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Driving in Ireland

Key rules, regulations and things to know

Driving: Drive on the LEFT overtake on the right

[for Northern Ireland go to Driving in The UK ]

Speed limits: Built Up Areas 50km/h (31mph) - Open Roads 60/100 km/h (37/62mph) - Motorways 120km/h (75 mph)

Speed Limits/Distances: Over the past few years all new city, village and town signs in the Republic have had their distance stated in kms (kilometres) instead of miles.

From 20th January 2005 the speed limits have also been changed to kms and instead of a typical town speed being 30 mph it is now 50 km/h. All new cars have their speedometer only in kilometres. You will have to remember that if you rent a car in the Republic and take it across the border that the speedometer will not show the speed in mph if it is a post 2005 model, which they all should be by now. Distances and speed limits remain in mph in Northern Ireland.

(There are large clear signs as you cross over reminding the driver that the speed is in "Miles per hour" ). In many instances the new speed in kms will be slightly faster than the equivalent in mph and in some slower.(The speed signs state km/h so people are not confused with the old "mph" signs and go faster than they should)

Toll Roads: Sections of motorwayss have tolls on them, some for only a short stretch like on the M1 near Drogheda. With these you can buy an automated system from "etoll" or pay at the toll booths at the toll plazzas. Take great care on the M50 as this is operated by a cameral system. More information Here

Speed Cameras: Ireland has had speed cameras for a number of years and many are very similar to those found in the UK at slightly higher height levels than traffic lights on many roads and motorways. Rememeber if you are hiring a car, the car hire company will pass your details onto the authorities and you then have to pay the fine.

It is wise to keep car hire documentation for a few months in case there is a mix up with the vehicle's registration and you find that it was not the car you were renting that was actually caught on camera.

Mobile vehicle cameravans are also used and they can also appear on Sundays and bank holidays!

They track the location of over 1000 Garda and GoSafe speed trap locations. They feature all the fixed safety camera and most frequently reported mobile speed cameras locations

Seat Belts: These must be worn at all times in the front and back of vehicles. Taxi drivers in Ireland used not to waer seat belts, however the law regarding their licensing was changed and if the driver is caught not wearing a seat belt, it could mean the loss of the operators licence.

Mobile phones: From May 1st 2014, anyone caught texting or accessing information will face a mandatory court appearance and a fine of up to €1,000 for a first offence. Penalties will rise to €2,000 for a second offence and a possible three month jail sentence. The new rules will also mean that a driver will not be able operate a "Hands free" mobile phone. Saying this like in so many other countries people still drive and phone at the same time, hopefully from May 2014 they will not. Don't risk using one as you can receive a heavy fine in most countries and more important cause a serious accident.

Drink and Driving: Blood alcohol limit is 0.05 More information Here - The (also see Lower drink-drive limits in Ireland from September 2011) The lower limit from 0.08 to 0.08 came into force midnight 27th October 2011

Left: Drinkaware.ie campaign ad, bus shelter Dublin, January 2012.

Trams/Luas: Are in Dublin and they have priority on shared roads.

Foglights must only be used in fog or falling snow.

You must not use a horn between 11pm and 7am.

Rules of the Road - Road Safety Authority - RSA

Traffic signs: In the Republic of Ireland these are like the ones found in the USA, Australia, Mexico and New Zealand and in Northern Ireland they are mostly of the general European type which can be confusing if you go from one part of the country to the other. Below are a selection

No Entry Roadworks on the right

Traffic lights, school crossing and bend ahead

Danger Water Dual carriage way junctions either side

Bus lane Traffic lights 200 m

Junction to right on dual carriage way

Junction on left Roundabout

The 'give way' signs are red triangles with the point at the bottom and the words 'yield right of way' or 'geill sli'.

Irish Registered Cars

Road Tax: All motor vehicles must be taxed before the vehicle is used on a road and display a current circular road tax disc on the vehicle's windscreen (or holder if it a motor bike).

Insurance: All drivers must have insurance covering them to drive a motor vehicle on a public road. An up to date insurance disc must be displayed on the vehicle's windscreen.

The following vehicles do not need to by law display an insurance disc:

  • Motorcylcles (with or without a side car)
  • Vehicles showing a trade licence plate
  • Tractors
  • Vehicles owned or used by an exempted person as defined by the Road Traffic Acts - e.g. members of emergency services

Trailers: All trailers must be covered by third party motor insurance.

National Car Test: Passenger cars over four years old must have a valid NCT Certificate and the NCT disc must be displayed on the windscreen.

Certificate of Roadworthiness: Goods vehicles, goods trailers with a gross weight of more than 3,500kg, ambulance, buses, minbuses and coaches that are over one year old must have a valid Certificate of Roadworthiness.

Vehicle Registration plates (Republic of Ireland): These are black letters on a white background for both front and rear of the vehicle with the IRL sign incorporated into the euro sign on a blue background on the left or top left hand corner of the number plate. First two number show year vehicle was registered - Letter is for county the vehicle is registered in - Random numbers.The county / city the vehicle is registered in is also at the top of the plate in Irish. Details on the left below

Vehicle Registration plates (Northern Ireland): In Northern Ireland the registration plates are white at the front and yellow at the rear like in Britain, Channel Islands, Isle of Man and Gibraltar. There are different letters for each county / city as shown above right. The county registration scheme was the same in the Republic of Ireland which changed in 1991.

See also - No Number 13 in Irish Vehicle Registration Next Year - December 2012 and

New Number Plate system in Ireland - February 2013

Parking: Parking is controlled by single and double yellow lines. Cars parked illegally may be towed away, so always check the parking restrictions before parking and leaving your vehicle. The same rules with yellow lines apply in Northern Ireland and the UK

Clamping: Take care not to have your hire car or personal vehicle clamped. If you don't pay for parking, or parrk illegally on privately owned land you are liable to be clamped. The release costs are high and removing the clamp yourself could be even more expensive. Many places also have CCTV to monitor parking areas. Illegall parking on public roads can also involve clamping.

M50 Barrier Free Tolling system - Dublin - Ireland (SEE Don’t get caught not paying the toll on the M50 in Ireland - Blog June 2009 and How Irish car hire companies are not improving Irish Tourism Article - October 2010)

Drivers of all vehicles using the section of the M50 between Junctions 6 (N3 Blanchardstown) and Junction 7 (M4 Lucan) are liable to pay a toll.

(click on image to enlarge) There is no toll barrier or tolling booth and therefore there is no cash payment facility available at the tolling point on the M50. Most car hire companies will have established account facilities with the toll operator (eflow), therefore the toll account will be automatically charged to a car rental company's account for each toll incurred. This will mean the car hire company will debit your credit card company for any tolls.

In the event of no arrangement you must pay your own tolls. You can do this on line at the eFlow website or at shops and petrol stations that show the logo. You have until 8pm the following day to pay for your journey. If this deadline passes and you have not made payment at any Payzone outlet, online at www.eflow.ie or at their call centre (LoCall: 1890 50 10 50) Monday to Sunday 7AM to 11PM, a Standard Toll Request will be issued for payment (STR).

December 2015: A word of warning! Editors note - if you don't pay the M50 toll and you are driving an UK registered vehicle the system will send you reminder back to the registered keepper in the UK and this will include a fine for late payment. Borrowed a friend's car to go to Dublin, had to cross over M50 toll and return.

That evening went to newsagent displaying the "payzone" logo and paid for two crossings. Asked for registration and showed a shot of the number plate on iPhone. On return to England the friend received a letter with a fine from "eflow". Contacted them by phone as this was best way and spotted on the receipt of payment (always keep these) that in the registration there was a "0" that had been entered as the letter "O". Problem was sorted, but the character 0 and O meant that eflow registered this as not being paid. same could possibly happen with"1" and "i" for example.

If you are renting a car in the Republic of Ireland, check whether you can take the car into Northern Ireland. Some companies will make a compulsory charge of   25 (approx) to cover AA breakdown in that part if the country. A similar amount £22 approx) is payable if you are renting in Northern Ireland and want to take the car into the Republic of Ireland.It is best to check with the vehicle hire company in advance.

Electric scooters: These have become very popular and as of March 2020 no actual legislation has come into force. Riders tend to use these on main roads, pavements and bike lanes. They don't appear to be insured or registered so take great care you are knocked down by one. Gardaí have the powers to consficate these vehicles and there are more and more on the roads (and pavements) every year.

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AA Ireland is the main motoring association.

Looking in for AA Car Insurance or Breakdown Assistance in the Republic of Ireland? Find out more by clicking on the images below

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Views of the Dublin area


Information from holiday autos about Ireland

Ireland's scenery is the biggest attraction for visitors who can also enjoy traditional hospitality in lively towns and the buzz of Dublin and Cork. The Dingle Peninsula, Ring of Kerry and the Connemara and Donegal coasts are firm favourites. The beaches around the south-east coast are best for swimming and the unsheltered western coast is great for surfers. Try visiting in June or September when it is less crowded and easier to get around .

It’s not all about Guinness and steak pies. Hop on a plane, hire a car and explore what the Emerald Isle is really all about. Book today for great rates on car hire in Ireland.

Book car hire Northern Ireland and head off exploring landscapes and legends. Drive your hire car through some of the most stunning scenery. You'll need to remember to drive on the right and to change gear, as most car rentals are not automatic. Book car hire in Northern Ireland today.

car hire in Dublin - Dublin is perfect for that weekend away. Hire a car and make the most of your time. Dubliners love their Guinness. Head to the Guinness Storehouse for a free beer and a 360-view over the city. Want to escape the city? Take your hire car to the Wicklow Mountains, it’s about an hour’s drive from Dublin.

car hire in Galway - Good things come in small packages. Galway maybe Ireland’s smallest city but it’s packed with charm. It’s also a great base to hire a car and explore the west of Ireland. Drive out to the Connemara National Park. Careful where you step – you don’t want to get bogged down. Take the hire car to the sleepy town of Sligo. Westlife call it home, it also houses the remains of a 5,000-year old village.

car hire in Belfast - Belfast. An ideal place for a city break for us Brits. Book Northern Ireland car hire from one of four locations and see what’s on offer in the birthplace of the Titanic. Legend has it the Giant’s Causeway was formed by the fighting of two great giants. Whether you believe the legend or not, it's well worth the car ride. For some real history, head to Derry. It’s city walls are still intact and there’s even 24 cannons to play with on your way round.

top driving tips -Check your fuel before setting off. There are no petrol stations on the motorways - In Galway and some other cities - It’s too much of a hassle parking on the city streets – you’ll need to get a disc – head for a car park instead.Speed limits are well signposted in Northern Ireland. Follow them or you’re next stop will be court.

See Also:

Renting a Car in Ireland - Tripadvisor Article

Irish Tourism in 2011 - Article

Car hire insurance for Irish residents Here

Touring Tipperary, Ireland (or part of it) - A four day tour of Tipperary, Ireland in June, based at a superb country house B & B makes a perfect early summer break.

Dublin at Christmas - If you are planning on visiting Dublin for Christmas make sure that you are either staying with friends or family, staying at a hotel that is going to be open or renting a self catering property.

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FACT FILE — Ireland — Éire : Céad Mile Fáilte

Ireland is divided into 4 provinces: Connaught, Leinster, Munster and Ulster. The country has Thirty two counties, twenty six forming the Republic of Ireland and six counties of the nine counties in the Ulster province in the north east, that is administered by Britain. The country is an ideal holiday location, be it in the country or one of the towns or cities or by the sea.

There are many ranges of mountains including the Wicklow Mountains, Caha Mountains, Sperrin Mountains and the Mourne mountains. These are contrasted by the rivers, Shannon and the Erne.

Dublin -baile átha cliath is the capital of the Republic and other major cities include Belfast (capital of Northern Ireland), Limerick, Cork, Galway and Waterford.

Northern Ireland has a largely rural society living in beautiful countryside which boasts world famous natural features like the Giants Causeway. About half the population are settled on the eastern coastal region around the capital Belfast. It is the location of Northern Ireland's "silicon valley" and financial service centre.

Communications are very good: From mainland Europe and Britain there are flights to Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Shannon, Knock and other locations. There are car ferry (including high speed crossings) from Scotland, England, Wales and France. The road system is good and the population is not high, unless you are in a major city traffic is easy. A Motorway (Mótarbhealach) network has been developed over a lot of the country and the M1 motorway is now complete from Dublin to the north connecting to Belfast (A1/M1). Some sections of motorway are also being developed as toll motorways. There are very good motorways around Dublin and Belfast.

The Irish hospitality is world famous and cuisine is very good, remember when you are in Ireland apart from drinking Guinness and Smithwicks, you are in the home of Irish whisky — Bushmills, Jameson & Paddy. Whilst you are sampling the excellent food and drink, remember the country is bursting with culture in traditional music, poetry and art.

Tourism in Ireland

Tourism Ireland works with the two tourist boards on the island, Fáilte Ireland and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, who are responsible for product and enterprise development and marketing to tourism consumers within the island of Ireland.Tourism Ireland was established under the framework of the Belfast Agreement of Good Friday 1998.

Popular words you will see or hear in Ireland

Fáilte welcome — céad mile fáilte a hundred thousand welcomes

An Lár the middle — centre (like city centre etc)

Sláinte Good health — used when toasting in a pub for example.

Garda short form of garda síochána — Police in the Republic of Ireland

Currency: Republic — Euro (€) Northern Ireland — Pound Sterling [United Kingdom Pound] (£) Currency Conversion Here

Population 2006: 5,725,976 (Republic — 26 Counties — 4,015,676) (Northern Ireland — 6 Counties — 1,710,300)

Land Area: 84,123 (Republic — 26 Counties — 70, 280 Km2 ) (Northern Ireland — 6 Counties — 13,843 Km2)

Telephone Country Code: +353 Republic of Ireland - +44 Northern Ireland

Police in Northern Ireland: PSNI — Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Public Holidays in Ireland

Tourists visiting Ireland during public holidays would be well-advised to plan ahead when it comes to reserving accommodation as Bank Holidays / Public holidays will often fall on a Monday which gives everyone in Ireland a long three-day weekend.

Republic of Ireland * January 1 (New Year) * March 17 (St Patrick's Day) * (Good Friday — Friday before Easter) * (Easter Monday Monday after Easter) * May Bank Holiday: First Monday in May* June Bank Holiday(Spring Holiday): First Monday in June * August First Monday in August (Summer Holiday) * October (Hallowe'en) Last Monday in October * December 25 (Christmas Day) * December 26 (St Stephen's Day)

Northern Ireland * January 1 (New Year) * March 17 (St Patrick's Day Holiday) * April 14 (Good Friday) * April 17 (Easter Monday) * May 1 * May (Spring Holiday Last Monday in May) * July 12 (Battle of the Boyne) * August (Summer bank holiday Last Monday in August ) * December 25 (Christmas) * December 26 (St Stephen's Day/Boxing Day)

Source jmlvillas.com - (some of this information has been provided by jmlvillas.com clients)


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Emergency Telephone number: pan-EU Emergency 112 Can be used in all EU Countries and it can be dialled from a locked mobile or a mobile with no sim card. We have driving guides for those countries marked in red below (plus other non EU member European countries).

Austria - Belgium - Bulgaria - Cyprus - Czech Republic - Denmark - Estonia - Finland - France - Germany - Greece - Hungary - Ireland - Italy - Latvia - Lithuania - Luxembourg - Malta- Netherlands - Poland - Portugal - Romania - Slovakia - Slovenia - Spain - Sweden

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Drink Drive Laws - Examples of what can be drunk at present

It is not a lot and in some countries even to drink the glass on the right would be breaking the law if you drove afterwards in others a sip would be too much see "Wine" below

"Wine - even a sip will send you over the limit and invalidate your insurance in Parkistan, Cuba, Indonesia, Romania, Jordan and Nigeria, according to Rhinocarhire.com which produces a comprehensive guide." The A to Z of car hire - The Independent - August 2010

See this guide for further information

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Emergency Telephone Numbers in Europe:

Emergency Telephone number: pan-EU Emergency 112 Can be used in all EU Countries and it can be dialled from a locked mobile or a mobile with no sim card.

Driving abroad - British Government website. Contains general information about driving abroad and gives you the option to search for specific advice by country

Finally, Don’t forget your excess cover and buy it before you set off

Excess charges could cost you up to £1,000 or more. Protect yourself by organising your insurance4carrental car hire insurance before you head to Europe.

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Other Country Information Guides

Driving in Austria

Driving in Belgium

Driving in Bulgaria

Driving in Canada

Driving in Croatia

Driving in Cyprus

Driving in The Czech Republic

Driving in Denmark

Driving in England

Driving in Europe (with detailed country guides)

Driving in Finland

Driving in France and Corscia

Driving in Germany

Driving in Gibraltar

Driving in Greece and the Greek Islands

Driving in Holland

Driving in Hungary

Driving in Iceland

Driving in Ireland

Driving in Israel

Driving in Italy Sardinia and Sicily

Driving in Jordan

Driving in Lebanon

Driving in Liechtenstein

Driving in Luxembourg

Driving in Malta and Gozo

Driving in Mexico

Driving in Monaco

Driving in The Netherlands

Driving in New Zealand

Driving in Northern Ireland

Driving in Norway

Driving in Poland

Driving in Portugal

Driving in Scotland

Driving in Slovenia

Driving in South Africa

Driving in Spain The Balearrics and The Canary Islands

Driving in Sweden

Driving in Switzerland

Driving in Turkey

Driving in United Arab Emirates UAE

Driving in The UK - England - Scotland - Wales & Northern Ireland

Driving in the USA

Driving in Wales

Worldwide Driving Guides Index

Driving Abroad - Advice from FCO — Foreign and Commonwealth Office




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