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Thatcham Tracker Categories 5, S5, 6, 7 or S7 - What’s the difference?

2nd January 2019

Thatcham Tracker Categories 5, S5, 6, 7 or S7 - What’s the difference?

Here at Safe & Sound, we know it can be a minefield when choosing a Thatcham and Insurance approved car tracking system. You may not be sure what you want, or what your insurance company has told you what they require. The below articles will hopefully answer your questions and help you make a more informed decision when choosing your car tracker.

Thatcham Tracker Categories you may have heard of are 5, S5, 6, 7 and S7 but the all-important question is, What’s the difference? This article aims to explain...  

All Thatcham approved tracking systems are designed and built to meet their qualifying Thatcham Category criteria before they can be approved for installation. Each category is broken down below and follows the dates in which they became effective. The one thing all Thatcham tracking systems have in common are their annual subscription fees. They need this to transmit the vehicles data.  


Thatcham Category 7 - Obsolete

Thatcham Category 7

The Thatcham Category 7 was a real entry level system and has been about for a good 15 years, it will merge into the category S7 as of January 2019 - Safe & Sound Vehicle Systems will never sell you one of these.  


  • Internal battery back up.
  • Communicates via RF frequency.
  • Accurate to within a few 100 yards.
  • Battery disconnect alert.
  • 24-hour monitoring.
  • Some old Category 7 devices are simply battery powered and not hardwired to the vehicle.

Pros & Cons


  • None really. We never advised installing this system as category 6 was always far better.



  • Not very accurate locating due to only using RF. 
  • Far better systems available for little more cost.  
  • No driver identification.  

View our newer S7 devices by clicking here

Thatcham Category 6 - Obsolete

Thatcham Category 6

Thatcham Category 6 - A good, reliable entry level system which has been about for around 15 years but never had GPS built in until it was introduced to about 10 years ago.  

*Thatcham Category 6 is now superseded by Thatcham Category S7*


  • Internal battery back up.
  • Communicates via RF frequency.
  • Communicates via GPS.
  • Pin point accurate tracking (within 3 metres).
  • Full European tracking cover.
  • Battery disconnect alert.
  • Movement sensor alert.
  • 24-hour monitoring.

Pros & Cons


  • Very small units so easy to conceal in a vehicle. 
  • Have GPS built in so very accurate locating of vehicle.  
  • Highly effective recover rate 
  • Great value for money and costs effective.  
  • Offer good peace of mind. 


  • No driver identification so cannot distinguish between authorised driver and a thief. (SmartTrack was the only company to offer driver ID as an upgrade. What’s the benefit, see the bottom of the page)? 

View our newer S7 devices by clicking here

Thatcham Category 5 - Obsolete

Thatcham Category 5

Thatcham Category 5 was often requested by insurers for vehicles over a certain values, £70,000 if insured on a private policy of £50,000 if insured on a fleet policy.  


  • All those of the category 6 and S7 (they’re both the same don’t forget).
  • Automatic driver recognition by way of a driver ID card.
  • Remote engine immobilisation (Upon Police request).


  • Driver ID - this makes the system proactive and means that should the vehicle be stolen by key theft of key replicating while you’re in bed at 5am then you will receive a call within minutes of the vehicle driving. This driver ID card is to be kept away from the vehicle keys nor is it to be left in the vehicle as this renders the system ineffective.  
  • Remote Engine Immobilisation - Should the vehicle be involved in a high-speed chase or the police do not have the resources to get to it they can put in the request for the vehicle to be remotely immobilised. This means once the engine is turned off it then cannot be restarted and allows effective recovery of the vehicle.  
  • Proactive systems which alerts of vehicle theft within minutes  


  • Some owners do not like carrying the tag separately. The tag doesn’t facilitate attaching it to the keys as a way of ensuring the system is used as best it can be. 

View our newer Thatcham Category S5 systems by clicking here.

Thatcham Category S5 - Current

Thatcham Category S5

As of January 2019 this is the new category name for Thatcham Category 5 but with a few changes. 


  • All those of Thatcham category 6 and 5 but some features are now optional such as;
  • The driver ID card can now be kept on the keys.
  • Remote engine immobilisation is now an option and is not a requirement.

Pros & Cons


  • Driver ID card can be kept on the keys so is more convenient 
  • Proactive systems which alerts of vehicle theft within minutes  


  • Should the keys be stolen with the driver ID card attached it renders the system useless and becomes reliant upon the owner realising its missing.  
  • Engine immobilisation is not a required feature means those looking for a cheaper installation may not opt for it and less chance of recovering the vehicle.  

View our full range of Thatcham Category S5 systems by clicking here.

Thatcham Category S7 - Current.

Thatcham Category S7

Thatcham Category S7 is the new name for Thatcham Category 6 devices as of January 2019.


  • All features remain the same as the category 6, just a category name change.
  • Some devices in this category may be battery powered only and therefore not suitable for normal insurance purposes. We would never sell you one of these battery powered "wireless" units without tellin

View our full range of S7 devices by clicking here

What’s the benefit or Driver ID & S5 ?

What’s the benefit or Driver ID? 

A standard category 6/S7 tracking system does not use driver ID and is simply a reactive system which other than the vehicle being towed away, or a power disconnection being detected the vehicle can be driven away without alerting you.  

Let’s say you’re asleep in bed with your alarm set for 7am. At 5am you are broken into; your vehicle keys are taken, and your car is subsequently stolen. The tracking system wouldn’t know the difference between you driving it and a thief with your keys or cloned keys. 

Now let’s say you that same scenario happens with a Thatcham Category 5 or S5 installed - as soon as the vehicle is driven away the tracking system will recognise that the driver ID card is not present and silently alert the control room at which point you will be contacted within minutes to clarify the location of the vehicle.  

This way you are on to the theft within minutes and have the best possible chance of recovering your vehicle.  

A System with Driver ID is always the best option in our opinion. There are some perfect products below which feature it, look for the S5 category of tracking system.  

We hope this article makes for interesting reading and helps clarify the category differences and features. We have listed below some of our more popular tracking systems, each of which we highly recommend.

Any question then please ask. 

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