Driving in Ireland

Driving in Ireland
Updated 2020-01-21 11:51

Driving in Ireland is not too different from driving in a lot of countries in Europe. The majority of the cars are manual, so it will be a bit pricier and harder to get your hands on an automatic car that fits your eye. There are a few different requirements on you when driving in Ireland, depending on where you come from. 

Do you need an international driver's license?

If you already have a driving license from a country in the European Economic Area or European Union, then you can drive in Ireland using that license without any restriction. If you are settling in Ireland for the long term, you are able to exchange this license for an Irish one. 

Other countries whose nationals can also exchange their licenses include most Canadian provinces, Taiwan, New Zealand, Switzerland, South Korea, South Africa, Jersey, Japan, Isle of Man, Guernsey, Gibraltar and Australia. If you do not want to exchange the license, you can drive using your home license for the first year of your stay.

For those from countries not covered as part of the exchange program, you will be able to drive on your local license for 12 months. After this point, you will have to complete the Irish driving test and get a local license. 

How to get a local driver's license

If you hold a license already in one of the countries that is part of the license exchange program, you simply need to go to your local National Driver License Service (NDLS) office. 

You will need to have the following documents: a complete D401 driving license form, your license, evidence of your PPS number, proof of address, NDSL medical form from the last month if needed, CPC certificate if needed, a letter of entitlement from your home nation if needed. 

If the documents are not in English, you need to bring with you official translations. When you are at the NDLS centre, they will take your photograph and signature. You will have to pay a fee of EUR55. As the NDLS have to contact your home country's driving authority, it can take as long as three months to obtain the license. 

If you cannot avail of the exchange program, you will then have to go through the entire process. This means you will first have to pass the driver's theory test, apply for the learner permit and then complete the Essential Driver Training course. You will then have to pass the driving test before you can obtain your license. 

Roads in Ireland

Most of the motorways in Ireland are relatively new and well maintained. They have drastically decreased commuting time for those driving around the country. The roads in major towns and cities are usually quite good, but more rural areas will often have very narrow roads. Some roads will only have enough room for one car, so it can take some manoeuvring. 

Speed limits in Ireland

Speed limits will naturally vary depending on the type of road you are driving on, and they will be well signposted. Currently, there is a 120 km/h speed limit for motorways, 100 km/h for national routes that do not have motorway status, 80 km/h for regional and local roads and 50 km/h for built-up areas. Residential areas will usually have a speed limit of 30 km/h in place.

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