Driving Licensing

Persons do not qualify for driving licences until they are over specified age, generally 17 for motor vehicles.

The Minister may declare a licence or permit permitting a person to drive from another state as recognised within the State.  There are EU wide regulations in relation to driving EU licences.

A licensing authority maintains records of driving licences and provisional licences. It is not open to the public. Extracts may be allowed for certain legitimate purposes.

Members of an Garda Siochana and certain other public officers are entitled to access. A person who has legitimate interest and satisfies the authority accordingly may obtain an extract from the records on payment of a fee. This may arise in the context of a road traffic accident.

Licensing Offences

It is an offence to drive a mechanically propelled vehicle without the required licence. It is subject on summary conviction to a fine up to €1,000, increased to €2,000,  if the licence is more than 12 months expired before the commission of the offence. It is presumed that a person does not have the licence so that he must prove the contrary.

It is an offence to apply for a driving licence while disqualified. This is subject on summary conviction to a fine of €5000 and or six months imprisonment. Fixed charge penalty point of 1 point and 3 points on conviction applies.

An owner of a mechanically propelled vehicle must not employ a person to drive in a public place who does not have the requisite licence. Contravention is an offence. It is presumed that the person does not have the licence.

Driving without a licence is subject to a fixed charge penalty of 1 and 3 points on conviction in court.

Driving while disqualified and failing to have a certificate of competency or certificate of fitness where required is a separate offence subject to higher sanctions. It is subject on summary conviction to a fine up to €5000 or imprisonment up to 6 months or both.

Classes Permitted

The licence must be valid for the driving concerned. There are various categories of vehicle and the licences are limited accordingly. The classifications are laid down in EU derived legislation.

The principal classification relate to

  • Motorcycles
  • motorcycles with an engine capacity and power rating below a certain amount
  • motorcycles with power rating above the requisite amount
  • mopeds
  • ordinary vehicles weighing less than 3500 kg with passenger accommodation for not more than [  ] persons
  • vehicles over 3500 kg
  • vehicles designed and constructed for carrying more than [    ] persons

There are subcategories in the above classifications specific to particular types of vehicles or combinations of vehicles and trailers.

Provisional Licences

A learner permit may be issued to a person who wishes to  learn to drive a vehicle but has  not obtained a certificate of competency/ pass the requisite driving test. The general provisions with respect to driving licences apply, insofar as disqualifications etc. are concerned.

A person who is  learner driver must not drive unless the L in the specified form is exhibited on the vehicle. A novice driver must exhibit the N of the vehicle

Provisional licence allows the holder to drive the category of vehicle covered subject to complying with the specified conditions. The licence is of no effect if the conditions are not complied with.


EU directives harmonise law on driving licences. A licence issued in another EU/EEA State (EU plus Norway Iceland and Liechtenstein) may be recognised. An Irish licence may be obtained on foot of EEA EU licence of the relevant type held within a certain period subject to conditions.

A visitor may drive if he or she holds the requisite driving permit or visitor’s driving licence. An application for a visitor’s driving or provisional licence is made to the Automobile Association. The visitor must be ordinarily resident outside the State.

Members of the Gardai and members of the Defence Forces acting in the course of their duties do not require a licence. Certain categories of pedestrian controlled vehicles do not require the holder to have a licence.


The Road Traffic Act 2010 requires a person to have a driving licence in his possession. A member of and Irish economy demand of a person who was driving a mechanically propelled vehicle in a public place or accompanying a person with a learner permit  to produce it  Failure to do so constitutes an offence.

A member of an Garda  Siochana may demand production of the certificate and may read it. Separately, a member of Siochana can require a person to produce the driving licence or learner permit to a specified Garda Siochana station within 10 days. Failure to do so is an offence.

A member of the Gardai may arrest without warrant a person

  • who refuses to let the member read the driving licence or permit or
  • who fails or refuses to give his name and address or date of birth or
  • gives a name address and date of birth which the member believes on reasonable grounds to be false  or misleading.

Various Requirements

With a person is disqualified from driving he must surrender his licence to the licensing authority within 6 to 10 days of the order coming into force. Disqualification may be automatic upon conviction for certain offences.

Where a member of an Garda Siochana has reasonable grounds for believing that a mechanically propelled vehicle has been used in a public place on a particular occasion and the use may have involved an offence under the Road Traffic Act and that the user was a particular person,  he or she may at any time after that require the person to produce to a member of an Gardai or Garda Siochana station, for inspection a driving licence having effect and licensing the person in respect of the occasion in question within 10 days. Failure to comply is an offence.

Generally, a person who is charged with an offence under the Road Traffic Act or  certain related legislation  must produce his licence in court to the judge/clerk or registrar. The court records whether it was produced.

A member of and Garda Siochana ay request a person to sign a signature in a book for the purpose of comparison of his or her signature with the signature on a licence. The specimen signature may be compared with that on the licence or that held by the  licensing authority.

Application and Learner

A provisional licence holder may drive subject to the terms and conditions of the licence. He or she  must generally be accompanied by a person having a full licence. Contravention is an offence subject to a fixed charge penalty of two points or four points on conviction in court.

A person may apply to the licensing authority for a certificate of competency. This may also arise for a person who has been disqualified from driving and is also required to produce a certificate of competency to reapply.

It is an offence to undergo a driving test in the name of another person. It is subject on summary conviction to a fine up to €1,500 and or six months imprisonment or both.

Driving Test

The procedure for application for a certificate of competency and ultimately a driving licence is provided for in regulations made under the Road Traffic Act. The licensing authority undertakes tests. Certain conditions apply to a vehicle being used in the course of a test.

There is a theory test and a practical driving test. The regulations provide for the procedure on grant or refusal of a certificate of competency. A person aggrieved by a decision may appeal to the District Court in certain cases where the entitlement to a certificate of competency  is disputed.

Certificate of Fitness

In some cases a person may require a certificate of fitness before being entitled to a driving licence. This may relate to his physical or mental condition impacting on his ability to drive. The requirement to obtain a certificate of fitness may arise where he has been disqualified subject to production of same.

A medical certificate by a registered medical practitioner certifying fitness is required. A person aggrieved by refusal of a certificate of fitness may appeal to the District Court.

Novice drivers

For a period of two years after receiving  a  first full driving licence s driver is deemed a novice driver. There are special conditions that apply to novice drivers during this period:

  • must display N-plates on your vehicle for the first two years
  • cannot act as a sponsor or accompanying driver for a category B learner driver
  • a lower blood alcohol concentration threshold applies (20mg)
  • a lower threshold of seven penalty points leading to disqualification usually applies to novice drivers.

Sale to Unlicensed Person

It is an offence to supply a mechanically propelled vehicle to a person under 16 years of age or a person who is 16 but not yet 17 years who is entitled to hold a driving licence for the vehicle concerned. It is subject on  summary conviction, to a fine up to €5,000 and/or six months imprisonment.

Driving Instructors

The Minister may make regulations requiring licensing of driving instructors.  He may recognise approved bodies for the issue of instruction certificates, attesting the competence and qualification of the person to give instruction to a recognised standard.  Authorised  officers may enter and make inspection to the premises of approved bodies and applicants for approval at all reasonable times.  They may take, examine records etc.

There is provision for licensing of driving instructors Badges and plates may be issued.  Qualifications may be prescribed. Licensed instructors may be obliged to keep specified records.  Courses of instruction and associated facilities  may be inspected.

Regulations may provide that driving instruction may not be given for reward other than by a licensed driving instructor.  It may be prescribed as an offence for a person to hold himself out as such if he is not duly licensed.



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Draft Articles; The articles on this website are in draft form and are subject to further review for typographical errors and, in some cases, updating and correction. It is intended to include references to the sources of materials and acknowledgements in the final version. The content of articles with [EU] in the title and some of the articles in the section on Agriculture are a reproduction of or are based on European or Irish public sector information.

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