It is possible to exchange a driving licence issued by an EU member state or an EEA member state (Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland) for a 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 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 one 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 a full Irish driving licence.
Motor vehicles in Ireland are divided into different categories for driver licensing purposes. This is a standard practice throughout the EU. Ireland has 15 categories in total, ranging from motorcycles to agricultural vehicles. You can find more information in our document on categories of vehicles and minimum ages of drivers.
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.
From 1 January 2013 the fee for exchanging a full driving permit issued by a recognised country for an Irish driving licence is €55.
To exchange your driving licence for an Irish driving licence, you must complete an application form for a driving licence (form D401). You can obtain a copy of application form D.401 from your local Motor Taxation Office. You can also download Form D401 (pdf).
Your completed application form should be returned to your local Motor Taxation Office and must include the following:
An application for an exchange of driving licence should be made directly to your local Motor Taxation office.
The Road Safety Authority provides information on driving licences.
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.