2014-10-02 11:47:06

Driving during your stay in Ireland is a great way to explore the country, and depending on where you live, might be an essential part of daily life.

Driving licences

If you hold a valid national driving licence from the European Union or European Economic Area, you are legally allowed to drive in Ireland using that licence for as long as you wish. You can also exchange it for an Irish licence, if you plan to settle permanently, by going to a National Driving Licence Service (NDSL) office with the following:

  • A completed D401 driving licence form
  • Your current licence
  • Evidence of a PPS number
  • Proof of address
  • NDSL medical form dated within the last month, if required
  • A CPC certificate, if required
  • A letter of entitlement from your home country authority, if required

If any of the documents mentioned above are not in English, you must provide official translations. At the NDSL office, your photograph and signature will be taken, and you will pay a fee of €55. The process of receiving your Irish licence can take up to three months as your home country’s driving authority will need to be contacted.

A select number of non-EU/EEA countries are also able to participate in the exchange programme. These countries are Australia, Gibraltar, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Japan, Jersey, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, New Zealand, Taiwan, and the Canadian provinces of Ontario, Manitoba, Newfoundland, and British Columbia.

Alternatively, if you are from one of these places, you may drive on your valid home country’s licence for a maximum of 12 months during your stay in Ireland.

If you are a licensed driver from any other country, you can drive in Ireland for 12 months, but after that time you will have to pass a driving test for an Irish driving licence. You will need to pass the driver's theory test, apply for an Irish Learner Permit, complete an Essential Driver Training (EDT) course, and pass a practical driving test. Once you have a Learner Permit, you will no longer be able to drive on your previous licence and learner's rules will apply. Usually, someone with a Learner Permit must wait for six months to take a practical test, but this can be bypassed if you complete the EDT and forward your original licence with a letter of entitlement from your home licensing authority to the following address:

Customer Service Manager
Driver Testing Section,
Road Safety Authority, 
Moy Valley Business Park,
Co. Mayo

You can get an International Driving Licence, but this will only serve as a counterpart to your original licence. You will still have to carry your valid licence and adhere to the timelines mentioned above.

Motor insurance

It is a legal requirement for anyone driving a car in Ireland to have a motor insurance. Policy costs and details will vary depending on your age, experience, car type, and whether you would like a third party or comprehensive insurance. It is no longer allowed for insurance companies to judge your rates depending on your gender. Many cost comparison sites help keep rates competitive. If you fail to get insurance you could get five points on your licence, have it suspended, be fined up to €5,000, or even serve a six-month term in prison.

Road rules

You will drive on the left side of the road in Ireland.

The speed limits are fixed at 50 km/h in the city center, 80 km/h on regional and local roads, 100 km/h on national roads, and 120 km/h on motorways. Speeding offences are fixed at €80.

It is strictly prohibited to drink and drive. If you are found to be above the alcohol limit, you will be liable to a fine or even a prison sentence.

Wearing seat belts is compulsory for both drivers and passengers.

 Useful links:

National License Service
Online appointment
Citizens Information

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.