It is possible to exchange a driving licence issued by an EU member state or an EEA member state (Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland) for an Irish driving licence. It is also possible to exchange a driving licence issued by certain recognised states for an Irish driving licence.
If you are the holder of a driving licences issued by a country that is not recognised for driving licence exchange, you cannot exchange your licence for an Irish licence. You will only get an Irish driving licence after you have gone through the full driver licensing procedure, starting with the driver theory test.
If your current driving licence was issued to you when you exchanged for it a driving licence issued by a country that is not recognised for driving licence exchange, then you cannot exchange your driving licence for an Irish driving licence.
You can access the rules of the road on the Road Safety Authority’s website.
If you have a driving licence issued by an EU/EEA member state you can drive in Ireland as long as your existing licence is valid. If you wish to exchange your driving licence for an equivalent Irish driving licence, you must do so within 10 years of your driving licence expiring.
Ireland has agreements with certain other countries/states that designates them as recognised states for the purposes of driving licence exchange. These are:
* Under the Road Traffic (Recognition of Foreign Driving Licences - New Zealand and Taiwan) Order 2010 (SI 402/2010) New Zealand and Taiwan were added to the list of recognised states but with certain qualifications.
If you are a holder of a licence issued by one of the above states you can drive in Ireland when visiting, providing your licence is valid. If you become normally resident in Ireland, you can drive for up to 12 months from the date of becoming resident, as long as your licence has not expired. You are considered to be normally resident in Ireland if, because of personal and occupational ties, you usually live here for at least 185 days in each calendar year.
If you wish to exchange your driving licence for an equivalent Irish driving licence, you must do so within 1 year of your driving licence expiring.
If you are not from any of the above countries, (for example, if you are from Canada or the United States), and you hold a national driving licence or an international driving permit from your own country, you may drive in Ireland for the duration of your temporary visit (up to 12 months).
If your stay in Ireland will be more than 12 months you can apply for an Irish driving licence but you will need to go through the full driver licensing procedure. You must first complete a driver theory test, apply for a learner driving permit and complete your driving test in Ireland. If you pass your driving test, you will be issued with an Irish driving licence.
Penalty points and endorsements on driving licences acquired in other states (including EU/EEA member states) are not recognised in Ireland. This is because these penalties have been issued by courts in other jurisdictions. In practice, this means that if you acquired penalty points or an endorsement on a driving licence before coming to Ireland, these penalty points or endorsements do not transfer over to an Irish driving licence. If, however, you have been banned from driving in another jurisdiction (for example, for drink driving) it may not be possible for you to exchange your existing licence for an Irish driving licence.
If you are driving on a foreign driving licence in Ireland and acquire penalty points here, you will receive the normal statutory fine but the penalty points will not be added to your foreign driving licence. If you subsequently exchange your foreign driving licence for an Irish driving licence, your Irish penalty points will then be activated on your new Irish driving licence.
The fee for exchanging a foreign driving permit for an Irish driving licence is €55.
Any required eyesight tests or medical examinations are not free of charge.
You have to apply in person to one of the of the National Driver Licence Service (NDLS) centres. You do not have to provide photographs with your application but you do need to bring photographic ID, proof of your residency entitlement, evidence of your PPS Number and proof of address with you in order to confirm you are the person who is exchanging your driving licence. See ‘Proof of identity’ below.
You apply to exchange your driving licence using driving licence application form (D401) which is available from NDLS centres, driving test centres, driving theory test centres and Garda stations. You can also download the driving licence application form (pdf) as well as guidance notes (pdf).
Your completed application form must be accompanied by the following:
You will require a Driving Licence Medical Report Form if:
You can download the medical report form (pdf) (it must be printed back to back on one page). It is also available from NDLS centres. A registered medical practitioner should carry out your medical examination and then complete the form. You must sign the declaration on the medical report form in the presence of the registered medical practitioner. It must be submitted within 1 month.
You will require a Driving Licence Eyesight Report Form if you are exchanging a driving licence that was not issued by an EU member state. You can download the eyesight report form (pdf) (pages 1 and 2 should be printed back to back on one page). It is also available from NDLS centres. It must be submitted within 1 month of completion.
The following documents are accepted as proof of your identity:
Note: Proof of address documents can be no more than 6 months old at date of application. Mobile phone bills and statements from store cards/catalogue companies are not accepted.
The National Driver Licence Service provides information for holders of foreign driving licences on its website.
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.