What is a Learner Permit?
Before you begin to learn to drive on public roads in Ireland, you must hold a learner permit. To undergo a driving test, you must hold a learner permit (for a minimum of six months) covering the category in which you wish to be tested. Motor vehicles are put into categories for driver licensing purposes and there is a minimum age requirement for all categories. A full licence or learner permit only entitles you to drive the category of vehicle for which the licence has been issued. In order to obtain a Learner Permit, you must first pass the Driving Theory Test.
Driver Theory Testing Service
The Driver Theory Test is a test of general road safety knowledge and motoring legislation which covers a number of areas such as Rules of the Road and Good Driving Behaviour. A theory test certificate must be obtained before a learner permit is granted. You may not apply for a third learner permit unless you can provide evidence that you have (a) undergone a driving test in the two-year period prior to the application or (b) evidence of a forthcoming test date. A two year learner permit will be granted if you provide evidence you have undergone a driving test, and a one year learner permit will be granted if you submit evidence of a forthcoming test date.
If your provisional licence / learner permit expired 5 years ago, then you must undergo a Driver Theory Test before a new provisional licence can be issued.
What are the Rules for Learner Permits?
As a holder of a Learner Permit you must:
- Hold a licence for the category of vehicle you are driving and comply with the conditions attached to that licence when driving
- Be accompanied at all times by a person who holds a full driving licence in the same category for a continuous period of two years (this applies to categories B, EB, C1, C, D1, D, EC, EC1, ED & ED1)
In addition, a number of penal offences have been introduced for learner drivers. These include driving unaccompanied (see above), not displaying ‘L’ plates when driving, and the carrying of a passenger by a learner motorcyclist.
These offences are punishable by a minimum €1,000 fine for a first offence.
Car drivers (category B) with a learner permit (provisional licence) must be accompanied at all times by, and under the supervision of, a person with a current full driving licence to drive a car. The person accompanying you, must have had the full driving licence for the relevant vehicle category for at least two years.
Motorcyclists (category A, A1 or M) and work vehicle drivers (category W) with provisional licences, don't have to be accompanied when driving. (In other words, you don't need to have a fully qualified driver accompany you).
All learner permit (or provisional licence) holders, must display L-plates to the front and rear of the vehicle they are driving at all times. L-plates must be no less than 15cm in height in red, on a white background.
If you hold a learner permit (or provisional licence), you can't drive a vehicle drawing a trailer, drive on a motorway, act as an accompanying driver or carry other people for reward.
All learner permit holders, with the exception of those who hold learner permits in category W(work vehicles/land tractors), must display ‘L’ plates while they are driving. Vehicles in categories B, C1, C, D1, D, EB, EC1, EC, ED1 or ED must display L plates at all times. The letter L should be at least 15cm high and appear as red on a white background, in clearly visible vertical positions to the front and rear of the vehicle.
Drivers of vehicles in categories A(Motorcyle,no greater than 125cc), A1(Motorcyles) and M(Mopeds) must also display L plates at all times. The plates must be displayed on a yellow fluorescent tabard worn over the person’s outside clothing. The letter L should be at least 15cm high and appear as red on a white background and in clearly visible vertical positions to the front and rear of the person’s body.
A motorcyclist applying for a first-time learner permit is restricted to riding motorcycles with an engine power output not more than 25kW or with a power/weight ratio not more than 0.16 kW/kg. Such restriction applies for the duration of all learner permits and for the first two years after taking out a full driving licence in category A.
Vehicles in categories A, A1 and M (motorcyles and mopeds) cannot carry a passenger and are required at all times to display ‘L’ plates front and rear on a yellow fluorescent tabard.
Categories of vehicles/Minimum age of driver
Motor vehicles in Ireland are divided into different categories for driver licensing purposes. This is a standard practice throughout the European Union. Ireland has 14 categories in total (for category details see the Categories Section on the Citizens Information website), ranging from motorcycles to agricultural vehicles.
There are legal restrictions on what types of vehicle you can drive at what age. For example, you have to be 16 to ride a moped, 17 to drive a standard car, 18 to drive a truck and and 21 to drive a bus.
Responsibility for Driver Licensing
While the Department of Transport has overall responsibility for driver licensing, your local authority is a licensing authority and issue driving licences. Application forms and any other forms you may be required to submit with your application are available from the Motor Taxation Office of your local authority. Replacing a lost or stolen learner permit.
Find out what to do to replace a lost or stolen or expired Irish learner permit here.
Learner Permit Fees
Learner permits are valid for two years (or one year in certain circumstances) and cost 15 euro.
Exchanging your learner permit to show a change of address is free of charge.
Before you can apply for your first learner permit, you must complete and pass a Driver Theory Test. Click on the following link to find out more about the Driver Theory Test.
A person without any driving experience may apply for a learner permit for categories A, A1, M or B, W.
The following should be returned to your local Motor Taxation Office :
- A completed 'Apply for a Learner Permit Form' (Form D.201) available from your local Motor Taxation Office. Please Note: The Application Form for a Learner Permit is not available on-line as the form contains adhesive elements which are needed to process the application. The forms are available in hard copy from County Council Motor Taxation Offices, Garda Stations and Libraries
- Two identical passport-type photographs, with the reverse of both signed by you.
- A Theory Test Certificate
- An Eyesight Report - Form D.502. This form is available from your Motor Taxation Office or your registered ophthalmic optician or a registered medical practitioner. A completed eyesight report form must accompany all first-time learner permit applications. A registered ophthalmic optician or a registered medical practitioner should conduct your eye test. He or she should then complete the D.502 form and witness your signed Declaration on the form. An Eyesight Report form is valid for one month from the date it is signed.
- A Birth Certificate or Passport. This is not a requirement if you hold a current full or learner permit, you held a licence within the last 10 years or a learner permit within the last five years or you already hold a valid driving licence issued by another EU state or "recognised" country.
- A Medical Report if applicable - medical report form (D.501). These forms are available in your local doctor's surgery, so you can request one at your doctors surgery when you are having your medical examination done. Alternatively you can request one from your Local Motor Tax Office.
- You will need a completed medical report form if :
- you are applying for a driving licence for categories C1, C, D1, D, EC1, EC, ED1 or ED. (for category details please click on the following link: Category Details on Citizens Advice) You do not need this if you have previously provided a medical report, which is still applicable.
- A medical report is compulsory for any category if you:
- will be 70 years of age or more on the first day of the period for which the licence is being issued,
- suffer from any of the disabilities or diseases listed on the D.401 form,
- suffer from epilepsy or alcoholism
- or regularly take drugs or medication that are likely to impair your ability to drive safely.
- A registered practitioner should carry out your medical examination and then complete the form. You must sign the Declaration on the medical report form in the presence of the registered medical practitioner. A Medical Report is valid for one month from the date it is signed.
- Your current or last driving licence when you are renewing a learner permit.
- Fee - 15 euro. (Cheque, postal order, or bank draft payable to the local authority. You may pay the fee in cash if you are applying in person)
If you are applying for your licence by post, pay the fee by cheque, bank draft or postal order, made payable to your local authority. If you are applying for your licence in person, you may pay the fee in cash.
If I change address do I need a new learner permit?
You are required to carry your driving licence with you at all times when driving in Ireland. You are required to show evidence of your licence if requested by An Garda Siochana (the Irish police force). While you are not required by law to change your driving licence if you change address, it is advisable nonetheless. Contact your Motor Tax Office for more information. Exchanging your driving licence to amend the address is a free service.
Where to apply
An application for a provisional driving licence should be made to your local Motor Taxation office. View contact information for your Motor Taxation office (including addresses, telephone numbers, opening hours).