Driving in Ireland

Tips and FAQs for International Students

Driving Licence

International and Foreign Students are permitted to drive in Ireland, using the Licence granted by their home country, for up to 12 months. If your stay in Ireland will be more than 12 months you can apply for an Irish driving licence.

A foreign Licence cannot be exchanged for an Irish Driving Licence. This means that you will need to go through the full driver licensing procedure.

You must first complete a Driver Theory Test to obtain a Learner Permit. The Learner Permit will allow you to drive in Ireland when you are accompanied by holder of a Full Irish Driving Licence.

You must then apply for your Driving Test and when you pass this test you will be given a Full Irish Driving Licence.

All first time applicants for a Learner Permit must take an eye examination. This test must be given by an optician practicing in Ireland.

Irish Driving Licence

To apply for the Irish driver's test you should contact the following:

Road Safety Authority
Moy Business Park
Primrose Hill

Tel :(096) 25000
Locall:1890 506 080
Fax:(096) 25252

Email: info@rsa.ie

The forms which must be completed to apply both for both the driving test and a learners permit or full Licence are available from Garda (police stations) nationwide.

Owning a Car in Ireland

Motor Tax

If you intend driving your car in public places, you must pay motor tax and display proof on the front windscreen of your car. The rates of motor tax vary from car to car and we would recommend that you check the rate applicable to your car before you decide to purchase it. In 2008, the method of calculating car tax changed from engine size to the amount of CO2 omissions produced by the vehicle.

Click here to find out the rate for your car.

Motor tax can be paid annually, half yearly or quarterly.


The minimum insurance you must have before you drive in Ireland is Third Party Only cover. Most people spend a little extra to add on Fire and Theft cover or Fully Comprehensive cover. Premiums vary hugely from Insurer to Insurer and we recommend that you go to an Insurance Broker comparison site that will give you quote from all of the major Insurers offering car insurance in Ireland.


The National Car Test applies to cars aged 4 years and over. If your car falls into this category, it will need to be tested every 2 years. If your car is aged 10 years or more, it must be tested annually. The test ensures that your vehicle is roadworthy and safe.

Driving on Irish Roads

Left Hand Drive: Caution

As driving is on the left side of the road in Ireland, motorists without experience in left-drive countries should be particularly cautious. Road conditions are generally very good, but once off main highways, country roads quickly become narrow and uneven. Roads are more dangerous during the summer and on holiday weekends due to an increase in traffic. Many international drivers find the hardest part isn't driving on the left hand side of the road, but steering from the right hand side of the vehicle. They instinctively put themselves on the left side of the lane, which means they drift off the road to the left. It can help to remember that the driver always stays close to the centre line.


Not only will you be driving on the left, but you'll be using roundabouts, where traffic continually flows in a circle around a centre island. These work well if you follow the golden rule: Traffic in roundabouts always has the right-of-way, while entering vehicles yield. Check for traffic coming from the right before entering the roundabout. You need to be aware of how to indicate and which lane you should be in.

Speed Limits

Speed limits in Ireland are in Kilometres per hour (KPH). If you venture up to Northern Ireland, the speed limits are in Miles per hour (MPH).

Road Classification Speed
Motorways 120km/h
National roads 100km/h
Regional roads 80km/h
Urban areas 50km/h
Special limits (schools etc) 30km/h
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