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You must have at least a learner permit in order to drive a car in a public place. The learner permit must be for the appropriate category of vehicle and you must always have it with you when you are driving.
Acquiring a learner permit is the first step to passing your driving test.
A learner permit is issued to drivers who are learning to drive.
To apply for a learner permit you must be able to demonstrate that you are normally resident in Ireland; this generally means that you live here at least 185 days each calendar year because of work or personal ties. If you are studying or working abroad you may still be considered normally resident in Ireland provided you return here regularly. Where a person lives some part of the year outside of Ireland the question of personal, family and community ties helps determine whether or not you are normally resident. You can apply to renew a learner permit up to three months before the expiry date of your learner permit. If your licence has expired for five years or more you must start the application process afresh and take a driver theory test, mandatory driving lessons and a driving test.
If you are an applicant for a learner permit you will be required to verify your identity as part of the face to face application process in an NDLS centre. This means that you will have to submit documentation to prove your identity, your address & your PPSN, as well as confirmation of your country of birth/residency entitlement
From the 9 April if you bring your Public Services Card (PSC) to the NDLS it will simplify your application process. An applicant will have two options to validate their identity and residency during the application process.
1. Presenting a PSC at the NDLS centre will simplify your application process as the PSC will satisfy the following requirements:
- Photographic ID,
- Evidence of PPSN,
- Evidence of address (where your address is as provided to the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection DEASP) and
- Evidence of residency entitlement (where your place of birth or nationality are within the European Union / European Economic Area/Switerland).
Please click here for more information.
2. If you do not have a PSC you are required to present documentation at NDLS centre to satisfy the following requirements:
- Photographic ID,
- Evidence of PPSN,
- Evidence of address and
- Evidence of residency entitlement.
List of acceptable documents are available here.
Note that possession of a public services card will enable applicants to renew their driving licence / learner permit online as part of a new online service that will be rolled out to customers in the coming months.
How long does it last?
A first and second learner permit usually lasts for two years each time while a third and subsequent permit lasts for one year. If you are taking out a third or subsequent permit you must show evidence of having taken a driving test in the previous two years or hold an appointment for a forthcoming driving test. If you have taken a test you will be given a two year permit while if you hold a test date your permit will last only for one year.
How much does it cost?
|New learner permit and renewal applications.|
Category added or removed.
* The Over 70’s Renewal Driving Licences /Learner Permits will remain free.
The National Driver Licence Service will accept the following payment methods with your application:
• Cash (where you attend in person at the NDLS centre)
• Bank draft
• Money order
• Debit card / credit card / prepaid credit card
The NDLS will only accept one method of payment for each application. The NDLS will only accept one payment for one application – a single payment for multiple applications will not be accepted.
Cheque, bank drafts or money orders must be made payable to ‘National Driver Licence Service (NDLS)’. For applications paid for by cheque, please note that those applications will be placed on hold until the cheque clears.
The NDLS will process debit and credit card payments in accordance with the Payment Card Industry (PCI) rules. If you wish to use a third party debit or credit card for payment, then the third party must be present in person to make the payment.
CATEGORIES OF MOTOR VEHICLES AND MINIMUM AGE OF DRIVERS
Motor vehicles in Ireland are divided into different categories for driver licensing purposes. Information is provide on categories of vehicles and the minimum age you need to be in order to legally drive them.
LEARNER DRIVING PERMITS FOR BUSES AND TRUCKS
Before you learn to drive a bus or truck on a public road in Ireland, you must obtain a learner driving permit for the type of vehicle you wish to drive.
LEARNER DRIVING PERMITS FOR TRAILERS
Before you learn to drive while pulling a trailer that weighs more than 750kg, you must obtain a learner driving permit.
FULL DRIVING LICENCE
Full driving licences are issued in Ireland if you pass a driving test. Rules about driving licences, forms and how to apply.
RENEWING A FULL DRIVING LICENCE
When your driving licence expires you must renew it if you still want to drive.
REPLACING A LOST, STOLEN OR DAMAGED DRIVING LICENCE OR LEARNER PERMIT
If your most recent Irish driving licence has been lost or stolen but is still valid, you can obtain a replacement licence.
CONVERTING YOUR DRIVING LICENCE TO AN IRISH DRIVING LICENCE
How to exchange a driving permit issued in another country for an Irish driving licence, including information on the fees and a list of recognised exchange countries.
INTERNATIONAL DRIVING PERMIT
An international driving permit allows you to drive in foreign countries without further tests or applications. Find out how to apply for a permit, the costs involved and those countries in which you can use your permit.
The learner driver theory test was introduced in 2001. By law, before applying for a learner permit, candidates must complete and pass a test of their general road safety knowledge and motoring legislation. It applies to anyone applying for a first learner permit in any vehicle category.
The test is designed to check knowledge of topics such as:
- Rules of the Road
- Risk perception
- Hazard awareness
- Good driving behaviour
The test is computer-based but, like the fast check-in kiosks at airports, is designed for those who have little or no experience of using computers as well as those who do.
You will have a chance to take a practice session on the day before starting on the actual test. If you have special needs please contact the Driver Theory Service and explain your requirements.
Driver Theory Service contact:
1890 606 106 (English language)
1890 606 806 (Irish language)
1890 616 216 (text phone – for the hearing-impaired)
There are separate theory tests for driving instructors and for professional bus and truck drivers:
Mock Theory Test at ISM
At ISM we provide you with a FREE online account where you can practice for your Theory Test. You can practice as many times as you like.
Simply click the button below, enter your email to register for your free Mock Theory Test account.
Driving Test Advice
You are required to bring a vehicle to the test centre on the day of your driving test. The Road Safety Authority do not provide a vehicle for your driving test. You must be insured to drive the vehicle. The vehicle must display a current valid original insurance disc (currently not accepting emailed versions of insurance discs), current valid motor tax disc and NCT disc, if required. Vehicles may be rented from ISM.
When you’ve practiced hard for your driving test, the last thing you want is to be let down by your car on the day. It is vital that your vehicle is in good working order and has no defects that could embarrass you or, worse, cause your examiner to cancel your test – as they have a right to do. The best way to avoid this happening is to put together a checklist.
Here are the main things to look for:
- Mechanical condition
Is the car you’ll be using for the test mechanically sound? For example, is the handbrake capable of holding the car on the steepest hill in town?
- Wiper blades
Renew if worn.
- Brake and indicator lights
Check the indicator lenses are clean and unbroken. If these show a ‘white’ light due to a broken lens, the test will not be conducted.
- ‘L’ plates
Attach them front and rear so that they are clearly visible. Place where it will not hamper visibility – tax, insurance and, if applicable, NCT discs should be on the windscreen.
Is there enough in the tank?
- Fluids: oil, coolant, brake, power-steering
Check levels. In particular, check oil pressure in case of leaks.
- Check tyre pressure
- Windscreen washer
Fill the washer bottle and use a windscreen-washer additive
- Interior mirror
Remove the various paraphernalia such as air fresheners, furry toys, dice and so on –needless distractions, for you and the Driver Tester
- Car body
Clean the car, in particular all windows, both inside and outside.
- Clean the interior of your car
The examiner will also check your technical knowledge of the car as part of the test. This consists of, "Show me or tell me how you would check three of the following”:
- Engine oil level
- Coolant level
- Windscreen-washer-fluid level
- Brake-fluid level
- Power-steering-fluid level