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Have a UK driving licence but live in Ireland? It won't be valid from 1 January

After the transition period ends on 31 December, UK driving licences will no longer be valid for residents here.

Image: Shutterstock/Stu49

ANYONE WHO HOLDS a UK driving licence but lives in Ireland has been warned they may not be covered by their insurance from the start of 2021.

At 11pm on 31 December, the Brexit transition period ends and the UK will leave the Single Market and the Customs Union. After this period a number of changes come into force, including British driver licences no longer being legally recognised by Irish authorities.

As of October, an estimated 10,000-17,000 were expected to make an application at the last minute to exchange their British driving licence for an Irish one. 

Since 2018, the National Driver Licence Service (NDLS) said that around 53,000 UK licences have been exchanged for the Irish version.

In response to a recent parliamentary question, Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said those who possess UK driving licences and reside in this jurisdiction “will not be entitled to drive here on those licences after [31 December]“.

He said: “However, as holders of UK licences who are resident in the jurisdiction will not be able to drive legally on UK licences after the end of the transition period at the end of this year, it is understandable that insurance companies would not cover them to drive on those licences.

“The solution for people in this situation is therefore to exchange their licences as soon as possible.”

To exchange your licence, you need to fill out a licence application form and present this, a €55 fee and your UK licence at any of the 36 NDLS centre. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, you must book an appointment with an NDLS centre.

Back in October, the NDLS said that it was important to take steps now to exchange your UK/NI licence as there may be further delays caused by a last-minute increase in applications, plus extra demand on the service caused by Covid-19.

However, junior minister Hildegarde Naughton has also said there is potential in the future for a reciprocal arrangement with the UK over the use of foreign driving licences.

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She said, in response to a separate parliamentary question: “However, legislation exists to allow for the recognition of foreign driving licences for exchange purposes in the Road Traffic Acts.

Following the transition period, the potential then exists for arrangements to be made under those Acts and Ireland will be pursuing this option. This may take a little time to complete as it involves a formal agreement and legislation here in Ireland, as well as corresponding steps by the UK.

“There is a distinction between motorists with a UK driving licence visiting Ireland and those living in Ireland. This means that motorists who are not resident in Ireland but driving in Ireland with a UK driving licence while visiting are not affected by Brexit.”

With reporting from Gráinne Ní Aodha

About the author:

Sean Murray

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