What you need to know to convert your drivers licence in Ireland

What you need to know to convert your foreign drivers licence to an irish drivers license in Ireland

Last week I shared on Instagram how  I was able to take my foreign drivers license in and exchange it for an Irish drivers license. I had a few questions from some of my followers, that I thought it might be helpful to create this blog post for anyone relocating to Ireland and looking to do the same thing.


First you should check to see if you are eligible to exchange your foreign drivers license for an Irish drivers license. South Africa is one of the listed countries that are able to convert your South African drivers license to an Irish drivers license. You can check here to see what other countries are eligible. If you do not have a driver’s licence from one of these listed countries, then you will need to apply for an Irish drivers licence by completing the full Irish driver licensing procedure (i,e learners test, drivers test etc).

You also need to be permanently residing in Ireland for at least 185 days of each year.  When you first move over, you don’t need to convert your foreign drivers license straight away, you can use it for the first 12 months. Thereafter you will need to convert it to an irish drivers license. Since I have actually used my drivers in a while, I was able to convert my South African drivers license nearly 2,5 years after I arrived in Ireland.

You will need an Irish PPS number to be able to make the exchange. A PPS number is basically like a social security or ID number that is used for tax purposes and social benefits.

Your foreign drivers license must not have expired. The below info was taken directly from the NDLS website:

  • If your licence has expired by less than one year or does not have a category start date you will need to provide an original letter of entitlement / driver statement from the relevant licensing authority. 
  • If you do not have your most recent driving licence in your possession, you will need to present an original letter of entitlement / driver statement from the appropriate licensing authority and must complete the lost or stolen licence declaration on the application form and have it witnessed by a member of An Garda Síochána.


To exchange your driving licence for an Irish one, you need to make an appointment at the NDLS, which you can do online. I tried to make an appointment booking online however it wasn’t picking up my PPS number, so I ended up going in and waiting in line. When you arrive at the NDLS you can register that you are here for an exchange, you will be given a number and estimated waiting time. I went on a random Tuesday morning, and waited an hour and half before my name was called. I suggest you try book online, as this will save you time.


  • Your foreign driving licence
  • Photographic ID
  • Proof of your residency entitlement (GNIB and Work Permit)
  • Evidence of your PPS Number
  • Proof of address
  • Completed Eyesight Report Form D502 (I went to Spec Savers and paid EUR20 for the eye test to be done there; you can also ask your GP)
  • Completed Medical Report Form (if applicable)
  • Completed Driving licence application Form D401
  • It cost EUR55 to do the exchange.

Make sure you fill in all the forms in advance and bring all the necessary documents (originals!) with you. At the appointment, they will check your documentation, make copies, take your photograph and ask for your digital signature. They will also get you to sign a form that states they have taken your foreign drivers license from you. 

You will be given a receipt, and you will need to wait for your new irish drivers license to be posted to you. Because they need to contact the original licensing authority, this process can take up to 2/3 months. During this time you won’t be able to drive a car.


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what you need to know to exchange your foreign drivers license for an irish drivers license in ireland.

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  1. Hi Meg,
    First off, you have an amazing blog!

    I’m moving to Dublin next month from Cape Town and my license expires beginning of next year. Can I exchange it within a couple of months of being in Ireland or would you recommend that I’d rather go and renew my South African one before I leave?

    Thank you!

    1. Hey! Thanks for reading the blog! So I think if you plan on driving and getting a car here – you would need to exchange your drivers in a few months of arriving so I would not renew and just make sure you do it before your SA one expires. If you were planning on taking it slower like we did, then you can actually drive on your SA license for a full year before you need to exchange. In which case might be easier to have a new SA drivers which won’t expire too soon.

  2. Hi Meg!
    I’m in the process of trying to do this – I know it says 2/3 months for the exchange but how long did yours take? ?

    1. Hey! I applied mid of Feb and I got my irish drivers about 9 weeks later. I know some people have said more recently that there are delays – hopefully when you hand yours in it won’t be too long!

  3. Hi Meg,
    I wonder is you could help. I’ve been in Ireland since May and just realized that my licence expires 21 Jan 2020. Would i still be able to apply for and Irish drivers licence? I am starting to panic a little because i drive everyday to drop my little ones off at school, we do not live somewhere we can use a bus route for them to go to school…
    I appreciate your help
    Thank You

    1. Hey Natasha, sorry I only saw this comment now! You can swop in your SA license for an Irish one before your SA license expires would be easier. There is a letter you would need from SA if the license had expired (not longer than a year I think). Sorry this info is probably not at all helpful now!

  4. Hi Meg I’ve just seen this blog thank goodness! Hope you can help – I lost my SA driver’s licence and have been told I need a letter of entitlement in order to exchange such licence for an Irish one. I have been e-mailing and phoning all the addresses and numbers in SA I can find online since December 2019 and have not got one response. The SA Embassy in Dublin also say they cannot help. I am now at my wits end. I’d be so grateful if you could advise.
    Many thanks

    1. Hi Liz, If you have lost your SA drivers, then you need a letter of entitlement from Home Affairs back in SA I think… Not exactly sure as we exchanged ours before they expired to avoid having to do this (sorry! Not helpful at all!) – Perhaps try the South Africans in Ireland FB page, they might be able to direct you better???

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