Getting on the road: How to apply for your learner permit

Next step after you've passed your theory test? Apply for a learner permit.

Published on June 19, 2023

Note: This article was written as part of a commercial content partnership between and ISM.

Passed the theory test? Good stuff. Knew you would. Now that you've passed, you have a two-year time limit to apply for your first learner permit. To do that, you'll need to be able to prove who you are, and that takes two things.

First, you'll need your ID, and the National Driver Licence Service (NDLS) is strict about this - you'll need either a Public Services Card (available from if you haven't already got one) AND a verified MyGovID account, which you can keep up to date at Note, you'll need the Public Services Card to get the MyGovID account, and just to emphasise, you will need both, not one or the other.

That's not all, though. You'll also need a proof of address. This usually means a bank statement or a major utility bill (phone, electricity, gas, water etc) dated within the last six months. If you were originally born outside the EU or the EEA, you'll also need proof that you are 'normally resident in Ireland.' That can be in the form of an Irish residence permit or certificate of registration from the Garda National Immigration Bureau or the GNIB card. If you already have your Public Services Card, that covers this issue.

To get your learner permit, you'll need to either apply online at or book an appointment at an NDLS centre. You can find the locations of all of the centres here.

It may be that you'll need either a medical report or an eyesight report, so you'll need to get those in order before beginning the application process.

If you're applying in person at one of the NDLS centres, you'll also need photographic ID.

A learner's permit is valid for two years, and if you need to renew it, the second one will also last for two years. However, if you need a third permit, you must be able to show that you've taken and failed at least one driving test, and the third permit - and any subsequent renewals - will only be valid for one year. Each permit costs €35, incidentally.

Let's not forget something obvious - you need to be aged 17 or over before you can apply for a Category B driver's licence, which covers cars. You can get a moped or 'light quadricycle' licence, or a sub-125cc motorbike licence, or indeed an agricultural or work vehicle permit, at age 16.

Now, a couple of legal things to remember. Once you have your learner's permit, you can't go out and drive without someone with a full driving licence in the car with you. They will have had to have held their own full licence for at least two years, and if you do venture out without a suitable accompanying driver and the Gardai spot you and stop you, the car can be seized on the spot, whether it belongs to you or not.

You must also, of course, display L-plates to the front and rear of the vehicle at all times while driving. The plate should be a red 'L' on a white background and should not be less than 15cm high with a border of at least 2cm. You'll be able to pick one of those up from any decent motor accessories shop.

While you're a learner driver you also have to abide by stricter laws. Your maximum blood alcohol limit, for example, is 20 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, compared to 50 milligrams for other drivers - of course, we'd just advise you to simply not drink at all before driving, and it's worth buying some home-testing blood alcohol kits to make sure you're not over the limit when driving 'the morning after.'

You also have a lower penalty points disqualification threshold - notch up just seven penalty points and your licence will be taken off you for at least six months. There are some other limits, too - no motorway driving, no hauling a trailer and you can't 'carry other people for reward.' Or, in other words, no sneaky mini-cabbing.

Now that that's all covered, onto the next step - your Essential Driver Training. You will need to complete a minimum of 12 one-hour lessons before applying for your driving test. These 12 lessons are known as the EDTs and are regarded as a minimum number of lessons. In general, learner drivers need more lessons to prepare for a lifetime of safe driving habits and to pass their driving test the first time.

Further reading

Getting on the road: an overview of the process
Getting on the road: Taking - and passing - your driver theory test
> Getting on the road: How to apply for your learner permit
Getting on the road: Your essential driver training
Getting on the road: Taking the driving test
Getting on the road: Now you've passed your test