When you pass a driving test in Ireland you are entitled to apply for a driving licence for the category of vehicle which you were tested for. You are required to carry your driving licence with you at all times when driving.
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.
If you have an Irish driving licence, the licence is accepted for use or exchange in all other EU/EEA member states. If you are travelling outside of the EU/EEA and will be driving, you may require an international driving permit.
Since 19 January 2013 the Road Safety Authority has responsibility for driver licensing. Since 29 October 2013 the application process 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.
A new plastic card driver licence has been introduced, replacing the paper driving licence and learner permit. Anyone who applie dfor a licence or learner permit since 12 January 2013 receives the new plastic version. This is an EU initiative to introduce a secure, compact style of licence in all member states. Also, the number of driving licence categories increased and the minimum age requirement for certain categories changed. Further information is available on the Road Safety Authority's website.
This document explains the current situation regarding applying for a driving licence in Ireland.
You are entitled to apply for a driving licence if:
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 your driving licence expired 10 years ago, then you must complete a Driver Theory Test. Following completion of your Driver Theory Test, you can only apply for a learner driver permit and you will have to re-sit your driving test again.
Motor vehicles in Ireland are divided into different categories for driver licensing purposes. This is a standard practice throughout the European Union. Ireland has 15 categories in total since 19 January 2013, ranging from motorcycles to agricultural vehicles. You can read more about categories of vehicles and minimum ages of drivers here.
Category A (motorcycle) driving licences issued before 19 January 2013 carry a restriction. This restriction limits the 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 licence 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.
Since October 2011 the drink driving limits for drivers with learner permits and those in their first two years on a full driving licence is reduced to 20mg/100ml of blood.
Further information on other proposed measures is available on the Road Safety Authority's website.
While you are required to carry your driving licence with you at all times when driving, you are not required by law to change your licence if you change your name or address. However, it is advisable. You are required to show evidence of your licence if requested to by An Garda Siochana, so your licence should contain up-to-date information.
You will have to apply to one of the NDLS centres and you will require supporting documents, such as, an original marriage certificate. See ‘How to apply’ below.
If your current driving licence is lost, stolen, damaged or defaced, you should apply to one of the NDLS centres for a replacement. The replacement licence is a duplicate or exact copy of your original driving licence. You can find out how to replace a driving licence in our document on replacing a lost or stolen Irish driving licence.
Since 1 January 2013, the cost of driving licences is as follows:
*Five-year bus and/or truck driving licence since 19 January 2013.
Motorists over the age of 70 can get their driving licence renewed for free.
Exchanging a driving licence to show a new name or address is free, but to add a new category is €35.
Information on acceptable forms of payment is available on the application form.
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).
If renewing a driving licence see our document, Renewing a full driving licence.
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’ section 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 a 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.
The rules of the road are available at rotr.ie.
|Licence category||Categories covered|
|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|
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.
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.