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Who needs to use a tachograph?

Tachographs are fitted in goods vehicles to enable the recording of drivers’ hours in accordance with EU Driving Regulations. There has been much topical debate surrounding the use of tachographs and more widely about the driving hours regulations in relation to the horse industry. As it stands there are two key factors which determine whether you must use a tachograph in your horsebox, as follows:
  • The gross weight of the vehicle
  • Whether the vehicle is used for commercial trading activities or private use

Vehicle gross weight and the tachograph

EU Drivers’ Hours regulations, and therefore the use of a tachograph, apply where a vehicle (and its trailer where applicable) exceeds 3.5 tonnes. However, exemptions apply to vehicles weighing up to 7.5 tonnes dependant on the use of the vehicle.

When must a tachograph be used?


Commercial Use

Private Use

3.5 tonne vehicles and below




3.51 tonne – 7.5 tonne vehicles



Vehicles over 7.5 tonnes


Vehicle trailer combinations over 3.5 tonnes


You will see that no exemptions are available on vehicles over 7.5 tonnes. Drivers of large horseboxes weighing over 7.5 tonnes need to be aware of this and use their tachograph. A maximum fine of £5,000 can be imposed by VOSA if you are found in breach of EU Drivers’ Hours legislation.

For the smaller vehicles, those weighing between 3.5 and 7.5 tonnes, the important distinction is between commercial and private use. This is a grey area and has been a much debated point in much of the equestrian press of late.

Private Use

The independent, hobby or amateur rider who transports his/her own horses for purposes that could not be considered as for financial gain.

The grey area here is the transporting of other peoples’ horses. This might commonly be lift sharing to a competition or training clinic. The exchange of money to cover fuel costs could be classed as financial reward, and therefore as commercial activity.

If in doubt, we recommend that you contact your local VOSA office and seek their clarification. As a private user you can apply to VOSA for an exemption certificate. It would be advisable to do this if you consider your use strictly private. Carry your certificate on your lorry for presentation to VOSA at any check points to ensure unilateral treatment by all VOSA inspectors.

If you are happy that your use is private and your vehicle weighs no more than 7.5 tonnes you will not be subject to the EU Drivers’ Hours regulations.

Commercial Use

The professional or semi-professional rider whose living is generated in whole or in part from the horses/ponies they transport in their vehicle. If you transport your horses and the horses of others in connection with your business, use of your vehicle will be considered commercial.

This includes event riders/show jumpers/dressage riders who receive training, livery and/or riders fees and/or some or all of any prize money. It includes horse transporters receiving a fee for the movement of their cargo. It includes yard owners and racehorse trainers who transport the horses of others for a fee. This list is not exhaustive, but as a general rule of thumb, if you are in receipt of financial reward in connection with the use of your horsebox then use will be deemed as commercial and you must comply with EU Drivers’ Hours regulations and therefore the use of a tachograph – for any vehicle over 3.5 tonnes.

Click here for EU Drivers’ Hours Regulations.

More Information

on Tachograph use

Last updated: 02/07/2010
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