Driving and transport during COVID-19

Introduction

This document has information about how driving licencing, testing and NCT services are operating during COVID-19.

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?

Restrictions on travel have been introduced in some parts of the country. This depends on the level of restrictive measures that are in place in the local area.

While Level 5 restrictions are in place, you should stay at home unless you have a reasonable excuse for leaving your house.

You can read more about:

Driving licences and learner permits

If your driving licence was due to expire between 1 March and 31 August 2020, your licence is automatically renewed for a further 7 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. This includes permits that were already automatically renewed.

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.

Renewing your licence

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)

If you are over 70 the NDLS will contact you directly to invite you to renew your driving licence by post. You will not have to supply a medical report from your doctor, unless you have a specified medical condition. This applies up until 31 December 2020.

Apply for a first time licence

National Driver Licence Service (NDLS) offices have reopened but are not operating a drop-in service. You should only book an appointment to attend an office in person if you are providing an essential service or if you work in an essential retail service.

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 are closed while Level 5 restrictions are in place.

Driving schools can provide lessons to people who have driving tests booked, but instructors must make sure that they follow public health advice and the return to work safely protocols.

Driving tests are only available if you are providing an essential service or you work in an essential retail service.

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.

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

Under Level 5 restrictions, the NCT is deemed an essential service and existing appointments can go ahead.

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. You can check your new NCT due date on the National Car Testing Service website.

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 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 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. 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 9 November 2020.

Taxsaver tickets

The National Transport Authority has announced that TaxSaver tickets that were valid on 1 April 2020 will be extended for 6 months. You do not have to apply for this.

If your ticket is due to expire and you have not requested a refund, you will automatically receive a new ticket on your existing Leap card. This will extend the validity for 6 months from the date that the ticket was due to expire.

If you already extended your ticket since 1 April 2020, you will still receive the extra 6 months from the date your current ticket expires.

You can still apply for a refund through your employer if you prefer.

You can read more on the National Transport Authority’s website.

Page edited: 23 October 2020