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Frequently Asked Questions

Where do I apply for my licence / learner permit?

You need to apply in person at any of the NDLS centres if applying for a driving licence or learner permit. This is because the process includes a ‘face to face’ security process which will increase the security of your licence. This face to face meeting, which in most cases will only be required once, is designed to combat fraud and keep unlicenced drivers off our roads by ensuring that the only person who will use your licence is you. To make your trip to the NDLS centre as straightforward as possible, we would strongly advise that you book your appointment online at ndls.ie where you can choose a date and time that best suits you.

Can I book an appointment with an NDLS centre?

Yes, you can book an appointment up to four weeks in advance, in any NDLS centre, by clicking here.

Can I just walk in to an NDLS centre and apply for my licence?

Yes. However walk-in appointments are limited and tend to fill up quickly and delays may be experienced so we would strongly advise booking an appointment to visit an NDLS centre. 

What do I have to bring with me?

You will need to bring certain documents with you in order to confirm you are the person that is applying for the licence.

If you are an existing Irish driving licence or learner permit holder, you need to bring your current driving licence or learner permit and evidence of your PPS number.

If you are applying for a full licence or learner permit for the first time or you have never held a licence or permit before you will need to supply documents to verify your identity, such as:

  • photographic ID, for example, a current passport or public services card
  • proof of residency entitlement, for example, a current passport or birth certificate
  • evidence of address, which will be captured as your official address for all future correspondence, for example, a utility bill such as a gas, broadband or cable television bill, or a statement from your bank, the address on the application form must match exactly to the address on the proof of address.
  • evidence of your PPS number which can be found on a medical card or Drug Payment Scheme card, or on your payslip

A full list of the types of documents that will be accepted in each category is available here. You can also find it on the guidance notes accompanying the driving licence and learner permit application form.

Please review this list before visiting an NDLS centre as not having the right documents with you will lead to a delay with your application as it cannot be processed. Any documents you bring with you must be originals – photocopies will not be accepted. Please note that some documents can be used to satisfy two criteria, for example, using your passport as photographic ID and proof of your residency entitlement.

What’s involved in this ‘face-to-face’ application?

Security and safety are at the heart of the NDLS service which will be consistently delivered throughout the country. Since the change from paper to plastic card, learner permits and licences are more secure, long-lasting and convenient. Now we’re adding a layer of security to make sure that the only person who uses your licence is you.

For that reason, a number of new security measures are being introduced to the licensing process as part of the changeover to the NDLS.

These changes include:

  • A requirement for you to bring additional documentation to confirm your 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.

What will happen when I visit an NDLS centre to apply for my licence?

  • You will go to the counter where you will be greeted by a Customer Service Agent to begin the application process.
  • They will ask you for documentation to confirm your identity.
  • They will take your photograph and a digital signature will be captured. This photograph will used on your licence. The cost is included in the licence fee.
  • Once you have completed the application process and paid for your licence, you will be given a receipt. Your application will be sent to the Central Licensing Processing Unit (CLPU) and your new plastic card learner permit or licence should be posted to you within five to eight working days

Why do I have to apply in person?

Could I not get a relative to apply for me like I did before? You will need to apply in person at any of the NDLS centres if applying for a driving licence or learner permit. This is to complete a ‘face-to-face’ meeting with the NDLS to increase the security of your licence, combat fraud and keep unlicenced and potentially unsafe drivers off our roads by ensuring that the only person who will use your licence is you.

Can I apply for my licence / learner permit by post?

A new ‘face-to-face’ application process has been introduced to help to increase the level of security of the driving licence, combat fraud and keep unlicenced drivers off our roads. Therefore you need to apply in person at any one of the NDLS centres nationwide in order to complete the ‘face-to-face’ security validation process.

In many cases you may only need to attend an NDLS centre once to do this face-to-face application. It is our intention to provide a service that will allow you to get subsequent licences and learner permits through an online service commencing in 2018.

Can I apply from abroad?

To apply for a licence you must be able to demonstrate that you are normally resident in Ireland, ‘normal residence’ means the place where a person usually live for at least 185 days in each calendar year, because of personal and occupational ties, or, in the case of a person with no occupational ties, because of personal ties which show close links between that person and the place where he is living. However, the normal residence of a person whose occupational ties are in a different place from his personal ties and who consequently lives in turn in different places situated in two or more Member States shall be regarded as being the place of his personal ties, provided that such person returns there regularly. This last condition need not be met where the person is living in a Member State in order to carry out a task of a definite duration. Attendance at a university or school shall not imply transfer of normal residence. 

If you are abroad working on a fixed term contract or studying abroad  but normally resident in Ireland and wish to renew your driving licence please contact lqueries@rsa.ie

How do I know if I am medically fit to drive?

Your driving licence application must be accompanied by a Medical Report Form (D501) if you:

  • Are applying for a driving licence in respect of a truck or bus, licence categories C, C1, CE, C1E, D, D1, DE or D1E (unless you have previously provided a medical report which is still valid)
  • Will be 70 years of age or more on the first day of the period for which the licence for any licence category is being granted
  • Suffer from any of the disabilities or diseases specified in the diseases and disabilities list.
  • Have ever suffered from alcoholism or epilepsy
  • Are a regular user of drugs or medication that would be likely to make your driving unsafe

The medical report must be completed by a registered medical practitioner and you must sign the declaration in his/her presence.

 

What category of driving licence do I need to drive a Camper/Camper Van/Motor Home?

This will depend on the Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) or the Design Gross Vehicle Weight (DGVW) of the vehicle and passenger accommodation. If MAM not exceeding 3,500kg and passenger accommodation for less than 8 passengers in addition to the driver then a category B is appropriate. If MAM exceeds 3,500kg and passenger accommodation for less than 8 passengers in addition to the driver then a category C1 is required.

Can I do a driving test in a Camper/Camper Van/Motor Home?

No, you must sit the driving test in a representative vehicle for the category of vehicle being tested in.

Therefore, if sitting the test in a category B vehicle then the following vehicle is required - Four wheeled vehicles (e.g. cars/light vans), having a maximum authorised mass not exceeding 3,500 kg., with passenger accommodation for not more than 8 persons and capable of a speed of at least 100km/h.

If sitting the test in a category C1 vehicle then the following vehicle is required - Vehicles (larger vans/light trucks) with passenger accommodation for not more than 8 persons, a maximum authorised mass of at least 4,000kg., but not more than 7,500 kg., a length of at least 5 metres and capable of a speed of at least 80km/h. The vehicle must be fitted with anti-lock brakes and with recording equipment (tachograph). The cargo compartment must consist of a permanently mounted cube shaped closed box body, which is at least as wide and as high as the cab.

What is the National Driver Licence Service or NDLS?

NDLS, or National Driver Licence Service, is the name given to the dedicated service which receives applications for learner permits and driver licences. There are 36 dedicated NDLS centres throughout the country and customers can visit any one of the centres to apply for, replace or renew their learner permit or licence.

When can I apply to renew my licence?

You can apply to renew your licence up to three months before it expires at any NDLS centre in the country.

Is there an application form?

Yes, both the learner permit and full licence forms have been revised. These are available online to download from here and are available in NDLS Centres, Driver Theory Test Centres, Driving Test Centres and Garda Stations.

Where can I get an application form for a driving licence / learner permit?

You can download an application form from here or collect one from your local NDLS centre, Garda Station, Driving Test Centre or Driver Theory Test Centre. You must ensure you select the correct form, that all information is complete and accurate (date of birth, full name, etc) and that the form is signed by yourself before bringing it to the NDLS centre. You must also ensure that you bring the required accompanying documentation, failure to do so will result in your application not being processed – more information is available on ndls.ie or on the guidance notes accompanying the driving licence and learner permit application forms.

Once I’ve applied how long will it take to get my new licence / learner permit?

As long as there are no errors or omissions in your application, your licence will be posted out to you after you have made your application and should be received within 5 to 8 working days.

Where can I find my nearest National Driver Licence Service (NDLS) centre?

You can view a map of locations to find your nearest NDLS centre. You can also download the handy new App for smart phones which will show the nearest centre to your current location. Remember, you are no longer restricted to applying for a licence or learner permit in your local area only. You can now apply for a licence at any NDLS centre in the country.

How many National Driver Licence Service (NDLS) centres are there?

There are 36 NDLS centres nationwide. The locations of the centres were chosen to ensure that 95% of the population is serviced within a 50km radius of a centre. Two counties, Galway and Mayo, will have an additional part-time NDLS centre that will visit another venue within that county.

What are the opening hours of National Driver Licence Service (NDLS) centres?

The centres are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, and from 9am to 2pm on Saturdays. Last applications are accepted 15 minutes prior to the advertised closing time. You can book your appointment to visit an NDLS centre at ndls.ie

How do I contact my local NDLS Centre?

You can call into any of the 36 full time and two part time NDLS centres around the country for advice and assistance but you may experience a delay if the centre is particularly busy. You can also email your query to info@ndls.ie or visit here to find the answer to your query.

How long will it take to complete the ‘face-to-face’ security checks when I visit the NDLS centre?

  Because the NDLS centre is dedicated to taking applications for a learner permit or driver licence, the application process should not take any more than 15 minutes once you are seen by a Customer Service Agent.

Can I apply for a learner permit / driving licence online?

No. Not at present. It is envisaged that this service will become available in 2018 following the face-to-face identity validation. However, the learner permit and driving licence application forms are available to download from here.

Can I use my plastic card licence or learner permit as an organ donation card?

Yes. For the first time, application forms for the driving licence and learner permit allow applicants the option of having the code ‘115’ on their licence or learner permit to signify that they are willing to be an organ donor.

Why is there no NDLS centre in my town?

The locations of the NDLS centres ensure that 95% of the population is within 50 kilometres of a centre. One of the features of the new service is that customers can now go to any NDLS centre in the country, not just the centre in their own county as was previously the case. So customers can visit an NDLS centre as part of another journey, for example, on the way home from college, doing the weekly shopping or visiting family in another county. Remember you can renew your licence up to three months before its expiry date and you can book an appointment to visit an NDLS centre online at ndls.ie. For information on the NDLS centre locations please click here.

I want to exchange my foreign licence for an Irish licence – can you tell me if I can do this?

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. EU/EEA licence holders who are resident in Ireland may apply for an IDP here. 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
  • Ontario State in Canada
  • Manitoba State in Canada
  • Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada
  • British Columbia in Canada

Under the Road Traffic (Recognition of Foreign Driving Licences - New Zealand and Taiwan) Order 2010 (SI 402/2010 ) 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.

I want to exchange my foreign licence for an Irish licence – can you tell me how long it will take?

  It can take two to three months to process a foreign licence exchange. This is because we need to contact the licensing authority in the country the foreign licence was originally produced.

I want to exchange my foreign licence for an Irish licence – What do I have to bring with me?

If you are applying for an Exchange of your Driving Licence you will need to supply documents to verify your identity, such as:

  • photographic ID
  • proof of residency entitlement
  • evidence of address
  • evidence of your PPS number
  • Foreign Driving Licence -  if the foreign licence is expired/lost/stolen/damaged an Original Letter of Entitlement is required (photocopies,faxes or emails are not acceptable) and Qn. 16 of the application form completed.
  • Medical/Eyesight report (if applicable)

Who manages the National Driver Licence Service (NDLS)?

The Road Safety Authority was tasked by the Government to manage the processing and production of driving licences in Ireland.

How do I know what category I’m entitled to drive under?

You can find out the list of categories you can be licenced to drive under here

Please study this carefully and ensure you mark the correct category you are applying for, and that your theory test covers this category also.

What does my doctor / optometrist need to do?

If you need a medical form (D501) or an eyesight form (D502), then your doctor or optometrist needs to fill in and sign this form appropriately. It is up to you to ensure the form is completed and signed in full, so ensure you check the form is fully completed with your doctor or optometrist before submitting.

Do I need a driving licence to operate a motorised scooter?

Powered vehicles such as a golf buggy, a quad bike, a ride-on lawn mower etc, etc are designed and intended for off-road private use only. These are mechanically propelled vehicles and if used on a public road (public road includes footpath) are subject to all of the regulatory controls that apply to other vehicles. These vehicles would have to be registered, taxed, be subject to vehicle lighting requirements and subject to vehicle construction, equipment and use regulations as regards brakes etc. The driver of the vehicle would have to hold a driving licence and be insured to drive that vehicle. Essentially these vehicles would be subject to all of the road traffic law provisions that apply to mechanically propelled vehicles generally.

An exception is made in the case of powered wheelchairs that are used by persons who have a mobility disability. Powered wheelchairs (including mobility scooters) are regarded for all intents and purposes as having pedestrian status and as being 'the legs' of the wheelchair user and are not regarded as an optional mode of vehicle transport that requires driver licence, registration, motor tax, etc. No distinction is made between self-propelled wheelchairs and powered wheelchairs. Powered wheelchairs can be used on footpaths (it is a penalty point offence for any other mechanically propelled vehicle to drive along a footpath), can enter pedestrianised streets and cycle tracks, can enter buildings etc in the same manner as pedestrians. Wheelchair or mobility scooter users are in special circumstances as regards essential personal mobility needs arising from a disability and, as already stated, the wheelchair is therefore regarded as an extension of the person rather than as a mode of transport vehicle.

No prohibitions on access apply to non-motorway public roads to the users of powered wheelchairs or mobility scooters, similar to those applying to walkers, joggers, cyclists, persons riding horses or droving animals etc, however under Section 97 of the Roads Act of 1992, it is the duty of care of a person using a public road to take reasonable care of his/her own safety and for that of any other person using the public road. Specifically road users must take all reasonable measures to avoid injury to themselves other to any other person using the public road or damage to property owned or used by them or any other person using the public road.

Therefore wheelchair users (again this includes those using powered wheelchairs or mobility scooters) should face oncoming traffic in the same manner as if there were being pushed by an adult, they should also use a footpath or hard shoulder where possible at all times and cross the road at pedestrian crossings, traffic lights or at a location that gives them the best view of any approaching traffic.

Hi Visibility vests or other forms to improve conspicuity, should also be worn at all times by the user or person pushing a wheelchair etc.

Where can I find my driver number on my licence?

Your driver number is a 9 digit number that stays with the licence holder throughout their driving history. It appears in black in field 5 of your paper licence and in field 4d of the new plastic card licence or permit.