Holders of foreign licences

Information for foreign licence holders driving in Ireland.

International driving licence

You are still required to produce your own licence for inspection when hiring a vehicle in Ireland an IDP (International Driving Licence) should be seen as a translation of your licence and not a replacement.

All countries in the EU and European Economic Area (EEA) – EU plus Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland – benefit from a 'mutual recognition' agreement in respect of driving licences.

You must hold a current and valid licence from the country you are resident in. EU/EEA licence holders who are resident in Ireland may apply for an IDP here.

There are two types of IDP:

  • 1949 UN Convention IDP. More common type; recognised in most countries
  • 1926 UN Convention IDP. Needed for driving in Brazil, Iraq, Nigeria and Somalia

If you are from an EU/EEA country and possess a full valid driving licence from your home country, you will need to supply a copy of a utility bill (electricity, telephone or gas) showing your address in Ireland.

You will also be required to sign a declaration of residency on the application form.

Apply to:

61A South William Street
Dublin 2
Tel: (01) 617-9988

Who is ineligible?

You cannot be issued with an IDP in Ireland if you are from outside the EU or EEA.

Where can I use my IDP?

You can use your permit in any of the countries that have signed the 1926 or 1949 UN Convention on road traffic. In addition, many other countries that are not signatories to the 1949 convention recognise the IDP and accept it in their territory.

You should contact your embassy or consulate in advance of travel to confirm whether or not an IDP is recognised by Ireland.

Note: even when you hold an IDP, you should always carry your own driving licence when travelling in Ireland, as you may be required to produce this licence for inspection, for example, when hiring a car.

Holders of licences issued by an EU/EEA member state

If you have a driving licence issued by an EU member state you can drive in Ireland as long as your existing licence is valid. If you wish to exchange your driving licence for an equivalent Irish driving licence, you must do so within 10 years of your driving licence expiring. If foreign Driving Licence has expired, it must be accompanied by Certified Details or letter of entitlement from the Issuing Authority. A Recognised State driving licence may be exchanged up to a maximum of 1 year after it expires with an accompanying letter of entitlement. After this period, applicant will need to apply for a learner permit.

Where a driving licence has been issued on foot of an exchange from a country that Ireland does not have an exchange driving licence policy with then Ireland cannot exchange the driving licence.

Holders of licences issued by recognised states

Ireland has agreements with certain other countries/states that designates them as recognised states for the purposes of driving licence exchange. These are:

  • Australia
  • Gibraltar
  • Guernsey
  • Isle of Man
  • Japan
  • Jersey
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • Switzerland
  • New Zealand
  • Taiwan

Under the Road Traffic (Recognition of Foreign Driving Licences - New Zealand and Taiwan) Order 2010 (SI 402/2010External Link ) New Zealand and Taiwan were added to the list of recognised states but with certain qualifications. Motorcycle & Car are the only categories recognised for exchange between Ireland & New Zealand & Ireland & Taiwan.

As a visitor to Ireland you can driver on a driving licence from any state outside the EU/EEA for up to a year provided the driving licence is current and valid. However on taking up 'normal residence' in Ireland you must either exchange your driving licence or apply for a driving licence in Ireland. You are considered to be normally resident in Ireland if, because of personal and occupational ties, you usually live here for at least 185 days in each calendar year.

If you exchanged an Irish driving licence in a recognised state for a driving licence issued by that state, you must submit that licence to the NDLS when applying for an Irish driving licence on your return.

If you wish to exchange your driving licence for an equivalent Irish driving licence, you must do so within one year of your driving licence expiring.

In order to exchange your licence you must apply in person at any NDLS centre with the following

  • D401 Driving Licence application form(PDF)
  • Return foreign Licence or complete lost licence declaration (Question 16 of the application form) and provide a letter of entitlement or driver statement  from you licencing authority.
  • Fee €55
  • D502 Eyesight Report(PDF) if exchanging a non EU driving licence.
  • Identity validation documents as outlined in the How to apply page
  • Please note, if your licence does not have a category start date you will need to provide a letter of entitlement / driver statement from your relevant licencing authority

Please note: Applications to exchange a licence may take 2/3 months to process as we need to contact the original licensing authority.


Holders of driving licences from other countries

If you are not from any of the above countries, (for example, if you are from Canada, or The United States), and you hold a national driving licence or an international driving permitExternal Link from your own country, you may drive in Ireland for the duration of your temporary visit (up to 12 months).

If your stay in Ireland will be more than 12 months you can apply for an Irish driving licence but you will need to go through the full driver licensing procedure. You must first pass a driver theory testExternal Link, apply for a learner permit, complete a course of Essential Driver Training(EDT)External Link and pass your driving testExternal Link in Ireland. If you pass your driving test, you can then apply for a full Irish driving licence.

Note: An agreement to allow for mutual exchange of driving licences between Ireland and Ontario has been agreed and legislation is expected to be put in place shortly. This exchange agreement will allow Irish Licence holders to exchange their car driving licence for a category G or G1 as appropriate in Ontario.

Ontario licence holders can exchange a G driving licence for the category B (car) restricted to automatic transmission.

A decision was made to prioritise Ontario due to the high number of Irish residents there. Now that we have reached this agreement, it should be possible to proceed very quickly to agreements with the other Canadian provinces.

How do I apply for a Learner Permit?

In order to obtain a Learners Permit you must first complete a theory test. The theory test comprises of 40 questions and you need o pass 35 out of 40 questions.

You can apply for a theory test online at www.theorytest.ieExternal Link or phone 1890 606 106. Note you will need a PPS number to book.

Once you pass the theory test you must apply in person at any of the NDLS centres nationally

The Learner permit is generally issued for 2 years unless restricted on medical advice to 1 Year.

How do I apply for a Driving Test?

Before you apply for a driving test you must complete Essential Driver Training (EDT)External Link which is a mandatory training course that teaches fundamental driving skills to learner car drivers.

The Essential Driver Training course is made up of 12 one-hour lessons, which you must complete before taking your Driving test. You can apply for a driving test as follows:

In Ireland you must hold a Learner Permit for six months before applying for your test however a holder of a current full driving licence in the same category from another country (jurisdiction) for more than six months is exempt from this requirement, provided you forward a current original driving licence and a letter of entitlement from the relevant licensing authority in that country to the:

Customer Service Manager
Driver Testing Section,
Road Safety Authority,
Moy Valley Business Park,
Co. Mayo
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