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 three 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 (GSR) 2019/2144 came into force on 6 July 2022 for new vehicle types and from July 2024 it will apply to all new vehicles 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 6 July 2022 all new vehicle types must be equipped with the following advanced vehicle systems:

  • Intelligent speed assistance
  • Alcohol interlock installation facilitation
  • Driver drowsiness and attention warning systems
  • Advanced driver distraction warning systems
  • Emergency stop signals
  • Reversing detection systems

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

  • Advanced driver distraction warning 
  • Safe and longer lasting tyre performance

In addition to the safety systems listed above for all vehicle types, from 6 July 2022 cars and vans must also be equipped with:

  • Advanced emergency braking systems capable of detecting motor vehicles and vulnerable road users in front of them
  • Emergency lane-keeping systems
  • Enlarged head-impact protection zones capable of mitigating injuries in collisions with vulnerable road users

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

  • Safety glass

In addition to being equipped with existing systems (such as lane departure warning and advanced emergency braking systems), from 6 July 2022 new buses and trucks must have the following vehicle safety systems:

  • Intelligent speed assistance
  • Alcohol interlock installation facilitation
  • Driver drowsiness and attention warning systems
  • Advanced driver distraction warning systems
  • Emergency stop signals
  • Reversing detection 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:

  • Safe and longer lasting tyre performance
  • Improved direct vision to better see cyclists and pedestrians 
  • Event data recorders (from 2026)

The General Safety Regulation sets a legal framework to have autonomous and driverless cars in the  EU. The Commission will adopt a series of technical rules to ensure that such vehicles are safe and technology mature enough before they are placed on the market.

Some of the key characteristics of automated vehicles include:

  • Driver present 
  • Automated driving mode limited to motorways up to 60 km/h,
  • up to 130km/h from January 2023
  • No limitation to size of vehicle series
  • Cybersecurity measures

The technical rules will regulate:

  • Maturity of technology 
  • Data recording 
  • Cybersecurity measures
  • Capability to handle automated driving on motorways (lane keeping and lane change) 
  • Monitoring safety in the field 
  • Interaction with driver

The General Safety Regulation sets a legal framework to have autonomous and driverless cars in the  EU. The Commission will adopt a series of technical rules to ensure that such vehicles are safe and technology mature enough before they are placed on the market.

Some of the key characteristics of fully driverless vehicles include:

  • No driver present 
  • Automated driving permitted in defined areas 
  • Limit on size of vehicle series to max.1500 vehicles per model per year 
  • Review of limit by July 2024
  • To be allowed in the EU from September 2022

The technical rules will regulate:

  • Maturity of technology 
  • Data recording 
  • Cybersecurity measures
  • Capability to handle automated driving in defined areas 
  • Advanced safety monitoring in the field 
  • Interaction with passengers and road users 
  • Remote intervention operator 
  • New vehicle design possibility (no driver seat) 

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).

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

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

Type approval laws for light trailers (01 and 02)

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.