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A learner permit is issued to drivers who are learning to drive.

To apply for a learner permit you must be able to demonstrate that you are normally resident in Ireland; this generally means that you live here at least 185 days each calendar year because of work or personal ties. If you are studying or working abroad you may still be considered normally resident in Ireland provided you return here regularly. Where a person lives some part of the year outside of Ireland the question of personal, family and community ties helps determine whether or not you are normally resident. You can apply to renew a learner permit up to three months before the expiry date of your learner permit. If your licence has expired for five years or more you must start the application process afresh and take a driver theory test, mandatory driving lessons and a driving test.

If you are an applicant for a learner permit you will be required to verify your identity as part of the face to face application process in an NDLS centre. This means that you will have to submit documentation to prove your identity, your address & your PPSN, as well as confirmation of your country of birth/residency entitlement

Period of a learner permit

A first and second learner permit usually lasts for two years each time while a third and subsequent permit lasts for one year. If you are taking out a third or subsequent permit you must show evidence of having taken a driving test in the previous two years or hold an appointment for a forthcoming driving test. If you have taken a test you will be given a two year permit while if you hold a test date your permit will last only for one year.

Why is the application process required to be face to face?

We have added a layer of security to make sure that the only person who applies for your licence is you. For that reason, a number of security measures have been introduced to the licensing process as part of the changeover to the NDLS.
These include:

  • A requirement for first time applicants to bring additional documentation to confirm their identity;
  • A face to face meeting with a Customer Service Agent in an NDLS centre;
  • Having your digital photograph taken and digital signature captured by a Customer Service Agent in an NDLS centre.

A learner permit is a licence issued to learner drivers. It enables them to learn to drive and to apply for a driving test at the same time. A learner permit is issued to enable the permit holder to learn to drive and is not valid in Northern Ireland or in any other country outside of Ireland.

The learner permit replaces the provisional licence, which is no longer issued.

Further important changes to the licensing regime came into force on 1 July 2008.

The most significant of these is that as a holder of a learner permit you must:

  • Hold a licence for the category of vehicle you are driving and comply with the conditions attached to that licence when driving
  • Be accompanied at all times by a person who holds a full driving licence in the same category for a continuous period of two years (this applies to categories B, BE, C1, C, D1, D, CE, C1E, DE & D1E)

From the 6th December 2010 all new first time learner permit holders for motorcycles are required to undertake mandatory initial basic training (IBT) External Link with an approved driving instructor (ADI). The course is comprised of 16 hours training which is broken up into four modules. Once this course of lessons is complete the learner permit holder is issued with a certificate of satisfactory completion which must be kept with their learner permit. Motorcycle riders must complete the programme before driving on the road while a learner.

From the 4th April 2011 all new first time learner permit holders for cars will be required to undertake mandatory essential driver training (EDT) External Link with an approved driving instructor (ADI). The course is made up of of 12 individual one hour lessons. The learner will be able to take the lessons at any point during the learning process and can practice with an accompanying driver during the time while taking lessons. Evidence of completing the lessons will be signed off in a learner's logbook by the Approved Driving Instructor. The logbook showing completion of the lessons may have to be presented before taking a driving test.

In addition, a number of penal offences have been introduced for learner drivers. These include driving unaccompanied (see above), not displaying 'L' plates when driving, and the carrying of a passenger by a learner motorcyclist.

These offences are punishable by a minimum €1,000 fine for a first offence.

Current Fees

New learner permit and renewal applications.

Category added or removed.

€35

€35

* The Over 70's Renewal Driving Licences /Learner Permits will remain free.

Payments

The National Driver Licence Service will accept the following payment methods with your application:

• Cash (where you attend in person at the NDLS centre)
• Cheque
• Bank draft
• Money order
• Debit card / credit card / prepaid credit card

The NDLS will only accept one method of payment for each application. The NDLS will only accept one payment for one application – a single payment for multiple applications will not be accepted.
Cheque, bank drafts or money orders must be made payable to 'National Driver Licence Service (NDLS)'. For applications paid for by cheque, please note that those applications will be placed on hold until the cheque clears.

The NDLS will process debit and credit card payments in accordance with the Payment Card Industry (PCI) rules. If you wish to use a third party debit or credit card for payment, then the third party must be present in person to make the payment.

Other requirements

  • Age

There are legal restrictions on what types of vehicle you can drive at what age. For example, you have to be 16 to ride a moped, 17 to drive a standard car, 18 to drive a truck with Certificate of Professional Competency (CPC) or 21 without CPC and 21 to drive a bus with CPC and 24 without CPC.

  • 'L' plates

All learner permit holders, with the exception of those who hold learner permits in category W(work vehicles/land tractors), must display 'L' plates while they are driving. Vehicles in categories B, C1, C, D1, D, BE, C1E, CE, D1E or DE must display L plates at all times. The letter L should be at least 15cm high and appear as red on a white background, in clearly visible vertical positions to the front and rear of the vehicle.

Drivers of vehicles in categories A, A2, A1 and AM must also display L plates at all times. The plates must be displayed on a yellow fluorescent tabard worn over the person's outside clothing. The letter L should be at least 15cm high and appear as red on a white background and in clearly visible vertical positions to the front and rear of the person's body.

  • Accompaniment

All learner permit holders, with the exception of those who hold a learner permit in category A1, A2, A, or AM (Mopeds), must be accompanied by a qualified driver at all times while driving. A qualified driver is one who holds a full licence for a continuous period of two years in respect of the vehicle category being driven by the learner permit holder.

A person holding a category W(work vehicles/land tractors) learner permit is not permitted to carry a passenger unless the vehicle is constructed or adapted to carry a passenger and the passenger is a qualified driver – ie, a person who has held a full licence for the vehicle category for a continuous period of at least two years.

Motorcyclists, Description of licensing categories from 19th January 2013

Minimum age
Motorcycle
Category
Description*Direct
Access
Progressive
Access
AM

 (Previously known as "M") Mopeds and 3 wheeled vehicles with a maximum design speed of 45km/h as well as light quadricycles

16 ------
A1 Motorcycles up to 125cc, with a power rating not more than 11kW with a power to weight ratio no greater than 0.1kW/kg 16 ------
 A2  Motorcycles less than 35kW, with a power/weight ratio not greater than 0.2kW/kg and not derived from a vehicle more than double its power  18  18
 A  

 All motorcycles including those greater than 35kW

 24  20

Vehicles in categories A, A2, A1 and AM (motorcyles and mopeds) cannot carry a passenger and are required at all times to display 'L' plates front and rear on a yellow fluorescent tabard.

Restrictions

A person who holds a learner permit in:

  • Vehicle categories A1, A2, A and AM (motorcycles/mopeds) is not permitted to carry a passenger
  • Any vehicle category is not allowed to carry any passenger for reward
  • Vehicle category W (work vehicles/land tractors) shall not carry a passenger unless the vehicle is constructed to carry a passenger and the passenger is a full licence holder for a continuous period of two years
  • Vehicle categories B, C1, C, D1 or D (cars, buses and trucks) shall not be driven while towing a trailer

Note: if you are granted a learner permit for vehicles in category A, A2, A1, AM, W, or B and have not held a learner permit in the five-year period prior to the granting of a permit in any of these categories you cannot sit a driving test within six months of your permit coming into force, although you may apply for a test within this period. The code 991 will be printed on your licence opposite the vehicle category in the column headed 'restrictions/information.' Where you opt to take Progressive Access (where you have held the lower category for a minimum of 2 years) from category A1 to A2 or Category A2 to A and wish to take a driving test, you do not need to wait six months to sit the driving test.

There is no longer a requirement for a person who holds a learner permit in category BE to hold the permit for 6 months before sitting their driving test.

If you hold a full driving licence or permit in the category corresponding to the category on your learner permit which was issued by the competent authority of another jurisdiction and shows that you have had that entitlement for at least 6 months, then you do not need to wait 6 months before sitting a driving test.