The UK Rules
'Follow the Regulations'
Drivers' Hours

Drivers' Hours Rules and Regulations

This section is for anyone who drives a goods vehicle or a passenger-carrying vehicle. You can use it to check the drivers' hours rules and how many rest breaks you need to take.

WORKING TIME DIRECTIVE: Any one, or all, of these sets of rules on drivers hours and tachographs may apply to a journey:

The particular rules that apply to a professional driver will depend on:

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency produce guidance notes on their current enforcement policy with further information:

Drivers' Hours Rules for Employers

Employing professional drivers means you will need to monitor the working time of any 'mobile workers'. Ensuring they do not go over the limit and recording their working time is also a responsibility of an employer. You must keep the records available for inspection for at least two (2) years.

What is a mobile worker? Typical examples of mobile workers include:

Some workers may carry out activities on an occasional basis covered by EU drivers' hours rules. In this case, the mobile worker regulations may not cover their driving hours. Even so, they would still need to follow other rules on the maximum weekly working hours.

Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency Enforcement

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency enforce drivers' hours rules and regulations. Breaking the rules means the DVSA can give you:

Note: As a rule, the DVSA take a 'proportionate' approach on regulation enforcement. That means persistent or serious offenders would be the ones most likely to receive formal action.

Drivers Hours Regulations Goods Vehicles

There are several different rules that apply to goods vehicles. It would depend on the weight of the vehicle, the country it gets driven in, and what the vehicle gets used for.

Drivers' Hours Rules and Regulations in the United KingdomEU Rules

You would need to apply the EU rules if the maximum permissible weight of the vehicle (or vehicle combination) is over 3.5 tonnes and you drive it in either:

Note: Certain vehicle types are exempt from EU rules when they get driven in the United Kingdom (see below).

AETR Rules

AETR relates to the European Agreement Concerning the Work of Crews Engaged in International Road Transport. Thus, AETR rules will apply if your vehicle is going to pass through an AETR country (see below).

GB Domestic Rules

The Great Britain domestic rules would apply if (both):

Note: Contact the UK embassy of the country to check on the local rules if you drive outside of the UK, EU, EEA, or Switzerland.

Further Guidance Notes and Information

Passenger Carrying Vehicles

Different drivers' hours rules apply when driving a vehicle that carries passengers. It will depend on:

Note: The definition of a regular service is one that follows a specified route and has stopping points along the route for passengers to get on or off the vehicle.

Public Service Vehicles

A public service vehicle (or PSV) is one used to carry passengers either for hire or for payment. The tables show the different types of drivers' hours rules and regulations that may apply to your type of operation.

Type of Operation 8 Passenger Seats (or less) 9 to 12 Passenger Seats 13 to 16 Passenger Seats 17 Passenger Seats (or more)
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 (e.g. commercial excursions, private hire, or tours) 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 Types of PSVs (including 'permit operations')

Typical examples of 'permit operations' would be school minibuses or the type of vehicles that are often used by community groups.

Type of Operation 8 Passenger Seats (or less) 9 to 12 Passenger Seats 13 to 16 Passenger Seats 17 Passenger Seats (or more)
UK journeys (non-PSV public 'services' or 'utilities' purposes) Drivers' hours rules do not apply Drivers' hours rules do not apply GB domestic rules GB domestic rules
UK journeys (non-PSV business use) Drivers' hours rules do not apply EU/AETR rules EU/AETR rules EU/AETR rules
UK journeys (Permit 19 and Permit 22 vehicles driven by volunteer or private use) Drivers' hours rules do not apply Drivers' hours rules do not apply Drivers' hours rules do not apply EU/AETR rules
UK journeys (Permit 19 and Permit 22 vehicles driven by employee) Drivers' hours rules do not apply GB domestic rules GB domestic rules EU/AETR rules
International journeys (including private use) local rules of the countries driven in EU/AETR rules EU/AETR rules EU/AETR rules

Vehicle Exemptions from EU Law

Certain types of vehicles and their uses get an exemption from EU rules. Thus, while driving them in the United Kingdom they will come under GB domestic rules. A list of the main types of exempt vehicles includes:

Note: Read further guidance on vehicles or uses exempt from the EU rules regardless of where the vehicle gets driven within the EU.

EU Rules on Drivers Hours and Working Time

Driving Hours

The foremost EU rules on driving hours dictate that the driver must not drive a vehicle more than:

Note: EU rules state that all the driving carried out must be recorded on a vehicle tachograph.

Breaks and Rest

EU rules place several restrictions on breaks and rest. But, in general the driver must take:

Note: Coach drivers who are on an international trip may take their weekly rest after twelve (12) consecutive 24-hour periods. It should start from the end of the last weekly rest period taken.

AETR Rules on Drivers Hours

The European Agreement Concerning the Work of Crews of Vehicles Engaged in International Road Transport are the AETR rules. They now follow the same regulations as the EU rules on drivers' hours. AETR rules on drivers hours cover these countries:

HGV GB Domestic Rules

GB domestic drivers' hours rules apply to driving lorries and buses in Great Britain. The regulations apply to most passenger-carrying vehicles and goods vehicles. Some exceptions apply if you need to follow the EU rules instead.

Note: Separate rules and regulations apply on tachograph and drivers' hours in Northern Ireland.

Goods Vehicles

Duty Time

The duty time of a driver who works for a company is any of the working time. It is different for self-employed workers. In this case, duty time applies only to the time spent driving the vehicle (or doing other work related to it or its load).

Daily Driving Limit

The daily driving limit restricts the time you can drive. Drivers cannot drive for more than ten (10) hours in any given day:

The definition of off-road driving would be that which counts as duty time providing it is for:

Daily Duty Limit

Drivers' hours rules and regulations are strict in the United Kingdom. As a professional driver, you must not be on duty for more than eleven (11) hours in any working day. The exception to this limit applies on a working day when you do not drive a vehicle.

Note: A tachograph records information on driving time, distance travelled, and vehicle speed. All drivers must record their hours following tachograph regulations or on a weekly record sheet.

Passenger-carrying Vehicles

Duty Time

The duty time of a driver who works for a company is any of the working time. It is different for self-employed workers. In this case, duty time applies only to the time spent driving the vehicle (or doing other work related to it or its load).

Breaks and Continuous Driving

Once you have driven for five (5) hours 30 minutes, you must take a break of at least thirty (30) minutes. The break allows for a rest from driving and for refreshment.

You must take at least 45 minutes in breaks within any period of eight (8) hours 30 minutes of driving. It must accompany a break of at least 30 minutes at the end of this period (unless taken at the end of the working day).

Length of Working Day (spreadover)

Drivers must not work over sixteen (16) hours between the times of starting and finishing work. This also applies to any non driving work.

Daily Rest Periods

A rest of ten (10) hours must take place before the first duty and immediately after the last duty in any working week.

A similar period of ten hours of rest must occur between two working days (or spreadovers). Drivers can reduce it to 8.5 hours up to three (3) times in any given week.

Even so, all driver duties must start and finish within a 24-hour period.

Fortnightly Rest Periods

Drivers must take at least one period of 24 hours off duty every two (2) weeks.

Note: The definition of a fixed week is one that runs from 00:00 hours on a Monday to 24:00 hours on the following Sunday.

Exemptions to GB Domestic Rules

The GB Domestic rules do not apply to a driver if he or she will drive:

Driving under EU and GB Domestic Rules

The following information is for anyone who works partly under EU/AETR rules and partly under the GB domestic rules. They apply to work carried out during a day or during any given week.

Combined Driving Limits

The GB domestic limit of ten (10) hours (at most) driving a day applies as the driving limits. But, you must follow all the rules on EU driving limits any time you actually drive under the EU rules.

Maximum Duty Limit

The GB domestic limit of a maximum of eleven (11) hours on duty applies when driving under both EU and GB domestic rules.

Rest Periods and Breaks

While driving under EU rules, you must follow the restrictions set out for rest periods and breaks on days and on weeks. But, there is no need to take a weekly rest period in any fixed week when you are not driving under EU rules.

Note: The definition of a fixed week is one that runs from 00:00 hours on a Monday to 24:00 hours on the following Sunday.

Drivers' Hours Rules and Regulations in the United Kingdom