Driving in Northern Ireland on an EEA country licence

If you hold a community licence issued in a member state of the European Economic Area (EEA) and are visiting Northern Ireland, you can drive any vehicle provided your licence is valid and it shows the suitable full entitlement for the vehicle you wish to drive.

Visitors from the EEA

All drivers must satisfy Northern Ireland's minimum age requirements. These are 17 years for cars and motorcycles, 18 years for medium sized vehicles and 24 years for large lorries and buses.

Community licences are issued by the following EEA member states:

  • United Kingdom (including Jersey, Guernsey and Isle Of Man)
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden

Residents

Car and motorcycle driving licence holders (ordinary driving licence) can drive in NI as long as the licence is valid, or you can exchange the licence for a NI one to show your new details.

Lorry, minibus and bus driving licence holders (vocational driving licence) can drive:

  • for five years after becoming resident
  • if you are aged 65 or over - for 12 months after becoming resident

In order to continue driving after these periods, you must get a NI driving licence.

Community licences issued in exchange for licences from elsewhere

A community licence issued on the strength of a licence from a designated country will be valid for driving in NI for 12 months only and is acceptable for exchange purposes.

A community licence issued on the strength of a licence from a non-designated country will be valid for driving in NI for 12 months only but is not valid for exchange purposes.

A licence from any country outside the EEA which was originally issued on the basis of a community licence, will be valid for driving in NI for 12 months only and is acceptable for exchange purposes. Evidence of the original EEA entitlement must be provided.

Register of community licence holders

Persons resident in NI and who hold community licences with entitlement to drive goods vehicles and/or passenger-carrying vehicles must register their details with the Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA). For further information contact:

  • phone: 0300 200 7861

Notifying health conditions

You must tell DVA about all medical conditions which existed before and after you came to NI even if you have already notified the authorities.

In most cases the rules will be the same as those in other EEA countries although there may be some differences. For example, epileptics who have had attacks in the last 10 years are not permitted to hold a vocational licence.

Taking a driving test

If you want to take a NI driving test you must be a resident in NI. If you were recently a permanent resident in another EEA country, you must have been in NI for 185 days in the year before you apply for a driving test and full licence.

To take a NI driving test you will need to exchange your community licence for an NI licence and request the relevant provisional entitlement.

Vehicles which community licence holders may also drive in NI

Community licence holders with category B entitlement can also drive certain vehicles in NI, which are not part of the normal large vehicle driver licensing requirements. These include:

  • non-commercial minibuses driven on a voluntary basis
  • permit minibuses

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