Driving and transport during COVID-19

Introduction

This document has information about how driving licencing, testing and NCT services are operating while COVID-19 restrictions are in place.

It also has information about public transport services.

For information about traveling to or from Ireland, you can read our documents:

Where can I drive to?

From 29 June 2020, you can travel to anywhere in Ireland. Restrictions on travel have been lifted.

You should continue to be cautious and should walk or cycle where possible. You should continue to work from home if you can.

You can read more about:

Driving licences and learner permits

If your driving licence was due to expire between 1 March and 30 June 2020, your licence is automatically renewed for a further 4 months. This applies to all categories of full driving licences.

Learner permits that are due to expire between 1 March 2020 and 31 October 2020 are automatically renewed for 4 months.

You will not receive a new licence during this time, but your driver record will be updated to show that you licence or learner permit is still valid.

Renew your licence online

You can renew your licence online. You will need a Public Services Card and a verified MyGovID account to apply online. You cannot renew your licence or learner permit online if:

  • You hold a bus or truck category on your licence
  • You are over 70
  • You are applying for your third or subsequent leaner permit
  • You have a medical condition that requires a medical report (see the driving licence form (pdf) for a list of applicable medical conditions)

Renew your licence in person or apply for a first time licence

National Driver Licence Service (NDLS) offices have reopened but are not operating a drop-in service. You can book an appointment to attend an office in person.

If you are over 70, you will not have to supply a medical report from your doctor, unless you have a specified medical condition. This applies up until 31 July 2020.

You can read more about:

What about penalty points?

The licence extension period is treated the same as any other period where you hold a valid licence or learner permit. This means that penalty points or disqualifications that you might have on your licence record will continue to count down to their expiry date during this period.

The Road Safety Authority has a list of frequently asked questions (pdf) about the extension of licences and learner permits.

Learning to drive and driving tests

To learn to drive, you will need a learner permit. You can apply for a learner permit after you have successfully completed the driver theory test. Read more about the steps involved in learning to drive.

Theory test centres reopened at a reduced capacity on 8 June 2020. You are advised to wear a face mask when attending your theory test appointment.

Driving schools can reopen, but instructors must make sure that they follow public health advice and the return to work safely protocols.

Driving tests started again on 29 June 2020 for bus, trucks and motorcycles. Car testing started again on 20 July 2020 on a phased basis. If you are doing your driving test, you should read the safety procedures that are are in place (pdf).

If you have already passed your theory test or driving test, or initial basic training for motorcyclists, the following documents have been extended for 4 months:

  • Certificates of competency received on passing a driving test
  • Driver theory test certificates
  • Motorcycle initial basic training certificates

This applies to documents that were due to expire between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2020.

The Road Safety Authority has a list of frequently asked questions (pdf) about the suspension of driving tests.

National Car Test (NCT) and Commercial Vehicle Roadworthiness Test (CVRT)

If you are due to submit your vehicle for an NCT from 28 March 2020, your due date has been extended by 4 months. You will not receive a new NCT certificate during this time.

The extension does not apply to cars that were first registered on or after 1 August 2016, because these vehicles are due their first test.

If your NCT was due before 28 March 2020 or you were unable to complete your NCT earlier this year because of problems with vehicle lifting equipment, you may now book to take your vehicle for its NCT. Phased reopening of NCT centres began on 8 June 2020. You can see which test centres are open on the NCTS website.

If you could not complete your test before 28 March because the test centre could not examine the underside of your vehicle, you should carry the notification that your test was incomplete with you to show a Garda on request.

CVRTs have resumed since 18 March for commercial vehicles with a due date before 28 March 2020. If your vehicle’s due date is after 28 March 2020, your CVRT test date is automatically extended by 3 months.

Vehicle registration inspections

Vehicle registration inspections have recommenced since 29 June 2020. If you present your vehicle for inspection before 31 July 2020:

  • Your vehicle will be valued based on the date it is examined
  • You will not be charged any penalty charges for registering outside of the 30 day limit

If you register after 31 July 2020, penalty charges and time limits will apply as normal. You can read more about importing a vehicle.

Motor tax and motor insurance

You can pay your motor tax online. Most counter services in local authority offices have resumed. But you are recommended to use the online service if possible.

A number of insurance companies have announced that they will give customers reliefs on their premiums to reflect the reduction in the number of claims during the COVID-19 emergency period.

You should check your own insurer’s website for details on how it will provide the relief (for example by a refund or discount).

Public transport

Public transport services have been reduced and you should only use public transport for essential journeys. Transport for Ireland has updated public transport information.

You should use your Leap card or TFI card when paying for your trip.

From 13 July, you must wear a face covering when using public transport unless you have a “reasonable excuse”. This does not apply to children under the age of 13. “Reasonable excuse” includes where:

  • You cannot wear one because of a physical or mental illness or disability
  • You need to communicate with someone who has difficulty communicating
  • You removed your face covering because you had to provide emergency assistance to someone or you had to provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person
  • You removed the face covering to take medication
  • You removed the face covering to avoid harm or injury

Under the Regulations a driver or inspector (or other employee of the public transport provider) may request that you wear a face covering. You will be committing an offence if:

  • You refuse to wear a face covering without a reasonable excuse
  • You refuse to comply with a request to exit the vehicle

The punishment for this offence is a fine of up to €2,500 or a term of up to 6 months imprisonment, or both. These regulations are in place until 5 October 2020.

Taxsaver tickets

The National Transport Authority has announced that it is developing a scheme, along with transport operators, to offer:

  • Refunds to Taxsaver ticket holders who have lost their jobs and
  • Extra months-in-lieu on tickets for ticket holders who return to work

The refunds will cover the period since travel restrictions were put in place. Ticket holders who return to work when restrictions are lifted will be offered extra months on their tickets to compensate for the months of payments made while restrictions were in place.

Page edited: 22 July 2020