Driving in Ireland*


Distances and driving times

When planning your travel, do not under-estimate the time it will take to get between any two points!


From To


Driving Time

Belfast Limerick



Cork Belfast



Dublin Cork



Dublin Galway



Malin Head Mizen Head



Rosslare Cork



Sligo Rosslare



New highways construction program - project status

It is illegal to drive and use a handheld mobile phone in Ireland

European Car Safety Ratings

Real time weather sensor data from the national road network showing air and road temperature, state of road, wind speed and direction and precipitation information.   (Maps)


1. Speed limits

Type of Road and signage colouring

Road Numbering Range

Default speed limit*





N                     R

Divided highways have no specific limit. The default limit is either 80 km/h if it is an R route or 100 km/h if an N route


[Single or dual carriageway highways]

& "unnumbered" roads outside urban areas

Urban Areas


Special Speed Limits

Selected Pedestrian and residential zones

Selected suburban and other routes

The speed limit for vehicles towing trailers, caravans, etc  is 80 km/h (or less where signposted).

The speed limit for trucks (over 3.5 tonnes)  and single deck buses is 80 km/h (or less where signposted).   The speed limit for double deck buses is 65 km/h.


*A lower speed limit may be signposted where road conditions dictate

Valid: 2005.01.20


2. Caution should be exercised when driving under the influence of alcohol. The legal tolerance limit is 0.08%.

3. Wearing of seat belts is compulsory in front and rear seats.

4. Children under 12 years age not permitted in front seats.

5. It is recommended to carry breakdown warning triangle, first aid kit, fire extinguisher and spare bulb kit in vehicle. If you wear glasses, bring a spare pair in the car with you.

6. Minimum Driving age: 17 years.

7. Documents required when driving

  • Valid drivers license
  • Vehicle title document/registration certificate or vehicle rental agreement
  • Insurance green card (not obligatory for vehicles registered in IRL or another EU state)
  • National vehicle oval country of registration plate (not required for vehicles fitted with EU standard format license plates)

8. Drive on the left and vehicle headlights should be focused accordingly.

9. Avoid accidents at traffic signals by not braking suddenly when the lights turn to amber. This note particularly applies to drivers from GB who frequently create accident situations for themselves by not adopting to the driving style of the country they are driving in.

10. Precedence

Traffic coming from the right-hand side has precedence on roundabouts (traffic rotaries)

11. Direction Sign Colo(u)rs

Freeways/Motorways = Blue
National Primary & Secondary routes = Green
Regional and local routes = White


12. Tolls

Tolls are payable at two points in the Dublin area - M50 Ring Road between the N4 and N3 interchanges only and on the R131 East Link Bridge. In each case the toll is approximately 1.00 for cars, with higher tolls for vans and trucks.

Tolls are being introduced on some new motorways, for example the E1 (M1) route which connects Dublin and Belfast. The toll charge for cars is 1.50. Ireland's tradition of poor quality, slow, monopolistic road tolling continues at this location. Cash only. No credit cards.  More information on toll charges on this route can be found here. Further general information is available at the NRA website.

13. Automobile club breakdown services

AIT Tel 1-800 66 77 88 (0800 88 77 66 in NI)
FIA Tel 1-800 53 50 05 (0800 82 82 82 in NI)


14. Tips for North Americans driving in IRL for the first time

A car is the best way to see Ireland. Driving styles and regulations differ in every country. It usually takes between a few hours and a day to get used to a new driving environment, particularly if you have not driven in the country before.

  • If you are used to an automatic, be sure to specify automatic when making your reservation
  • When you drive the car for the first time, take it around the block at the airport a few times to get used to the controls and driving on the left-hand side of the road
  • Try and avoid the narrower R roads for the first day or so until you are familiar with your car and the driving environment
  • Get a good map at the airport, and have someone other than the driver to navigate
  • Take your time - drive slowly at first until you gain confidence. Watch the signs carefully!
  • If you cross the road to park or to visit a gas station, be sure to return to a driving position on the left-hand side after you exit the space!


15. Parking

Parking regulations are strictly enforced, particularly in Dublin city. Tow trucks and vehicle disabling programs are in operation. Parking meters operate in the downtown area - check signs for days and hours of chargeable parking specific to a location.  The typical cost 1,30 to 1,90 per hour). Many meters are of the "Pay and Display" variety, with a single solar powered meter serving about 20 spaces. As coins are inserted, the parking expiry time for the amount inserted is displayed. When sufficient coins have been deposited, pressing the green button causes a two part ticket to be printed. The larger part should be stuck to the winshield, and the counterfoil can be retained as a reminder of when the parking expires. Disk parking operates outside the central zone and in some suburbs and many cities outside Dublin. Multi-story car parks (typical cost 1.50 to 2.50/hr - some offering discounts for overnight use) are signposted along the parking routes with advance space availability indicators showing how many spaces are left in each park. These parking space availability displays are updated every minute. Some of these car parks payment machines accept Visa, MasterCard and Eurocard payments (eg Stephen's Green and Royal Surgeons). If you have recently rented a car in Dublin and have no Irish change to hand, follow the parking route signs to one of these car parks and use a credit card to pay.

You can also charge your on street car parking to your mobile phone account using mPark (registration required).     Dublin downtown area parking space availability here.

16. Dublin Traffic Control Centre

Call 1-800 29 39 49 (free incl. from payphones and mobiles) with signposting suggestions, traffic signal fault reports, information on parked vehicles causing congestion and traffic jams caused by roadworks.

Information on roadworks in the Dublin area which may delay your journey can be found here


17. Broadcast traffic reports on radio

The traffic information of the motoring organizations is broadcast in English by RTE Radio 1 and 2 and most commercial radio stations. Call 1-850 542 542 to notify the traffic centre of any problems on the roads. Calls charged at 9.5p each (ex VAT) irrespective of duration or whether you are calling from a mobile or ordinary fixed line.


18. Fuel prices

Fuel costs in Ireland are at about European average levels.
Fuel prices in Northern Ireland are similar to Britain.

Up to date Irish fuel prices - note the prices in this website are quoted in EUR cents per litre(er). If you wish to convert the price per liter into a price per US gallon for comparison, multiply the cents per liter figure by 3.785. This will give you the price in Euro cents per US gallon. You can get the current exchange rate for the Irish Pound (Ireland) and Sterling (Northern Ireland) here. Americans should bear in mind that European cars tend to be more economical in terms of fuel.   Diesel cars tend to be even more economical still and diesel fuel is cheaper.


19. Drivers Licenses

When renting a car most car rental companies will require a drivers license issued by the state you are normally resident in - and not an "international driving license".  

If you are taking up residence in Ireland from a state outside the European Union and hold a drivers license issued by AUS, CH, FL, GBM, GBJ, GBZ, J, N, KR and ZA you can exchange your foreign drivers license for an Irish license without testing formalities.

*Applies to regular motor cars only. Other regulations apply to larger vehicles.

An Garda Siochana (National Police Service)
National Safety Council
National Roads Authority




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2005-01-17 12:15   U770bis.12G.42