- How do I apply for a learner permit?
- Learner permits for cars
- Learner permits for motorcycles
- Learner permits for buses and trucks
- Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC)
- Learner permits for trailers
- Further information
A learner permit is a document issued by the National Driver Licensing Service (NDLS). It allows you to learn to drive on public roads in Ireland and you must always have it with you when you are driving.
You cannot take driving lessons without a valid learner permit and, in most cases, you cannot take a driving test until you have had your first learner permit for at least 6 months. Read more about how to arrange and prepare for a driving test in Ireland.
This page provides practical guidance and advice on learner driving permits in Ireland. It includes information on learner permits for:
- Buses and trucks
You can read more about the steps you need to take to learn to drive in Ireland.
How do I apply for a learner permit?
Before applying for a learner permit, you need to make sure you are eligible to learn to drive in Ireland and have the documentation you require.
To apply for a learner permit for any vehicle, you must:
- Be normally resident in Ireland. You are considered to be normally resident in Ireland if you usually live here for at least 185 days in each calendar year.
- Meet the age requirement. Before you can apply for a licence to drive a vehicle in Ireland, you must be a certain age. If you are under 16 years of age, you must not use any vehicle in a public place. For more information, see our document on categories of motor vehicles and minimum age of drivers.
- Pass a driver theory test. Before applying for a learner permit, you must pass a test of motoring theory appropriate to the category of vehicle (pdf) you wish to be licenced to drive. This rule applies to anyone applying for a first learner permit in any vehicle category. If your learner permit expired five or more years ago, you must pass the theory test again before a new learner permit will be issued. You can read more about the driver theory test.
How to apply for your first learner permit
There are 2 ways you can apply for your first learner permit: online at NDLS.ie, or in person by booking an appointment at an NDLS centre.
If you have a Public Services Card (PSC) and a verified MyGovID account, you can apply for your first learner permit online. To do this, you need:
- To have successfully passed the driver theory test in the category you are applying for in the previous 2 years.
- Proof of your address dated within the last 6 months if your current address differs from the one you provided when you applied for your PSC.
- Proof that you are normally resident in Ireland if your place of birth and nationality are outside the EU/EEA.
- Fully completed eyesight report form dated within one month.
- Fully completed medical report form dated within one month, if required in your case.
- Completed relevant driver certificate of professional competence (CPC), if required.
- Your application fee of €35.00. You can pay by credit or debit card, Google Pay or Apple Pay. If you are aged 70 years or over you are exempt from paying the fee.
Applying in person
You can apply for your first learner permit in person by booking an appointment at one of 34 NDLS centres nationwide. There is no walk-in service available.
You are no longer required to submit an application form. However, you do need to prove your identity and supply the appropriate supporting documentation. Your photograph and signature will be captured at the NDLS centre.
To apply for your first learner permit at an NDLS centre, you need:
- To have successfully passed the driver theory test in the category to which you are applying within the previous 2 years
- Photographic I.D.
- Proof of your personal public services number (PPSN)
- Evidence of address dated within the last 6 months is required if your current address is not recorded on your permit and it differs from that provided to the Department of Social Protection (DSP) if and when you applied for a PSC
- Evidence of residency entitlement (EU/EEA nationals only need to provide their PSC)
- Fully completed NDLS eyesight report form, dated within one month
- Fully completed NDLS medical report form, dated within one month, if required in your case
- Evidence of certificate of professional competence (CPC), if required
- Application fee of €35.00
The NDLS has published detailed guidance (pdf) on how to apply for your first learner permit. You can also read more about the process on NDLS.ie.
Renewing your learner permit
You can apply to renew your learner permit if expired or 3 months in advance of the expiry date. Any unexpired period remaining on a previous learner permit will not be added to your new one.
You can renew your learner permit online if you have a PSC and a verified MyGovID account. Read more about the online application process on the NDLS website.
A first and second learner permit usually lasts for 2 years each time while a third and subsequent permit lasts for 1 year.
If you are applying for a third or subsequent learner permit you must provide one of the following:
- Confirmation that you have applied for a driving test in that category, or
- You have an email confirming that you have requested to join the waiting listing list for a driving test (This is accepted as proof of applying for a driving test) or
- You have failed a driving test in that category in the last 2 years (statement of driving test outcome).
If you have taken a driving test, you will be given a 2 year permit. If you provide confirmation that you have applied for a driving test you will be given a 1 year permit.
Updating and replacing your permit
You can access detailed information on how to update or replace your learner permit:
Learner permits for cars
A Category B learner permit entitles you to learn to drive a car on public roads in Ireland. However, it is not a full driving licence and you must keep to certain restrictions.
- You must always have someone with a full driving licence in the car with you when you are driving on a learner permit. This person must have had their driving licence for at least 2 years. If the Gardaí stop you, and you are not accompanied by a qualified driver, they can detain the car.
- You must display L-plates to the front and rear of the vehicle at all times while driving. The plate should be a red ‘L’ on a white background and should not be less than 15cm high with a border of at least 2cm.
- You must keep to a reduced drink driving limit and penalty point disqualification threshold.
- You must not drive on a motorway.
- You must not to draw a trailer.
- You must not act as an accompanying driver.
- You must not carry other people for reward.
If you own a car, you will be guilty of an offence if you let someone drive it in a public place when they:
- Don’t have a driving licence or learner permit; or
- Have a learner permit but drive your car without being accompanied by a qualified driver
For further information, consult the learner permit section of the Road Safety Authority’s ‘Rules of the Road’ (pdf) handbook.
Essential Driver Training
All holders of their first learner permit issued from 4 April 2011 must undertake Essential Driver Training (EDT) with an RSA Approved Driving Instructor (ADI). You can access details of ADIs located across the country.
EDT is a training course that teaches fundamental driving skills to learner car drivers. The RSA has published detailed guidance (pdf) on EDT. The course is made up of 12 individual 1 hour sessions.
At each EDT session, your ADI will check your learner permit and record the session with a stamp and signature in your official EDT logbook. You will be required to produce your completed EDT logbook on the day of the driving test.
You can also nominate a sponsor to accompany you during your EDT sessions. Typically a family member or close friend, your sponsor should be an experienced licence-holder who can support you in preparing for your test.
If you have a full driving licence from a country that does not have a licence exchange agreement with Ireland, you will only be required to complete 6 EDT sessions before taking the Irish driving test. The RSA have published a detailed handbook on Reduced EDT (pdf).
Learner permits for motorcycles
To drive a motorcycle on a public road, you must hold at least a learner driving permit for the appropriate category of motorcycle. The following table shows the categories of motorcycles, with the driver’s minimum age:
|Category||Vehicle type||Minimum age of driver|
|AM||Mopeds and tricycles with a maximum speed of 45kph and light quadricycles||16 years|
|A1||Motorcycles (with or without a sidecar) of 11kW or less and 125cc or less, with a maximum power/weight ratio of 0.1 kW/kg, and motor tricycles of 15 kW or less||16 years|
|A2||Motorcycles (with or without a sidecar) 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 (with or without a sidecar) and motor tricycles||24 years (20 years via progressive access)|
Initial Basic Training
Once you have passed your theory test and obtained a motorcycle learner permit, you are not permitted drive on a public road until you have completed your Initial Basic Training (IBT).
IBT is a 16-hour mandatory training course, broken into 4 separate modules, that teaches basic riding skills to learner motorcyclists. IBT courses are only available at RSA approved IBT training centres and may only be delivered by RSA approved IBT instructors.
You can read detailed information (pdf) about what IBT involves and how to enrol on a course near you on the RSA’s webpage.
Once you get your IBT Certificate of Satisfactory Completion, you are allowed to drive unaccompanied on public roads.
However, a learner permit is not a full motorcycle driving licence and there are specific rules you must keep to until you pass your driving test:
- You must display L plates. The L plates for a motorcyclist are displayed on a yellow fluorescent hi-viz tabard (a bib or sleeveless top with open side-seams). The letter L must be in red, measure at least 15cm in height on a white background, and be visible on the front and back of your body.
- You cannot drive on a motorway
- You cannot carry pillion passengers (passengers on the back of your motorcycle)
- You must keep to a reduced drink driving limit and penalty point disqualification threshold .
You can read more about how to arrange and prepare for a motorcycle driving test.
Learner permits for buses and trucks
Your first learner permit
To get your first learner permit to drive a bus or truck, you must have a full driving licence for a car (Category B) and a valid driver theory test certificate for:
- Category C if you want to drive a truck
- Category D if you want to drive a bus
Bus and truck categories
Before driving on a public road, you must hold a learner permit appropriate to the category of bus or truck you wish to drive.
The following table shows the categories for buses and trucks, with the driver’s minimum age:
|Category||Vehicle type||Minimum age of driver|
|C1||Goods vehicles between 3,500kg and 7,500kg||18 years|
|C||Goods vehicles over 3,500kg||21 years (18 years with a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence)|
|D1||Passenger vehicles with accommodation for more than 8 and a maximum of 16 people||21 years|
|D||Passenger vehicles with accommodation for more than 8 people||24 years (21 years with a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence)|
Further information is available in a bus and truck FAQ on the RSA website.
Bus and truck drivers with a learner permit must:
- Always be accompanied and under the supervision of someone with a current driving licence, for the same category of vehicle (and they must have had it for at least 2 years).
- Always display L plates to the front and rear of the vehicle they are driving. The plate should show a red L on a white background and should not be less than 15cm high with a border of at least 2cm.
Bus and truck drivers with a learner permit must not:
- Drive while pulling a trailer
- Drive on a motorway
- Act as an accompanying driver
- Carry other people for reward or payment
The drink driving limit for drivers of buses and trucks with learner permits or full driving licences is 20mg per 100ml of blood. Further information on drink driving limits is available from the RSA.
Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC)
To work as a professional truck or bus driver, you need a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC).
To get a Driver CPC, you must:
- Have a full Category B driving licence
- Pass the ‘Bus and Truck’ theory test
- Get a Category C or D learner permit
You then must complete the following additional steps:
- Pass your case study test
- Take some driving lessons
- Pass your practical driving test
- Pass your walkaround test
- Apply for your full licence
Once you have qualified for Driver CPC, you have to maintain it over 5 years to continue to be Driver CPC certified.
Learner permits for trailers
To drive on a public road while pulling a trailer weighing more than 750kg when fully loaded, you must hold at least a learner driving permit for the appropriate category of vehicle and trailer. You can read more about learner permits for trailers on the RSA website.
The following table shows the categories of vehicles and trailers, with the driver’s minimum age:
|Category||Vehicle type||Minimum age of driver|
|BE||Vehicles in category B with a trailer of 3,500kg maximum weight||17 years|
|C1E||Goods vehicles in category C1 where the combined weight of vehicle
and trailer when fully loaded is not more than 12,000kg
Vehicles in category B with a trailer of over 3,500kg and where the combined weight of vehicle and trailer when fully loaded is not more than 12,000kg
|CE||Goods vehicles in category C with a trailer (includes articulated trucks)||21 years (18 years with a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence)|
|D1E||Passenger vehicles in category D1 with a trailer||21 years|
|DE||Passenger vehicles in category D with a trailer||24 years (21 years with a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence)|
You must hold a full driving licence for the category of vehicle with which you wish to tow a trailer before you can apply for a trailer learner permit.
The RSA have published videos on trailer licencing and safety, including a video of a trailer test. You can read more about how to book and prepare for a driving test.
You can also access a comprehensive handbook (pdf) on driver licensing rules for drawing light trailers and read information on load security.
While driving with a learner permit, you must:
- Always be accompanied by someone with a current driving licence for the same category of drawing vehicle plus trailer (and they must have had their driving licence for at least 2 years).
- Always display L plates to the front and rear of the vehicle you are driving. The plate should show a red L on a white background and should be at least 15cm high with a border of at least 2cm.
While driving with a learner permit, you must not:
- Drive on a motorway
- Act as an accompanying driver for that category
- Carry other people for reward or payment
The drink driving limit for drivers with trailers with learner permits or full driving licences is 20mg per 100ml of blood. Further information on drink driving limits is available from the RSA.
Finally, remember that the maximum speed limit for a vehicle towing a trailer is 80km/h, and this also applies on roads where the posted road sign speed limit is higher. As always drivers are subject to the lowest posted speed sign so it will not always be possible to travel at 80km/h.
Read the rules of the road for more information.
You have to apply for your first learner driver permit in person to one of the NDLS centres - see 'How do I apply for a learner permit?' above. You can book an appointment online.
You may be able to renew your driving licence online if you are eligible and have a PSC and MyGovID verified account. Alternatively you can apply in person.