Learners Permit Ireland: How to Get One & the Rules

Posted on November 1, 2023

A learner’s permit is issued to drivers who have yet to pass their test. It was originally known as a provisional license. When you receive a learner’s permit, you are allowed to take driving lessons and drive on the open road only while accompanied by a driver who has held a full driving license for at least two years. A learner’s permit is another stepping stone to getting a full driving license.

When Can You Apply For a Learners Permit?

You may only apply for a learner’s permit once you have passed your theory test. To sit your theory test, you can be 15 years old. You can only get a learner’s permit when you’re 17. You will essentially have a two-year wait to get your learners to permit. Alternatively, you could sit the theory test when you’re 17 and get your learner’s permit straight after. 

You can only apply for a learner’s permit if you have passed the theory test. If you have failed the theory test, you must retake the test. 

How Do You Apply For a Learners Permit?

You can apply online on the NDLS website to apply for a learner’s permit. To apply online, the NDLS require that you have a MyGovID. You need a Public Service Card to set up a MyGovID. The process is pretty straightforward if you apply online. 

If you prefer to apply in person or don’t have a Public Service Card, you can book an appointment to attend an NDLS Centre and get your learner’s permit. To apply in person, you will need the following:

  • Fully completed eyesight report from a professional dated within one month.
  • Proof of your PPSN
  • Proof of address within six months
  • Photo ID 
  • Fully completed medical report (if required).

You now do not need an application form when attending an NDLS centre. To receive your learner’s permit, it costs €35. 

The NDLS will take a digital photo, and you must also sign an electronic signature there. Both of these will appear on your learner’s permit. 

Can You Renew a Learners Permit?

If you have struggled to pass the driving test or have not spent time practising, you may be worried about how long the learner’s permit is valid. Learner permits are typically valid for two years. If you haven’t passed our test in those two years, you can renew your learner’s permit, which can be done up to three times for a fee of €35. 

Can You Drive When You Receive a Learners Permit?

Once you receive your learner’s permit, you can legally drive on open roads, but there are limitations. 

Learner permit driving

Firstly you must have car insurance for your driving car, just like everyone else. You must always be accompanied by someone with a full license who has held it for at least two years. You cannot drive on your own under any circumstance, and you cannot drive with someone who has held their full license for less than two years. 

Before you start driving, you must display ‘L’ Plates on both the front and rear of the vehicle. The ‘L’ should be red against a white background. 

Lastly, you cannot drive on any motorway until you have a full license. 

When Can You Start Driving Lessons?

Learner driver

Once you hold a learner’s permit, you can start driving lessons with a qualified ADI. You will do 12 lessons of (EDT) Essential Driving Training, where you will learn a range of skills about driving and the rules of the road. Each driving lesson typically lasts at least one hour long. 



When Can You Book a Driving Test?

You can book a driving test once you have completed your 12 driving lessons and once it has been six months since you received your learner’s permit. 

What is the Theory Test? 

The theory test is a computer-based examination based on motoring theory. You will be tested on the category of vehicle you wish to drive. You are tested on the following:

  • Rules of the road
  • Risk perception
  • Good driving behaviour
  • Eco-driving
  • Hazard awareness

You can book the theory test online and sit the test in any test centre around the country. On passing the test, you will get a theory test certificate. 

The theory test consists of 40 questions in both categories, A and B. To pass the test, you must answer 35 questions correctly. You will have 45 minutes to answer all the questions. 

What Happens if I Lose My Learners Permit?

You could apply for a replacement permit online if your learner’s permit was lost, stolen or damaged. You don’t need to complete any paper forms or make appointments. You can still apply to an NDLS Centre in person if you prefer. 

Do You Need Car Insurance for a Learner Permit?

You will need car insurance when you start driving your car or a parent’s car. Your driving instructor will have his car insured, so you are okay to drive their car. It is always advised to practice driving outside your regular driving lessons to practice what you’ve learned and gain confidence on the road. 

Before driving, you should organise car insurance to cover your vehicle. Learner drivers can get an online quote today with KennCo or call us on 01 409 2600. 

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