Vehicle registration plates in Ireland
There are strict rules in place regarding the format, dimensions and technical specifications of vehicle registration plates that are displayed on vehicles in Ireland. Registration numbers are automatically assigned in sequence at the time when you register your vehicle. Failure to have a vehicle licence plate that conforms to the standards will result in a fine.
The exact rules regarding the special format of vehicle registration plates are set down in Irish law under the (SI 318/92 Vehicle Registration and Taxation Regulations 1992 as amended. This law outlines the format, dimensions and technical specifications that must be displayed on registered vehicles in Ireland.
The main requirements of the rules about the format of vehicle registration plates are:
- The registration number consisting of numbers and letters must be in black on a white reflective background
- The name of the county of registration must be in Irish, (examples are Baile Átha Cliath, Corcaigh, etc.)
- The flag of the EU and the letters "IRL" must be placed on the left-hand side of the plate, the flag comprising 12 gold stars in a circle, the letters in white beneath it, all on a blue reflective background. No other numbers, letters, marks, etc., should appear on your registration plate.
Since January 2013 each year has two registration periods. The sequence takes the form of a separate 3-digit year identifier for the first and second 6-month periods of the year, for example, 151 and 152 respectively.
You can view images of acceptable vehicle registration plates here.
Vehicle registration plates must be affixed to the front and back of your vehicle and clearly visible at all times. In situations where you are towing a trailer, caravan, etc., a duplicate of the registration plate must be affixed to the back of the trailer, caravan, etc.
Vehicles with only 1 front wheel (i.e., motorcycles) are only required to carry the registration plate on the back of the vehicle.
Reserving a vehicle registration number
You can only apply to reserve a vehicle registration number plate on or after the 1st November of the year before you intend to bring the vehicle into use. In other words, you can only apply to reserve a vehicle registration number plate on or after 1 November 2015 to use this plate in 2016.
The number you reserve must be in the normal format and must correspond with the licensing authority area where you normally reside, and the year and half year in which the vehicle is to be first brought into use, i.e., 162-D-111 may only be reserved by someone living in Dublin for a vehicle intended to be brought into use in the second half of 2016.
The registered owner of the vehicle on which the plates are to be displayed must be the person in whose name the number was reserved. You cannot transfer a reserved number.
All registration numbers are available for reservation with the exception of the first number of each half year issued in the following cities - Cork, Dublin, Limerick and Waterford. These registration plates are, for example, 161-C-1, 162-C-1, 161-D-1, 162-D-1, 161-L-1, 162-L-1, 161-W-1 and 162-W-1. These plates are reserved for the Mayor/Lord Mayor of each of these cities and are not available for reservation by anyone else.
A reserved registration number can only be assigned to a vehicle when it has been reached in the normal sequence. It may not be displayed on a vehicle before it has been formally assigned by the Revenue Commissioners following the presentation and acceptance of a completed declaration for registration.
Applications will be processed on receipt on the first working day of November.
No priority will be given to applications received before this date.
The fee to reserve a vehicle registration number is €1,000.
There is no fee for registration numbers issued in the normal way, apart from the cost of the number plate.
Fines of up to €5,000 may be imposed by the Revenue Commissioners for registration plates that fail to comply with the law.
How to apply
Download and complete an application to reserve a registration number Form VRT15A (pdf) (one form per number) and send it with the appropriate fee (cheques to be made payable to the Collector, Customs and Excise) to the Central Vehicle Office).
Successful applicants will be notified on Form VRT 15N. This form must be presented when you are registering your vehicle.
If you have been unsuccessful in your application, you will be notified by the Central Vehicle Office and your fee will be refunded.
Where a successful applicant fails to use the number within a reasonable time, it will be cancelled. However, the fee will not be refunded except in exceptional circumstances.
Where to apply