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Applying for a driving licence

Introduction

When you pass a driving test you are entitled to apply for a driving licence for the category of vehicle which you were tested for. This document explains how to apply for your driving licence after you have passed a driving test. In other documents you will find information on:

To apply for a driving licence, you must be normally resident in Ireland. 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.

You are required to carry your driving licence with you at all times when driving. The rules of the road are available at rulesoftheroad.ie.

2013 changes

The Road Safety Authority now has responsibility for driver licensing and has set up a new National Driver Licence Service (NDLS). In addition, the application process has changed and, when applying for a driving licence, you have to visit one of the new NDLS centres. As part of the face-to-face application process, your photo and your signature is captured digitally. You have to bring additional documentation to confirm your identity.

A new plastic-card driving licence has been introduced, replacing the paper driving licence. This is an EU initiative to introduce a secure, compact style of licence in all member states.

The number of driving licence categories has increased and the minimum age requirement for certain categories has changed also. Further information is available on the Road Safety Authority's website.

Restrictions on novice drivers

Novice plates

If you obtain your first driving licence on or after 1st August 2014, you must display N-plates on your vehicle when driving for a period of 2 years. Motorcycle riders must wear an N-tabard. The novice period only applies once. It does not apply to a first driving licence obtained for a different category of vehicle after the original 2-year period ends. Further information is available on the Road Safety Authority website.

Disqualification threshold

The penalty points disqualification threshold of 12 points is reduced to 7 penalty points for those who obtain their first learner permit on or after 1 August 2014. It remains at the lower threshold while they drive under a learner permit and subsequently during the first two years while they drive under their first driving licence. Further information is available on the Road Safety Authority website.

Drink driving limit

The drink driving limits for drivers in their first 2 years on a full driving licence is reduced to 20mg/100ml of blood.

Category A driving licences

Category A (motorcycle) driving licences issued before 19 January 2013 carry a restriction. This restriction limits the driving licence holder to motorcycles (with or without a sidecar) with a power limit of 25Kw or less. This restriction continues for 2 years after you complete your motorcycle driving test for this category and after you have obtained a full driving licence for this category. This restriction does not apply to category A driving licences issued since 19 January 2013. If you hold a category A driving licence to which this restriction applies and want to remove the restriction before the 2 years have elapsed, you will have to do Initial Basic Training (IBT) progression module 5 (and modules 1 and 3 if not already done) on a motorcycle greater than 40kW.

Rules

You are entitled to apply for a driving licence if you have passed the driving test for that category of vehicle within the previous 2 years. If the Certificate of Competency you were issued with is over 2 years old, you will have to pass the driving test again.

Duration of licence

The period of time a driving licence is issued for depends on the age of the applicant. There are 4 age brackets that the period of a licence falls under.

  • If you are under 60 years of age, you may apply for a 10-year licence or a 3-year (on medical grounds)
  • If you are older than 60 but younger than 67 years of age, you may apply for a licence that will expire the day before your 70th birthday
  • If you are older than 67 but under 70 years of age, you may apply for a 3-year licence
  • If you are over the age of 70, you will need a certification of fitness to drive from your doctor to apply for a 3-year or a one-year licence

A bus or truck driving licence is issued for a maximum of 5 years.

Categories of vehicles

Motor vehicles are divided into different categories for driver licensing purposes. You can read more in our document on categories of vehicles and minimum ages of drivers.

Your category of driving licence may give you entitlement to a driving licence for certain other categories of driving licence. See ‘Further information’ below.

Rates

Since January 2013, the cost of driving licences is as follows:

  • Ten-year driving licence costs €55
  • Five-year bus or truck driving licence costs €55
  • Three-year driving licence costs €35
  • One-year driving licence costs €25

Adding a new category to your current driving licence costs €35.

Motorists over the age of 70 can get their driving licence for free.

Information on acceptable forms of payment is available on the application form.

Any required eyesight tests or medical examinations are not free of charge.

How to apply

You have to apply in person to one of the NDLS centres. You do not have to provide photographs with your application but you do need to bring additional documents with you in order to confirm you are the person who is applying for the driving licence.

If you have a learner permit or Irish driving licence, you need to bring evidence of your PPS Number and proof of address. If you do not have a learner permit or an Irish driving licence, you need to bring photographic ID, proof of your residency entitlement, evidence of your PPS Number and proof of address. See ‘Proof of identity’ below.

You apply for a driving licence using the 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:

  • Your current or most recently issued learner permit. If your learner permit has been lost or stolen, the application form must be signed and stamped by a Garda in your local Garda Station
  • Your current driving licence if adding a category to the driving licence
  • A Driving Licence Medical Report Form may be required (see below)
  • A Driving Licence Eyesight Report Form may be required (see below)
  • A Certificate of Competency
  • The appropriate fee - see Rates above

Medical report form

You will require a Driving Licence Medical Report Form if:

  • You are applying for driving licence categories C, C1, D, D1, CE, C1E, DE or D1E unless you previously provided a medical report which is still applicable
  • You will be 70 years of age or more on the first day of the period for which the licence is being issued
  • You have any of certain disabilities or conditions (see application form)

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.

Eyesight report form

You will require a Driving Licence Eyesight Report Form if you no longer need glasses or contact lenses. 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.

Proof of identity

The following documents are accepted as proof of your identity:

  • Photographic ID
    - Irish passport
    - Current passport for all non-Irish citizens
    - Current national identity card for EU/EEA/Swiss citizens
    - Irish certificate of naturalisation
    - Current UK (photo) driving licence
    - Current Public Services Card
    - Current Irish travel document (issued by INIS)
  • Proof of your residency entitlement
    - Irish/UK long-form birth certificate or adoption certificate
    - Foreign birth registration
    - Irish passport
    - Current passport for all EU/EEA/Swiss citizens
    - Current national identity card for EU/EEA/Swiss citizens
    - Irish certificate of naturalisation
    - Current Certificate of Registration (GNIB card) for non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens
  • Evidence of your PPS Number
    - Public Services Card/Social Services Card
    - Correspondence from Revenue or Social Welfare showing PPSN
    - P21/Tax Assessment/ Notice of tax credits
    - Receipt of social welfare payment
    - Medical card/Drug Payment Scheme (DPS) Card
    - Payslip or P60/P45
  • Proof of address (See Note below)
    - Utility bill from your electricity/phone/gas/cable television/broadband provider
    - Correspondence with an insurance company
    - Statement from your bank/building society/credit union
    - Letter from the Department of Social Protection or Revenue
    - Other official correspondence from an Irish State agency, such as government departments; HSE; Register of Electors/polling card; CAO; Private Residential Tenancies Board or third-level college/training agency

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.

Where to apply

An application for a driving licence should be made in person to one of the National Driver Licence Service (NDLS) centres - see 'How to apply' above. You can book an appointment online.

The National Driver Licence Service provides information on applying for a driving licence on its website.

National Driver Licence Service

Road Safety Authority
Moyvalley Business Park
Primrose Hill
Ballina
Co. Mayo
Ireland

Tel:(096) 25000
Locall:1890 416 141
Homepage: http://www.ndls.ie/en/
Email: info@ndls.ie

Road Safety Authority

Moy Business Park
Primrose Hill
Ballina
Mayo
Ireland

Tel:(096) 25000
Locall:1890 506 080
Fax:(096) 25252
Homepage: http://www.rsa.ie
Email: info@rsa.ie

Further information

If you have a driving licence for a particular category, you are entitled to a driving licence for certain other categories as follows:

Categories covered by your driving licence
Licence category Categories covered
AM AM
A1 A1 and AM
A2 A1, A2 and AM
A A, A1, A2 and AM
B B and W
C1 B, C1 and W
C B, C, C1 and W
D1 B, D1 and W
D B, D, D1 and W
BE B, BE and W
C1E B, C1, BE, C1E and W
CE B, C, C1, BE, CE, C1E and W
D1E B, D1, BE, D1E and W
DE B, D, D1, BE, DE, D1E and W
W W

In addition, if you have held a driving licence for category B, C, C1, D, D1, BE, CE, C1E, DE or D1E since before 21 October 2006, you are entitled to a licence for category AM.

Page updated: 15 July 2014

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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.