Information for foreign licence holders driving in Ireland.
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.
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.
Ireland has agreements with certain other countries/states that designates them as recognised states for the purposes of driving licence exchange. These are:
- Isle of Man
- South Africa
- South Korea
- New Zealand
- Ontario State of Canada*
An agreement to allow for mutual exchange of driving licences between Ireland and Ontario has been agreed and is now in place. 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 or G1 driving licence for the category B (car) restricted to automatic transmission. Please note that an original driver’s abstract/statement will be required with Ontario exchanges. However if a driver exchanging an Ontario Licence has a current entitlement in Ireland, a driver’s abstract/statement will not be required
Contacts are ongoing with other Canadian provinces to finalise similar arrangement.
1 Victoria Australia; Anyone presenting a driving licence from Vic Roads must sign a declaration to allow Vic Roads licensing authority to release information to the NDLS if required. This is to be able to verify the details of the driving licence they wish to exchange. This release form is available to download here if required.
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.
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.
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.
In order to exchange your licence you must apply in person at any NDLS centre with the following
- A fully completed NDLS "Application Form for a Driving Licence D401"
- The appropriate fee
- Your current full licence (Please note, if your licence does not have a category start date you will need to provide an original letter of entitlement / driver statement from your relevant licencing authority)
- If you don’t have your licence you will need to provide an original letter of entitlement / driver statement from your relevant licencing authority and complete the Lost licence declaration (see question 16 of licence application form)
- Documentation to verify your identity
- Documentation to verify your PPSN
- A completed NDLS Medical report form if required in your case. For further details on when a medical report is required please click here.
To exchange a foreign licence that does not have a start date or expiry date clearly marked an original Letter of Entitlement / Driver history will be required from the relevant Foreign Licence Authority.
Please note: Applications to exchange a licence may take 2/3 months to process as we need to contact the original licensing authority.
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.
61A South William Street
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
If you are not from any of the above countries, (for example The United States), and you hold a national driving licence or an international driving permit 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 test , apply for a learner permit, complete a course of Essential Driver Training(EDT) and pass your driving test in Ireland. If you pass your driving test, you can then apply for a full Irish driving licence.
Please click here for information on how to apply for a first time Learner Permit.
How do I apply for a Driving Test?
Before you apply for a driving test you must complete Essential Driver Training (EDT) 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:
- Telephone Driver Testing Section, RSA at 1890 40 60 40
- Apply online
- Download application form in English(PDF) or Irish(PDF) and send via post
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,