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?

From midnight on Christmas Eve (24 December) all counties are at Level 5 in the Government’s Plan for Living with COVID-19.

You should stay within 5km of your home unless you have to travel for work, educational or other essential purposes, such as providing care.

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.

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.

Renewing your licence

You can renew your licence online. You will need a Public Services Card and a verified MyGovID account. You can renew your licence in person by booking an appointment with the NDLS.

If you are over 70, or you are about to turn 70 you will be sent an application pack by NDLS to renew your driving licence by post. This apples if you renewed your last or current licence in person at an NDLS office in the past 5 years. You do not have to submit a medical report unless or you have a specified illness or condition, or you are applying for a bus or truck licence (category C or D).

Apply for a first time licence

You can now apply for a new licence online.

National Driver Licence Service (NDLS) offices have reopened but are not operating a drop-in service.

You can read more about:

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.

You can apply for a driving test online. However, customers are advised to expect delays and tests will be allocated based on application date. If no suitable test dates are available, you can choose to be placed on a waiting list and you will be contacted when a date becomes available. If you provide an essential service or work in an essential retail service, you can request an urgent driving test.

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.

You must wear a face covering when using public transport (including taxis, and in train and bus stations) 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

A Garda can give you a fixed-charge fine of €80 for not wearing a face covering on public transport. If you do not pay a fixed payment notice within 28 days, you can be prosecuted in court and get:

  • A fine of up to €1,000
  • Up to 1 months' imprisonment
  • Both a fine and imprisonment

You could be fined more or sent to prison for longer, if it is your second or subsequent offence.

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: 11 January 2021