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.
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.
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/permit has been introduced, replacing the paper driving licence and learner permit. Anyone who applies for a licence or learner permit since 12 January 2013 receives the new 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.
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. Information on other proposed measures to protect learner and inexperienced drivers is available on the Road Safety Authority's website.
The rules of the road are available at rotr.ie.
The categories and driver's minimum age for car and work vehicles are as follows:
|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|
Since the Driver Theory Testing Service started in 2001, you must get a theory test certificate for the car and work vehicle categories before a first learner permit will be granted. If your provisional licence or /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 (unless you are changing from a provisional licence to a learner permit).
You may not apply for a third or subsequent learner permit unless you can provide:
While you are required to carry your learner permit with you at all times when driving, you are not required by law to change your permit if you change your name or address. However, it is advisable. You are required to show evidence of your permit if requested to by An Garda Siochana, so your permit 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 ‘Where to apply’ below.
If you already hold a learner permit for category B, you can add category W without submitting a theory test certificate.
If your current learner permit is lost, stolen, damaged or defaced, you should apply to one of the NDLS centres for a replacement. The replacement permit is a duplicate or exact copy of your original learner permit.
If your learner permit has expired and is no longer valid, you can only apply for a new learner permit.
You can find out more in our document on replacing a lost or stolen Irish learner permit.
Learner permits for cars and work vehicles are valid for 2 years (or 1 year in certain circumstances) and since 1 January 2013 the fee is €35.
They are free of charge to those aged 70 or over. Exchanging your learner permit to show a new address or address is free.
Information on acceptable forms of payment is available on the application form.
If you are applying for a learner permit to drive you should apply for a permit for category B to drive a car and category W to drive a work vehicle. The application form for a learner permit, Form D201, is available from NDLS centres, Driving Test centres, Driving Theory Test centres and Garda Stations. You can also download Form D201 (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’ section below.
Before you apply for your first learner permit, you must first obtain a driver theory test certificate. The theory test certificate is valid for 2 years from the date of issue.
The completed application form D.201 should be accompanied by:
When applying for your second learner permit the completed application form D.201 should be accompanied by:
When applying for your third or subsequent learner permit, you have to provide evidence that you have undergone a driving test in the 2-year period prior to your application or evidence of a forthcoming test date.
The completed application form D.201 should be accompanied by:
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.
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.
You can download the eyesight report form here (pdf). It is also available from NDLS centres.
A Driving Licence Medical Report Form is required if :
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.
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 here (pdf) (it must be printed back to back on one page). It is also available from NDLS centres.
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 learner permit should be made in person to one of the National Driver Licence Service (NDLS) centres.
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.