Getting on the road in Ireland is relatively straightforward. You will, of course, need a driver’s licence. The National Driver Licence Service is responsible for licencing drivers in Ireland. If you’ve got a vehicle, you’ll need to make sure that it’s taxed and insured. What’s involved?
Do I need to get an Irish driver’s licence?
EU & EEA Licences
Drivers with an EU or EEA member state licence need never change to an Irish licence. If they wish to exchange their licence for an Irish one, they must do so within 10 years of their driver’s licence expiring.
Visitors to Ireland from outside the EU or EEA can drive on a licence from their own country for up to a year, provided that it is current and valid. Once you are ‘normally resident’ in Ireland – living here at least 185 days out of each calendar year – you are obliged to exchange your driver’s licence for an Irish one, or apply for a driving licence in Ireland.
How do I apply for a licence?
If you hold a licence from a ‘recognised state’, you can exchange your current driver’s licence for an Irish one. Currently, the recognised states are:
- Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Newfoundland & Labrador, Ontario and Manitoba
- Isle Of Man
- South Africa
- South Korea
- New Zealand
You can exchange your licence for up to one year after it expires. When you apply, you’ll need:
- Fully completed application form
- Your current or most recent recognised driving licence
- Photographic ID
- Proof that you hold a personal public services number
- Evidence of your address in the Republic
- Proof of your Irish residency
- Completed NDLS eyesight and medical report forms
- Evidence of a certificate of professional competence, if required
- An application fee of €55
Visitors from other countries may drive on Irish roads under their own licence for 12 months. After this period, you’ll need to apply for an Irish licence by completing the full driver licensing procedure. You must first pass a driver theory test before applying for a learner permit. This allows you to take a course in Essential Driver Training. If you pass the test at the end of this course, you can apply for a full Irish driving licence.
The Essential Driver Training course comprises 12, one-hour lessons. It is mandatory to take these lessons and hold your Learner Permit for six months before you apply for your driving test.
Vehicle tax and insurance
It is illegal to drive a vehicle that has not been taxed and insured in the Republic.
The motor tax rate you pay will depend on the age of your vehicle. Vehicles built before July 2008 are assessed on the size of their engines. Those built after that date are assessed on their CO2 emissions – the more your car emits, the more it will cost to tax. Over time, it pays to have a newer, well-serviced car. You can tax your vehicle online.
You must insure your car before you can legally drive it on Irish roads. This must at least cover third-party expenses, although comprehensive cover is the best option – it covers you and any other people who might be involved in a road incident.