American citizens are permitted to drive with a U.S. driver’s license for the duration of a visit to Ireland; i.e., as long as their status is that of tourist and not resident. Once you decide to become resident in Ireland, regardless of how long you have been in the country, you must apply for an Irish driver’s license. To be eligible for a full license, you must first obtain a provisional license (learner’s permit) and take the Irish driving test. All first-time applicants for a provisional license must take an eye examination. This test must be given by an optician practicing in Ireland. To apply a license, contact the Motor Taxation Office of your local County or City Council. You may also apply for your driving test online. Visit www.drivingtest.ie for further information.
Motor Tax Office
River House, Chancery Street, Dublin 7
+353 1 222 8000
fax: +353 1 872 1004
Hours: Mon – Fri 9.30 – 3.30
Motor Tax Office
Ballymun Civic Centre, Main Street, Ballymun, Dublin
+353 1 222 8255
fax: +353 1 222 8281
As driving is on the left side of the road in Ireland, motorists without experience in left-drive countries should be particularly cautious. Road conditions are generally very good, but off the main highways country roads quickly become narrow and uneven. Roads are more dangerous during the Summer and on holiday weekends due to an increase in traffic.
Since January of 2005, the measurement of speed limits on Irish roads has changed from miles per hour to kilometers per hour. The speed limit on motorways is now 120 km/h (75 mph). On rural national roads the limit is now 100 km/h (62 mph). Rural regional and local roads (sometimes referred to as non-national roads) now have a limit of 80 km/h (50 mph). The limit in built-up areas (towns and cities) is 50 km/h (31 mph).
Main roads are patrolled by unmarked police cars which carry out speed checks with sophisticated cameras and tracking equipment. Gardai also mount checkpoints on all roads on a regular basis.
Dublin’s traffic can be notoriously slow and gridlock is almost a daily feature during rush-hours. Bus lanes are also a feature on the main routes into the city center. During the morning and evening rush-hour, only buses are allowed use the bus lane.
Parking can be difficult in Dublin, even at night. However, a dedicated signposting system is in operation in the city, which gives up-to-the-minute advice on the availability of parking spaces in car parks in the north and south side of the city. Most car-parks charge by the hour and some are open until midnight or 1:00am.
There are filling stations everywhere, many of them self-service. Petrol is sold by the liter and comes in three grades: lead replacement petrol, unleaded, and super unleaded.