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The Digital Tachograph

Since January 2006, all new vehicles weighing more than 3500 kg or carrying more than 9 persons, including the driver, are obliged to carry a digital tachograph, which replaces the previous analogue version and has a few special features related to its daily management.

From a legal and administrative point of view, the reference can be found in Regulation (EU) 1054/2020.

In this way, all new vehicles registered since 2006 are equipped with this type of tachograph, which means that most drivers and companies must be in possession of the corresponding cards, as we will see below.

Digital tachograph management

The digital tachograph replaces the analogue tachograph, but its options and configuration have the same objective, to record and control the activity of the vehicle through manipulation by the driver.

The tachograph is managed by the driver by means of a personal card and by selecting the different working options so that they are reliably recorded in the device.

The management of the tachograph by the authorities, companies and authorized workshops is also carried out by means of cards and computer systems that allow access to the records of the device.

The vehicle owner is obliged to maintain and repair the unit, as well as to have the inspections in order.

Apply for a digital tachograph card

As mentioned above, the tachograph is managed by means of cards, one card for each entity and applicant, so that each interested party must apply for a different card depending on the use they are going to make of it. Let us look at the types of card that can be applied for:

  • Drivers: in this case the driver card is requested, which contains your personal data and has a chip that stores the activity of the last 31 days, it is valid for 5 years.
  • Companies: companies must apply for a company card, which also contains the company´s identification data, as well as allowing the extraction and visualization of the data recorded in the tachograph and is valid for 5 years.
  • Workshops: in the case of workshops, they have a workshop card that allows them to identify the workshop and to carry out repair work and download data; it is valid for 1 year.
  • Authorities: the control card is the card used by the authorities and control bodies to access the information recorded on the other cards and on the tachograph, it is valid for 5 years.

The digital tachograph card can be applied for and renewed via the website of the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda. On the digital tachograph card application page and by means of a digital certificate, you can apply for both the driver card and the company or workshop card online.


Download digital tachograph

The legislation obliges to download the tachograph data at least every 3 months or in case of repair of the device, if requested by the authority, before transferring the vehicle or others.

In this case it is up to the company to download the tachograph data using compatible software.

The tachograph download can be done manually by the company or remotely, the latter is automatic.

Remote download tachograph

In order to ensure that the task of downloading tachograph data does not interfere with the activity of the vehicle, it is possible to download the data remotely.

There are different software solutions that allow the remote downloading of tachograph and card data, allowing to automate the process and to schedule the downloads, these programmes can be integrated in TMS fleet management systems and offer multiple possibilities for data analysis and file storage and custody.

Free digital tachograph card data download program

As we have seen, downloading tachograph data requires specific software, and there are different options on the market marketed by specialists in the sector.

Apart from the commercial options, the manufacturer has to offer the company or self-employed a programme or application that allows the downloading of tachograph data.

Digital tachograph simulator

Sometimes it is necessary to be trained in the correct use of the digital tachograph, its specifications and programme are quite different from the analogue tachograph, so it is advisable to know in depth each option of the device.

The Ministry of Transport provides all users with a downloadable digital tachograph simulator, where they can practice and learn about the different options and functions.

Learning to use the digital tachograph

The correct use of the digital tachograph and the card is an obligation that the driver acquires and is part of his job, so he must learn to use the device and to reflect on it all activities related to daily work, driving, resting, waiting, or other activities.

They must also know the correct use of the card and their obligations in terms of downloading data and keeping or renewing it.

For training in the use of the card and tachograph, there is a wide range of training courses offered by training centres, companies or public bodies, which can be complemented by the use of the simulator mentioned above.


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