Vehicle registration plates
In Ireland there are strict rules about the format, dimensions and technical specifications of vehicle registration plates that are displayed on vehicles. Failure to have a registration plate that conforms to these standards can result in a fine.
The rules dealing with vehicle registration plates can be found in 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.
The main requirements on the format of vehicle registration plates are:
- The registration number, which consists of numbers and letters, must be in black on a white reflective background
- The name of the county of registration must be in Irish, (for example, Baile Átha Cliath)
- The EU flag and the letters "IRL" must be placed on the left-hand side of the plate. The flag shows 12 gold stars in a circle, with the letters "IRL" in white underneath it, all on a blue reflective background.
- No other numbers, letters, or marks, should appear on your registration plate.
Since January 2013 there have been two registration periods every year. These registration plates have a separate 3-digit year identifier for the first and second 6-month period of the year, for example, 191 and 192 respectively.
You can view images of acceptable vehicle registration plates here.
Vehicle registration plates must be fixed to the front and rear of your vehicle and be clearly visible at all times. If you are towing a trailer or caravan, a duplicate of the registration plate must be fixed to the back of the trailer or caravan.
Vehicles with only 1 front wheel (motorcycles) only need a registration plate on the rear of the vehicle.
Reserving a vehicle registration number
You can apply to reserve a vehicle registration number plate on or after 1 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 2019 to use this plate in 2020.
The number you reserve must:
- Be in the normal format
- Correspond with the licensing authority area where you live
- Show the year and half year in which the vehicle is to be first brought into use
For example, 192-D-111 can only be reserved by someone living in Dublin for a vehicle intended to be brought into use in the second half of 2019.
The registered owner of the vehicle must be the person in whose name the number was reserved. You cannot transfer a reserved number.
All registration numbers are available for reservation, apart from plates that are reserved for the Mayor and Lord Mayor of Cork, Dublin, Limerick and Waterford. These registration plates cannot be reserved:
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 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.
The Revenue Commissioners can fine you up to €5,000 for registration plates that do not comply with the law.
How to apply
Download and complete an application form VRT15A (pdf) to reserve a registration number (one form per registration number) and send it with the appropriate fee to the Central Vehicle Office (see 'Where to apply' below).
Successful applicants will be notified on Form VRT 15N, and you must present this form when you are registering the vehicle.
If you are unsuccessful in your application, you will be notified by the Central Vehicle Office and your fee will be refunded.
If a successful applicant fails to use the registration number within a reasonable time, it will be cancelled. However, the fee will not be refunded except in exceptional circumstances.