Fleet News

Fleet Legislation: Do you need a tachograph? If you tow for your business you do

The weight of 3,500kg is vitally important as vehicles with a permitted Gross Train Mass in excess of 3,500kg are now required by European Law to obey EU Drivers Hours and Tachograph Law if the vehicle is used in connection with “hire and reward”(business use).

This will initially involve the fitting of a tachograph unit to record data about the activities of the driver and vehicle. Now for those who are not in the know, Gross Train Mass is defined as the weight of the vehicle, any trailer towed behind it and the weight imposed on the two.

As stated businesses need to be aware that in order to comply with the law they must have a fitted tachograph unit to some of their vehicles, and obey the driver hours regulations.

The problem is that neither the vehicle manufacturers, nor the tachograph manufacturers, have a solution for smaller vehicles.

By smaller vehicles we are referring to 4×4’s, pick-up trucks and cars: the work horses of business.

So how did this piece of legislation come about? Until recently all passenger cars had a Gross Train Mass of below 3,490kg and hence fell below the threshold of 3,500kg.

With the advances in technology the car manufacturers have been able to increase the capacities of the cars, and in some cases far in excess of 3,500kg. They have done this to allow people to tow larger caravans more safely, which is a definite bonus.

Note that the private use of these vehicles to tow a caravan will not require a tachograph to be fitted.

The problem arises with the purchase of these newer vehicles by the fleet industry. These vehicles are being used for business, and if a tow bar is attached to allow the transportation of goods in trailers by the business, then the vehicle falls within the regulations.

The big issue is that the car manufacturers have yet to produce a tachograph unit that is able to be fitted to their vehicles.

And herein is the crux of the matter - it is not illegal to sell cars without a tachograph as the manufacturers do not necessarily know the use the vehicle will be put to.

However, if you are using the vehicle, and you do not comply with the law, you will potentially be looking at prosecution.

There is some good news though; Fleet Risk Consultants is discussing tachographs being fitted with a number of manufacturers on its clients’ behalf.

If you tow trailers in connection with your business you should be raising the issue with your vehicle supplier.

So who does this piece of legislation apply to? Here are some vehicle types that have recently been included and will require tacographs:

  • Almost all the panel vans
  • 4 x 4 pick-ups
  • Sports Utility Vehicles (SUV) 

If you tow for business using any of the above, you need a tachograph.

Your individual use of vehicles and trailers may fall outside the regulations as there are a few exceptions available.

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  • Dave Crofts - 06/09/2012 13:04

    Really informative and easier to understand than the dvla. But rumours say all horses boxes need a tacho? I`m into competition, not a business, and tow a horse trailer with a ford f250, I can not get an answer as to if I am legal with weights, licenses, tachos or anything! Confused Dave

    • Gerry - 15/04/2015 18:27

      I believe you WILL fall under the rules for having a Tachograph fitted - as your involvement in horse competitions means you are using your trailer for hire or reward, ie you are presumably hoping to gain reward from using your trailer for transport to and from competition.

    • Dutts - 13/10/2016 11:45

      As i understand it you can compete and win a prize that covers expences and this is'nt classed as hire and reward so no tacho needed

  • Alan Carey - 27/12/2012 11:55

    yes very informative- but the fact that the tow bar(and ball) is fitted, does this make it illegall, just because it is possible to tow a trailer, or does it become illegal when it is being towed. I ask as I tow a trailer with vehicle (Ford Ranger 4x4) off road and I would not want the hassle of removing the tow ball from the vehicle every time i went on the road.

  • Big Gee - 18/01/2013 10:02

    I am totally confused, can any one help please. I tow a trailer which has a Trike and Hearse on it with a SWB Nissan Terrano and the total weight of both is under 3,500kg.. So the question is.. do I need a tachograph??

    • dave m - 22/01/2013 20:01

      @Big Gee - The short answer is no, unless you are towing the trailer to make money, ie, is this for hire or reward or as your employment? if its personal then no tacho required.

  • Simon Kaye - 21/01/2013 21:39

    I am not confused, I drive a Range Rover Sport and tow a 3,500 Taultliner twin axle Trailer and within the trailer I have my exhibition stand ' a business' I do not want to fit a tachogragh to my 2012 car, the question is can I use an old style drivers log book also when the trailer is empty is it under 'hire or reward' I am now confused. Does the traffic cops really know this legal requirement?

    • jon willl - 25/02/2013 22:17

      @Simon Kaye - It's not the traffic cops to worry about but vosa and yes they know their stuff. Its the Permissable mass that counts which if the vehicle/trailer combo is more than 3.5t and used for hire or reward, or more than 50km from home when carrying tools or equipment for your work, an approved tacho must be fitted and used. Thats a summary, it is a mind blowing minefield.

    • jon will - 25/02/2013 22:34

      just to add, transporting your own horse to an event in a vehicle/trailer combo of over 3.5t, you don't need a tacho, being paid to transport someone else's horse to the same event you would. If you admit it!

      • Barry Walsh - 20/11/2018 09:10

        Also probably needed if you transport a horse or pony that does not belong to you and you charge no fee. This is because there is perceived value (therefore reward) as a benefit in kind.

    • Steve - 22/04/2013 00:09

      @jon willl - vosa do know the law. I had a tachogragh fitted the week before they pulled me.

  • PAUL STANTON - 06/04/2013 07:07


  • Stephen Marshall - 09/04/2013 20:43

    Do the highways agency's 4x4 disco/shogun etc which have towbars have a tacho fitted? Also most of the disco's on the motorway have the commercial towing kit incorrectly fitted. You cannot use a jaw & pin type yoke in certain mount holes or with the plate fitted! See Land rover part details/fitting guide.

  • Patrick Kirk - 18/04/2013 10:51

    I have a Toyota Hi-Ace van 2700Kg GVW. I need to tow a compressor (800Kg) for my new business. 1, is a compressor classed as a trailer. 2,Will I need a Tacho fitted?

    • stephen marshall - 18/04/2013 23:00

      @Patrick Kirk - I think there is an exemption for tools & equipment? check with vosa but i think you are ok. You cannot tow the trailer with any materials on or empty even within the 50km radius without a tacho. lot of info on the net, none of it very clear! good luck

    • Patrick Kirk - 19/04/2013 08:24

      @stephen marshall - Thanks very much Stephen. Patrick.

  • mick jones - 18/04/2013 21:30

    Ive recently aquired a transit 280 swb and tow a ifor williams trl for my wee gardening buisness,only local travel, ie 20mls radious at the most, ive been told i can maybe do with just a log book,?...

    • stephen marshall - 18/04/2013 23:06

      @mick jones - you can probably tow your trailer with your tools & equipment on such as your mower but not items such as fertilser/grass cuttings or any materials (you will probably need some type of waste permit also if you carry cut grass)!!!! trawl the net loads of info available/contact vosa

  • Matt Johnson - 21/04/2013 21:10

    I tow a trailer carrying a mini digger with a toyota hilux. I then operate the digger during the day before returning to base. All within a 20 mile radius of base do I need a tachograph ?

  • Greig - 05/05/2013 22:21

    Hi, now I'm properly confused!! I own 6 vans in my cleaning & property maintenance company, 3 vans which are all car derived panel vans, inca, connect size have towbars for occasionally moving small trailers about with materials/scaffold/rubbish etc (have waste carriers already) i also have a 3.5ton vw, which i drive & pull the heavy stuff about.....I'm now being told that all vans fitted with towbar will require a tacho even though none are used for moving anyone else's stuff only our own. I've also been told that if one of my staff hasn't got trailer entitlement on their licence they/me could get into trouble if they drive one of the above as it's capable of towing a trailer, even though the girls out cleaning old Betty's house wouldn't even know how to hook up a trailer let alone want to!! Where do I stand? I'm getting conflicting advice... Thanks in advance

  • Theresa May - 08/05/2013 21:32

    I wonder if anyone at VOSE has ever heard of the idea that retrospective legislation is contrary to almost every tenet of natural justice?

  • neil - 09/05/2013 19:55

    i need to tow a 2400kg burger trailer around 12 miles in total daily. At the moment i use a pajero 2.5 but total wt is 4500kg. what do i need to drive to be legal?

  • Dazz - 13/05/2013 09:58

    Hi I Have X2 Breathing air trailers that weigh 2075kgs each, The Vans that i Have Are plated @ 2800kgs + 3500kgs im confused with whether i have to fit tacho graph machines to my vans. Thanks

  • gary isaacs - 28/07/2013 07:57

    i find this confusing. I have had the whole unit weighed with full tans and the eight is below 3500 but i do tow for reward as they say.. do i need a tachograph?? i use the vehicle for my own personal use not just for work.

  • paul mackie - 08/11/2013 18:15

    well even more expense for the little men up and down the country. dont these people- far removed from the real world- realise how bloody hard it is to earn a crust. this just causes more problems.

  • phil lidster - 12/12/2013 06:33

    My company say I can tow a 1.5 ton digger without a tac card aslong as I'm not going more than 15 mile,is this info correct?

    • - 18/01/2014 18:45

      @Bobb55 -

  • Airmasters - 13/12/2013 17:32

    I am looking to buy a new VW T32 Transporter, i occasionally need to tow a trailer, over the 50km from base & for hire & reward - so i understand i need a tacho. my question is: do i need to use the tacho for the 90% of the time when i am not towing?

  • Martin Weller - 08/01/2014 12:31

    I own a 3.5t Transit that I use for light haulage (Man & a van type stuff) My daughter has asked if I will tow her horsebox for her to her events that is purely a hobby. Very little, or no money is involved. Do I need a tacho??

    • bristol_bri - 08/01/2014 14:13

      @Martin Weller - If usage is purely private and the Transit and horsebox combined do not weigh more than 7.5 tonnes then you do not need a tacho. However, if you are paid for the work, even to cover the cost of fuel, this could be seem as a commercial transaction and you might need to have a tacho. It's always best to double check with your local VOSA office.

    • arthur thompson - 27/02/2014 15:35

      @bristol_bri - hi if your van has writing on sides and you have towbar fitted you need a tacho even if not towing a trailer - unwritten vans with towbars can be exempt if you prove its for social use only

    • Gareth - 28/02/2014 09:22

      @arthur thompson - Sorry to correct you Arthur, but I've checked with the FTA and whether a van is signwritten or not, and has a towbar, it has no bearing whatsoever on whether a tachograph is required.

    • John Gibson - 13/01/2015 08:25

      @arthur thompson - that's not the case. Sign written vehicles or un signed written vehicles have no bearing within tacho law.

  • Michael Ives - 09/01/2014 16:36

    does a 50 kilometre rule apply ie driving within 50km radius of your base ? I think not but my co-workers think it applies.

  • Bobb55 - 10/01/2014 13:39

    If has to have a tacho, will it have to have a speed limiter as well if it goes over 3500kg's?

  • Oli DIxey - 27/02/2014 09:18

    I want to pick up a new land rover for our company with my own personal land rover on a trailer. I won't be charging the company as I'm a joint owner of the company. My question is if I'm not charging (hire or reward) do I need a taco fitted and use it?

  • Peter Bale - 28/02/2014 16:54

    Not only that but, if you tow a trailer with your 4x4 for example, for business, and this exceeds 3500kg I think that the driver should, from September require a drivers CPC???

    • Melissa - 13/03/2014 03:35

      @Peter Bale - What's a CPC? We are moving over from Ausrtalia and its all very confusing with tachos etc, and then what if you drive the 4wd and trailer to Europe too?

  • Melissa - 13/03/2014 03:33

    so as someone else mentioned , if you have a Range Rover towing a horsebox that can weigh up to 3500kgs, so the combined mass of car and trailer is well over 3500 then a tacho must be fitted to the Range Rover, when the trailer is being used for business purposes (not if it is carry a horse to a show). So when trailer is uncoupled and the car is driven privately does the tacho need to be working, or do you turn it off?

  • Austin Kearns - 13/03/2014 23:11

    I have a 2008 Transit Tipper and I want to Tow a Trailer carrying Turf /muck do I need a tacho fitted if so who does this work and what is the cost

  • michael odonnell - 14/03/2014 16:54

    I use a ssangyong rodius and a trailor to carry vehicles for my business (I'm a sole trader), do I need a tacho

  • Tom - 21/04/2014 16:46

    I am intending to buy a van and trailer to start my own business from home , i know i would need a tacho fitted but would i also need an operators license as well ?

  • Tony - 22/04/2014 15:28

    doues that mean if i drive my ducato maxi with a gross gvw 3.5tons do i have to have a tacograth fitted

  • John Milne - 02/05/2014 01:20

    You say, carrying goods in a trailer, well I tow Generators, up to 3 ton, stage trailers 2.5 ton, and tow them on the back of a van and a 4x4, i have thought that these are exempt from tacho's

    • George - 01/06/2014 16:49

      @John Milne - I'm looking at buying a stage trailer and the tacho aspect and possible operators licence issue is starting to put me off ! I saw a comment somewhere that you can tow to a certain distance from "base" before needing a tacho ? I could be splitting hairs but the stage business won't own the towing vehicle and the tower won't be paid for towing the stage. Could be a Rumpole of the Bailey case !

    • james mason - 07/06/2014 18:58

      @George - you can tow up to a 50k radius without a tacho.

    • Chris Govier - 09/07/2014 12:01

      @james mason - hey hi...where did you see that legislation saying about the 50k without tacho..because if it's a real rule/law then it will be written down somewhere? Let me know please..cheers Chris in Wales

  • david allan - 25/05/2014 20:49

    I tow a dando drilling rig with my land rover do I need a tachograph

  • Richard Farrugia LAE M.I.M.I. - 02/06/2014 22:03

    What is the difference between private use and business in respect of road safety? Is'nt a private vehicle just as dangerous as a vehicle used for business?

  • James mason - 07/06/2014 18:55

    Dont need a tacho if you work within a 50k radius of your yard. This applies to vans/4x4 towing trailers not hgv's.

  • Donald Duck - 24/06/2014 13:00

    Yet another way to get money out of poor people. This EU government are destryoing this country. You will need a licance to breath next.

  • Aidan Keely - 07/07/2014 23:45

    It would be good t date the article and cite legislation too.

  • Danny wade - 18/07/2014 04:49

    How does anyone determine if your towing for personal use or hire an reward?

  • Dave Eagles - 06/09/2014 17:11

    I currently tow a catering trailer with a 2005 pick up. I have been told that because I tow within 25 miles of home and normally tow 2 miles per day mon-fri I do not require a tachometer. Can I just keep a paper log of when I'm towing?

  • John Woolley - 25/09/2014 15:34

    I tow a trailer for business for less than 5 min a day (from a garage to a site round the corner) do I need a tachograph to be fitted

  • Neil Munday - 04/10/2014 12:17

    I currently have an analogue tacho in my 4x4 (Nissan Patrol) however my vehicle is aging and I wish to change I need to fit a digital tacho to whatever vehicle I buy. However I have Qs with no answers. 1/ is there a list of kits available and to which 4x4s they will fit and where can I find this online. 2/ I use my tacho when towing my trailers on the back of my family car. currently I use this only when towing over 50KM single trip or 25KM each way on a return trip = 50KM. The rest of the time I`m out of scope I know that the digital tacho records movement whatever but how can it be turned off when, out of scope, towing my caravan, driving to the shops or the wife driving (she only drives with the caravan on occasionally)? 3/ Does my wife need a digital tacho card when driving our car (not towing for reward as stated above only driving solo vehicle out of scope or towing our private caravan on holiday). Do not need this complication of recording other journeys only those in relation to my business, particularly if it affects the wife as she will not be in the least bit interested in my hobby business activities (Public address and community radio roadshow etc) weekend only. please advise.

  • S Freeman - 04/10/2014 21:26

    With reference to the 50k radius, the 50k is as the crow flyers but that only applies to the owner of the vehicle an employee can only drive half of that, however if don't have a tachometer and drive more than 41/2 hours a day occasionally you are required to record it. Information supplied by VOSA

    • Neil Munday - 05/10/2014 18:57

      @S Freeman - hi yes in my case i`m classified as a sole trader. i run a public address company and tow the commentary box plated 2000Kgs i travel max 1.5 / 2 hours in any direction for 2 events a year over 50km the rest are well within 50km. My wife would only tow my trailers if an emergency eg i`m hospitalised and the gear needs returning to home. This tacho thing makes it difficult for this to happen which worries me insurance wise.

  • Neil Munday - 07/10/2014 17:39

    With costs for a 4x4 up to £2000 for the tacho equipment , readers and cards etc and the effect on other members of the family driving the family car. The effect on small business the farming community and others is becoming unsustainable. Please support this e-petition and promote some sensible discussion. http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/70380

    • IAN NOLAN - 09/12/2014 09:39

      @Neil Munday - we can supply a tachograph system for less than £1000. the tacho system is here to stay we cant fight it. lets make more use of the ability to earn money from a vehicle that can compete with other more expensive vehicles above 7.5tonne. I have to also mention that is is a great skill to be able to reverse these trailers and in the hands of an idiot may cause a lot of damage. in the hands of a competent driver great money can be made.

    • Neil Munday - 01/01/2015 11:54

      @IAN NOLAN - Thanks Ian. I`ve decided to invest in a rebuild of my existing 4x4 with all new suspension slightly hardened to cope better with the towing than the standard one size fits all suspension fitted by the manufacturer which is getting spongy! Some general replacement of guards etc and a full re underseal and oil replacement on F&R diffs, transfer gearbox and auto gear box. As I`m relatively low mileage this is worth doing. But thank you for your suggestion. Neil

  • Gerry - 11/10/2014 01:10

    I tow a trailer sometimes at 1.2 ton for business with a 4x 4 , If l record my time or start mileage and breaks would this be legal, like the old log books on trucks. to buy a taco it would not be worth the cost to fit . common sence needs to be used here.

    • Neil Munday - 13/10/2014 20:56

      @Gerry - If your gross Train Weight is 3500kgs or above for example add the trailer gross weight 1200kgs to your 4x4 laden weight then Yes and log books wont do any more on there own. This is why this is crazy I run a small business at the weekend I don`t earn much from it just some good fun and enjoyment yet my family car has to have a tacho to allow me to do this "hobby" business. talk about stifle people trying to live and have fun - oh by the way I supply small public address systems and commentate on classic and custom cars, lorries, buses and traction engines plus anything else that essentially moves!! please support my epetition http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/70380

  • Graham Mitchell-Rowlands - 30/12/2014 20:00

    A pickup truck under 3.5 tons being used to deliver machines to my customers, will this require a tachograph?

    • Fleet News - 30/12/2014 20:24

      @Graham Mitchel l-Rowlands - we have now launched a new tachograph compliance checker - http://www.fleetnews.co.uk/tools/tachograph/ - which will give you a starting point for your research.

  • Dai - 16/01/2015 20:02

    First paragraph, second line - are you missing a 'train' between 'gross' and 'mass' ? As if I'm not confused enough already !!

  • Kevin marshall - 31/01/2015 17:00

    Can any body tell me how much I can tow with a 4,500 kg truck many thanks

  • john livingstone - 12/03/2015 07:31

    If u need to fit a tacho do u also req a operators licence when using a van and trailer.also when not towing and using vehicle for private use are tachos still used.

    • christopher.smith - 12/03/2015 07:40

      @john livingstone - this new article may help with O-licences: http://www.fleetnews.co.uk/fleet-management/towing-the-line-a-guide-to-the-law-governing-the-towing-of-trailers-by-vehicles-up-to-35-tonnes/55087/

  • Stuart Brumbill - 28/04/2015 14:40

    hi , we have a gully tanker which is tacho exempt , but we need to travel to Liverpool from the midlands , Should we be using a tacho for that type of distance ?

  • Gary Pitson - 20/07/2015 18:44

    I drive a Ford Transit pick up and also tow in this vehicle. Do I require to use a tachograph.

  • Graeme Foster - 24/07/2015 19:49

    I work for a company that hires out trailers. Although these trailers are 750kg or less do I need a towing licence and tacho to deliver the trailer to a customer being that they are hired

  • Peter - 31/08/2015 19:14

    I tow an American AIrstream unit that is fitted out with shelves and carries no stock , I use a 4x4 to tow this unit do I need a tachograph. The total mass of both units is 6 tonnes

  • Peter - 31/08/2015 19:16

    I tow an American airstreaM catering u it that is fitted as a kitchen with a 4x4 both units weigh less than 6 tonnes combined do I need a tachograph

  • Steven mitchell - 02/09/2015 17:49

    If I store a trailer over 100k from my house and have a contract to prove that it's kept there for work in the area would I need the tachograph to drive there and use it within a 20 mile radius for work?

  • Steven mitchell - 02/09/2015 17:52

    If I store a trailer over 100k from my house and have a contract to prove its there and travel to it to use it for work in a 20mile radius would I still need a tachograph?

  • Shaun Excell - 27/04/2016 14:01

    My business if waste disposal of sewage. Are we exempt from using tachographs and if so are we able to go straight onto using a weekly log book

  • John K - 25/05/2016 00:05

    The rules on this are really not difficult. If the maximum gross weight of your combination is over 3500kg and you are using it for work then you need a tachograph. Distance covered and sign writing make no difference. Just having a tow ball fitted does not count, you have to be towing. Even if the vehicle and trailer are empty it is the maximum permissible weight that counts just add up the mvw's on the vehicle and trailer plates. Also check the rating of your tow hitch, most 50mm ball hitches are only rated at 2000kg. Another important point is that even if the vehicle manufacturers say your pick up can tow 3500kg for example it might not be legal in this country. You are not allowed in the UK to tow a trailer that exceeds the weight of the towing vehicle and the highway codes recommends not going over 85% of the vehicle kerb weight. If in any doubt just ask VOSA they are very willing to help.

  • ian - 18/07/2016 21:57

    I drive a transit for the company I work for fitted with a towbar and passed my driving test in 2001 .where do I stand in towing

  • Gary S Smith - 20/07/2016 13:16

    If you have a taco fitted in a vehicle under 3.5T as ou have a tow bar and sometimes when the trailer is on exceeds 3.5T. If the van is without the trailer do you still need to insert the taco card? Also if you after doing a delivery while using taco, then put the trailer on the vehicle and its under 3.5T, do you still need to have your taco in ?

  • dave - 24/07/2016 00:33

    hi to all reading this if a taxi driver works 60 hours a week and drivers for 59 hours why isnt he subjuect to tacho law? after all taxi drivers think they own the roads.

  • tom - 26/08/2016 10:58

    Hi we are hire company our standby driver can tow a trailer on his license up to 3500kg combined he does not have a tacho card or cps , if he was tow a 1.5 ton digger putting his combined weight to 3750kg is he allowed if its within the 100km radios ? also if not would he get a fine and points or just a fine if stopped by vosa ?

  • pete - 24/11/2016 15:23

    HI can you help , I work for a utility company and tow a mini digger from job to job ,do I need a tacho fitted .

  • Paul - 02/05/2017 22:19

    hi there, i need information and help regarding a tacho for a sprinter van and box trailer. I work for a bicycle race team. The van and trailer are from the UK and the combination is used at most 20 times a year, throughout Europe. But it is also used without the trailer a number of times. During those times i shouldn't need a tacho. Then we also have staff coming from America, who drive the van only. So do they switch it off some how for their use getting to events? I am struggling to find an answer.

  • Nigel Boyle - 30/04/2018 12:58

    In the first paragraph this article states '..if the vehicle is used for hire and reward' and in brackets says Business Use. These are two different things. Hire and Reward is, for example, a courier company or a taxi firm. The inferance of the article is that all business are affected; however ones carrying their own goods are not doing so for Hire and Reward. Clarity is needed please.

  • John Brown - 16/10/2018 20:58

    I think that THE law should be here very easy on OCCASIONAL users when someone need to tow a trailer . Even if professional "digger" will need to tow his machinery to any location (even more than 50 miles) every day than do THE work of digging . At the end of the day he should be free and happy to tow it back to his location.Without tachograph installed. The legislation , I believe, is tailored for PROFESSIONAL drivers and not for those who do NOT drive hours and hours for driving.

  • Edward - 17/10/2018 07:04

    I have a tacho fitted to my 4x4 as it's a company vehicle and we tow demo agricultural machinery. Is my card required to be in tacho on days working but not towing.

  • andy moore - 21/08/2020 21:34

    Hi i have a cayenne at weighing 2300 kg can i legally tow a car transporter that can tow 2300 kg without a tacho

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