Getting around when you return to Ireland
This page explains how to get around when you return to Ireland. It includes information on public transport, driving, cycling, taxis and importing a vehicle from abroad.
Public transport in Ireland
Public transport includes bus, rail, the Luas tram system, taxis, hackneys and limousines.
Transport for Ireland (TFI) have a useful door-to-door journey planner. It includes service information, directions, and time estimates for taking a journey on public transport across Ireland.
The public transport services available to you will depend on where you are in Ireland.
Dublin Bus provides bus services in Dublin and the surrounding areas.
These services include:
- Regular city bus services
- The Airlink (a daily service connecting Dublin Airport to a number of city centre locations)
- The Nitelink (a late night bus service that runs from Dublin city centre to the suburbs on Friday and Saturday nights)
Bus Éireann provide Expressway (intercity), commuter, local and school bus services throughout Ireland. They also operate coach services to Britain and Europe from ports at Dublin and Rosslare Europort in association with Eurolines.
Local Link provides public bus services in rural areas of Ireland. There are 15 Local Link offices.
The DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) runs along the east coast from Malahide in County Dublin to Greystones in County Wicklow. Visit the the Iarnród Éireann website for information on ticketing and timetables.
Iarnród Éireann (also known as Irish Rail) is the operator of the national railway network of Ireland.
It provides the following rail services between main towns and cities:
- Commuter services in the Dublin area between Dundalk, Dunboyne, Longford, Portlaoise and Gorey
- InterCity services depart from Heuston and Connolly Stations in Dublin and run to Belfast, Sligo, Ballina, Westport, Galway, Limerick, Ennis, Tralee, Cork, Waterford and Rosslare Europort
- The Enterprise service operates between Belfast and Dublin and is jointly run by Iarnród Éireann and Northern Ireland Rail
The Luas is a light rail network that connects the city centre with suburban areas in Dublin. It has 2 tramlines, the green line and the red line. Find information on Luas tickets, routes and timetables on luas.ie.
TaxSaver Commuter Ticket
If you will be commuting to work, you can use the TaxSaver Commuter Ticket Scheme to buy cheaper travel tickets through your employer.
Use a Leap card to pay a reduced fare on public transport in certain counties in Ireland. It is a pre-paid travel card for use on bus, train, DART and Luas services in:
Free Travel Scheme
The Free Travel Scheme allows you to travel for free on public transport and some private bus and ferry services. Everyone aged 66 and over, living permanently in Ireland, can get the Free Travel Scheme. You may also qualify if you are under 66 and you have disability or you are a carer.
If you are 66 or over and have Free Travel you can also travel free of charge on bus and rail services in Northern Ireland using a Senior Smartpass card.
Accessible public transport
Licenced and regulated by the National Transport Authority, taxis, hackneys and limousines are available across Ireland.
You can check if your driver is licenced using the TFI Driver Check App.
Use the Taxi Fare Estimator to estimate your taxi fare. The fares calculated are approximate and depend on traffic.
How do I pay for a taxi in Ireland?
Taxis in Ireland must accept credit and debit card payments (for example Visa, Mastercard, American Express) as well as cash. You can choose how you want to pay. Taxi drivers cannot add a surcharge on any card payments.
You must have a valid driving licence to drive in Ireland.
If you have a valid full foreign driving licence, you can drive on this for up to 12 months while visiting Ireland.
If you have returned to live in Ireland permanently, you should exchange your foreign driving licence to an Irish driving licence or start the driving test process here in Ireland.
Reduced Essential Driver Training
If you cannot exchange your foreign driving licence (for example, if you have a drivers licence from the United States), you may only have to do 6 Essential Driver Training (EDT) lessons.
This applies if you:
- Have a full foreign driving licence
- Have had your licence for at least 2 years
- Have a licence that is expired less than 6 months
- Are resident in Ireland
- Have an Irish learner permit
You can also apply to be exempted from the usual 6 month waiting period before first time learner permit holders can sit a driving test. Download this guide to Reduced Essential Driver Training Programme (EDT) for Full Foreign Licence Holders (pdf) for information on the reduced EDT programme.
Can I renew or replace my Irish driving licence when living abroad?
You must be normally resident in Ireland at least 185 days in a calendar year to renew or replace your Irish driver’s licence.
If your Irish driving licence expires, you have up to 10 years from the date of expiry to renew your licence. If you have a learner permit, you have up to 5 years from the date of expiry.
If you are normally resident in Ireland but are currently working on a fixed contract or studying abroad, you can apply online to renew or replace your Irish driving licence. Read more about renewing or replacing your Irish driving licence.
Motor Insurance, National Car Test (NCT) and Tax
Insurers will take overseas driving experience into account if you can prove that you have driven without any accidents or claims abroad. In general, motor insurers will take into account your no claims history from the EEA and Switzerland, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, South Africa, and the USA.
Many insurers will not give you a no claims discount if you have been uninsured for 2 or more years, or if you have been insured abroad.
Car rental in Ireland
Renting a car in Ireland can be a useful way to travel without having to invest in permanent ownership.
Car sharing has also become a popular mode of transport in Ireland in recent years. This is where you rent vehicles from car rental companies on a pay-as-you-go basis. You normally need to use an App on your phone to access car sharing services.
Buying a car in Ireland
Importing a vehicle
To import a car or any other type of vehicle to Ireland, you will need to meet certain legal requirements.
If you bring your vehicle to Ireland, you have to register the vehicle at a National Car Testing Service (NCTS) centre within 30 days of the car arriving in Ireland and you may have to pay Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT). You must make an appointment with the NCTS within 7 days of the vehicle's arrival in Ireland.
You can claim a relief from VRT if you are returning to Ireland permanently and you were using the vehicle for more than 6 months before you moved to Ireland. In this case, you must still register your vehicle but you will not have to pay VRT.
Cycling is an affordable, healthy and environmentally friendly mode of transport.
A tax break is available to employees who buy new bikes and equipment under the Cycle to Work Scheme. You can also use bike sharing schemes to combine public transport with bike hire when you commute to work.