A quick guide for foreigners to drive in Ireland

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If you’re from another country and planning to drive in Ireland, first of all, you probably will need to get used to driving on “the other side” here we always drive on the left side. In the whole world, 139 countries are RHT (right-hand traffic) against 54 being LHT (left-hand traffic).

Facing that first challenge, there are some other steps you must to take to drive in Ireland without any problems. The good news is that if you’re just visiting Ireland or recently moved, there’s a big chance you don’t need to do any paperwork. If you’ve been living in the Emerald Isle for long, you’ll need to return to a driving school to get your Irish license.

Here are the three scenarios that should cover your needs. The information has been provided by NDLS (National Driver License Service) or from another source when mentioned:

1 – EU/EEA Member

If you are you a citizen of another EU/EEA country, it’s all sorted until your license expires. If you live in Ireland, you must then apply for an Irish driving license within 10 years of your driver’s license expires.

In case you’re in Ireland for a long-term, the best thing to do is to change your license as soon as you can. The application fee is a reasonable 55€, but not including medical exams. The process takes around three months after you present all the documentation, including:

  • Application form D401
  • Current license
  • CPC
  • PPSN
  • NDLS medical form
  • Proof of address
  • A driver statement from the driving authority in your country
  • Certified translation to Irish or English (if any document is in a different language)

2 – Non-EU (Americas, Africa and Asia)

Are you from another country that is not part of EU? Then an International Driving Permit (IDP) should be enough for the first year. The 1949 Geneva Convention UN Convention and Vienna Convention on Road Traffic (1969) created driving regulations to make things easier across the world. If you’re covered in this group, Ireland grants you the right to drive for one year. After that, you must complete the full procedure (theoretical and practical classes) as a person learning to drive for the first time.

Most countries have signed one or another, so you must contact the legal authority in your country and request your IDP. Brazil, India and United States are among the most non-EU nationalities in Ireland, and if you’re from one of these countries, you can issue an IDP.

Make sure to request this document before you move to Ireland because only nationals and citizens from other EU countries can claim an IDP while living here (even if their driving license is from another country).

You must then carry both your driving license and your IDP, which looks like a small book, more or less the same size as a passport and nothing more than a translation of each information (name, age, type, expiration date, etc) in English, Spanish, Russian, French, Chinese, Arabic, on in each page.

3 – Good exceptions

There are some exceptions. Luckily, those are good ones. Citizens from the list of countries or territories below, although not EU-members, still have their driving licenses recognised in Ireland.

Citizens are granted one year of driving with their current licenses (they should still be valid, of course!) and have one year more after their licenses expired to transfer it to Ireland. The paperwork is like described for EU citizens, just the period after the expiration date is different.

These are the lucky countries recognised in the group above:

  • Australia*
  • Gibraltar
  • Guernsey
  • Isle of Man
  • Japan
  • Jersey
  • Manitoba Province of Canada*
  • New Zealand*
  • Newfoundland and Labrador Province of Canada*
  • Ontario Province of Canada*
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan*

Most of these territories or countries have left-hand traffic, so they won’t have trouble driving in Ireland. Now, everyone else… They’ll need redoubled attention and some luck of the Irish to arrive safe and sound whenever they’re going to!

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