Driving on licences from all other countries and students on a foreign licence
If you are a visitor, resident or student in Northern Ireland (NI) and still have a driving licence issued by the country you have come from, there are certain conditions that affect how long you can drive and what you can drive in Northern Ireland.
Provided your full licence or international driving permit remains valid, you may drive vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes and with up to eight passenger seats for up to 12 months from the date of coming to NI. However, you may only drive large vehicles which have been registered outside NI and which you have driven into the country.
If you are the holder of an ordinary driving licence (car, moped, motorcycle entitlement) and provided your licence remains valid, you can drive any category of small vehicle shown on your licence for up to 12 months from the time you became resident.
To ensure continuous full driving entitlement you must obtain a provisional NI licence and pass a driving test(s) before the 12-month period elapses.
Up until 12 months you are not subject to provisional licence conditions, for example; displaying 'L' plates or being supervised by a qualified driver or being precluded from motorways.
If you don’t pass a test before the 12 month concessionary period has elapsed you will lose entitlement to drive as a full licence holder and you must stop driving. If you wish to continue driving you must obtain a NI provisional licence (if you have not already done so) and pass a driving test(s).
Normal provisional licence conditions will then apply, and up to a period of one year from the date you pass your driving test.
New residents who hold a vocational licence (minibus, bus, lorry entitlement), must not drive large vehicles until they have passed the relevant NI driving test. Driving test candidates are required to pass a motor car (category B) test first before applying for provisional entitlement for larger vehicles.
Driving in NI as a student
If you are a student holding a community licence you may drive cars and motorcycles in NI for as long as your licence remains valid. If you do not hold a licence you must have been studying here for at least six months prior to taking a driving test or applying for a full licence.
If you are a student holding a non-community licence or an international driving permit you may drive here for up to 12 months.
If you hold a driving licence from a designated country you may apply to exchange it for a NI one up to five years after becoming a resident here.
If you don't hold a licence, or your licence was not issued in a designated country, you will need to apply for a provisional licence and pass a driving test. You will be able to take a test and obtain a full licence once you have been in NI for six months.
International driving permits
Valid international driving permits, also known as convention permits, must comply with the formats prescribed in international legislation. Permits must be in booklet form, with white inside pages translated into multiple languages.
International driving licences
Neither the United Nations nor any of its subsidiary bodies issues or authorises the issue of international driver licences. An international driving licence is not valid proof of driving entitlement in NI.