Applying for a driving licence

Introduction

When you pass a driving test, you can apply for a driving licence for the category of vehicle which you were tested for. This document explains how to apply for your driving licence after you have passed a driving test. In other documents you will find information on:

To apply for a driving licence, you must be normally resident in Ireland. You are considered to be normally resident in Ireland if, because of personal and occupational ties, you usually live here for at least 185 days in each calendar year.

You are required to carry your driving licence with you at all times when driving. The rules of the road are available at rulesoftheroad.ie.

The Road Safety Authority has responsibility for driver licensing and the National Driver Licence Service (NDLS) manages licence applications and renewals. You can apply to renew your licence online or in person at an NDLS office.

NDLS services during COVID-19

National Driver Licence Service (NDLS) offices have reopened but are not operating a drop-in service. You should apply for your licence online if possible.

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 in our document Drving and transport during COVID-19.

Restrictions on novice drivers

Novice plates

You must display N-plates on your vehicle when you are driving for 2 years from the date your first licence was issued. Motorcycle riders must wear an N-tabard. The novice period only applies once. So if you get a licence to drive a different category of vehicle, you don't have to display N-plates again. Further information is available on the Road Safety Authority website.

Disqualification threshold

If you accumulate 12 penalty points in a 3-year period, you will be disqualified from driving for 6 months. This is reduced to 7 penalty points if your first learner permit was issued on or after 1 August 2014. This lower threshold remains in place while you drive on a learner permit and for the first two years you drive under your first driving licence. Further information is available on the Road Safety Authority website.

Drink driving limit

For drivers who have learner permits, or have had a full driving licence for less than 2 years, the drink driving limit is reduced to 20mg per 100ml of blood, 27mg per 100ml of urine and 9mg per 100ml of breath.

Rules

You are entitled to apply for a driving licence if you have passed the driving test for that category of vehicle within the previous 2 years. If the Certificate of Competency you were issued for passing the test is over 2 years old, you will have to pass the driving test again.

Duration of licence

The period of time a driving licence is issued for depends on the age of the applicant.

  • If you are under 60 years of age, you may apply for a 10-year licence or a 3-year (on medical grounds)
  • If you are older than 60 but younger than 67 years of age, you may apply for a licence that will expire the day before your 70th birthday
  • If you are older than 67 but under 70 years of age, you may apply for a 3-year licence
  • If you are over the age of 70, you will need a certification of fitness to drive from your doctor to apply for a 3-year or a one-year licence

A bus or truck driving licence is issued for a maximum of 5 years.

Categories of vehicles

Motor vehicles are divided into different categories for driver licensing purposes. You can read more in our document on categories of vehicles and minimum ages of drivers.

Your category of driving licence may give you entitlement to a driving licence for certain other categories of driving licence. See ‘Further information’ below.

Rates

The cost of driving licences is:

  • Ten-year driving licence — €55
  • Five-year bus or truck driving licence — €55
  • Three-year driving licence — €35
  • One-year driving licence (medical grounds) — Free

Adding a new category to your current driving licence costs €35.

Motorists over the age of 70 can get their driving licence for free.

Information on acceptable forms of payment is available on the application form.

Any required eyesight tests or medical examinations are not free of charge.

How to apply

You can apply for your driving licence online. You will need to have the following:

If you apply online, you do not have to provide your Certificate of Competence (the document that proves that you passed the driving test).

You can apply in person at an NDLS office. During Level 5, you should only book an appointment to go to an NDLS office if you need a licence because you are an essential worker.

You do not have to provide photographs with your application but you do need to bring additional documents with you. You can use your Public Services Card (PSC) to confirm your identity, PPSN and address. If you are a citizen of an EU/EEA member state or Switzerland, you can also use the PSC as proof of your residency entitlement.

You apply for a driving licence using the driving licence application form (D401) which is available from NDLS centres, driving test centres, driving theory test centres and Garda stations. You can also download the driving licence application form (pdf) as well as guidance notes (pdf). You should also bring:

  • Your current or most recently issued learner permit. If your learner permit has been lost or stolen, the application form must be signed and stamped by a Garda in your local Garda Station
  • Your current driving licence if adding a category to the driving licence
  • A Driving Licence Medical Report Form may be required (see below)
  • A Driving Licence Eyesight Report Form may be required (see below)
  • A Certificate of Competency
  • The appropriate fee - see Rates above
  • Photo ID
  • Proof of address
  • Proof of your PPS number

Medical report form

You will require a Driving Licence Medical Report Form if you are applying for driving licence categories C, C1, D, D1, CE, C1E, DE or D1E (buses and trucks), unless you previously provided a medical report which is still applicable.

You will not require a Driving Licence Medical Report Form if you are applying for driving licence categories AM, A1, A2, A, B, BE or W (motorcycles, cars and work vehicles) unless you have a specific disability or condition.

You do not have to supply a medical report from your doctor if you are 70 or over unless you have a specified medical condition. This applies up until June 2021.

You can download the medical report form (pdf) (it must be printed back to back on one page). It is also available from NDLS centres. A registered medical practitioner should carry out your medical examination and then complete the form. You must sign the declaration on the medical report form in the presence of the registered medical practitioner. It must be submitted within 1 month of the medical examination.

Eyesight report form

Generally any eyesight issues will be reported in the Driving Licence Medical Report Form. But, you will require a Driving Licence Eyesight Report Form if you no longer need glasses or contact lenses to drive (for example if you've had laser eye surgery). You can download the eyesight report form (pdf) (pages 1 and 2 should be printed back to back on one page). It is also available from NDLS centres. It must be submitted within 1 month of completion.

Where to apply

An application for a driving licence should be made online or in person to one of the National Driver Licence Service (NDLS) centres - see 'How to apply' above. You can book an appointment online.

The National Driver Licence Service provides information on applying for a driving licence on its website.

National Driver Licence Service

Road Safety Authority

Po Box 858
Southside Delivery Office
Cork
Ireland

Tel: 0761 08 7880

Road Safety Authority (RSA)

Moy Business Park
Primrose Hill
Ballina
Co Mayo
Ireland

Opening Hours: - Lines open Monday - Friday 8.30am - 5pm
Tel: 096 25800
Locall: 1890 406 040 (Note: rates charged for using lo-call numbers may vary
Fax: 096 25252

Further information

If you have a driving licence for a particular category, you are entitled to a driving licence for certain other categories as follows:

Categories covered by your driving licence
Licence category Categories covered
AM AM
A1 A1 and AM
A2 A1, A2 and AM
A A, A1, A2 and AM
B B and W
C1 B, C1 and W
C B, C, C1 and W
D1 B, D1 and W
D B, D, D1 and W
BE B, BE and W
C1E B, C1, BE, C1E and W
CE B, C, C1, BE, CE, C1E and W
D1E B, D1, BE, D1E and W
DE B, D, D1, BE, DE, D1E and W
W W

In addition, if you have held a driving licence for category B, C, C1, D, D1, BE, CE, C1E, DE or D1E since before 21 October 2006, you are entitled to a licence for category AM.

Page edited: 18 November 2020