Driver testing in Ireland is carried out by the Road Safety Authority (RSA). You must successfully complete a driving test in order to get a full Irish driving licence.
Learning to drive and passing your test can be a significant milestone. However, the driving test can also cause stress and anxiety, and many people are uncertain about what the test involves and how they should prepare.
This document aims to provide practical guidance and advice on driving tests in Ireland. It includes information on:
- What you need to take a test
- Applying for a test
- Preparing for a test
- What you will be tested on
- Appealing a test result
Suspension of driving tests during COVID-19 emergency period
As part of Government measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), practical driving tests are suspended until 29 June 2020, except for people who are working in essential services such as healthcare or supply chain jobs (Category B tests are unavailable in all circumstances)
Driving licences and learner permits that are due to expire before 30 June 2020 will be valid for a further 4 months. The following documents will also be valid for a further 4 months:
- Certificates of competency received on passing a driving test
- Driver theory test certificates
- Motorcycle initial basic training certificates
This means that if your document expired or is due to expire between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2020, you can add 4 months onto its expiration date.
What do I need to take the test?
Before applying to take a driving test, you need to make sure you are eligible to be tested. To undergo driver testing in Ireland, you must:
- Complete all mandatory training. For car tests, this means you will need to have completed all 12 Essential Driver Training (EDT) sessions with an RSA Approved Driving Instructor (ADI). You can access details of ADIs located across the country. Similarly, to sit a motorcycle test, you will need to have completed all the Initial Basic Training (IBT) modules appropriate to the category of motorcycle (pdf) you wish to drive. You can read detailed information on these requirements in the RSA’s ‘Learning to Drive’ (pdf) handbook.
- Hold a learner permit. You must hold a learner permit appropriate to the category of vehicle you wish to drive. In the case of cars, motorcycles and work vehicles, you generally cannot take a driving test for at least 6 months after getting your first learner permit. However, there are exceptions to this rule (pdf), notably for people who hold a full licence in a country (jurisdiction) with which Ireland does not have a licence exchange agreement.
- Have access to a representative vehicle. The law requires that any person attending for a driving test presents with a vehicle that is representative of the Licensing Category in which they wish to attain a licence to drive. The RSA has published information on representative vehicles for the driving test (PDF). You can also read detailed information on vehicle requirements in RSA’s ‘Checklist for Your Driving Test’ (pdf) publication.
How do I apply to take a test?
You can apply and pay for your test online at RSA.ie. You will need a debit or credit card and a valid email address.
The correct fee must accompany your completed application form. Payment should be made online or by cheque, postal order or money order. These should be crossed and made payable to the RSA. Fees are non-refundable.
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.
Waiting times vary from county to county, so it is advisable to apply for a test about 6 months before the expiry of your second learner permit. The test is standard and all test centres use the same testing procedures.
|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
If you need to cancel your driving test, you must give 10 days’ notice in order to get a refund of your fee. You can cancel your test online using the RSA website. If you cancel more than two tests, you will not be entitled to a refund and must make a new application.
Preparing for and taking a test
A driving test is designed to make sure that you:
- Know the Rules of the Road
- 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
The test lasts about 30 to 40 minutes, depending on traffic conditions. At the beginning of the test, you will be asked technical questions about the rules of the road, the functionality of your car, and you may also be asked to point out different parts under the bonnet, such as how to check oil levels, or which part is the engine.
You will then drive about five miles in a variety of road and traffic conditions and will be examined on your practical skills.
Preparing for your test
To prepare for your test you should:
- Study the RSA’s Rules of the Road booklet (pdf). This publication can also be purchased in hardcopy from bookshops for a fee of €5.
- Study the RSA’s Preparing for Your Driving Test booklet (pdf).
- Study the RSA’s Learning to Drive booklet (pdf) for car, bike, bus and truck.
- Practice driving as much as possible on all types of roads and in all types of traffic situations with an ADI.
The RSA have also published a useful ‘Checklist for your Driving Test’ booklet (pdf) to help you prepare for the day of your test. It provides practical details about what to expect on the day of your test and what you need to take with you to the testing centre. You can also watch a video of what will happen during the driving test itself.
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. You can access detailed information about getting a Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) for buses and trucks on the RSA website.
Practical test of skills
The practical part of your test will take approximately 30 minutes to complete. 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
- Reversing round a corner
- Performing a turnabout
- Performing a hill start
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.
Getting your result
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.
It is important to note, however, that a Certificate of Competency is not a licence, and a driver holding one cannot drive on a motorway, remove their ‘L’ plates or drive unaccompanied until they possess their full licence. A person granted a first full driving licence must also display ‘N’ plates on their vehicle for a period of 2 years.
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. You will generally be unable to schedule a further test for a period of three weeks.
Motorcycle driving tests
The motorcycle test is similar to that for cars and work vehicles. The RSA recommend that you prepare for your motorcycle test by studying the Rules of the Road booklet (pdf) and by practise riding as much as possible on all types of roads and in all types of traffic situations.
You can access detailed information on the motorcycle test and the motorcycle licencing system (pdf) on the RSA website. The RSA have also produced several instructional videos to support learner riders in preparing for a test.
Before you commence the practical test of skills, the examiner will check your technical knowledge of the motorcycle. You will be asked how a technical check on 3 parts of your motorcycle would be performed. This can include, tyres, steering, brakes, chain, reflectors, indicators, lights (including dipping the headlight), oil level and emergency stop switch (if fitted).
You will also be asked to put the machine off (and back on) its stand (or side-stand). You will also be asked to move the motorcycle approximately 5 metres forward or backwards with the engine off.
Practical test of skills
You will be given clear instructions before your test on the route to take. The driver tester will be following you in a car or motorcycle. In exceptional circumstances, i.e., very heavy traffic congestion, the tester may observe you on foot.
Motorcycle tests will be carried out using radio controls. You will be given the radio equipment and advice on how to use it at the test centre.
- You will be assessed in the following situations:
- Moving off
- Riding in traffic
- Riding left-hand circuits
- Riding right-hand circuits
You will also be required to do a U-turn within the width of the road to demonstrate that you have good control of your motorcycle in a confined space.
You will then be asked to ride slowly, at "walking pace" for around 50 metres to demonstrate that you have adequate control of your vehicle.
Getting your result
When you return to the test centre, your examiner will bring you back into the examination room to give you the result. If you fail your motorcycle test, you will be given a detailed list of your mistakes and must apply to take the test again at a later date.
If you pass, you will be given a Certificate of Competency, which is valid for 2 years. A Certificate of Competency is not a full licence and it does not entitle you to drive on a motorway or to carry a pillion passenger. If you fail to apply for a full licence during this two year period, you will have to take your driving test again.
If English is not your first language
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 (pdf) 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 where you answer questions on the Rules of the Road and carry out technical checks. However, your interpreter cannot be your driving instructor and they cannot accompany you on the practical part of the test.
Tests for people with a disability
You should notify the RSA’s Driver Testing Section in advance if you:
- Have a severe hearing problem
- Are restricted in your movements or have any disability which could affect your driving
- Drive an adapted vehicle
This will ensure you don’t face any delays on the day of your test. Most driving test centres in Ireland are wheelchair accessible, but you should contact your selected centre in advance of your test to confirm this. You should also note that if the vehicle you use for the test is adapted to suit a disability (e.g., it has additional controls), this will be recorded on your full driving licence.
Drivers with a disability are tested to the same standard and in the same way as other drivers, but the test is conducted by a specially trained examiner familiar with the techniques of disabled driving. You can access useful information on driver assessment and instruction from the Disabled Drivers Association of Ireland (DDAI) website.
You can request to be tested on your knowledge of the Rules of the Road in your vehicle, rather than in the test centre, if you wish. If you have a hearing impairment, an interpreter can assist you with answering questions on the Rules of the Road. However, your interpreter must not be your driving instructor and they cannot accompany you on the practical part of your test.
If you have a disability, or if you are deaf or hard of hearing, you will be given a little longer to go through the practical test of skills. However, this does not mean you are allowed to drive more slowly during your test; you need to maintain the same progress on the road as all other drivers in line with national speed limits.
Appealing your test result
If you are not satisfied with the results of your driving test, it is possible to appeal. Appeals against driving test results are heard in the District Court by a judge sitting alone, without a jury.
No financial compensation is available in driving test appeal cases. You will not receive any compensation for any costs associated with either failing your test or in taking the appeal. A District Court judge can only make one of two decisions in a driving test appeal case:
- Your appeal is refused. The judge agrees with the decision of the driving tester that you failed your test.
- Your appeal is upheld. The judge is satisfied that your driving test was not conducted properly. You will then be offered another driving test, free of charge. If the judge directs another test to be carried out, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport must arrange to have it conducted by another tester.
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.