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.
Since 29 October 2013 the application processfor an Irish driving licence has changed and, when applying, you will need to visit one of the new National Driver Licence Service (NDLS) centres. As part of this face-to-face application process, your photo and your signature will be captured digitally. These will be included in the existing fee. You will have to bring additional documentation to confirm your identity. Further information is available on the NDLS website.
If you have a driving licence issued by an EU 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.
If you have a driving licence issued by an 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 1 year 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.
Since January 2013 the fee for exchanging a full driving permit issued by a recognised country for an Irish driving licence is €55.
The application form for a driving licence, Form D401, is available from NDLS centres, Driving Test centres, Driving Theory Test centres and Garda Stations. You can also download Form D401 (pdf) as well as guidance notes (pdf).
You will have to apply in person to one of the NDLS centres. You will not have to provide photographs with your application but you will need to bring additional documents with you in order to confirm you are the person that is applying for the driving licence/learner permit. If you currently have an Irish driving licence/learner permit, you will need to bring the licence/permit and evidence of your PPS Number. If you do not have an Irish driving licence/learner permit, you will need to bring photographic ID, proof of your residency entitlement, evidence of your PPS Number and proof of address. See ‘Proof of identity’ below.
Your completed application form must include the following:
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.
Since 29 October 2013 an application for an exchange of driving licence should be made in person to one of the National Driver Licence Service (NDLS) centres.
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.