Driving rules and customs

If you're taking a ferry across the Irish Sea for your holidays, or just popping over the border for a shopping or business trip, driving in the Irish Republic can be a great experience. But you need to make sure that you are familiar with local rules and regulations, and that you have everything you need.

Before you head off, make sure you keep your driving license with you at all times (this is a legal requirement), and you've got a nationality sticker affixed to your car (if it isn't fitted with Europlates). If you're arriving from outside the EU or UK, you'll also need an International Driving Permit.

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Speed limits in km/h

 
motorcycles 50 80 100 120
cars 50 80 100 120
towing vehicles 50 80 80 80
vans over 3.5t 50 80 90 90
trucks over 7.5t 50 80 90 90
buses 50 80 100 100
  Buses carrying standing passengers are limited to a maximum speed of 65 km/h on roads where a higher limit is signposted.
   

Driving age

The minimum permitted age for driving a vehicle is 17 years.

   
   

Mobile phones

It is illegal to use a handheld mobile phone.
The use of hands free equipment is permitted.

   
   

Alcohol limit

The blood alcohol content limit is 0.5, reducing to 0.2 for new drivers, bus drivers and lorry drivers.

   
   

Smoking

It is illegal to smoke in any vehicle carrying a child under the age of 18.

   
   

Speed camera detection

Devices that can detect or interfere with speed cameras are illegal - if you are caught with one, you will face a large fine and the device will be confiscated.
If your satnav features speed camera warnings, this feature must be turned off before travel.

   
   
 

Seat belts

All occupants must wear a seat belt if one is provided in the vehicle.

   
   

Child restraints

Any child less than 150cm in height, and weighing below 36kg, must be in a suitable car or booster seat.

   
   

Headlights

The use of headlights is mandatory whenever visibility is reduced by heavy rain, snow or fog.

   
   

Horns 

The use of horns is forbidden between 11:30pm and 7:00am

   
   

Railway crossings

Many level crossings are manually operated, particularly in rural areas.
I
t is the driver's responsibility to open and close the barriers.

   
   

Motorway tolls

Tolls are charged on several motorways, which are identified on signs by the Ireland Road Toll Symbol.png icon. The price you pay will vary between motorways, and will also depend on the type of vehicle you are driving.

Tolls are payable by cash; cards are not accepted. However, regular travellers may find it advantageous to get an eToll tag, instead of constantly ensuring you have enough cash to hand!

One exception is the M50, which utilises a barrier free toll system similar to the Dartford Crossing in the UK. Vehicles are recorded using number plate recognition, and those without an eToll tag or Video account are required to pay before 8pm on the following day.

   
   
 

Motorway ameneties

Service areas are few and far between in Ireland, but they are growing in number at a fast rate as part of a long term project by the National Roads Agency. These have been supplemented by a number of other sites that been constructed by third party operators taking advantage of faster approval times and the NRA's decision to only provide sites every 100km.

All sites are similar to those found in the UK, offering a number of facilities centred on a central amenety building. These are prinicipally toilets, showers, a choice of eating establishments and a shop, joined by an adjacent petrol station.

Signage is unusual in Ireland, in that "online" sites located at the side of the motorway are signposted using standard blue signage, whilst "offline" sites situated at a junction are shown on brown tourist-style signs.

Signage provided before you reach the services will advise of what is available on-site, and the distance to the next amenety offering the same facilities. Here's what the symbols mean:

Fuel Electric vehicle charging Garage repairs Telephone Public toilets

Refreshments

Restaurant

Picnic area

Accommodation

Information point