an expert on drivers' hours, then to protect your operating licence, and to remain compliant with the undertakings of your licence, you may consider using our chart analysis bureau. For a competitive charge you can view analysed data via the internet, showing infringements so that they can be pointed out to the driver and, if necessary, disciplinary action taken. Paper charts can be sent through the post and digital data can be automatically uploaded to our web site. The analysed data can then be available to view on the web site, or in print. Remember that you must maintain a record of which charts are away for analysis, as they may be required by DVSA for inspection. Doing nothing is not an option!

6. What do I need if I maintain my own or other peoples vehicles and trailers?

You should be familiar with two publications which are the enforcement authorities "bibles": "The Guide to Maintaining Road Worthiness" and "The Heavy Goods Vehicle Inspection Manual".

These guides give you the necessary technical guidance, and our forms allow you to record and so, show the authorities that you are following the required system. First the vehicle operator must schedule inspections and maintenance according to the licensing authorities’ requirements for the length of time between inspections. Our wall planning chart for the operator is ideal for this task. The workshop should either have their own copy or sight of the main wall planner. On the date of the inspection a full check of the vehicle or trailer needs to be made whilst completing the inspection form at the same time. Any noted defects must then be dealt with either in the workshops or perhaps by a contractor and when complete, the form signed off to say the vehicle is in road worthy condition and any required rectification has been carried out to a satisfactory standard. Note that the judgement is being made that part worn items will last at least until the time of the next inspection. The safety inspection and maintenance forms include all the items in an annual test, so for this all important test these forms will ensure that nothing obvious is missed, leading to a test failure which is recorded against your OCRS (Operator Compliance Risk Score) and the number and nature of failures, is always taken into account when applying for any variation of your licence. High failure rates may well trigger a visit by DVSA to your operating centre.

7. How do I schedule my vehicles for inspection and maintenance?

If you don't maintain the vehicles yourself you must have a planner which shows the agreed schedule of inspection and maintenance which meets your licence requirements intervals and your garages availability. You should have a written contract with your garage, but the responsibility of the condition of the vehicles on the road remains with you. Common sense suggests that your responsibility includes checking the garages standard of work and its ability to keep to its schedules. You must have a defect reporting system in place so that you can show when minor defects are found they are rectified to the correct standard. A walk round by the driver at the start of every shift looking for defects is a legal requirement to ensure the vehicle is in a roadworthy condition. DVSA now take a dim view when these daily checks are not carried out by drivers and operators could be taken to task for failure to comply. Also, showing that defects have been dealt with swiftly either at the operating centre by your own staff, or by another competent person, is very important.

8. How can I keep my charts or digital data safe for one year?

This is an important part of the record keeping requirements, as they may be inspected any time in that period by the enforcement authorities. One of the three systems Tachopak has designed should meet your requirements. If you have a filing cabinet a suspended file will hold a year’s charts, with pockets for each month. The file can be for each driver or each vehicle, most prefer by driver. If you do not have a suspended filing system you could use a shelf file. This has enough pockets for 2 drivers for a year. It is also possible to use envelopes, one per week, and then file them in the tachobox. If you send charts for analysis it is good system to keep used charts in a weekly envelope, this will ensure that charts are kept together, during transit and at the analysis bureau. These products can also be used to store any digi roll printouts made, which again will need to be retained for 12 months. You need to keep all digital data that has been downloaded backed up in a file.

9. Which vehicles in my fleet must have vehicle height indicators?

All vehicles that have, or could have, a travelling height over 3 metres (9ft 10in) must have an in-cab height indicator shown in feet and inches. Our indicators can have varying heights shown, so is ideal for vehicles like artic units that could have different travelling heights dependant on which trailer they are coupled with. This regulation was designed to stop the continuing numbers of “bridge bashing” incidents. Bridge clearances are continuing to be shown in feet and inches but our indicator has a simple metric/imperial converter so when concerned about a garage canopy or other height obstruction shown in metres, you won't be risking your vehicle and a big bill from the owner of the structure!

10. How often should my vehicles be checked for defects?

Every time a driver takes over a vehicle and routinely during the day to ensure no defects have developed. Our defect books (available for both LGV & PCV), include a check list of key standard items which need checking, but if you had additional equipment like a crane or tail-lift or trailers or loads which needed regular checking, then a standing instruction could be produced on your own label which could then be shown as completed in the book. Many operators use a "Nil Defect System" so every day the daily checks are ticked and nil is written in the defects reported section. Other drivers may just complete the visual inspection and only record defects if found. It is vital to complete the book so the driver can show he has discharged his duty. The top copy must be given to the person authorised to complete the repair, or their supervisor, and the defect book signed off when the repair is completed and the vehicle is road worthy again. This will allow evidence to be produced to DVSA that the checks and any rectifications are being carried out. All defect records and rectification of defects should be retained for a minimum of 15 months, to allow inspection by DVSA.

11. How do I record my time if I drive on domestic hours rules?

Not many drivers fall within Domestic Hours rules but if you work for a local authority, or do other specialist tasks or, drive some smaller buses then you should check with your employer that you are operating under these rules. If you do and you need to record your hours then you need to complete a SR15 driver’s logbook the format of which is standard. The Domestic Hours rules are simple in that you must not be on duty for longer than 11 hours or drive for more than 10 hours in any day. No other rules apply unless you have driven using a tacho for any part of the week in which case you must also comply with EU rules!

12. How can I, and my drivers, be sure of the EU Hours and Tacho rules?

Whilst they are complicated, if you wanted a simple easy to follow driver's guide to the key elements of the Hours and Tacho rules, you could buy our Easy-to-read Driver Handbook and ensure all your drivers had a copy. You could even test them to see if they have a complete understanding! A comprehensive, easy to understand guide to drivers’ hour’s rules is available in our Drivers Handbook, which also contains relevant information on many other topics. Designed with drivers in mind it is the essential tool for keeping you legal.
Further information.

13. Useful Government Documents

An up to date full version of rules on Drivers Hours and Tachographs can be found here:
» Goods and Vehicles Hours

An up to date full version of the Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness can be found here:
» Maintaining Roadworthiness (PCV)

An up to date version of the Heavy Goods Vehicle Inspection Manual can be viewed here:
» Heavy Goods Vehicle Inspection Manual


  1. Restricted: to allow the carriage of your own goods throughout the EC
  2. Standard National: allows carriage of goods for “hire and reward” within the UK
  3. Standard International : allows carriage of goods for “hire & reward within the EC
    1. CPC holder: professionally competent person employed to manage the operation. In the case of a sole trader or partnership, the applicant can be that person. Applicable for Hire and Reward operations.
      Not required for carrying own goods (Restricted)
    2. Operating centre: base where the vehicles will operate from and be parked, if land is not owned or leased, written permission to operate must exist
    3. Maintenance requirements: Details of how vehicle maintenance is to be carried out. Whether in house or using an external facility, where a signed agreement must be in place.
    4. Finances:
      - Standard National and Standard International Licence: the ability to demonstrate sufficient funding is available to ensure that vehicle maintenance will be carried out. Currently £7000 for the first vehicle and £3900 for subsequent vehicles. Restricted Licence: Currently £3100 for the first vehicle and £1700 for subsequent vehicles.
      - Restricted Licence: Currently £3100 for the first vehicle and £1700 for subsequent vehicles.
    5. Good repute: a company or individual applying for an operator’s licence must demonstrate that they are of good repute, as must any nominated transport managers
    6. Application process: applicants must submit a GV79 to the Traffic Commissioners Office in the area they wish to operate. It is recommended that you apply for an operator licence at least 9 weeks before you wish to start operating. You must advertise your application in local newspapers where you are applying and the advert must run 21 days prior to and 21 days after your application for a licence.

      You must agree to the undertakings specified on your licence in terms of ensuring that drivers’ hours’ rules, speed limits and overloading of vehicles is monitored and all the legislation is complied with.

      Defect reporting and rectification are very important aspects of operating vehicles and as such, operators must ensure that driver’s carryout daily vehicle checks and any defects are reported to a competent person and that any rectification is carried out correctly and paperwork annotated to show this has taken place. Maintenance and inspection records along with any rectification records must be retained for inspection by DVSA for a minimum of 15 months.