If you drive a goods vehicle or a passenger-carrying vehicle you must follow the rules on how many hours you can drive and the breaks that you need to take..
- Rules for employers
- Goods vehicles
- Passenger-carrying vehicles
- Exemptions from EU law
- EU rules
- AETR rules
- GB domestic rules
- Driving under both EU and GB domestic rules
If you drive a goods vehicle or a passenger-carrying vehicle you must follow the rules on how many hours you can drive and the breaks that you need to take.
There are 3 sets of rules that could apply to your journey:
The rules that apply depend on:
- the type of vehicle you’re driving
- which country you’re driving in
If you drive under the EU or GB domestic drivers’ hours rules, you also need to follow the working time rules.
If you’re an employer of drivers or mobile workers there are more rules you must follow.
There are different drivers’ hours rules in Northern Ireland.
If you do not follow the rules
If you break the drivers’ hours rules, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) can give you:
- a verbal warning, for minor offences made by accident or because of inexperience
- an offence rectification notice, for offences which are not a risk to road safety - you’ll have 21 days to fix the issue
- a prohibition notice, for serious or dangerous offences - you must stop a dangerous activity or start following the regulations
- a fine or points on your licence (a ‘fixed penalty’) – the amount depends on how serious the offence is
You can be prosecuted for very serious or multiple offences.
DVSA can give you further penalties (such as an improvement or prohibition notice) if you also break the working time rules.
You can ask for an emergency exemption from the rules. Read the guidance on emergency exemption and temporary relaxation of drivers’ hours and working time rules.
Drivers’ hours checklists
You can also print out the ‘Staying legal’ checklists, which cover the basic rules:
Rules for employers
If you employ drivers or other mobile workers, you must:
- keep drivers’ hours records for at least one year
- make sure they are properly trained and understand the rules
- organise their time so that they can follow the rules
- check your drivers’ hours records and data
- monitor your workers’ working time
Mobile workers are:
- drivers - including employed drivers, own-account drivers and agency drivers
- members of the vehicle crew, for example a second driver on a coach
- anyone else who is part of the travelling staff, for example a bus conductor, a drayman or a security guard aboard a vehicle carrying high-value goods
The rules that apply to goods vehicles depend on the weight of your vehicle, the country you’re driving in and what you’re using the vehicle for.
EU rules apply if the maximum permissible weight of your vehicle or vehicle combination is more than 3.5 tonnes and you’re driving in any of the following:
- the EU (including the UK)
- an European Economic Area (EEA) country
Some vehicles are exempt from EU rules when driven in the UK.
AETR (European Agreement Concerning the Work of Crews Engaged in International Road Transport) rules apply if your vehicle will pass through an AETR country.
GB domestic rules
GB domestic rules apply if both the following are true:
- the maximum permissible weight of your vehicle or vehicle combination is under 3.5 tonnes
- your vehicle is exempt from EU rules when driven in the UK
If you’ll be driving through a country outside of the UK, EU, EEA or Switzerland, you should contact the UK embassy of the country to check on local rules.
Read Goods vehicles: rules on drivers’ hours and tachographs for the main rules.
Read the rules for drivers’ hours in the recovery vehicle industry.
You can also print out the ‘Staying legal’ leaflet, which includes checklists covering the basic rules.
There are specific rules for tachographs and horse boxes or trailers.
If you’re driving a vehicle that carries passengers the rules that apply to you depend on:
- the number of passenger seats
- how far you’re driving (the distance of your route)
- if you’re driving to or from another country
- if you’re driving on a regular or a non-regular service
A regular service follows a specified route, with stopping points for passengers to get on or off.
Public service vehicles (PSV)
A public service vehicle is a vehicle that’s used to carry passengers for hire or payment.
|Type of operation||8 or fewer passenger seats||9 to 12 passenger seats||13 to 16 passenger seats||17 or more passenger seats|
|Regular service on route not exceeding 50km||GB domestic rules||GB domestic rules||GB Domestic rules||GB Domestic rules|
|National or international regular service on route exceeding 50km||The local rules of the countries you drive in (GB domestic rules in the UK)||EU/AETR rules||EU/AETR rules||EU/AETR rules|
|National or international non-regular service for example commercial excursions, tours or private hire||The local rules of the countries you drive in (GB domestic rules in the UK)||EU/AETR rules||EU/AETR rules||EU/AETR rules|
Other passenger-carrying vehicles
You do not need to follow any drivers’ hours rules if you drive a police, fire service or armed forces vehicle.
If you drive for a different public authority or for a business, and your vehicle is a non-PSV with:
- up to 8 passenger seats - you do not need to follow any drivers’ hours rules
- 9 or more passenger seats - you must follow the EU rules (unless your vehicle is exempt from EU law)
If you drive a ‘non-commercial’ vehicle
You drive a non-commercial vehicle if:
- passengers are not charged to use the vehicle
- you and any other workers are not paid to operate or work in the vehicle
- the vehicle is not used professionally or commercially
If your vehicle has up to 8 passenger seats, you do not need to follow any drivers’ hours rules.
If your vehicle has 9 or more passenger seats, you usually need to follow the EU rules. You need to follow GB rules instead if your vehicle has between 10 and 17 passenger seats and is only used for non-commercial journeys.
If you use your vehicle outside the UK
If you drive between the UK and another country and your vehicle has:
- up to 8 passenger seats - you must follow the local rules for the country you’re driving in
- 9 or more passenger seats - you must follow the EU or the European Agreement Concerning the Work of Crews of Vehicles Engaged in International Road Transport (AETR) rules
Read Passenger vehicles: rules on drivers’ hours and tachographs for the main rules.
You can also print out the ‘Staying legal’ leaflet, which includes checklists covering the basic rules.
Exemptions from EU law
Some types of vehicle are exempt from EU rules. This means they come under GB domestic rules in the UK.
The main types of exempt vehicle are:
vehicles that cannot go faster than 40 kilometres per hour, including vehicles that are restricted by a set speed limiter
emergency aid vehicles - vehicles used in the non-commercial transport of humanitarian aid for use in emergencies or rescue operations
breakdown vehicles - specialised breakdown vehicles working within a 100km of their base
vehicles undergoing road tests for technical development, repair or maintenance purposes, and new or rebuilt vehicles which have not yet been put into service
vehicles manufactured more than 25 years ago
vehicles used by agricultural, horticultural, forestry, farming or fishery businesses for carrying goods within 100km of where the business is based
vehicles that are used to carry live animals between a farm and a market, or from a market to a slaughterhouse where the distance is less than 100km
vehicles that are used to carry animal waste or carcasses that are not intended for human consumption
educational vehicles, for example play buses and mobile libraries
vehicles or combinations of vehicles with a maximum permissible weight of 7.5 tonnes or less that are used for carrying work equipment for the driver where the distance is less than 100km
vehicles driven only on islands whose area does not exceed 2,300 square kilometres
vehicles with a maximum weight of 7.5 tonnes which use natural or liquefied gas or electricity as fuel and carry goods within 50km from their base
driving instruction or exams - vehicles used for driving instruction and examination. Includes instruction for renewal of Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC)
circus vehicles - specialised vehicles transporting circus and funfair equipment
milk collection - vehicles used for collecting milk from farms or returning milk containers or milk products for animal feed to farms
any vehicle that is propelled by steam
Read the full list of exempt vehicles.
The main EU rules on driving hours are that you must not drive more than:
- 9 hours in a day - this can be extended to 10 hours twice a week
- 56 hours in a week
- 90 hours in any 2 consecutive weeks
All driving you do under EU rules must be recorded on a tachograph.
Breaks and rest
The main points of EU rules on breaks and rest are that you must take:
- at least 11 hours rest every day - you can reduce this to 9 hours rest 3 times between any 2 weekly rest periods
- an unbroken rest period of 45 hours every week - you can reduce this to 24 hours every other week
- a break or breaks totalling at least 45 minutes after no more than 4 hours 30 minutes driving
- your weekly rest after 6 consecutive 24-hour periods of working, starting from the end of the last weekly rest period taken
Coach drivers on an international trip can take their weekly rest after 12 consecutive 24-hour periods, starting from the end of the last weekly rest period taken.
For more details on rests and breaks read:
- Goods vehicles: rules on drivers’ hours and tachographs
- Passenger vehicles: rules on drivers’ hours and tachographs
EU drivers’ hours and tachograph rules still apply to journeys between the EU and UK, or wholly within the EU or UK.
AETR rules apply to journeys outside of the EU, including journeys involving Norway and Switzerland.
Drivers' hours guick guides
Tachograph quick guides
Drivers’ hours and tachograph rules manuals
Working time and drivers' hours
Temporary relaxation of the enforcement of the retained EU drivers’ hours rules: international and Great Britain to Northern Ireland carriage of goods
Temporary relaxation of the enforcement of the retained EU drivers’ hours rules: all road haulage sectors within Great Britain