Driving advice for every country in Europe

Find up-to-date driving laws and advice for any country in Europe before you visit, including any accessories you may need to purchase. Don't forget the RAC provides European breakdown cover while you're driving in Europe.

Driving in Ireland

Ireland
Population: 4,952,473
Area: 84,421 sq. Km
Currency: Euro

If you're driving in Ireland, your checklist requirements are:

  • A valid UK driving licence. 
  • A GB sticker on the back of your car – unless your car has 'Euro-plates' (number-plates that show a circle of 12 stars on a blue background).
  • Your motor insurance certificate.

Going away? Remember to take RAC Travel Insurance with you.

You must also:

  • Be 17 or over
  • Wear your seatbelt at all times (this applies to everyone in the car)
  • Wear a crash helmet if you're riding a motorcycle
  • Drive on the left, overtake on the right

It's a good idea to have:

  • Spare bulbs for your car's external lights
  • A fire extinguisher 
  • A first aid kit
  • A warning triangle
  • A Camping Card International to give you additional proof of identity, third party liability insurance, plus discounts at a wide range of campsites and tourist attractions
  • A Green Card – it's a useful back-up to your motor insurance documents and shows you've got the minimum legal level of cover. If you'd like to find out more, contact your insurance company

Other things you should know:

  • You have to pay tolls for some motorways – most don't take credit cards so make sure you've got some change.
  • Petrol, diesel, LPG are readily available.
  • Children under 12 and less than 1.5m tall must use a suitable seat restraint.
  • The speed limit is 50kph in built-up areas, 80kph on regional and local roads, 100kph on national roads and 120kph on motorways.
  • It's illegal to carry or use any radar detection equipment, when driving through Ireland.
  • If you have a GPS navigation system that shows you where any fixed speed cameras are, you must deactivate this function.
  • Don't use your horn between 11.30pm - 7am.

Drink/drug driving limits

Legal limit

The general limit for drivers of private vehicles is 0.05%.

For professional drivers (driving a bus, coach, HGV or public service vehicle), as well as for newly qualified drivers (less than 2 years' experience), the limit is 0.02%.

Test

The Garda (police) may set up checkpoints and conduct random breath testing on drivers. If the test is positive, the driver will be required to go to the Garda station with the Garda and have a blood or urine test.

The Garda must also conduct a preliminary breath test where they believe a driver has consumed alcohol or at the scene of a crash where someone has been injured and requires medical attention.

If a driver fails a roadside physical and behavioural test, the Garda may ask him/her to accompany them to the station for a drug test, either blood or urine test.

Rules of the road

Overtaking and passing

The driver of a vehicle must not overtake, or attempt to overtake, if this would cause inconvenience to other vehicles.

Priority

At uncontrolled road junctions (where traffic is not controlled by a member of the "Garda Siochana" or by traffic signals), drivers must yield right of way to vehicles approaching along the principal road.

At uncontrolled road junctions where both roads are of the same standard drivers must yield right of way to vehicles approaching from the right.

The driver of a vehicle approaching a road junction must yield right of way to any vehicle actually turning or crossing at the road junction.

The driver of a vehicle entering a roadway from a private property must yield right of way to all vehicles proceeding in either direction along such roadway.

Traffic entering a roundabout must give way to vehicles already on it (i.e. coming from the right), unless otherwise indicated.

Main roads are indicated as such by authorised signs at uncontrolled road junctions.

Warning of approach

Audible warning devices (horns) must not be used between 2330 hours and 0700 hours on any road on which a permanent speed limit is in force.

Parking regulations

Special parking regulations

Parking is prohibited:

  • Within nine metres of a road junction
  • Within nine metres, on the approach side, of a pedestrian crossing or pedestrian lights except while a passenger is entering or leaving the vehicle or while the vehicle is being used for loading or unloading goods
  • At a bus stop area defined by road markings
  • Between a road pad and the traffic lights it operates
  • On the pavement if this interferes with the free movement of pedestrians
  • On a cycle track
  • On a yellow line

In towns parking time is limited by meters and tickets or disks.  The free use of unexpired time on meters is authorised.

Parking at night

Cars and motorcycles may be parked without lights in streets where public lighting enables the vehicle to be very clearly seen by other traffic.  If public lighting is inadequate, side lights must used.

Enforcement of parking regulations

On the spot fines may be levied for parking offences.

Wheel clamps are used in Ireland; a fee of 80 EUR must be paid to have the clamp removed. In some areas, cars are towed away if they cause an obstruction and a significant fee is charged for their release.

Parking facilities for disabled motorists

Generally, disabled parking bays are indicated by blue lines on the ground and by the international parking sign with the symbol of a wheelchair.  

Vehicles with a disabled badge may be parked without time limit on such spaces belonging to the local authority and public bodies. In private car parks, the duration of parking on a reserved space is left to the discretion of the operator. 

They may not park on single or double yellow lines or on areas where parking is likely to cause an obstruction.

Useful numbers:

112 - Here's a really important bit of knowledge; you can dial 112 from anywhere in Europe and an operator will connect you to an emergency service in the country you're visiting. Operators can answer your call in their native language, English, and French. 

Useful guides and maps

Michelin - National Map Ireland
Michelin Green Tourist Guide Ireland

UK Government travel advice

See up-to-date travel advice

 

Sources Foreign & Commonwealth Office, www.nationaldrivesafe.co.uk, www.drive-alive.co.uk.

*Price for 1 day cover for up to 9 people travelling in a vehicle up to 1 year old in Zone 1.
RAC European Breakdown cover arranged and administered by RAC Financial Services Limited (Registered No 05171817) and provided by RAC Insurance Ltd (Registered No 2355834). Registered in England; Registered Offices: RAC House, Brockhurst Crescent, Walsall WS5 4AW. RAC Financial Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in respect of insurance mediation activities. RAC Insurance Ltd is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.
 
Disclaimer: RAC are not responsible for the content of external websites. The information provided is correct as of May 2016 to the best of our knowledge and should be referred to for information purposes only - it should not be relied upon as formal advice. Please always check the current requirements of the country you are visiting before you leave.

British Embassy Dublin

29 Merrion Road 
Ballsbridge
Dublin 4
Ireland

Telephone: +353 (1) 205 3700

Fax (management): +353 (1) 205 3885