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Learner driving permits for cars and work vehicles

Information

It is a statutory requirement that you must hold at least a learner driving permit (previously known as a provisional licence) for the appropriate category of vehicle if you want to drive a car or work vehicle in a public place. You are required to carry your learner permit with you at all times when driving.

This document explains how to apply for or renew a learner permit for a car or work vehicle. In other documents you will find information on:

To apply for a learner permit, you must be normally resident in Ireland. If you usually live here for at least 185 days in each calendar year (because of personal and occupational ties), you are considered to be normally resident in Ireland.

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 learner permit, 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 learner permit has been introduced, replacing the paper learner permit. 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.

Rules

Before you begin to learn to drive on public roads in Ireland, you must hold a learner permit covering the category of vehicle you wish to drive. A learner permit to drive a car or work vehicle is usually valid for 2 years

Car drivers with a learner permit must be accompanied at all times by, and be under the supervision of, someone with a current driving licence for a car. Also, the person accompanying you must have had the driving licence for at least 2 years.

Work vehicle drivers with a learner permit are not allowed to carry a passenger unless the vehicle is designed to carry a passenger and the passenger is a qualified driver who has held his driving licence for a work vehicle for the last 2 years at least.

If you hold a learner permit for a car, you are not allowed to drive a car drawing a trailer, drive on a motorway, act as an accompanying driver or carry other people for reward.

Learner permit holders for cars must display L-plates to the front and rear of the vehicle they are driving at all times. The plate should be a red ‘L’ on a white background and should not be less than 15cm high with a border of at least 2cm.

Since October 2011 the drink driving limit for car drivers with learner permits and those in their first two years on a full driving licence is reduced to 20mg/100ml of blood. It applies to all drivers of work vehicles.

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.

The rules of the road are available at rulesoftheroad.ie.

Car and work vehicle categories

The categories and driver's minimum age for car and work vehicles are as follows:

Car and work vehicle categories
Category Vehicle type Minimum age of driver
B Vehicles with seats for a maximum of 8 passengers and a maximum weight of 3,500kg (can tow a trailer where the maximum weight of the trailer when fully loaded is 750kg or less) 17 years
W Work vehicles with or without a trailer, such as a land tractor or JCB 16 years

Your first learner permit

You must have a valid driver theory test certificate for car and work vehicle categories before a first learner permit will be granted. If your learner permit expired 5 years ago, then you must pass the theory test again before a learner permit will be issued.

Since 4 April 2011 new first-time category B learner permit holders are required to undertake mandatory essential driver training (EDT) of 12 one-hour lessons with an approved driving instructor. Your progress is recorded in a special logbook. You should also have an experienced driver who supervises your driving practice outside of lessons, and also updates your logbook. When taking the driving test, you may be required to show your completed logbook to the examiner.

A list of approved driving instructors is available on the Road Safety Authority’s website.

You cannot take a driving test for at least 6 months after getting your first learner permit.

Your third learner permit

You may not apply for a third or subsequent learner permit unless you can provide:

  • Evidence that you have undergone a driving test in the 2-year period prior to the application (a 2-year learner permit will be granted) or
  • Evidence of a forthcoming test date (a 1-year learner permit will be granted)

Rates

Learner permits for cars and work vehicles are valid for 2 years (or 1 year in certain circumstances) and since January 2013 the fee is €35.

They are free of charge to those aged 70 or over.

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 or renew a learner permit using the learning permit application form (D201) which is available from NDLS centres, driving test centres, driving theory test centres and Garda stations. You can also download the learner permit application form (pdf) as well as guidance notes (pdf).

Applying for your first learner permit

The completed application form D.201 should be accompanied by:

  • Your current or last driving licence and/or learner permit if you have one
  • Your driver theory test certificate
  • A Driving Licence Eyesight Report Form. A completed eyesight report form must accompany all first learner permit applications - see below
  • A Driving Licence Medical Report Form may be required - see below
  • The appropriate fee - see 'Rates' above

Applying for your second learner permit

When applying for your second learner permit the completed application form D.201 should be accompanied by:

  • Your last learner permit
  • A Driving Licence Medical Report Form may be required - see below
  • A Driving Licence Eyesight Report Form may be required - see below
  • The appropriate fee - see 'Rates' above

Applying for your third or subsequent learner permit

When applying for your third or subsequent learner permit the completed application form D.201 should be accompanied by:

  • Your last learner permit
  • Evidence of having taken the driving test in the previous 2 years or evidence of a forthcoming test
  • A Driving Licence Medical Report Form may be required - see below
  • A Driving Licence Eyesight Report Form may be required - see below
  • The appropriate fee - see 'Rates' above

Eyesight report

A completed Driving Licence Eyesight Report Form must accompany all first learner permit applications. An eyesight report is not required where a medical report is provided unless indicated by the doctor.

An eyesight report is required if you no longer need glasses or contact lenses when driving.

You can download the eyesight report form here (pdf). It is also available from NDLS centres. A registered ophthalmic optician or a registered medical practitioner should conduct your eye test. He or she should then complete the form and witness your signed declaration on the form. The report is valid for 1 month.

Medical report

A Driving Licence Medical Report Form is required if :

  • You will be 70 years of age or more on the first day of the period for which the permit is being issued or
  • You have any of certain disabilities or conditions (see application form)

You do not have to provide a medical report if you have previously provided a satisfactory medical report which is still applicable.

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. The report is valid for 1 month.

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 learner permit 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 learner permit on its website.

A list of approved driving instructors is available on the Road Safety Authority’s 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

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.