Insurance

How to exchange a foreign driving licence in Ireland

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Exchanging your driver's licence for an Irish licence will allow you to legally drive in Ireland. This guide will tell you what you need to know about the application process.

Exchanging your driver's licence for an Irish licence is a big milestone. In this guide, we’ll tell you what you need to know.

This guide is divided into nine sections:

  1. Important information. 
  2. Exchanging your EU/EEA licence.
  3. Exchanging your state-recognised licence. 
  4. Exchanging your UK licence.
  5. Exchanging your Ukrainian licence.
  6. Exchanging your unrecognised state licence.
  7. International driving permits. 
  8. Disqualification from driving in another EU state. 
  9. Car insurance for a foreign licence holder.

Abbreviations used throughout the article

Abbreviation Meaning
PSC Public Services Card
CPC Certificate of Professional Competence
DEASP Department and Employment Affairs and Social Protection
PPSN Personal Public Service Number (for identification)
NDLS National Driving Licence Service.

1. Important information on exchanging your licence:

  • All application fees for exchanging a driver's licence are €55, or free if you are over the age of 70. 
  • If you don't have your valid licence, you’ll need a letter of entitlement from your issuing state, translated into English by a certified translator. 
  • Except for EU/EEA licences, if you have a valid licence from a recognised state (listed below), or from an unrecognised state (with an international permit) you may drive in Ireland for up to 12 months.
  • A recognised state is a country outside of Europe, that Ireland has an agreement with, for the use of that country's driving licence in Ireland, and its exchange for an Irish licence.
  • The NDLS states that driving licences can take up to three weeks to be processed.
  • For proof of address, you can use a bank statement or utility bills (gas, electricity, broadband).
  • You are of ‘normal residence’ if you live in Ireland for at least 185 calendar days for personal or occupational reasons.
  • A medical report will be required if: 
    • You are 75 or older.
    • You suffer from specific medical conditions.
    • You have ever suffered from alcoholism or epilepsy. 
    • Your current licence has the notation code 101, meaning licence renewal is subject to a valid medical report. 
    • You are taking any drugs or medication that would make you an unsafe driver.                                            

2. How to change your Irish driving licence if you’re from the EU/EEA

You can use your valid EU/EEA licence to drive in Ireland. 

If you still want to exchange your EU/EEA licence, you can apply online at ndls.ie or in person at an NDLS centre. 

Applying for an Irish licence online

According to the NDLS website, you’ll need the following to apply:

  • Current and valid, EU/EEA driving licence. 
  • PSC and verified MyGovID.
  • A medical report dated within one month, if required. 
  • CPC for qualified drivers, if required. 
  • Proof of address dated within six months if your current address differs from the address provided to the DEASP, if and when you applied for a PSC.

Once you complete the form, you must send your licence to the address provided during your application. 

3. How to exchange your driving licence from a recognised state 

If taking up normal residence in Ireland, you must exchange your driving licence from a recognised state within 10 years of its expiry date, or apply for a driving test in Ireland.  

The list of recognised states includes:

  • Australia
  • Certain Canadian provinces 
  • Gibraltar
  • Guernsey
  • Isle of Man
  • Japan
  • Jersey
  • New Zealand
  • South Korea
  • South Africa
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • UK

To swap your licence, you’ll need: 

  • A PSC and verified MyGovID.
  • Current driving licence issued by a recognised state. 
  • CPC if required.
  • Proof of address dated within six months if your current address is different to the address provided to the DEASP when you applied for a PSC.
  • Proof that you are normally resident in Ireland if your place of birth or nationality is outside of Europe/EEA.

4. Exchanging your UK licence for an Irish licence 

Due to Brexit, driving licences from the UK and Northern Ireland are no longer valid within the EU/EEA. 

If you’re visiting Ireland for up to 12 months, you can use your UK licence. If you’re a resident in Ireland, you must exchange your licence. 

You can exchange your licence online or in person, provided that it is valid. 

When applying online you will need:

  • Your valid, UK/NI driving licence.
  • PSC and verified MyGovID.
  • A medical and/or eyesight report dated within one month, if required. 
  • CPC for qualified drivers, if required. 
  • Proof of address dated within six months if your current address differs from the address provided to the DEASP, if and when you applied for a PSC.
  • Proof that you are normally resident in Ireland if your place of birth and nationality are outside of the EU/EEA.
  • If exchanging a NI licence, it must be accompanied by a counterpart. 

The NDLS will contact you for a check code to verify your licence with UK authorities.

If you do not have your current licence, you will need a letter of entitlement from the relevant licensing authority. 

You will be given a receipt by the NDLS that confirms the exchange and permission to drive in Ireland. 

5. Changing a Ukrainian licence to an Irish licence 

From 22/04/2022, Ukrainian refugees in Ireland can exchange their Ukrainian driving licence for an Irish driving licence under the Temporary Protection Directive.   

Those who wish to exchange their licence must book an appointment online with their local NDLS centre and bring the following: 

  • Irish residence letter. 
  • Medical report, if required. 
  • Proof of address in Ireland.
  • Ukrainian driving licence.
  • PPSN.

Once at the centre, you must complete a form to apply for your Irish licence, which is valid for 12 months and only applies to cars. 

6. Exchanging a non-EU/EEA and unrecognised state licence

If you plan to stay beyond 12 months, you cannot exchange your licence. 

You'll need to start the process of learning to drive in Ireland, including: 

  1. Passing your theory test.
  2. Getting a learner permit.
  3. Taking twelve Essential Driver Training (EDT) lessons.
  4. Passing the driving test.

The RSA released a reduced EDT programme on January 21st 2019 for foreign licence holders, which requires applicants to take six lessons, rather than twelve. 

7. What is an international driver's permit? 

An international driver's permit allows a foreign licence holder to legally drive in Ireland.

There are two permits available:

  1. A 1949 Convention International Driving Permit. 
  2. A 1926 Convention International Driving Permit.

Permit holders may drive in countries that have signed up to the 1926 and/or 1949 UN Conventions on road traffic. The signatory lists are available at treaties.un.org.

To receive an international driver's permit you will need to complete a permit form, found on citizensinformation.ie. 

8. Disqualified from driving in another European country

It is an offence to apply for an Irish driving licence if you are disqualified from driving in another EU country. 

When your disqualification ends, you may apply for a licence. However, you might be asked for a psychological report and/or to complete Irish driving training.

9. How will my licence affect my insurance?

The quote you receive from insurers will not depend on your foreign licence, it will depend on factors such as: 

  • Driving experience. 
  • Age.
  • Claims history.
  • Type of vehicle.
  • Where you live.
  • How often you will drive.
  • Type of insurance. 

If you have a licence from an EU/EEA or recognised state, you can get car insurance in Ireland without exchanging your licence. 

If it’s your first time driving in Ireland, there are some things you need to know about taking out car insurance as a first time driver

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Main sources

citizensinformation.ie, ndls.ie, gov.ie, rsa.ie.

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