Getting around when you return to Ireland

Introduction

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 the country.

Bus services

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.

Train services

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

Trams

The Luas is a light rail network that connects the city centre with suburban areas in Dublin. It has two 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.

Leap card

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:

  • Athlone
  • Cork
  • Dublin
  • Galway
  • Kilkenny
  • Limerick
  • Sligo
  • Waterford
  • Wexford

Free Travel Scheme

The Free Travel Scheme allows you to travel, free of charge, 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.

Accessible public transport

Read about accessible public transport for people with a disability or reduced mobility.

Taxis

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.

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 exchange your foreign driving licence to an Irish driving licence or start the driving test process here in Ireland.

Only driving licences issued by EU/EEA countries, the UK and certain recognised states can be exchanged for an Irish driving licence.

If you cannot exchange your foreign driving licence, you may only have to do 6 Essential Driver Training (EDT) lessons 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

You must insure and tax your vehicle before you can drive 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 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 two 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.

Importing a vehicle

To import a car or any other type of vehicle to Ireland, you will need to meet certain legal requirements. Read our information on buying a new or used car in Ireland.

Cycling

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 Bike to Work Scheme. You can also use bike sharing schemes to combine public transport with bike hire when you commute to work.

When you return to Ireland, it's important you understand the laws on cycling and the rules regarding bike lights.

Page edited: 12 May 2022