Non Nationals Driving in Ireland for the First Time

It is extremely important for all non – national Drivers or all those who are contemplating taking up Driving in Ireland for the first time to acquaint themselves with all the regulations before starting off!

Ireland, as a member of the European Union, has strict standards which are evolving continuously and ignorance of the rules, regulations, and legislation is no excuse in breaking the Law! It is worth pointing out that because of many insurance breaches and the incessant rate of accidents on the roads ,that we are all paying an excessive rate for our Car insurance .When this situation continues to improve we will all benefit.

In the next few lines we will summarise under headings the steps that a new aspiring Driver must take in order to legally drive on the road.

(1)License Requirements

(2)Theory Test

(3)Provisional license

(4)Road Tax for vehicle


(6)National Car Test (NCT)


(8)The Driving Test

(9)Foreign License Transfer

We will firstly look at the Complete Beginner Driver, someone who has never driven before and then take the Driver who has driven in his or her own Country.

You must first sit and pass the Driver Theory Test.

* You may then acquire your Provisional Driving License.

* With your provisional license you are then legally allowed behind the wheel.

* You MUST then have an accompanying Driver who holds a full Irish Driving License.

* The car you are driving must be insured for you to drive. This can be insurance in your own name or as a Named Driver on a relatives or friends insurance policy.

* The Car you are driving must have a current Insurance Disc displayed.

* The Car must have a Current Tax Disc Displayed.

* The Car must have an NCT Certificate displayed where necessary.

* All equipment in the car must be functioning correctly, Lights, Brakes, Indicators.

* Finally Tyre tread depths must be a minimum of 1.6mm across two thirds of the width of the Tyre.

* The first Provisional license will last for two years and once you are using your second Provisional License you will not be able to renew this without having sat your Driving Test.

* The waiting list for Driving Tests is approximately 12 months so it is advisable to apply for the Driving Test when you commence lessons with a Professional Driving School.

* Please don’t waste your time and that of the Dept.of Transport by attempting to sit the Driving Test without having had a substantial course of Lessons.

* Part of the reason for the lengthy wait for a Driving Test is precisely because too many Applicants are not sufficiently well prepared for this Exam and are having to sit the Test on subsequent occasions.

* When you have passed your Driving Test you should exchange your Provisional License for a Full Irish Driving License which will enable you to reduce your Insurance costs and of course drive throughout the European Union.

* If you do not exchange your Provisional license for a full License you will not legally be entitled to drive on a Motorway.

* Your License (Provisional or Full) must be carried with you at all times.

Drivers who have an existing License from their Own Country:-

* Nationals of Countries belonging to the European Union may exchange their full Licenses for a Full Irish License if they are intending to reside permanently in Ireland.

* Provisional Licenses held by European Union citizens, including the United Kingdom, are not transferable and therefore an aspiring Driver must undergo the full action described above of Theory test; Provisional License; Driving test in order to achieve a Full Irish Driving License.

* Non – E.U.Nationals driving on a full license from their own country will mostly need to undergo the full system of Theory Test; Provisional License; Driving Test; in order to qualify for a full Irish Driving License.

* There are a few exceptions to this rule and the list of acceptable Licenses for Transfer to an Irish License can be found on the Dept.of Transport web site.


* Driving without insurance, which is a serious offence and can lead to heavy fines and Penalty point on your license, increases the insurance costs for all motorists!

* All Drivers pay a percentage of their Insurance premium into a fund to cover the costs of accidents incurred by uninsured drivers!

* Getting insurance cover even for a vehicle which has only a nominal value is extremely expensive, particularly for the Provisional License holder .Therefore it is imperative, for the beginner driver to accept this fact and spend the necessary amount on Driving Lessons and pass the Driving Test as soon as possible.

* With a full license, insurance will still be expensive, but with an accident –free record this will reduce year by year.

* One final reminder about Insurance Discs; if they fade in bright sunlight, they must be replaced as otherwise a Driving Test could be forfeited if the Examiner cannot read the Disc!

Legislative changes are a fact of life for us in the Motoring Community and indeed as we continue to be brought in line with our larger and better regulated E.U.neighbours, it is essential to be aware of these changes which have been continuing for several years now and will continue into the foreseeable future.

© Copyright Astral Driving School.Ireland.2005

author: Robin Piggot

Robin Piggott is a Professional Driving Instructor based in Limerick, Ireland. He has a passionate interest in all things Automotive and a fanatical interest in the Artform known as The Blues. His website is a must for Drivers planning to visit Ireland and for those settling from abroad.

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