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Driving Laws in Ireland

Driving and road rules in Ireland are similar to those of the United Kingdom. Vehicles are driven on the left hand side of the road and yield to the right on roundabouts. The most noticeable difference is the fact that distances are displayed in kilometres and speed limits in kilometres per hour (km/h) in the Republic of Ireland. This can be confusing to anyone travelling across the border from Northern Ireland, which, like Britain, uses miles and miles per hour.

The legal blood-alcohol limit is low, so it may be best to abstain. It is perfectly legal to temporarily use the hard shoulder to allow a faster moving vehicle overtake you, but remember that this manoeuvre is not allowed on a motorway. Drivers often ‘thank’ each other by flashing their hazard lights or waving – this is purely a convention. Road signs in the Republic are nominally bilingual, with place names displayed in Irish in italic font, with the corresponding English name in capitals immediately below.

In the “Gaeltacht” areas (Irish-Speaking districts in the south-west (Kerry), west (Galway, Mayo), and north-west (Donegal), as well as other smaller gaeltacht areas in Meath and Waterford), road signs are written in Irish only. In Northern Ireland, road signs are in English only and all distances are given in miles.

Speed limits are defaults for the road classification only (if a lower speed limit is signed, it must be obeyed). Urban areas generally have a 50km/h speed limit. There are five types of road classification:

* M-roads (Motorways, indicated by white on blue signs: Speed limit 120km per hour).
* N-roads N1 – N50 (National Primary routes, main arterial routes indicated by white/yellow on green signs: Speed limit 100km per hour).
* N-Roads N51+ (National Secondary routes – green signs: Speed Limit 100km per hour).
* R-roads (Regional roads, indicated by black on white signs: Speed limit 80km per hour).
* L-roads (Local roads, white signs – rarely marked, although signage is improving).


Toll roads

There are no tolled roads in Northern Ireland but you’ll find tolls on a number of roads in the Republic of Ireland (Disabled drivers are not charged tolls on roads in the Republic of Ireland). These are managed by the National Roads Authority and Dublin City Council. Generally tolls are paid at the barrier of the toll booth, however, there is one exception: M50 eFlow Barrier System.

M50 eFlow Barrier System

There is a barrier-free toll system in operation on the M50 ring road around Dublin. Instead of paying your toll at a toll booth, the system will record your trip by photographing your vehicle’s licence plate number. It is important to to pay your toll before 8pm the next day, either online, in branded Payzone outlets or by LoCall 1890 501050.


Car rental companies

There is no shortage of car rental companies in Ireland, with all of the major airports and cities being well catered for. Renting a car in Ireland is very similar to the processes elsewhere in that you need a credit card in your own name and a full driver’s license for a minimum of two years without endorsement.

Most car rental companies in Ireland apply a minimum age of 25 in order to rent a car, but in many cases you will need to be 28 in order to rent a full-size car.

Car Rentals in Ireland come with the minimum CDW (Collision Damage Waiver) Insurance which will cover the car, but leave you with an excess deductible in the case of an accident. Additional insurance can be purchased to protect yourself against this excess when picking up the car.

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