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Driving in Ireland

Published: 3 September 2019
From: Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport

Tips for safe driving in Ireland

Driving orientation

Traffic in Ireland drives on the left

Speed limits

Speed limits and modern road signs are designated in kilometres per hour (km/h).

    Road Classification Speed
    Motorways 120km/h
    National roads 100km/h
    Regional roads 80km/h
    Urban areas 50km/h
    Special limits (schools etc) 30km/h

Driving licence

When renting a car, most car rental companies will require a driving licence issued by the country you are normally resident in, not an international driving licence/permit.


Drink driving is a very serious offence in Ireland.

The legal limit for fully licenced drivers is 50 milligrammes of alcohol per 100ml of blood. The legal limit for professional and learner drivers is 20 milligrammes of alcohol per 100ml of blood. Local police (An Garda Siochána) have powers to set up random breath-test checkpoints.

Seat belts

Wearing of seat belts is compulsory in front and rear seats. Children must use booster seats or an appropriate child restraint system.

Narrow roads

Although the national road infrastructure has been greatly improved in recent years, many local roads are still very narrow and have no ‘hard shoulder’ – extra road space to the side. During the winter, the roads may be icy. Stay informed by listening to local or national radio or contacting AA roadwatch or National Roads authority.

Farm traffic

In rural areas, you are likely to occasionally encounter tractors and animals on the road so it is important to drive slowly and carefully.

Mobile/cellular phones

It is illegal to hold a mobile phone while driving.

Documents required when driving

  • Valid driving licence
  • Vehicle title document/registration certificate or vehicle rental agreement
  • Valid insurance documentation
  • Valid Certificate of Roadworthiness

Recommended equipment

It is advisable to carry breakdown-warning triangle, first-aid kit, fire extinguisher and spare bulb kit in your vehicle. If you wear glasses, bring a spare pair in the car with you.

Dangerous driving and penalty points

Drivers with foreign driving licences who drive in Ireland are subject to Ireland’s penalty points system, a system designed to save lives and prevent injuries resulting from road crashes and collisions.

If someone is driving in Ireland on a foreign licence, the driver's details are held on a separate database for the purpose of recording penalty points. If that driver later applies for and obtains an Irish driving licence, the penalty points are then activated on that licence.