Car hire and driving outside Northern Ireland
This page contains guidance on hiring a car in Northern Ireland or abroad and driving your own vehicle outside Northern Ireland.
When hiring a car in Northern Ireland or abroad you will be asked to give evidence that you are a licence holder and the vehicles that you are covered to drive.
The Northern Ireland driving licence is made up of two parts and you can give evidence of your driving entitlement by showing both the plastic photocard licence and the paper counterpart. Both parts make up your driving licence and they will give evidence of:
- your driving licence number
- the types of vehicles you can drive
- any penalty points or disqualifications you may have
If a car hire company asks you for a ‘check-code’ or you need to give evidence of your driving entitlement you can go to the page below to view your own driving record or create a code to share your driving record.
If you have lost the paper part of your driving licence you will need to apply for a new driving licence. If there are no changes to your licence you can apply for a duplicate.
If you need to give evidence of your driving entitlement urgently you can apply for a ‘Certificate of Entitlement (CoE)’. This will give a summary of your driving entitlement.
To get a CoE you should phone or to write to the Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) and include these details:
- your driver number
- your date of birth
- the postal or email address you want the ‘Certificate of Entitlement’ sent to
Post this letter along with a cheque (made out to the Driver & Vehicle Agency) or postal order for £7.50 to the DVA.
Visit Driver & Vehicle Agency - driver licensing for the DVA’s address and phone number.
If you have any further queries contact the DVA.
Driving outside Northern Ireland
If you plan to drive when visiting or moving to other parts of the UK or another country, it’s important that you understand what you need. You'll need your Northern Ireland (NI) driving licence and in certain countries you’ll also need an International Driving Permit.
International Driving Permit (IDP)
An International Driving Permit (IDP) is a formal document issued to visitors to another country which translates details of a driving licence into several languages. This allows foreign authorities to interpret the driving entitlements held, their validity periods, and the identity of the holder.
They are issued by the Post Office. When applying for an IDP you will need:
- a full valid UK driving licence - photocard or an older paper licence
- a passport sized photograph - a recent true likeness of the applicant
- the application fee (cash or debit/credit card)
- original valid passport as proof of identification (only if presenting an older paper version licence)
Any enquiries about IDPs (such as how much they cost and how to apply) should be directed to the Post Office.
Visiting another country
You may use your NI licence for driving in other European Economic Area (EEA) member states. However, you should note that while the minimum age for driving a car in NI is 17, individual member states may apply their own age limits for entitlements.
The member states are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Republic of Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden.
If you’re caught breaking the law, for example by a speed camera, the authorities can get the vehicle’s registered keeper’s details from Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). For rules in other European countries check with a motoring organisation:
Check with a motoring organisation if you want to drive in a non-EEA country. They will advise you whether you need an International Driving Permit.
Moving to another country
If you move to another country, you should check with the driving licence authorities there for information about driving and exchange of licences. You don't need to let Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) know of a change of address when moving to live abroad.
Returning to NI
If you return to NI from a non-EEA country and do not have a NI licence, you may:
- drive for up to 12 months on your foreign licence
- apply for a duplicate of your NI licence on payment of a fee
- exchange your foreign driving licence