Owning a motorcycle in Ireland

Getting started with your motorcycle

If you ride a motorcycle on a public road, you must follow the rules of the road (pdf) and carry a valid driving licence for the correct category of motorcycle.

You must have motor tax and motorcycle insurance.

Learner drivers

If you are a learner driver, you must wear a high-visibility yellow fluorescent vest. You must wear it over your clothing, and it must be in good condition. You can order a free hi-vis vest from Road Safety Authority.

You must have learner rider L plates (no less than 15 cm high) in red on a white background on the front and rear.

You must complete your Initial Basic Training (IBT) before you can drive unsupervised – see practise driving for more information.

On this page, you can get information about how to get your motorcycle licence and tips on driving safely.

Steps to learning to drive

The steps to learning to drive are:

  1. Pass the driver theory test
  2. Get a learner permit
  3. Practise driving
  4. Pass the driving test

Driver testing in Ireland is carried out by the Road Safety Authority (RSA). The National Driver Licencing Service (NDLS) is responsible for issuing learner permits and driver licences.

Once you have passed your driving test, you can apply for your driving licence.

Staying safe on your motorcycle

Although motorcyclists represent less than 2% of all licensed vehicle drivers in the country, they account for 10% of road deaths.

As a motorcyclist, you are legally required to do certain things:

Your bike and safety equipment

  • Ensure that your motorcycle is always roadworthy.
  • Check that your tyres are of the correct tread depth.
  • Wear an approved helmet and protective clothing.

When driving

  • Always maintain concentration when driving.
  • Try to anticipate potential hazards on the road.
  • Drive at a speed that enables you to stop within the appropriate distance if necessary.
  • Keep a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you.
  • Be aware of adverse weather and poor road conditions.

Staying seen

  • Be always visible.
  • Use your headlights day and night.

It is illegal in Ireland to drink or take drugs and drive any vehicle. For more details, see our page on driving offences. You must also follow the national speed limits in Ireland.

Buying and using a motorcycle helmet

You should:

  • Buy a good quality helmet from a reputable dealer. Try several different sizes and makes. Make sure the dealer knows how to assess proper fit.
  • Never buy or use a second-hand helmet.
  • Replace a damaged helmet immediately.
  • Always wear your helmet and make sure it is securely fastened.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) publication This is your Bike - a safety guide for you and your motorcycle or moped (pdf) has advice on buying and using a motorcycle helmet.

Motorcycles lights

There are rules about the type of lights and reflectors that must be fitted to your motorcycle. Motorcycle must have the following:

One headlight: This is fitted to the front of the motorcycle to light the road ahead with a white or yellow light. The lamp should light the road ahead for a distance of 99 metres (325 feet) or 30.5 metres (100 feet) when dipped, and a reasonable distance for low-powered motorcycles.

One rear light: This is fitted to the rear of the motorcycle. This lamp should provide a red light that is visible for 152 metres (500 feet) when lit.

One rear reflector: This is a red reflector that can be seen for a distance of 99 metres (325 feet) to the rear when the headlights of another vehicle shine directly on it.

Registration plate lighting: This is a white light to illuminate the rear registration plate so that each letter and number can be easily read from a distance of 20 metres (65 feet) to the rear.

Indicators: These are flashing lights fitted to a motorcycle to let other road users know that the driver intends to turn right or left.

Position light: This is fitted up to 1.5 metres (5 feet) from the ground to provide white light to the front which is visible for 152 metres (500 feet). This lamp must be 7 watts or less. A position light is only needed if the motorcycle is not fitted with a headlight or if a side-car is attached.

Motorcycle sidecars must have:

  • One white position lamp
  • One red rear lamp
  • One red rear reflector

Use of a headlight

You should dip the headlight on your motorcycle in the following situations:

  • Meeting oncoming vehicles (for example, vehicles coming towards you from the opposite direction)
  • In built-up areas where public lighting is provided and special speed limit areas
  • In times of poor visibility (for example, heavy fog, snow, rain, or dust)
  • Travelling behind another vehicle
  • When not using your head-light would cause an inconvenience to other road users

Lighting-up hours

All motorcyclists must use lights (other than stop lights) during lighting-up hours. Lighting-up hours start half an hour after sunset and end half an hour before sunrise. If you are using your motorcycle during the day when visibility is poor, you must use your lights.

These rules are set down in the Road Traffic (Lighting of Vehicles) Regulations, 1963 (as amended). The Regulations aim to prevent accidents and protect the lives of road users. The Garda Síochána are responsible for enforcing the law on motorcycle lights.

More information

Page edited: 17 April 2023