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Driving in Belfast

If you’ve brought a car into Belfast, it’s best to leave it parked and take public transportation or walk around the city. If you must drive and want to park your car downtown, look for a blue P sign that shows a parking lot or a parking area. Belfast has a number of “control zones,” indicated by a pink-and-yellow sign, where no parking is permitted. In general, on-street parking is limited to an area behind City Hall (south side), St. Anne’s Cathedral (north side), and around Queen’s University and Ulster Museum.

Traffic in Northern Ireland drives on the left, as in the rest of the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Speed signs are shown in miles per hour, not kilometers. The speed limit is 30mph in towns and cities unless signs show otherwise. On country roads (single carriageway), the limit is 60mph; on dual carriageways, trunk roads and motorways, 70mph, unless signs show otherwise.

If you are a visitor, resident or student in Northern Ireland and still have a driving license issued in the country you have come from, there are certain conditions that affect how long you can drive and what vehicles you can drive. If you are the holder of an ordinary driving license (car, moped, motorcycle entitlement) and provided your license remains valid, you can drive any category of small vehicle shown on your license for up to 12 months from the time you became resident. To ensure continuous driving entitlement a provisional NI license must have been obtained and a driving test(s) passed before the 12-month period elapses. If you obtain a provisional license during this period, you are not subject to provisional license conditions, e.g. displaying ‘L’ plates or being supervised by a qualified driver or being precluded from motorways. However, if you do not pass a test within the 12-month concessionary period you will not be allowed to drive as a full license holder and provisional license conditions will apply. If you do not apply for a provisional license within the first 12 months you must stop driving and obtain a provisional license with a view to passing a driving test. Provisional license conditions will then apply.

To exchange your license for a full NI one, you should complete a DL1 application form (available from most Post Offices, Local Vehicle Licensing Offices or directly from DVLNI by calling 0845 402 4000 and return it to Driver Licensing Division, DVLNI, County Hall, Castlerock Road, Coleraine, BT51 3TB, with your license and the correct fee if applicable.

The following conditions must be met before a license can be granted in exchange for a NI one:
*You must be normally resident in Northern Ireland and have a permanent address here;
*If you are a Community license holder applying for a Northern Ireland test at the same time as exchanging your license and you have moved to NI having recently been permanently resident in another state of the EC/EEA, you must have been normally resident in NI for 185 days in the 12 months prior to your application for a full driving license;
*Licenses from the designated countries must be current at the time the application for exchange is received at DVLNI. Licenses issued in Great Britain must have been issued after 1.1.76. Licenses from the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands are acceptable for exchange if valid within the last 10 years. Those issued in any EC/EEA country may be valid for exchange even if they have expired;
*You must surrender your foreign license which will be returned to the issuing authority;
*International Driving Permits are not exchangeable;
*Test pass certificates are not exchangeable except for those issued in Great Britain or Gibraltar when the test was passed within two years of the date of the license application.

Local Vehicle Licensing Office
1 Cromac Avenue
Ormeau Road
Belfast
BT7 2JA

All general enquiries should be made to DVLNI Headquarters:

Vehicle Enquiries
County Hall
Castlerock Road
Coleraine
Co Londonderry BT51 3TA
44 120 477 0768
44  28 7034 1422 (fax)
www.dvlni.gov.uk