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Categories of motor vehicles and minimum age of drivers

Information

Motor vehicles in Ireland are divided into different categories for driver licensing purposes. This is a standard practice throughout the European Union. Each category of vehicle has a prescribed minimum age for the driver. In other words, before you can apply for a licence to drive a vehicle in Ireland, you must be a certain age.

When you apply for your driving licence or a learner permit, the categories of vehicles you are authorised to drive/operate are listed on your licence. It is a serious offence to drive any vehicle for which you do not have a licence.

On 19 January 2013 Directive 2006/126/EC (as amended) on driving licences came into effect. This increased the number of vehicle categories from 14 to 15 and the minimum age requirement for certain categories was also changed. Further information on the various driving licence changes is available on the Road Safety Authority's website.

Rules

Whether you have a driving licence or a learner permit, you are only entitled to drive the category of vehicle for which the licence or permit has been issued.

If you wish to have another category of motor vehicle added to your existing driving licence or learner permit, your existing licence/permit must be in date. Certain categories of vehicles may be added to your existing learner permit without the requirement of submitting a driver theory test certificate. To add other categories, it does involve a driver theory test.

Motorcycles and mopeds

Since 19 January 2013, the categories and driver’s minimum age for motorcycles and mopeds are as follows:

Motorcycle and moped categories from 19 January 2013
Category Vehicle type Minimum age of driver
AM Mopeds and tricycles with a maximum speed of 45kph and light quadricycles 16 years
A1

Motorcycles (with or without a sidecar) of 11kW or less and 125cc or less, with a maximum power/weight ratio of 0.1 kW/kg, and motor tricycles of 15 kW or less

16 years
A2 Motorcycles (with or without a sidecar) of 35kW or less, with a maximum power/weight ratio of 0.2 kW/kg, and not derived from a vehicle of more than double its power 18 years
A Motorcycles (with or without a sidecar) and motor tricycles 24 years (20 years via progressive access)

Before 19 January 2013 the categories and driver’s minimum age for motorcycles and mopeds were as follows:

Motorcycle and moped categories before 19 January 2013
Category Vehicle type Minimum age of driver
A1 Motorcycles of 11kW or less and 125cc or less, with or without a sidecar 16 years
A* Motorcycles with or without a sidecar 18 years
M Mopeds with a maximum speed of 45kph and an engine size of 50cc or less 16 years

*Learner permits for category A were restricted to motorcycles of 25kW or less. This restriction continued for two years after obtaining your first driving licence for category A. This restriction still applies to learner permits and driving licences issued before 19 January 2013.

Further information is available in our documents on learner driver permits for motorcycles and driving licences for motorcycles.

Cars and work vehicles

The categories and driver’s minimum age for cars and work vehicles are as follows:

Car and work vehicle categories
Category Vehicle type Minimum age of driver
B Vehicles with seats for a maximum of 8 passengers and a maximum weight of 3,500kg (can tow a trailer where the maximum weight of the trailer when fully loaded is 750kg or less) 17 years
W Work vehicles with or without a trailer, such as a land tractor or JCB 16 years

Learner permits for category B do not allow you to pull a trailer.

Further information is available in our documents on learner driver permits for cars and work vehicles and driving licences.

Buses and trucks

Since 19 January 2013 the categories and driver’s minimum age for buses and trucks are as follows:

Bus and truck categories from 19 January 2013
Category Vehicle type Minimum age of driver
C1 Goods vehicles between 3,500kg and 7,500kg 18 years
C Goods vehicles over 3,500kg 21 years (18 years with a Driver Certificate of Professional Competance)
D1 Passenger vehicles with accommodation for more than 8 and a maximum of 16 people 21 years
D Passenger vehicles with accommodation for more than 8 people 24 years (21 years with a Driver Certificate of Professional Competance)

Before 19 January 2013 the categories and driver’s minimum age for buses and trucks were as follows:

Bus and truck categories before 19 January 2013
Category Vehicle type Minimum age of driver
C1 Goods vehicles between 3,500kg and 7,500kg 18 years
C Goods vehicles over 3,500kg 18 years
D1 Passenger vehicles with accommodation for more than 8 and a maximum of 16 people 21 years
D Passenger vehicles with accommodation for more than 8 people 21 years

The categories include pulling a trailer where the maximum weight of the trailer when fully loaded is 750kg or less. However, learner permits for these categories do not allow you to pull a trailer.

Further information is available in our documents on learner driver permits for buses and trucks and driving licences.

Trailers

From 19 January 2013 the categories and minimum age of the driver that apply to a driver pulling a trailer, which has a maximum weight greater than 750kg when fully loaded, are as follows:

Trailer categories from 19 January 2013
Category Vehicle type Minimum age of driver
BE Vehicles in category B with a trailer of 3,500kg maximum weight 17 years
C1E Goods vehicles in category C1 where the combined weight of vehicle and trailer when fully loaded is not more than 12,000kg

Vehicles in category B with a trailer of over 3,500kg and where the combined weight of vehicle and trailer when fully loaded is not more than 12,000kg,

18 years
CE Goods vehicles in category C with a trailer (includes articulated trucks) 21 years (18 years with a Driver Certificate of Professional Competance)
D1E Passenger vehicles in category D1 with a trailer 21 years
DE Passenger vehicles in category D with a trailer 24 years (21 years with a Driver Certificate of Professional Competance)

Before 19 January 2013 the categories and minimum age of the driver that applied to a driver pulling a trailer were as follows:

Trailer categories before 19 January 2013
Category Vehicle type Minimum age of driver
EB Vehicles in category B with a trailer 17 years
EC1 Goods vehicles in category C1 where the combined weight of vehicle and trailer when fully loaded is not more than 12,000kg, and the fully loaded trailer is not heavier than the empty goods vehicle 18 years
EC Goods vehicles in category C with a trailer (includes articulated trucks) 18 years
ED1 Passenger vehicles in category D1 where the combined weight of vehicle and trailer when fully loaded is not more than 12,000kg, and the fully loaded trailer is not heavier than the empty passenger vehicle 21 years
ED Passenger vehicles in category D with a trailer 21 years

Further information is available in our documents on learner driver permits for trailers and driving licences.

Page updated: 22 December 2012

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If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.