There is no doubt about it, driving in Ireland is a truly breathtaking experience. The island is small enough that you can go from North to South or from East to West in one day, and the scenery on country roads is incredible. If you haven’t yet had the opportunity to go driving in Ireland, then you are in for a treat. However, before you get behind the wheel, there are some basic rules that you need to remember;
- In Ireland, drivers use the left side of the road.
- It is compulsory for drivers and passengers in Ireland to wear a seatbelt at all times.
- It is illegal to hold or operate a mobile phone while driving in Ireland.
- It is illegal to operate a car under the influence of alcohol.The legal limit is 50 milligrammes of alcohol per 100ml of blood for fully licensed drivers, and 20 milligrammes of alcohol for learner or professional drivers.
Aside from these important reminders, it is crucial that motorists on Ireland are aware of all speed limits, which vary depending on the type of road being used:
- Motorway – 120km/h
- National road – 100km/h
- Regional road – 80km/h
- Urban area – 50km/h
- Special limits area (such as in the vicinity of a school) – 30km/h
Finally, when driving in Ireland, you must carry the following items with you at all times:
- A valid drivers licence
- Vehicle registration document
- Valid insurance documentation
- Valid certificate of roadworthiness
Driving in Ireland with the correct licence
Whether you plan on driving in Ireland for work or pleasure, you need to make sure that you have the correct driving licence. Failure to have the correct driving licence is a serious offence, and one that you could result in a fine, penalty points or both. There a number of factors that will affect your ability to drive legally in Ireland, the most important of which may be your nationality or the country that issued your license (if you do not yet have an Irish license). With that in mind, here are some important points for/EEA (EU member states plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and non-EEA drivers to keep in mind.
For EEA drivers
If you are from an EEA state, then you may drive in Ireland with your full, valid licence. You can also exchange your driving licence for an Irish licence, provided it is within a 10-year period of the expiration of your licence.
For non-EEA drivers
If you are coming to Ireland from a non-EEA country, then you can drive for up to one year in Ireland using your current, valid driving licence. Upon taking up ‘normal residence’ (that is, when you have lived in Ireland for at least 185 days in the calendar year), you must either exchange your driving licence or apply for a new one from the National Driver Licence Service (NDLS).
How to exchange a driving licence in Ireland
Whether you are a citizen of an EEA country or not, it may make sense to exchange your domestic driving licence for an Irish one. To do this, you must submit a D401 Driving Licence form with your most recent driving licence. You will be charged an application fee of €55 for this service.
Once this is done, you will need to make sure that you provide the following documents to complete the driving licence exchange process:
- Photographic identification (passport, national identity card)
- Personal Public Service (PPS) number and your most recent address
- Evidence of residency entitlement
- A completed a NDLS eyesight report form, dated within one month of your application
- A complete a NDLS medical report form, dated within one month of your application
- Finally, if you plan to drive buses or trucks, you will also need to provide a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC).
If you don’t have your most recent licence with you, you need to present an original letter of entitlement or a driver statement from your national driving licence authority, and you must declare it lost or stolen in the presence of a member of An Garda Siochana (Ireland’s national police service). All letters of entitlement must be submitted with an official translation if they are not in English.
If you are returning to Ireland as an Irish citizen and want to exchange a non-Irish licence for an Irish driving licence, you can do so provided you are returning from a recognised state. Be sure to do this within a year of returning, with a letter of entitlement, or you will be required to apply again from starting from scratch.
The aforementioned recognised states that Ireland has a reciprocal licensing arrangement with are:
- Canada (only if you were resident of and hold a licence issued by Ontario, Manitoba, Newfoundland & Labrador, or British Columbia)
- Guernsey (GB)
- Isle Of Man (GB)
- Jersey (GB)
- South Africa
- South Korea
- New Zealand
Finally, the unfortunate fact of the matter is that if you are arriving from a country with whom Ireland does not have a pre-established agreement, your process will be more complicated and will, in all likelihood, result in you having to obtain an Irish driving license through the full driver license procedure. However, changes made in November 2018 will make this process easier.
For more information on driving licenses, please visit this page.
Ireland has a system in place to make sure the rules of the road are adhered to. In Ireland, this rule arrangement takes the form of a penalty points system that penalizes motorists who are not compliant with the laws that are in place to keep all drivers, cyclists and pedestrians safe.
Originally enacted in 2006, the Irish penalty points system was extended in 2014 to include even more driving offences. In total there are 62 driving offences covered by the penalty points system, four of the main categories are as follows:
- Speeding: A speeding offence carries with it a fixed fine of €80 and three penalty points. If you fail to pay the fine in time, you may have to go to court to plead your case, after which the fine can be increased to €1,000 and five penalty points.
- Seatbelt offences: Seatbelts are important and a failure to use yours will incur a three point penalty and a €60 fine, which can increase to €90 if the fine isn’t paid within 28 days. If a minor (a person under 17) is found not to be wearing a seatbelt in your vehicle, then you are also liable to face these fines.
- Motor insurance issues: This is one of the most serious offences under the penalty points system.Failure to have car insurance will see you facing a €5,000 fine and five penalty points. A court appearance may also follow, at which time a judge may decide to disqualify you from driving in Ireland for five years.
- Careless driving: Again, driving misdemeanours of this nature are serious and can incur a fine of €5,000 and up to five penalty points on your licence.
Whether you are a newcomer to Ireland or returning after a period abroad, you need to be aware that drivers who hold a foreign licence are also subject to the penalty points system. So, if you break the rules of the road while driving in Ireland on a foreign license, these points can and will be carried over if and when you receive an Irish licence.