Skip to Content
Road Users

Legislation

Road traffic legislation for vehicles in use on Irish roads and type-approval legislation for new vehicles. 

This content is for general information only. It does not, and is not intended to, provide legal or technical advice or to represent a legal interpretation of the matters it addresses.

Vehicles in-use legislation

All vehicles and trailers on Irish roads must conform to a minimum standard of construction. This applies to all of their parts as well, such as seat belts, lights, tyres, glass and so on. Applying minimum standards helps ensure that vehicles are safe to drive, safe for passengers and safe for other road users.

If you’re the owner, operator or driver of a vehicle or combination of vehicles such as a truck and trailer, it’s your legal responsibility to ensure that your vehicle is safe and roadworthy when used in public places. Driving a dangerously defective vehicle can result in a fine of up to €5,000 and/or imprisonment of up to six months.


Three primary pieces of road traffic legislation

S.I. 190 of 1963 - Road Traffic Construction, Equipment and Use of Vehicles Regulations (as amended) sets out the requirements for the construction, equipment and use of vehicles (including large public service vehicles and small public service vehicles) being used on public roads. They also set out how different types of vehicles and equipment should be used and the legal responsibilities of drivers and passengers.

S.I. 5 of 2003 - Road Traffic Construction and Use of Vehicles Regulations (as amended) sets out the permitted weights and dimensions of vehicles and their trailers when used on Irish roads.

S.I. 189 of 1963 - Road Traffic (Lighting of Vehicles Regulations (as amended) sets out the rules for lights fitted to vehicles being used in public places, and rules on how those lights should be used.

Note: the above regulations are the original documents. Over time amendments are made to the legislation to keep up with changing legislation, behaviours, enforcement, technology, government strategy and so on.


Type-approval legislation

Type-approval helps remove barriers to trade for manufacturers and ensures that new vehicles are manufactured to prescribed safety and environmental standards.

 

Vehicle safety is critical. Vehicle manufacturers, the EU and each Member State have many regulations, tests and controls in place to maximise safety at every stage of a vehicle's life from manufacture to registration to road use. These all relate to the process of type-approval.

 

    RSA Type-Approval 2021 Interactive pdf | 3597 KB

The new General Safety Regulation (GSR)

The General Safety Regulation (GSR2), also known as Regulation (EU) 2019/2144 applied since 6 July 2022. It applies to new vehicle types and to new vehicles not yet registered. It aims to significantly reduce deaths and serious injuries on EU roads by introducing a range of mandatory advanced vehicle safety systems. Our vehicle safety videos explain some of these new car safety technologies. 

Vehicle safety systems required from 6 July 2022:

From July 2022 for new vehicle types and from July 2024 for all new vehicle registrations, the following advanced vehicle systems must be fitted:

  • Intelligent speed assistance
  • Alcohol interlock installation facilitation
  • Driver drowsiness and attention warning systems (for vehicles that exceed 65 km/h)
  • Emergency stop signals
  • Reversing detection systems
  • Tyre pressure monitoring systems
  • Protection of vehicles against cyberattacks

Further measures to be progressively introduced between July 2024 and July 2029:

  • Advanced driver distraction warning 

 

In addition to the safety systems listed above, from July 2022 for new type-approvals and from July 2024 for new registrations, cars and vans must meet the following requirements:

  • Advanced emergency braking systems capable of detecting motor vehicles
  • Emergency lane-keeping systems
  • Event data recorders (EDR)
  • Frontal full-width impact tests
  • Pole side impact
  • Rear impact tests

Further measures to be progressively introduced between July 2024 and July 2029 for cars and vans:

  • Advanced emergency braking systems capable of detecting motor vehicles and vulnerable road users in front of them
  • Enlarged head-impact protection zones capable of mitigating injuries in collisions with vulnerable road users
  • Forward vision (vans)

In addition to being equipped with existing systems (such as lane departure warning and advanced emergency braking systems), from July 2022 for new type-approvals and from July 2024 new registrations, buses and trucks must have the following vehicle safety systems:

  • Tyre pressure monitoring systems
  • Detection and warnings to prevent collisions with pedestrians or cyclists;
  • Improved direct vision to better see cyclists and pedestrian to reduce blind spots in front of and to the side of the driver

Further measures to be progressively introduced between July 2024 and July 2029 for new buses, coaches and trucks:

  • Improved direct vision to better see cyclists and pedestrians 
  • Event data recorders (from 2026)

    The General Safety Regulation (GSR2) and the type-approval Framework Regulation ((EU) 2018/858 as amended) set a legal framework for autonomous and driverless cars in the EU. The European Commission adopted a series of technical rules to ensure that such vehicles are safe and that the technology is sufficiently developed before they are placed on the market.

    There are 3 different categories of fully automated vehicles:

    • Fully automated goods vehicles (Categories N1, N2 and N3) without driver seat and without occupants
    • Fully automated motor vehicles (Categories M and N) without driver seat, with occupants
    • Dual mode vehicles: vehicles with a driver seat designed and constructed to be driven by the driver in the "manual driving mode" and to be driven by the Automated Driving System (ADS) without any driver supervision in the "fully automated driving mode".

    Some of the key characteristics of fully automated vehicles include:

    • Automated driving permitted in the operational design domain established by the manufacturer 
    • Limit on size of vehicle series to max. 1500 vehicles per model per year 
    • European Commission review of limit by July 2024
    • Allowed in the EU since September 2022

    The European Commission has the power to review and update the rules for autonomous vehicles. This is to ensure that the rules are fit for purpose, and that vehicles are safe before they are placed on the market.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Type-approval laws for cars

    When a car is first manufactured it must pass all the necessary safety and quality standards before it can be sold or registered throughout Europe – this is known as European type-approval. Since 29 April 2009 all newly manufactured vehicles must be type-approved.

    The National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) is the appointed approval authority in Ireland responsible for issuing all national approvals for brand new unregistered vehicles only e.g., IVA or NSSTA.

    This relates to new unregistered passenger cars imported or manufactured in very small numbers or as individual vehicles. Each car is checked and on passing inspection at an NSAI appointed test centre an IVA cert is issued to allow registration in Ireland.

    This is certification for small batches of cars up to a maximum of 250 intended for Irish or national use. When NSSTA is granted the manufacturer can issue a CoC for each vehicle of same type.

    This is certification issued to manufacturers of large quantities of the same type of car. Instead of having to obtain approval for each and every identical car one model or prototype is used. If that one car is approved, then certification will be issued to all cars of the same model which means they can be sold or registered throughout Europe.

    No. Under EU law, mutual recognition of national approval schemes is only permissible between EU Member States.

    Revenue will not register a new vehicle unless it has a valid certificate of conformity (CoC), an EU Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA)* or an Irish National IVA.

    *As set out in Article 44 of Regulation 2018/858

    A CoC is issued to the manufacturer as proof that the car achieved type-approval and can be sold and registered throughout EU Member States.

    For a car to be type-approved and obtain its CoC every vehicle must be identical to the car originally approved. This is known as CoP. There are no conformity of production requirements for individual vehicle approval.

    You will need to contact the original manufacturer.

    A CoC can only be obtained from the vehicle manufacturer in the country where the vehicle was first registered.

    Type-approval laws for light trailers (O1 and O2)

    When a trailer is first manufactured it must pass all the necessary safety and quality standards before it can be sold or registered throughout European member states, this is known as European type-approval. Since 29 October 2012 all newly manufactured trailers must be type-approved.

    It is a trailer which has the following EU categories.

    O1 – Trailer with a Design Gross Vehicle Weight (DGVW)* of 750 kg or less

    O2 - Trailer with a Design Gross Vehicle Weight (DGVW)* over 750 kg but not exceeding 3,500 kg

    *DGVW or maximum authorised mass (MAM) is the weight of a vehicle or trailer including the maximum load it can carry as per the manufacturer’s design specifications.

    The National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) is the appointed approval authority in Ireland responsible for issuing all national approvals e.g., IVA or NSSTA for brand new unregistered vehicles only.

    This relates to an individual vehicle or trailer. Each trailer is checked and on passing inspection at an NSAI appointed test centre (ATC) an IVA cert is issued.

    This is certification for small batches of trailers to a maximum of 500, intended for Irish or national use. When NSSTA is granted the manufacturer can issue a CoC for each trailer of same type.

    This certification is issued to manufacturers of large quantities of the same type of trailer. Instead of having to obtain approval for each and every trailer one model or prototype is used. If that one trailer is approved, then a certificate of conformity (CoC) will be issued to all trailers of the same type.

    This is issued to the manufacturer as proof that the trailer achieved type approval and can be sold throughout European member states.

    For new trailers contact the original manufacturer.

    To obtain type approval for brand new trailers contact the NSAI.

    No. Under EU law, mutual recognition of national approval schemes is only permissible between EU Member States.

    Any new trailer built since 29 October 2012 must be type approved and have a CoC. This ensures that the design, lighting, braking etc. has met a European safety and quality standard.


    Related pages

    Road Safety Weights and dimensions

    Maximum permitted weights and dimensions for commercial and agricultural vehicles and trailers on Irish roads.