Driving tests in Ireland
Driver testing in Ireland is carried out directly by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) to a standard that complies with the EU Directive on Driving Licences. Testing takes place at test centres throughout the country. Where possible, your test will be arranged for the centre you nominate on your application form.
All drivers must take a driving test after they have been issued with two 2-year learner permits. Before you apply for a third or subsequent learner permit for any category of vehicle, you must show evidence that you have applied for, or recently failed, a driving test.
You cannot take a driving test for at least six months after getting your first learner permit in the case of motorcycles, cars and work vehicles. However, the six-month wait may not apply where you are updating from a provisional licence (now discontinued) to a learner permit.
In addition, you are exempt from this requirement if you have held a current full driving licence from another country for more than six months. In this case, you will need a letter of entitlement from the licensing authority in that country. You should send this, with your current driving licence, to the Customer Service Manager in the Driver Testing Section of the RSA.
On the RSA website, you can find information on the driver licence categories (pdf) and the representative vehicles for driving tests (pdf). Information on categories and vehicles for motorcycle learners is available in a motorcycle FAQ (pdf). Information for those with bus and truck learner permits is available in a bus and truck FAQ (pdf).
Applying for the test
Waiting times vary from county to county, so it is advisable to apply for a test about six months before the expiry of your second learner permit. The test is standard and all test centres use the same testing procedures. You can apply and pay for your driving test online (see ‘How to apply’ below).
Preparing for the test
A driving test is designed to make sure that you:
- Know the Rules of the Road (pdf)
- Possess the knowledge and skill to drive competently in accordance with those rules
- Drive with proper regard for the safety and convenience of other road users
Before your driving test, you should study the Rules of the Road (pdf). This booklet is published by the RSA and is available from bookshops, priced €5. You should also practise driving as much as possible on all types of roads and in all types of traffic situations. This will improve your driving techniques and build your confidence.
On the day of your test, give yourself plenty of time to arrive at the test centre with a few minutes to spare. If your first learner permit was issued after 4 April 2011, you should bring your logbook from your Essential Driver Training (EDT). When your name is called and you are brought into the examination room, your test officially begins.
First you will be asked some questions on the Rules of the Road. Next, if you are doing a driving test for categories B (car), EB (car with trailer) and W (work vehicle), you must explain some technical checks.
The instructor will bring you out to your vehicle and will ask how you would carry out a technical check on three of the following: steering, horn, brakes, tyres, lights, reflectors, indicators, engine oil, coolant, and windscreen washer fluid. To get access to some of these parts, you will have to demonstrate how to open the bonnet and close it securely. The RSA has more detailed information on technical checks for all motor vehicles.
If you are doing a test for categories C1, C, EC1 and EC (truck and trucks with trailers), you will be asked how you would carry out a technical check on three of the same items above. To get access to some of these parts, you may have to open and securely close the bonnet and certain panels.
Practical test of skills
Your driving test will take approximately 30 minutes to complete (depending on traffic). The examiner will give you clear instructions throughout the test, but if you don’t understand something, ask them to repeat it. Do not panic if you make a mistake during the test. It may not be as serious as you think and it may not mean you have failed.
You will be assessed in the following situations: moving off, driving in traffic, stopping, reversing round a corner, a turn about, a hill start and parking.
The aspects of your driving that will be assessed include:
- Road positioning
- Overtaking and passing
- Anticipation and observation
- Use of mirrors and signals
- Compliance with traffic lights
- Road signs and road markings
- Proper use of your vehicle controls
You can also expect to make a number of left and right turns, encounter a roundabout and stop at traffic lights. At some point during your test, the examiner will ask you to demonstrate hand signals.
When you return to the test centre, your examiner will bring you back into the examination room to give you the result. If you pass, you will be given a Certificate of Competency, which is valid for two years. Once you have this certificate, you can apply for a full driving licence. If you fail to apply for a full licence during the two-year period, you will have to take your driving test again.
If you fail your driving test, you will be given a detailed list of your mistakes. You should study the list and work on the mistakes before you sit another driving test.
Tests for drivers with a disability
If you have a hearing impairment, you may have an interpreter accompany you for the first part of the test. Your interpreter must not be your driving instructor and they cannot accompany you on the practical part of your test. The tester may show written instructions for this part of the test and display them as appropriate. The tester may also use basic sign language.
You should note that if the vehicle you present for the test is adapted to suit a disability for example, it has additional controls), this will be noted on your full driving licence. If you have special needs, you should indicate this on the application form for your driving test so that any necessary arrangements will be in place when you attend for your test.
For more details, see our document on Driving tests for drivers with disabilities.
Tests in the Irish language
You can apply for your driving test to be conducted through Irish. To do this, complete the Irish language version of the application form and submit it as normal.
Tests for non-English speakers
If English is not your first language, you may have an interpreter accompany you for the first part of the test. Your interpreter cannot be your driving instructor and they cannot accompany you on the practical part of the test. The tester may show you written instructions for this part of the test and will display them as appropriate.
The examiner will ask to see your licence and ask you to sign a form stating that the car is roadworthy and insured. You will then have to answer some random questions from the Rules of the Road. The examiner will then accompany you to your car to begin the practical side of your test.
You need to do certain things in preparation for your driving test and must comply with the following legal requirements:
- You must have a current learner permit to sit a driving test.
- The vehicle you are using must display current motor tax and insurance discs. If applicable, it must also display an NCT certificate.
- L-plates should be displayed on the front and rear of the vehicle.
- Your vehicle must be appropriate for the driver licence category you are being tested for.
- The vehicle should be roadworthy (for example, all tyres should have a minimum thread depth of 1.6mm – the legal limit for tyres).
- Everything should be in perfect working order (such as windscreen wipers, indicators and mirrors).
- The interior and exterior of your car should be clean.
Cancelling your driving test
If you are unable to sit your driving test on the day you are given, you may cancel this test and apply for another one.
Although you can cancel your driving test at any time, it is important to notify Driver Testing as soon as possible so that someone else can use your slot. You will lose your test fee and have to reapply if you give less than 10 days’ notice or if you have previously cancelled two driving test appointments. Be aware that waiting lists can be very long and if you have to reapply you go to the end of the waiting list at your test centre. See ‘Where to apply’ below to find contact details for Driver Testing.
Occasionally, Driver Testing may have to cancel a test at short notice. If this happens, they will try to notify you immediately and will arrange a further test free of charge at the earliest date possible. The RSA will also consider reimbursing certain out-of-pocket expenses, such as the fee for hiring a vehicle on the day of the cancelled test, if they receive an appropriate claim from you. For contact information, see ‘Where to apply’ below.
You must send the correct fee for your category of test with your driving test application:
|Category of Vehicle||Fee|
|Categories A, A2, A1, B, BE, AM and W||€85|
|All other categories||€120|
|CPC Driving Test (Bus and Truck Category)||Part 1 - €120
Part 2 - €32
Payment should be made online or by cheque, postal order or money order. These should be crossed and made payable to the Road Safety Authority. Fees are non-refundable.
How to apply
You can apply and pay for your driving test online. You will need a debit or credit card and a valid email address.
If you need to cancel your driving test, you must give 10 days’ notice in order to get a refund of your fee. If you cancel more than two tests, you will not be entitled to a refund and must make a new application.
Further information is available on the website of the Road Safety Authority.
Where to apply
You can apply for your driving test online (see ‘How to apply’ above) or send your completed application form and fee to the Driver Testing Section of the RSA at the address below.