Everything You Need to Know About Getting an Irish Driver’s License
We all know how important it is to have a driver’s license. It identifies you as a licensed driver and also serves as an official ID. The laws relating to the licensing of drivers vary between countries. It can be an overwhelming task to go through the rigorous process of obtaining an Irish driver’s license from the Government. However, with the advent of technology, you can get a driving license online for any country, from the comfort of your home.
Whether you are getting your first driver’s license or you have an existing driver’s license from another country, there are many factors to consider before getting behind the wheel of a car in Ireland. There are different ways to get an Irish driver’s license, and it is important to pick the right one based on your current citizenship status. Luckily, you don’t have to figure it out all on your own, this guide will help you understand everything you need to know about getting an Irish driver’s licence.
What is an International Driving Permit?
An international driving permit is a translation of your driving licence that allows you to drive vehicles in other countries without further tests or applications. If you have an international driving permit, you must carry your driving licence with it when driving. If you are traveling abroad and wish to drive in another country, you will need an international driving permit.
International driving permits issued in Ireland are only available to Irish residents with a current full driving licence. European Union/European Economic Area citizens who are in possession of a full driving permit from a competent authority in their own country and who are resident in Ireland can also get an international driving permit in Ireland that is valid for use abroad.
You cannot be issued with an international driving permit in Ireland if:
- You have not passed your driving test and have a learner permit (or provisional driving licence).
- Your driving licence is due to expire within 6 months.
- You are from outside the EU/EEA.
International driving permit is valid for one year from the date of issue.
The Categories of Driving Licences in Ireland
There are 15 different categories of driving licences and learner permits issued in Ireland. These licences cover all vehicle types and age limits. Licence categories for group 1 vehicles (motorcycles, cars and tractors) are valid for 10 years. However, the licence to drive group 2 vehicles (buses, trucks and articulated vehicles ) needs to be renewed every 5 years. Your age and medical fitness will determine the duration of licence which can be issued to you.
The table below explains each of the 15 licence categories as well as the minimum age at which you can obtain a learner permit for each category.
|Category||Vehicle Type||Minimum Age|
|AM||This is for mopeds and light quadricycles.||16 years|
|A1||Motorcycles with an engine capacity not exceeding 125 cc, a power rating not exceeding 11 kW and a power to weight ratio not exceeding 0.1 kW/kg. This also includes Motor tricycles with a power rating not exceeding 15 kW.||16 years|
|A2||This is for motorcycles with a power output not exceeding 35 kW and a power to weight ratio not exceeding 0.2|
|A||This category involves motorcycles of 595 cubic centimeters capacity with engine power of at least 50 kW.||24 years Above 20 years (with progressive access)|
|B||For vehicles other than motorcycles, mopeds, work vehicles or land tractors, whose Maximum Authorized Mass (MAM) does not exceed 3500 kg. The section also includes a vehicle towing a trailer where the MAM of the trailer is not greater than 750 kg. In case the trailer is heavier than 750 kg, the combined MAM of the towing vehicle and the trailer should not be greater than 3,500 kg. Heavier quadricycles are also included in this category.||17 years|
|BE||This category is for vehicles towing a trailer where the MAM of the trailer does not exceed 3500 kg.||17 years|
|W||Work vehicles and land tractors with or without a trailer.||16 years|
|C||This licence is for vehicles, with or without a trailer, which have MAM values exceeding 3500 kg.||18 years with a CPC, and 21 years without it.|
|CE||This category has the same conditions as category C and is needed for vehicle towing trailers which have a MAM value greater than 750 kg.||18 years with a CPC, and 21 years without it.|
|C1||This category covers vehicles with the same conditions as category C, apart from the fact that the MAM of the vehicle should not exceed 7500 kg. In case of an attached trailer, the MAM of the trailer should not exceed 750 kg.||18 years|
|C1E||This category adds to the vehicle combination types of category C1 where the MAM of the trailer is more than 750 kg and the combined weight of the two does not exceed 12000 kg. It also adds to the vehicle combination types of category B with the MAM of the trailer greater than 3500 kg and the combined MAM value of the drawing vehicle and trailer combined does not exceed 12000 kg.||18 years|
|D||When the vehicle can carry more than eight passengers including the driver, it comes under this category. In case of an attached trailer, the MAM of the same should not be more than 750 kg.||21 years with CPC and 24 years without it.|
|DE||This is an extension of the category D for cases where the MAM of the trailer is greater than 750 kg.||21 years with CPC and 24 years without it.|
|D1||This licence is for vehicles designed for not more than 16 passengers in addition to the driver and the maximum length not exceeding 8 metres. The MAM of the trailer is not to be greater than 750 kg.||21 years|
|D1E||This category is an extension of the category D1 where the weight of the trailer is more than 750 kg.||21 years|
Getting a Driving Licence in Ireland
All countries in the European Union(EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) have a mutual recognition agreement in respect to driving licences. Under the agreement, Irish driving licence holders can drive in any EU or EEA country on their existing Irish driving licence as long as it is current and valid.
Likewise, people from those countries can drive in Ireland on a current, valid licence. Following Brexit, UK driving licences are no longer valid for persons living in Ireland and must be exchanged for an Irish driving licence. UK visitors to Ireland are not affected and can still use their UK licence while visiting Ireland.
There are two types of drivers licenses in Ireland: learner permits and full driving licenses. Learner permits allow people who have never driven before to practice on public roads under supervision from someone with experience driving. Full driving licenses are required once someone has earned their learner permit, passed all necessary tests, and practiced sufficiently behind-the-wheel.
The legal driving age in Ireland is 17 years. However, those aged 16 and 17 can obtain a Learner’s Permit, which allows them to drive under certain restrictions, such as only being allowed on roads with a speed limit of 30km/hr or less. Learner’s Permits must be held for 12 months before applying for your full driver’s license. If you receive four penalty points on your Learner’s Permit, you will have to re-sit your test.
How to Apply For an Irish Driver’s Licence
You will need a full driving licence in Ireland to drive any vehicle. If you have an EU/EEA driver’s licence you may continue to drive in Ireland with your current licence. You can exchange it for an Irish drivers licence when it expires. And If you have a licence from a country outside of the EU/EEA, then you may drive with your driver’s licence in Ireland for 12 months. However, after the 12 month period you need to apply to have your driver’s licence changed to an Irish one.
How to Exchange Your Foreign Driving Licence For an Irish Driving Licence
To be eligible to exchange your driver’s licence for an Irish one you must:
- Permanently reside in Ireland for at least 185 days per year.
- Lived in Ireland for the 12 months prior to applying for the exchange.
- Have an Irish PPS number.
- Have a driver’s licence from one of the following countries.
- Isle of Man
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- South Korea
- The Canadian provinces of: British Columbia, Newfoundland & Labrador, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta
- A valid ID
- Proof of your Irish residency
- Evidence of your PPS Number
- Proof of address
- Medical report
- Eyesight report
- A completed driving licence application form
- Application fee
If your driver license is not from a country listed above, you may drive on your licence for 12 months. But after this period, you must apply for an Irish driving licence by completing the full Irish driver licensing procedure.
In order to apply for an Irish driving licence, you must:
- Be 17 years of age, or 16 years to drive a work vehicle.
- Be an Irish Resident.
- Reside in Ireland for at least 185 days per year.
- Have resided in Ireland for 12 months prior to undertaking the driver licence testing process.
- Have an Irish PPS number.
There are five steps that you must complete in order to achieve your full Irish drivers licence;
1. Driver Theory Test (DTT)
There are different tests depending on which category of drivers licence you are applying for. For example, the category B car theory test consists of 40 questions of which 35 must be answered correctly within 45 minutes. Tests are normally done on a computer and can be taken in English or Irish.
2. Learner Driving Permit
- Once you have your theory test certificate, you can apply for a learner driving permit. To apply for a learner driving permit, you need to make an appointment at the National Driver License Service NDLS, which you can do online.
- A valid ID
- Proof of residency
- Irish PPS number
- Evidence of your current address
- Eyesight Report
- Medical Report
- Current or previous driving licence (if applicable).
- Driver theory test certificate.
- Learners Permit fee
3. Essential Driver Training (EDT)
The EDT is a mandatory course that teaches fundamental driving skills. It consists of 12 one-hour lessons. You will also need an experienced driver to supervise your driving practice outside of these lessons. Your lessons and driving practice should be recorded on a specially issued logbook.
- Learner drivers must display their “L” plates while they are driving.
- They are not allowed to drive on motorways.
- They must always be accompanied by a qualified driver (holders of a full driver license for at least two years).
4. Driving Test
Once you have completed your EDT and held your learner driving permit for at least six months, you may book your driving test on the Road Safety Authority website. Alternatively you can download a driving test application form or obtain a copy from any motor tax office. The test can be taken in English or Irish. It is recommended that the driving test be applied for well in advance as waiting times can be long.
When taking the driving test, the following are required:
- Pay the necessary driving test fee
- Your valid learner driving permit
- Your EDT logbook
- Evidence of your PPS
- A roadworthy, registered, insured, motor taxed vehicle.
- L-plates on both the front and rear of the car
What to Expect During Your Driving Test
A driving test is designed to make sure that you:
- Know the rules of the road.
- Possess the knowledge and skill to drive competently in accordance with those rules.
- Drive with proper regard for the safety and convenience of other road users.
There are two components to the test:
Technical check on the vehicle: You must demonstrate how to do a technical check on the car (e.g. check tires, lights, engine oil etc…)
Practical test: You will be asked to drive for approximately 30 minutes and to carry out man-oeuvres such as, reversing around a corner, parking, hill start etc.
After the driving test has been successfully passed, you will be issued a Certificate of Competency which is valid for two years. You can use this Certificate of Competency to apply for your full driver license.
5. Full Driving Licence
After passing the practical driving test and receiving your Certificate of Competence, you can apply for a full driving licence.
You will need to provide the following documents when applying for a full driving licence:
- A completed application form
- Your learner permit
- Your Certificate of Competency
- Medical Report
- Irish PPS number
- Evidence of your address
- Application fee
- You must display “N” plates while driving for a period of two years after receiving your full Irish driver license.
When you receive your licence, the Irish drivers licence number is a 9 digit that appears in field 5 of your paper driving licence or field 4d on your plastic card driving licence and this number remains with you throughout your driving history.
If you accumulate 12 penalty points in a 3-year period, you will be disqualified from driving for 6 months. This is reduced to 7 penalty points if you have a learner permit. This lower threshold remains in place while you drive on a learner permit and for the first two years you drive under your first driving licence.
How to Replace a Lost Drivers Licence
If your current driving licence or learner permit is lost, stolen, damaged or defaced, you should apply to the NDLS for a replacement. The replaced licence or permit is a copy of your original driving licence or learner permit. The replaced licence or permit will be valid for the same period as your original.
Renewal of Your Driving Licence
You are required to carry your driving licence with you at all times when driving. When your driving licence runs out, you must renew it if you want to continue driving. You should check the expiry date of your licence to see if it needs to be renewed on the NDLS website.
You can apply to renew your driving licence if:
- You hold a driving licence that will expire within 3 months.
- You held a driving licence that expired less than 10 years ago.
Updating your Driving Licence or Learner Permit
When you apply for a driving licence or learner permit it is issued in the name and address you supplied at that time. If you subsequently change your name or address, it is possible to exchange your current licence or permit for an updated one. You have to supply documentary evidence of the change. Your new driver license or permit will have the same expiry date as your original licence or permit.
Vehicle Tax And Insurance
In Ireland, it is illegal to drive a vehicle that has not been taxed and insured. Here is what you need to know.
The motor tax rate you pay depends on the age of your car. 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 you. Annual motor tax rates can range from €120 right up to €2,350. So, when buying a car, it is worth checking what tax band each vehicle falls into.
You also need to insure your car before you can legally drive it on Irish roads. Your insurance has to cover third-party expenses at the very least. Comprehensive cover is probably the best option as it covers your own costs, as well as those of anyone else involved in a road incident. One of the big perks of living in Dublin is its comprehensive public transport system.
Where Can I Get a Valid Irish Driver’s License?
After going through this guide and the processes involved in getting a driving licence in Ireland, you would agree with me that you would spend several months preparing and taking exams. And you have to pass both the theory and practical tests before getting a full driving licence.
Why not use the fastest and convenient means?
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