Advice for tourists driving in Ireland
Information and advice for driving legally and safely on Irish roads.
There are almost 100,000 kilometres of roads in Ireland, from motorways to narrow, single lane rural roads. Using the roads in Ireland has never been safer, and Ireland is one of the safest countries in the European Union.While Irish roads are generally safe, road safety is everyone's responsibility and there are important things you should know before taking to the road in Ireland.
Download and read our guide for tourists using the roads in Ireland, whether walking, cycling, motorcycling or driving.
Tips for safe driving in Ireland
Driving orientationTraffic in Ireland drives on the left.
Speed limitsSpeed limits and modern road signs are designated in kilometres per hour (km/h).
|Road classification||Speed limit|
|National Roads||100 km/h|
|Regional roads||80 km/h|
|Urban areas||50 km/h|
|Special limits (schools etc.)||30km/h|
Driving licenceWhen renting a car, most car rental companies will require a driving licence issued by the country you are normally resident in, not an international driving licence or permit.
Drink driving is a very serious offence in Ireland.
The legal limit for fully licenced drivers is 50 milligrammes of alcohol per 100ml of blood. The legal limit for professional and learner drivers is 20 milligrammes of alcohol per 100ml of blood. Local police (An Garda Siochána) have powers to set up random breath-test checkpoints.
Wearing of seat belts is compulsory in front and rear seats. Children must use booster seats or an appropriate child restraint system.Download our Child Safety in Cars Booklet pdf | 3607 KB
Narrow roadsAlthough the national road infrastructure has been greatly improved in recent years, many local roads are still very narrow and have no ‘hard shoulder’ – extra road space to the side. During the winter, the roads may be icy. You can stay informed about road conditions by listening to local or national radio or contacting AA Roadwatch and the National Roads Authority.
Farm trafficIn rural areas you can occasionally meet tractors and animals on the road so it is important to drive slowly and carefully.
Mobile or cellular phonesIt is illegal to hold a mobile phone while driving
Documents required when driving
- Valid driving licence
- Vehicle title document or registration certificate or vehicle rental agreement
- Valid insurance documentation
- Valid certificate of roadworthiness
Recommended equipmentIt is advisable to carry a breakdown-warning triangle, first-aid kit, fire extinguisher and spare bulb kit in your vehicle. If you wear glasses, bring a spare pair in the car with you.
Towing a caravan or trailer
The maximum legal speed limit for a vehicle towing a caravan or trailer is 80 km/h. If the speed limit displayed is lower, for example on certain roads or where there are road works, you must obey the lower speed limit. Download and read our leaflet about Road Safety Advice for Tourists Towing Caravans or Trailers.Towing a Caravan pdf | 233 KB
Dangerous driving and penalty pointsDrivers with foreign driving licences who drive in Ireland are subject to Ireland’s penalty points system, a system designed to save lives and prevent injuries resulting from road crashes and collisions.
If you drive in Ireland on a foreign licence, your details are held on a separate database for the purpose of recording penalty points. If you later apply for and obtain an Irish driving licence, the penalty points will then be activated on that licence.