Categories of motor vehicles and minimum age of drivers

Introduction

Motor vehicles in Ireland are divided into different categories for driver licensing purposes. This is a standard practice throughout the European Union. Each category of vehicle has a prescribed minimum age for the driver. In other words, before you can apply for a licence to drive a vehicle in Ireland, you must be a certain age.

When you apply for your driving licence or a learner permit, the categories of vehicles you are authorised to drive and operate are listed on your licence. It is a serious offence to drive any vehicle for which you do not have a licence.

Whether you have a driving licence or a learner permit, you are only entitled to drive the category of vehicle for which the licence or permit has been issued.

If you wish to have another category of motor vehicle added to your existing driving licence or learner permit, your existing licence or permit must be in date. Certain categories of vehicles may be added to your existing driving licence or learner permit automatically without having to do another test, for example if you have a licence to drive a car, you can automatically drive a tractor. But to add other categories, you may have to go through the application process and complete the relevant tests for that category.

Motorcycles and mopeds

Motorcycles and mopeds

The categories and driver’s minimum age for motorcycles and mopeds are:

Motorcycle and moped categories
Category Vehicle type Minimum age of driver
AM Mopeds and light quadricycles 16 years
A1

Motorcycles with an engine capacity not exceeding 125 cubic centimetres, with a power rating not exceeding 11 kW and with a power to weight ratio not exceeding 0.1 kW/kg.

Motor tricycles with a power rating not exceeding 15 kW.

16 years
A2 Motorcycles of 35kW or less, with a maximum power/weight ratio of 0.2 kW/kg, and not derived from a vehicle of more than double its power. 18 years
A Motorcycles

Motor tricycles

20 years (progressive access)

24 (Direct access)

21 Motor tricycles

You can access the various motorcycle categories by direct access or progressive access.

Direct access is where you have not previously held a full motorcycle licence in a lower category.

Progressive access applies to categories A2 and A. This means that you may be allowed to complete a course of training to get the higher motorcycle category full licence. See the RSA’s Motorcycle Chart (PDF) for more information on accessing a higher category motorcycle licence.

Car and work vehicles

The categories and driver’s minimum age for cars and work vehicles are as follows:

Category Vehicle type Minimum age of driver
B Vehicles (other than motorcycles, mopeds, work vehicles or land tractors) with seats for a maximum of 8 passengers and a maximum weight of 3,500kg (can tow a trailer where the maximum weight of the trailer when fully loaded is 750kg or less) or where the combined MAM1 of the towing vehicle and the trailer does not exceed 3,500 kg.

Quadricycles (other than those covered by AM) are also covered by this category.

17 years
W Work vehicles and land tractor with or without a trailer. 16 years

Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM1 also known as Design Gross Vehicle Weight D.G.V.W) means design laden weight. Manufacturers generally refer to it as gross vehicle weight (g.v.w.) and it is usually displayed on a metal plate attached to the vehicle by the manufacturer.

Learner permits for category B do not allow you to pull a trailer.

Buses and trucks

The categories and driver’s minimum age for buses and trucks are:

Category Vehicle type Minimum age of driver
C1 Vehicles in category C having a MAM1 weight not exceeding 7,500 kg, having passenger accommodation for not more than 8 persons in addition to the driver and where the MAM1 of the trailer is not greater than 750 kg. 18 years

(You must hold a full B licence before taking out a C1 permit)

C Vehicles (other than work vehicles or land tractors) having a MAM1 exceeding 3,500 kg, having passenger accommodation for not more than 8 persons in addition to the driver and where the MAM1 of the trailer is not greater than 750 kg. 18 with CPC

21 without CPC

(You must hold a full B licence before taking out a C permit)

D1 Vehicles in category D having passenger accommodation for not more than 16 persons in addition to the driver with a maximum length not exceeding 8 metres and where the MAM1 of the trailer is not greater than 750 kg. 21 years

(You must hold a full B licence before taking out a D1 permit)

D Passenger vehicles with accommodation for more than 8 people in addition to the driver and where the MAM1 of the trailer is not greater than 750 kg. 24 years (21 years with a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence)

Trailers

The categories and minimum age of the driver that apply when pulling a trailer with a maximum weight greater than 750kg when fully loaded, are:

Category Vehicle type Minimum age of driver
BE Combination of drawing vehicles in category B and trailer where the MAM1 of the trailer is not greater than 3,500 kg. 17 years
C1E Combination of drawing vehicles in category C1 and trailer where the MAM1 of the trailer is greater than 750 kg and where the MAM1 of the drawing vehicle and trailer combined does not exceed 12,000 kg.

Combination of drawing vehicles in category B with trailer where the MAM1 of the trailer is greater than 3,500 kg and where the MAM1 of the drawing vehicle and trailer combined does not exceed 12,000 kg.

18 years

(You must hold a full C1 licence before taking out a C1E permit)

CE Combination of drawing vehicles in category C and trailer where the MAM1 of the trailer is greater than 750 kg. 21 years (18 years with a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence)

(You must hold a full C licence before taking out a CE permit)

D1E Combination of drawing vehicles in category D1 and trailer where the MAM1 of the trailer is greater than 750 kg. 21 years

(You must hold a full D1 licence before taking out a D1E permit)

DE Combination of drawing vehicles in category D and trailer where the MAM1 of the trailer is greater than 750 kg.

24 years (21 years with a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence)

(You must hold a full D licence before taking out a DE permit)

Further information is available in our documents on learner driver permits and driving licences.

Page edited: 28 September 2021