Driver theory test
A driver theory test was introduced in 2001 to supplement the practical driving test. Prior to this, motorists were not required to undergo a test of their knowledge of either the rules of the road or motoring legislation before they applied for a driving licence, or completed their driving test.
You must pass the driver theory test before applying for a first learner permit. If your learner permit expired 5 years ago, then you must pass the theory test again before a learner permit will be issued.
EU legislation governing this area requires that citizens undergo a practical test of their knowledge of the rules of the road and motoring legislation.
Your theory test will check your knowledge about areas such as:
- The rules of the road
- Risk perception
- Hazard awareness
- Good driving behaviour
The test is conducted at a nation-wide network of 41 test locations and uses a user-friendly computerised system. The test can be offered in Irish and in English and candidates with special needs are catered for.
A theory test certificate must be obtained before a first learner permit in a particular vehicle category is granted.
The categories of test are:
- A – motorcycles and mopeds (Driving licence categories AM, A1, A2, A),
- B – cars, tractors and work vehicles (Driving licence categories B, BE, W)
- C – vans and trucks over 3,500kg (Driving licence categories C, C1, CE, C1E)
- D – buses (Driving licence categories D, D1, DE, D1E)
- CD – trucks and buses (Driving licence categories C, C1, CE, C1E, D, D1, DE, D1E)
- TMT – truck module (must have passed D test since 30 September 2014)
- BMT – bus module (must have passed C since 30 September 2014)
If you already have a driving licence for a particular category and you want to get a driving licence for a different category for which a different theory test is required, you have to pass the theory test for that category before you can apply for a learner permit. For example, if you have a driving licence for category B and you want to get a driving licence for category C1, you have to pass the category C theory test and then apply for a category C1 learner permit.
If you pass a category C or D theory test on or after 30 September 2014, there is an option to sit a TMT or BMT module test to obtain the other category (D or C as appropriate) provided this is done within 2 years of the first test.
Read more about categories of vehicles and learner permits here.
Motorcycle and car tests
There are 40 questions in the category A and B tests and you have to answer 35 questions correctly to be successful. You have 45 minutes to answer the 40 questions in the test.
Truck and bus tests
There are 100 questions in the category C and D tests and you have to answer 74 questions correctly. You have 100 minutes to answer the questions.
To pass the combined CD theory test, you have 140 minutes to correctly answer 104 out of 140 questions. To pass a TMT or a BMT module theory test you have 45 minutes to answer 30 out of 40 questions correctly.
Taking the test
The test is computerised and can be taken using either a touch screen or a mouse and keyboard. The first part of the exam consists of a short tutorial, which includes instructions on how to navigate through the exam as well as allow you to practice answering two questions. You do not need to be computer literate.
Categories A, B, C and D tests are available in Irish. If you wish to complete your test in the Irish language, you should state that when booking your test.
The format of the test is multiple choice questions. Answers are marked with a square box beside them, where you tick one to choose the correct answer.
If you make a mistake or change your mind, you can cancel your answer. If you want to skip a question, you can and then go back and answer the question at the end of your test. Before you complete the exam, there is an option to review all your answers and if you wish, change them.
The test is scored automatically and results are made available to you immediately. You will receive a pass certificate for your theory test at the test centre.
Regardless of whether you pass or fail, you will also be provided with a score report listing the categories recommended for further study, based on your performance.
Applicants with reading or language difficulties
There are various options to assist you if you have special reading needs.
- If you have any difficulty with reading, there is a voiceover option that will read out the questions and answers to you over headphones.
- You can apply to have extra time to take your exam.
- A reader recorder service can be provided where a staff member will read the questions and answers to you and record your answer on the computer.
- Translator supported tests are available by special arrangement in certain test centres, if you do not understand Irish or English, even if provided over headphones.
To apply for extra time, a reader recorder service or a translator supported test you have to apply for the theory test by post. You also have to provide evidence on official headed paper from a teacher, doctor or professional person confirming the assistance you require.
The questions you will be asked in your driver theory test are based on the Rules of the Road and current road traffic legislation. The Driver Theory Testing Service has a bank of questions. For each test, a random selection of questions will be used from the question bank. The test is continually updated depending on new and revised legislation.
The full list of test questions and answers for motorcycles and cars and for trucks and buses are available in book and CD formats. The CD-Roms includes practice tests, where you can sit a test and understand how the exam works.
The books and the CDs are available from bookshops throughout the country, by phone (Locall 1890 606 106) and online from the Driver Theory Testing Service. This material is not free. Some public libraries also stock this material. Contact your local public library to see if you can borrow these items.
Minimum age and driver theory test
There are specific minimum ages at which you may hold a learner permit for certain vehicles in Ireland. For example, drivers of Category A1 vehicles (i.e., certain motorcycles) must be at least 16 years of age to obtain a learner permit. Drivers of Category B vehicles (that is, certain cars) must be at least 17 years to hold a first learner permit.
In theory, you may take a driver theory test at any age. However, you must submit your pass certificate to a National Driver Licence Service (NDLS) centre with your application for a first learner permit within two years of passing the theory test. So for example, if you wish to apply for a learner permit for Category B vehicles, you must be at least 15 years of age or older when you pass your driver theory test in order to obtain a first learner permit when you reach 17 years.
Failure to submit your learner permit application to an NDLS centre within 2 years of passing your theory test will mean the test certificate expires and you will have to do the test again.
There is no maximum age at which you can complete a driver theory test.
If you are unhappy with the result of your theory test, you have the right to appeal this decision. Speak to the Driver Theory Test supervisor before leaving the test centre. You may also fill out an appeal form, available at each of the Driver Theory Test Centres. There are some rules regarding appeals.
You must make your appeal within 10 working days of your test
When your appeal is received, your test will be re-marked and you will receive the result within 5 to 10 working days.
If it emerges that the original marking was incorrect you will be issued with your new theory test certificate. You can read more about the Driver Theory Test Customer Charter here.
Anyone who wants to apply for a first learner permit has to pass the theory test for that category of vehicle first.
Replacing a lost driver theory test certificate
If you have lost or misplaced your driver theory test certificate, you can obtain a duplicate copy. You can request a duplicate certificate over the telephone by calling 1890 606 106, and pay the required fee using a credit or debit card.
You will be asked to provide personal and test details, such as your name, address, date of birth and test confirmation number.
The cost of a driver theory test is as follows:
- Category A or B – €45
- Category C or D – €72
- Category CD – €84
- Module TMT or BMT – €45
A duplicate driver theory test certificate costs €15.
The fee for making an appeal is €15 which is refunded if successful.
How to apply
From 1 June 2017, a Public Services Card is required to book a theory test.
You can also book a test by telephoning the call centre below. Alternatively, you can telephone and request an application form by post. Your completed application form together with the appropriate fee should be forwarded to the address below.
You can pay for your test using a credit or debit card, a cheque or postal order. For theory test categories A and B, you can also pay with an eVoucher from a Payzone outlet.
When your application has been received, you will receive notification of the date, location and time of your test in advance. It is possible to re-schedule or cancel a theory test online or you can contact the call centre to do so.
When you arrive at your test centre, your documentation and identification will be checked. You will then be taken to a work station to complete the test.
Where to apply
Driver Theory Test
P.O. Box 15
Locall:1890 606 106 Monday-Friday 8.00am-6.00pm.