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Last checked: 01/03/2017

Driving licence recognition and validity – Ireland

Driving licence validity in Ireland

Driving licences for the lower categories i.e. cars and motorcycles are valid for ten years or for a specified period based on the age of the applicant as detailed below:

  • If the applicant is under 60, he/she can apply for a 10 year licence
  • If the applicant is between the ages of 60 and 66, he/she can apply a licence that will expire when they reach the age of 70
  • If the applicant is between the ages of 67 and 69, he/she can apply for a 3-year licence,
  • If the applicant is 70 years of age or over, he/she can apply for either a 3 year or a 1 year licence (subject to certification of fitness to drive by a doctor)
  • However, for those driving trucks and/or buses the validity period of the licence for those categories is five years.

Learner permits are valid for a period of two years.

If you hold a driving licence for life (i.e. one that remains administratively valid for an unlimited period) that was issued by another EU country, you will not have to renew the licence after changing your usual place of residence.

Non-EU driving licences - exchange & recognition

As a visitor to Ireland you can drive with 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.
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, applicants 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.
Certified translations are required for all Letters of Entitlement which are not in English or Irish. Translations must be provided by a reputable company who must be a member of the Irish Translator and Interpreters Association. The letter of entitlement must be submitted together with the certified translation.
Please note: Applications to exchange a licence may take 2/3 months to process due to the need to contact the original licensing authority.

If you have previously exchanged a non-EU driving licence for an EU licence in another EU country, you can use it in Ireland.

Holders of non-EU licences issued by states with which Ireland does NOT have an exchange relationship may drive in Ireland for up to a year on their national licence. If they take up longer-term residence in Ireland they must go through the Irish process for learner drivers. This involves taking a driver theory test, applying for a learner permit (an eye test is also required at this point), completely a mandatory course of 12 lessons with an approved driving instructor, and finally passing a driving test. Details may be found on the website of the National Driver Licensing Service .

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