Driving Licence

If you left Ireland before 2013 you may notice a few changes to the process of acquiring your driving license. The high cost of car insurance continues to be an issue for returning expats although there are ways of getting around this.

Transferring your driving license to Ireland

If you have a driving license issued by an EU country, you are free to drive in Ireland as long as your license is valid. Ireland also has driver license exchange agreements with other countries, such as Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Ontario Province of Canada, South Africa, South Korea and Taiwan. It is very straight-forward to transfer your driving license from one of these countries – you just have to fill out this NDLS D401 form and pay €55. However, if you’ve been working in a country that isn’t recognised for driving license exchange, such as the US, you will have to start the whole licensing procedure from scratch, starting with the theory test.

Applying for a learner permit

If you are driving for the first time you will need to apply for a learner permit. For this you will need to bring a D201 Learner Permit application form, a €35 fee and a NDLS Eyesight report form D502, dated within a month of the application, to your local NDLS centre. You will also need to complete a driver theory test, which does require some preparation. The driver theory certification is valid for two years.

If you still have an old provisional license (or expired learner permit), you can renew it for a fee of €35 as long as it’s less than five years since it expired. You will need a D201 Learner Permit application form and a fee of €35. If it’s been out of date for five years or more you will have to start the driving licence process all over again. Anyone driving on a learner permit is required to display ‘L’ plates on the vehicle and be accompanied by a fully qualified driver.

Getting your full driving license

The major difference to the driver test is the introduction of Essential Driver Training (EDT). This includes mandatory completion of 12 one-hour lessons that must be completed before taking your test. You will also need a logbook that must be filled in by you and your instructor over the course of these lessons. More information about the EDT syllabus can be found on rsa.ie. Once you have passed your driving test, you will need to pay the relevant fee to get your licence and will be required to display ‘N’/ ‘Novice’ plates on any car you drive for a period of two years.

If you have a full licence from a recognised country, you can drive with it as normal. If your full licence is not from a recognised country you will need to go through the full process starting with a learner permit.

Public transport in Ireland

In general public transport services in Irish cities have improved in recent years. The introduction of bus tracking apps and real-time information at bus stops means that people are better able to plan their journeys and the services are more reliable than before. Dublin’s LUAS lines are currently being extended with work due to be completed in 2017. There will be 13 new stops with eight of these in the core city centre area.

Many people avail of Coca Cola’s bike share schemes in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick to get to their workplaces every day. An annual subscription costs €20 in Dublin and €10 in the other cities, and entitles you to 30 minutes free travel whenever you want. After that time, a small fee is charged depending on how long you use the bike for.

If you plan on using public transport to travel to work, it’s worthwhile getting a Leap Card. You can save around 20% on your journeys using this card, which was introduced at the end of 2011. The card is free of charge, although you must initially put a minimum of €5 on it, and saves you carrying change around with you. It can be used for public transport services in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Waterford and Wexford.

Any Irish citizen over the age of 66 that receives the state pension is entitled to free public transport. These passes are issued automatically. Those who are under the age of 66 and have an invalidity pension, blind pension, disability allowance or carer’s allowance will also be entitled to the pass.