Getting around when you return to Ireland

Introduction

This article aims to help you understand how to get around upon returning to Ireland. It contains information on public transport services, driving, cycling, taxis and importing a vehicle from abroad.

Getting around during COVID-19

COVID-19 has disrupted some transport services. Read our latest information on Getting around if you return to Ireland during the COVID-19 public health emergency. You can also find out more about returning to Ireland during COVID-19 in our document.

Public transport

Public transport is one of the easiest and affordable ways to get around Ireland and includes bus, train and tram services.

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.

If you will be commuting to work, read about the TaxSaver Commuter Ticket Scheme. You can use the tax saver scheme to buy cheaper travel tickets through your employer.

The public transport services available to you will depend on where you are in the country.

Buses

Dublin Bus provides bus services within 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), and the Nitelink (a late night bus service that runs from the city centre to the suburbs on Friday and Saturday nights throughout the year). For more information on Dublin Bus read our document on Bus services in Ireland.

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. For more information on Bus Éireann routes, timetables and tickets, read our document on Bus services in Ireland.

Local Link provides public bus services in local and rural areas of Ireland. There are 15 Local Link offices. You can find out more about your Local Link service at locallink.ie.

Trains

The DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) runs along the east coast from Malahide in County Dublin to Greystones in County Wicklow. Information related to ticketing and timetables can be found on the Iarnród Éireann website.

Iarnród Éireann is the operator of the national railway network of Ireland. Also known as ‘Irish Rail’ it provides rail links between main towns and cities, including:

  • Commuter services which operate in the Dublin area between Dundalk, Dunboyne, Longford, Portlaoise and Gorey
  • InterCity services departing from Dublin's Heuston and Connolly Stations and serve the following destinations: Belfast, Sligo, Ballina, Westport, Galway, Limerick, Ennis, Tralee, Cork, Waterford and Rosslare Europort
  • The Enterprise service which operates between Belfast and Dublin and is jointly run by Iarnród Éireann and Northern Ireland Rail

Trams

The Luas is a light rail network that connects suburban parts of Dublin on two tramlines which run through the city centre. It is named after the Irish word for speed. Further information regarding Luas tickets, routes and timetables can be found at luas.ie.

Taxis

Licenced and regulated by the National Transport Authority, taxis, hackneys and limousines are available across Ireland.

The TFI Driver Check App can be downloaded for free from Google Play and the iTunes store. The app allows you to check that your driver is licenced.

The Taxi Fare Estimator also allows you to budget for your trip. The fares calculated are approximate and depend on traffic congestion.

Driving

Driving licences

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 either convert your foreign driving licence to an Irish driving licence or start the driving test process here in Ireland (including a theory test, 12 Essential Driver Training (EDT) lessons, and a driving test).

Only driving licences issued by EU/EEA countries and certain recognised states can be converted to an Irish driving licence. Read our document on converting your foreign driving licence.

If you cannot convert your foreign driving licence, you may only have to do 6 EDT lessons as part of the Reduced Essential Driver Training Programme (EDT) if you:

  • Have a full foreign driving licence
  • Have had your licence for at least two years
  • Have a licence that is expired less than six months
  • Are resident in Ireland
  • Have an Irish learner permit

Download this guide to Reduced Essential Driver Training Programme (EDT) for Full Foreign Licence Holders (.pdf) for information on how to apply.

Motor Insurance, National Car Test (NCT) and Tax

Vehicles must be insured and taxed before they can be driven in Ireland. Most cars that are 4 years or older, must also have a valid National Car Test (NCT).

Since 2017, insurers will take overseas driving experience into consideration as long as you can provide proof of claims-free driving experience abroad. If you have had no insurance in your own name for 2 or more years, or if you have been insured abroad, many insurers will not give you a no claims discount when you reapply for insurance cover. Read more information on getting motor insurance on your return to Ireland.

You can also find more information on Irish motor tax in our document.

Car Rentals and Sharing

Hiring a car in Ireland can be a great way to travel around this or another country without having to invest in permanent ownership. This document contains useful advice on renting a car in Ireland.

Car sharing has also become an increasingly popular mode of transport in Irish cities in recent years, with many commuters electing to rent vehicles from providers such as Go Car and Yuko on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Importing a vehicle

To import a car or any other type of vehicle to Ireland, you will need to fulfil certain legal requirements. Read more about importing a car to Ireland in our document. You can also read our information on buying a new or used car in Ireland.

Cycling

Cycling continues to grow in popularity in Ireland as an affordable, healthy and environmentally-friendly mode of transport. Read our document on cycling for more information.

Since 2009, a tax break is available to employees who buy new bikes and equipment under the Cycle to Work Scheme. Furthermore, several new bike sharing schemes have launched in recent years, enabling people to combine public transport with bike hire as they commute.

Upon returning to Ireland, however, it is important you take time to understand the laws on cycling and note the rules regarding bike lights.

Page edited: 21 August 2020