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 motorcycle if you want to drive a motorcycle in a public place. You are required to carry your permit with you at all times when driving.
This document explains how to apply for or renew a learner permit for a motorcycle. 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.
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.
Before you learn to drive on public roads, you must hold a learner permit, covering the category of motorcycle you wish to drive. A learner permit to drive a motorcycle is usually valid for 2 years.
Learner permit holders are not allowed carry pillion passengers (passengers on the back of their motorcycle) or drive on a motorway.
Motorcyclists with learner permits are required to display L-plates on a yellow fluorescent high visibility tabard. (A tabard is a bib or sleeveless outer garment with open side-seams). The letter 'L' must be in red and at least 15cm in height on a white background, and must be to the front and rear of your torso. It is a criminal offence for learner motorcyclists not to display L plates.
Since October 2011 the drink driving limit for drivers with learner permits and those in their first two years on a full driving licence is reduced to 20mg/100m of blood.
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.
Since 19 January 2013 there are 4 categories of motorcycle in Ireland that are licensed for use on public roads. There are also specified minimum ages for motorcyclists.
|Category||Vehicle type||Minimum age of driver|
|AM||Mopeds and tricycles with a maximum speed of 45kph and light quadricycles||16 years|
Motorcycles (with or without a sidecar) of 11kW or less and 125cc or less, with a maximum power/weight ratio of 0.1 kW/kg, and motor tricycles of 15 kW or less
|A2||Motorcycles (with or without a sidecar) of 35kW or less, with a maximum power/weight ratio of 0.2 kW/kg, and not derived from a vehicle of more than double its power||18 years|
|A||Motorcycles (with or without a sidecar) and motor tricycles||24 years (20 years via progressive access)|
Before 19 January 2013, the categories and driver’s minimum age for motorcycles and mopeds were as follows:
|Category||Vehicle type||Minimum age of driver|
|A1||Motorcycles of 11kW or less and of 125cc or less, with or without a sidecar||16 years|
|A*||Motorcycles with or without a sidecar||18 years|
|M||Mopeds with a maximum speed of 45kph and a maximum n engine size of 50cc||16 years|
* Category A learner permits issued before 19 January 2013 carry a restriction. This restriction limits the licence holder to motorcycles (with or without a sidecar) subject to a power limit of 25kW. This restriction continues for 2 years after you have obtained a full driving licence for this category providing the licence was obtained before 19 January 2013.
If you are old enough, the usual steps you must take to get a full driving licence in a particular category is to:
However, if you have already held a category A1 or A2 full driving licence for at least two years it is possible to get a full licence for category A2 or A respectively through what is called progressive access, without going through all those steps. Providing you have already completed IBT training for your existing licence, the steps you follow are:
You may also have to do a motorcycle driving test if you did not pass the test for your existing licence. It is possible to get a category A learner permit at age 20 under progressive access.
You must have a valid driver theory test certificate for motoycycle and moped categories before a first motorcycle learner permit will be granted. The theory test certificate is valid for 2 years from the date of issue. If your learner permit expired at least 5 years ago, then you must pass the theory test again before a learner permit will be issued.
You must do Initial Basic Training (IBT) when you get your first learner permit. You cannot ride a motorcycle on the road unsupervised by your IBT instructor unless have done your IBT and received a certificate of satisfactory completion.
You cannot take a driving test for at least 6 months after getting your first learner permit.
You may not apply for a third or subsequent learner permit unless you can provide:
Learner permits are valid for 2 years (or in certain circumstances for 1 year only) and since 1 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.
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).
The completed application form D201 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 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.
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.
A Driving Licence Medical Report Form is required if:
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.
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.
An application for a learner permit for a motorcycle 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.
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.