The government has played down the cost and scale of fitting vans undertaking international work with smart tachographs, saying the number of affected vehicles is “very small”.

From this year, vans with a maximum authorised mass of over 2.5 tonnes and up to 3.5 tonnes that are transporting goods for hire and reward internationally have been subject to the O-licensing system.

Operators need to be able to show they have enough finance to maintain their vehicles and also have a transport manager in place.

However, from July 2026 these operators must also comply with EU drivers’ hours rules and install a smart 2 tachograph.

In a House of Lords debate on the issue this week, Labour peer Lord Berkeley raised concerns about the cost and availability of these units and the potential difficulties of fitting them to vehicles.

But transport minister Baroness Vere said operators had four years to prepare for the transition and “think about how the cost can be borne over that period.”

She said: “The number of small vehicles that this is likely to cover is very small.

“There are 554 operator licences in place, but of these licences a total of 1,701 vehicles are authorised for international operation.

“That is out of a total of nearly two million in the UK, so we are talking about 0.09% of small vans.”

Baroness Vere added that purchase and installation cost was likely to be only around £1,200, but Lord Berkeley responded: “I still find it extraordinary that although we have this legislation which requires tachographs to be installed, she could not seem to tell us how many suppliers there are.

“I think that a cost of £1,200 plus installation is pretty high for many operators,” he added.

“I am sure they will be able to do some financial wizardry with it, but it is still quite a lot of money, though it is for a good purpose.”