How you choose to get around Ireland will vary based on where you will be living and your needs. Below are some things to consider about various modes of transportation in advance of your arrival in Ireland.
You must have a valid driving licence to drive in Ireland.
Renewing an Irish Licence
If you are normally resident (at least 185 days per year) in Ireland but are currently working or studying abroad for a limited time, you may be able to renew or replace your Irish licence online, provided you have a Public Service Card and a verified MyGovID account. For more information on renewing your Irish licence, for instructions on how to renew and for additional information, visit the National Driver Licence Service (NDLS) website.
If you have a valid full driving licence issued in another country, you can drive on this foreign licence for up to one year. Upon taking up normal residence in Ireland, you must either exchange your foreign driving licence or apply for an Irish licence.
Exchanging a Foreign Licence
Licences issued in the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), and other recognised states can be exchanged for an Irish licence. Recognised states include:
- Canada (Provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Ontario, and Saskatchewan only)
- Isle of Man
- South Africa
- Republic of Korea (South Korea)
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom (Northern Ireland)
The fee for exchanging your foreign driving licence is €55 (not including any required eyesight or medical examinations).
Applying for an Irish Licence
If your driving licence was not issued by a recognised state, you will need to apply for an Irish licence and go through the full licensing procedure, beginning with a driver theory test to get your learner permit. However, once you have a learner permit, you may only need to take six essential driver training (EDT) lessons instead of the usual 12 if you have held a full, clean foreign driving licence for at least two years. The licensing process can be lengthy, including waitlists for lessons and tests, so if you need to apply, we strongly recommend beginning this process as soon as possible. For more information, see the National Driver Licence Service website.
You must take out car insurance to drive your vehicle in Ireland. If your vehicle is more than four years old, it must pass a National Car Test (NCT).
Car insurance in Ireland can be expensive, especially for returned emigrants. Do thorough research and shop around to find the best quote for you. Insurers may take overseas driving experience into account if you can prove that you have driven without any accidents or claims abroad, so it may help organise relevant supporting documentation before you return. In general, insurers will take into account no claims history from the European Economic Area (EEA), Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, South Africa, and the United States. Please be aware that many insurance providers will not give you a no-claims discount if you have been uninsured for two or more years, or if you have been insured abroad.
For more on motor insurance, read the Frequently Asked Questions on the Insurance Ireland website. Citizens Information also has a good guide on motor insurance specifically for returning emigrants.
Importing a Vehicle and Tax
To import a car or another vehicle to Ireland as part of your move, you will need to meet certain legal requirements. Our partner Citizens Information provides an overview on importing vehicles here.
Public transport options vary around the country. Transport for Ireland (TFI) have a useful ‘Plan a Journey’ feature on their website that includes service information, directions, and time estimates for public transport journeys across Ireland. For an overview of public transport options near you (including bus, rail, tram, and more), visit the Citizens Information website.
Public transport fares vary by service. To save money, we recommend getting a TFI Leap Card if used in your area. You can buy Leap Cards at a ticket kiosk or in many shops around Ireland. A TFI Leap Card is a prepaid travel card that is a handy way to pay fares on public transport around many areas across Ireland. A Leap Card is valid on buses, trains, and trams in and around Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Waterford, Sligo, Athlone, Kilkenny, and Wexford. Leap Card fares are generally cheaper than regular fares, with child, young adult, and student versions offering further discounts.
If you are aged 66 or over and living permanently in Ireland, you can get a Free Travel Pass, which allows you to travel on public bus and rail services free of charge. Some people under 66 may also qualify.Read more about the Free Travel Scheme
Page last updated on 12 September, 2023