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23rd Mar 2014

What You Need To Know About…Getting A Driving Licence

Time to hit the road!

Juggling work, home and a little bit of relaxation doesn’t leave much time to take care of the boring day-to-day details so we’ve decided to give you a helping hand each week by providing the essential information on topics that you need to know.

This week, we’re talking about driving licences.

Given the geographical spread of Ireland and the slightly unpredictable nature of public transport, being able to drive is pretty much an essential and even if you don’t have car, having a licence is a massive asset that makes you instantly more attractive to many employers. It’s very easy to put something like this on the long finger but with just a few months of effort, you could be on the road and throwing those L plates in the bin.

Regardless of what stage you’re at, here’s what you need to know!

So…you’ve never driven before

Congratulations, you’ve decided that it’s time to get driving and open up a whole new world of possibilities but first, you have to jump through a few hoops and get yourself a learner’s permit.

A learner permit is a licence issued to learner drivers to enable them to learn to drive and to apply for a driving test at the same time. The permit replaces the provisional licence and is not valid in Northern Ireland or in any other country outside of Ireland. While on a learner permit, you have to hold the correct licence for the category of vehicle you are driving and be accompanied at all times by someone who has had a full driving licence in the same category for two years.

You will have to sit a theory test on the rules of the road before getting your permit and this can be taken at 41 test centre locations around the country. Use the ‘locate a test’ site feature on to select the correct vehicle category you need (car, motorcycle/moped, bus or truck) and then find the nearest test centre. Information on current appointment times is available from the online booking page or by calling the information and booking line on 1890 606-106.


Once you’ve passed the test, you will need to fill out this form and present it in person at your nearest National Driver License Service office with proof of identity, a fee of €35 and a suitable photo to receive your permit. See more information here.

Under changes introduced in April 2011, permit holders are required to take mandatory essential driver training (EDT) of 12 individual one-hour lessons with an approved driving instructor (ADI) and present evidence of this with a signed learner’s logbook when applying for their full license. In addition, a number of penal offences have been introduced for learner drivers. These include driving unaccompanied, not displaying ‘L’ plates when driving, and the carrying of a passenger by a learner motorcyclist and are punishable by a minimum €1,000 fine for a first offence.

So…you have a permit but want to ditch the ‘L’ plates

Before applying for your driving test online, you have to have held your permit for six months and taken the mandatory 12 lessons. You will also need your current driver number and your PPS number so you can apply online here, by email to [email protected] or by calling 1890 40 60 40.

The RSA aims to have a national waiting time of ten weeks but this differs depending on location. You can check out a list of waiting time across the country here to help you make an informed decision. There is also a list of pass rates available online, which may come in handy! Once you’ve gotten your test date, don’t forget that the car that you are sitting your test in has to be in sound condition so have a look at this checklist and make sure that your motor tax, license and insurance are all up to date. Otherwise, your examiner could refuse to go through with the test. You can use your own car or your driving instructor’s vehicle so choose whichever you feel most comfortable driving in.

There are some very useful videos on the RSA site on what to expect from your driving test so check them out here.

If you pass, the tester will issue you with a Certificate of Competency, which you can then exchange for a full driving licence at your local NDLS Centre. If you fail, the tester will give you a report detailing aspects of your driving that caused you to fail and you will receive a certificate noting the outcome of the test. Keep this as you may need to use it to renew your permit. You can then take further lessons or apply to sit the test again.