How to apply for a learner permit to drive a car

Information

You must have at least a learner permit in order to drive a car in a public place. The learner permit must be for the appropriate category of vehicle and you must always have it with you when you are driving.

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

To apply for a learner permit, 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.

The Road Safety Authority has responsibility for driver licensing and the National Driver Licence Service (NDLS) manages licence applications and renewals.

When you apply for your first learner permit, you have to visit an NDLS centre. You can renew your learner permit online if you have a Public Services Card and a MyGovID verified account –see details and exclusions in ‘Renewing online’ below. Alternatively, you can visit an NDLS centre to renew your learner permit.

Rules

You must hold a learner permit for your category of vehicle before you start to drive on public roads in Ireland.

You can drive a car when you are 17 and a work vehicle, for example, a tractor, when you are 16. For more information, see our document categories of motor vehicles and minimum age of drivers.

You must always have someone with a full driving licence in the car with you when you are driving on a learner permit. This person must have had their driving licence for at least 2 years. You are not allowed to draw 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.

If you have a learner permit for a work vehicle you should not carry a passenger unless the vehicle is designed to do so, and the passenger is a qualified driver who has held a driving licence for a work vehicle for at least 2 years.

The drink driving limit and penalty point disqualification threshold are reduced for people with learner permits and novice drivers. See our documents on drink driving offences and penalty points for driving offences for more information.

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

Your first learner permit

Driver theory test

You must have a valid driver theory test certificate to get your first learner permit. If your learner permit expired more than 5 years ago, you must pass the theory test again to get a learner permit.

Essential driver training

You must also complete 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 updates your logbook. When you take your driving test, you may have 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 until you have had your first learner permit for at least 6 months.

Your third learner permit

You can apply for a second leaner permit before you take a driving test but you cannot apply for a third or subsequent learner permit unless you can provide:

  • Evidence that you have done a driving test in the 2-year period prior to the application (a 2-year learner permit will be granted) or
  • Evidence of an upcoming 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). The fee is €35.

If you are aged 70 or over, you can get your learner permit for free.

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 for your first learner permit. However, you may be able to renew your learner permit online – see details and exclusions in ‘Renewing online’ below.

If you apply in person, you do not have to provide photographs with your application, as your photo and signature will be digitally recorded, but you do need to bring proof of identity.

You need to complete the learner permit application form (pdf). There are guidance notes (pdf) to help you with this form. You can also get the form and notes from NDLS centres, driving test centres, driving theory test centres and Garda stations.

Applying for your first learner permit

You must bring your completed application form and the following documentation with you:

  • Your driver theory test certificate
  • Photographic ID – see below
  • Proof of your residency entitlement – see below
  • Evidence of your PPS Number – see below
  • Proof of address – see below
  • A Driving Licence Eyesight Report Form – see below
  • A Driving Licence Medical Report Form, if required – see below
  • The appropriate fee – see 'Rates' above

Renewing your learner permit

Renewing online

You can renew your learner permit online if you have a Public Services Card (PSC) and a MyGovID verified account. This option is not available if:

  • Your current learner permit is valid for more than 3 months
  • You have a truck or bus category on your learner permit
  • You are aged 70 or over
  • You are applying for your 3rd or subsequent learner permit
  • You need to get a medical report to renew your learner permit because of a medical condition

Renewing in person

If you cannot renew your learner permit online, you have to apply to an NDLS centre in person. You must bring your completed application form and the following documentation with you:

  • Your last learner permit
  • Proof of your residency entitlement – see below
  • Evidence of your PPS Number – see below
  • Proof of address – see below
  • The appropriate fee – see 'Rates' above
  • A Driving Licence Medical Report Form, if required – see below
  • A Driving Licence Eyesight Report Form, if required – see below
  • If you are applying for your third or subsequent learner permit, evidence that you have taken the driving test in the previous 2 years or evidence of a forthcoming test

Proof of identity

You can use your Public Services Card (PSC) as proof of identity. If you want to use your PSC as photographic ID and proof of address, the name and address on your learner permit must match the name and address on your PSC. If you are a citizen of an EU/EEA member state or Switzerland you can also use the PSC as proof of your residency entitlement, otherwise you must provide a document from the 'Proof of your residency entitlement' list below. If you don't have a PSC, the following documents are accepted as photographic ID, proof of residency, evidence of PPS number and proof of address:

  • Photographic ID
    - Irish passport
    - Irish driving licence or learner permit
    - 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 Irish travel document (issued by INIS)

  • Proof of your residency entitlement
    - Irish or 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 (Irish Residence Permit - previously GNIB card) for non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens

  • Evidence of your PPS Number
    - Public Services Card or Social Services Card
    - Correspondence from Revenue or the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, showing your PPS Number
    - P21, tax assessment or notice of tax credits
    - Receipt of social welfare payment
    - Medical card, Drug Payment Scheme (DPS) card, European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
    - Payslip, P60 or P45

  • Proof of address (See Note below)
    - Utility bill from your provider of electricity, phone, gas, cable television or broadband.
    - Correspondence with an insurance company regarding an active policy.- Statement from your bank, building society or credit union
    - Letter from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection or Revenue
    - Other official correspondence from an Irish State agency, such as: a government department, HSE, CAO, SUSI, An Garda Síochána, public hospital, Residential Tenancies Board, third-level college, training agency, An Post, or the National Cervical and breast screening programmes. Also NCT reports or reminders, TV Licence, Register of Electors or polling cards.

Note: Proof of address documents must be less than 6 months old when you apply. Mobile phone bills and statements from store cards/catalogue companies are not accepted.

Eyesight report

A completed Driving Licence Eyesight Report Form must accompany all first learner permit applications.

When renewing your learner permit, the Driving Licence Medical Report Form will be used to report any eyesight issues. However, you will require a Driving Licence Eyesight Report Form if you no longer need glasses or contact lenses to drive (for example, if you've had laser eye surgery).

You can download the eyesight report form (pdf). It is also available from NDLS centres. A registered ophthalmic optician or a registered medical practitioner should conduct your eye test. They 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.

Where to apply

You have to apply for your first learner driver permit in person to one of the National Driver Licence Service (NDLS) centres- see 'How to apply' above. You can book an appointment online.

You may be able to renew your driving licence online if you are eligible and have a Public Services Card (PSC) and a MyGovID verified account, see ‘Renewing online’ above. Alternatively you can apply in person - see 'Renewing in person' above.

National Driver Licence Service

Road Safety Authority
Po Box 858
Southside Delivery Office
Cork
Ireland

Tel:0761 08 7880
Homepage: https://www.ndls.ie/
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 edited: 19 July 2018