Driving tests in Ireland
Driver testing in Ireland is carried out directly by the Road Safety Authority to a standard that complies with the EU Directive on Driving Licences. Testing is conducted out of test centres throughout the country and where possible, your test will be arranged for the centre you nominate on your application form.
A driving test is a compulsory requirement for motorists who have been issued with two 2-year learner permits. It's important to be aware that you may not apply for a third or subsequent learner permit for any category of vehicle unless you can show evidence that you have applied for a driving test.
You cannot take a driving test for at least 6 months after getting your first learner permit (where you are not changing from a provisional licence to a learner permit) in the case of motorcycles, cars and work vehicles. A holder of a current full driving licence from another country for more than 6 months is exempt from this requirement. However, they require a letter of entitlement from the licensing authority in that country which they should forward, with their current driving licence, to the Customer Service Manager in the Driver Testing Section of the Road Safety Authority.
From 19 January 2013, changes are being introduced to driver licence categories and to some of the representative vehicles used for driving tests. You can find information on the driver licence categories and the representative vehicles for driving tests (pdf) on the Road Safety Authority's website. Information on how it affects those who already have motorcycle learner permits is available in a motorcycle FAQ (pdf). Information for those with bus and truck learner permits is available in a bus and truck FAQ (pdf).
Applying for the test
Waiting times vary from county to county; so it is advisable to apply for a test about 6 months before your second learner permit is due to expire. It is a standard test and all test centres use the same testing procedures. You can now apply and pay for your driving test online (see 'How to apply' below).
Preparing for the test
A driving test is designed to determine that you:
- Know the Rules of the Road (pdf)
- Possess the knowledge and skill to drive competently in accordance with those rules
- Drive with proper regard for the safety and convenience of other road users.
Prior to your driving test you should study the Rules of the Road (pdf), a booklet which is published by the Road Safety Authority and is available from bookshops, priced €5. It is also a good idea to practice driving as much as possible on all types of roads and in all types of traffic situations. This will improve your driving techniques and build your confidence.
On the day of your test, give yourself plenty of time to arrive at the test centre with a few minutes to spare. If your first learner permit was issued since 4 April 2011 you should bring your logbook from the Essential Driver Training (EDT) you have completed. When your name is called and you are brought into the examination room, your test officially begins.
Technical checks of vehicle
If you are doing a driving test for categories B (car), EB (car with trailer) and W (work vehicle) you must explain some technical checks as part of your test. After you have answered some questions on the Rules of the Road, the instructor will bring you out to your vehicle. You will be asked how a technical check would be performed on 3 of the following; steering, horn, brakes, tyres, lights, reflectors, indicators, engine oil, coolant, windscreen washer fluid. Access to these items will require you demonstrate how to open the bonnet and to close it securely. Read more detailed information on technical checks for all motor vehicles here.
If you are doing a test for categories C1, C, EC1 and EC (truck and trucks with trailers) you will be asked how a technical check would be peformed on three of the same items above. Access to these items will require you to open and securely close the bonnet, to open/close panels etc.
Practical test of skills
Your driving test in Ireland will take approximately 30 minutes to complete (depending on traffic). You will be given clear instructions throughout the test, but if you don't understand something, ask the examiner to repeat it. Do not panic if you make a mistake during the test. It may not be as serious as you think and it may not mean you have failed.
You will be assessed in the following situations: moving off, driving in traffic, stopping, reversing round a corner, a turn about, a hill-start and parking.
The aspects of your driving that will be assessed include road positioning; overtaking and passing; anticipation and observation; use of mirrors and signals, progress; speed; compliance with traffic lights, road signs and road markings; and proper use of your vehicle controls. At some point during your test, the examiner will ask you to demonstrate your hand signals. You can also expect to make a number of left and right turns, encounter a roundabout and stop at traffic lights.
When you return to the test centre your examiner will bring you back into the examination room to give you the result. If you pass, you will be given a Certificate of Competency, which is valid for 2 years. If you fail to apply for a full licence during this 2 year period, you will have to complete your driving test again. If you fail your driving test, you will be given a detailed list of your mistakes, which you should study and rectify before you sit another driving test.
Facilities for motorists with a disability/non-English speakers
If you have a hearing impairment you may have an interpreter accompany you for this part of the test. Your interpreter may not be your driving instructor and they cannot accompany you on the practical part of your test. The tester may show written instructions for this part of the test and display them as appropriate; the tester may also use basic sign language. You should also note that if the vehicle you present for the test is adapted to suit a disability (e.g., it has additional controls), this will be noted on your full driving licence. If you have special needs, you should indicate this on the application form for your driving test so that any necessary arrangements will be in place when you attend for your test.
It is possible to apply for your driving test to be conducted through Irish. (You will need to complete the Irish language version of the application form and submit as normal). If English is not your first language, you may have an interpreter accompany you for this part of the test. Again, your interpreter may not be your driving instructor and they cannot accompany you on the practical part of the test. The tester may show written instructions for this part of the test and display them as appropriate.
The examiner will ask to see your licence and ask you to sign a form stating that the car is both roadworthy and insured. You will then have to answer some random questions from the Rules of the Road. The examiner will then accompany you to your car to begin the practical side of your test.
There are a number of things you need to do in preparation for your driving test and a number of legal requirements you must comply with.
- You must have a current learner permit to sit a driving test.
- Current motor tax and insurance discs and an NCT certificate (if applicable) must be displayed on the vehicle you are using.
- L-plates should be displayed on the front and rear of the vehicle.
- Your vehicle must be appropriate for the driver licence category you are being tested for.
- The vehicle should be roadworthy, for example all tyres should have a minimum depth of 1.6mm - the legal thread depth limit for tyres in Ireland.
- Everything should be in perfect working order, e.g., windscreen wipers, indicators, mirrors, etc.
- The interior and exterior of your car should be clean.
To explain how a technical check would be carried out on your vehicle, you will be required to open the vehicle bonnnet and close it securely.
Cancelling your driving test
If for some reason you are unable to sit your driving test on the day you are given, you may cancel this test but you will have to re-apply again. You are urged to notify Driver Testing immediately if you need to cancel your test. As waiting lists are very long, someone else could avail of your slot. You will not forfeit your test fee if you give at least 10 days notice and if you haven't previously cancelled more than one driving test appointment on this application. Cancelling your driving test will mean that you go back to the end of the waiting list again at the test centre. You may cancel your driving test any time - (contact information for Driver Testing under 'Where to apply' below).
Very occasionally the Driver Testing Service may have to cancel your test at short notice. Every effort is made to notify the test candidate immediately. In such circumstances, Driver Testing will arrange a further test free of charge at the earliest date possible. The Road Safety Authority will also consider reimbursing certain out of pocket expenses, e.g., hire of vehicle on the day of the cancelled test, on receipt of the appropriate claim in the Authority. (View contact information under 'Where to apply' below).
The appropriate fee for the category of test must accompany your driving test application. From February 2011 the fees are:
|Category of Vehicle||Fee|
|Categories A, A1, B, BE, M and W||€85|
|Categories C, C1, D and D1||€120|
|Categories CE, C1E, DE and D1E||€120|
Payment should be made by cheque, postal order or money order. These should be crossed and made payable to the Road Safety Authority. Fees are non-refundable.
How to apply
You can apply and pay for your driving test online here. (You will require a credit card to do this VISA or Mastercard. You also need to have a valid e-mail address). Alternatively, you can download an application form for a driving test (pdf) here, or obtain a copy from your local Motor Taxation Office. The correct fee must accompany your completed application form.
Ten days notice must be given if you need to cancel your driving test, otherwise the fee is forfeit. You may cancel 2 appointments without forfeiting your fee or having to make a new application.
Further information is available on the Road Safety Authority's website.
Where to apply
If you don't apply for your driving test online, forward your completed application form and fee to the Driver Testing Section of the Road Safety Authority at the address below.