Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar today presented two new drivers with the new credit-card sized driving licences which launched this week.

Aoife Murphy from Blarney, Co. Cork and Daniela Reicke from Cork City were among the first drivers in the country to receive the new licence, having recently passed their driving test.

Almost 6,000 new plastic card licences have issued to drivers this week following the changeover from paper licences to plastic card licences on 19th January. The introduction of the plastic card licence is one aspect of an EU Directive to upgrade and standardise all licences across the EU; previously, as many as 100 different types of licence were in operation throughout the EU.

Minister Varadkar said the new licence is more secure and more convenient, and also meets Ireland’s obligations under the EU Directive

“The new driving licence is an important part of this Government’s ongoing commitment to road safety. It will help to eliminate licence fraud, ensure that motorists are properly trained and licensed, and keep unlicensed drivers off our roads. It’s more modern and more convenient. It’s also recognised throughout the EU, so Irish road users will enjoy the benefits and protections which drivers already have in other EU countries.”

“The RSA and the Motor Tax Offices have done sterling work in making the new application process as easy as possible for motorists. I want to thank the RSA for their hard work, and for meeting the EU deadline on schedule, without requiring additional Exchequer funding.”

Mr Noel Brett, Chief Executive, Road Safety Authority said:

“Since the new licence card was introduced, we have received some really positive feedback from people who have been among the first to receive one. Among the benefits they see in the new licence is that it’s more durable, modern and easier to carry around, as well as being recognised throughout the EU. The new licence is a big step forward in the modernisation of the driver licensing service, bringing us into line with our EU counterparts. Because it cannot be easily replicated, it will also act as a key road safety tool to keep those who are illegally driving a vehicle off our roads, and protect other road-users from any risks posed by unlicensed drivers and licence tourism.”

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the staff of the Motor Taxation Offices for their efforts to ensure the seamless transition from paper based licences to plastic card licences and in particular, for helping us to meet the deadline set by the EU for the introduction of the licence,” said Mr Brett.

From September, licences will be delivered by the RSA under the banner of the National Driver Licence Service (NDLS) at centres around the country.  This new network will ensure that the proposed locations will provide service to 98% of the population within a 50km radius. It will match, if not exceed, the reach currently achieved by the Motor Taxation Office network.

The new licence is available to those who have passed their driving test and are applying for their first driving licence; are applying for a learner permit; are renewing their learner permit or driving licence or are exchanging a foreign driving licence for an Irish driving licence. As all paper licences are valid for a maximum of 10 years, they will be replaced on a phased basis as they expire.

In addition to the introduction of the new licence, the Road Safety Authority will now be responsible for the delivery of the driver licensing system in Ireland. Members of the public will continue to go to Motor Tax Offices when applying for their licence until September 2013. The only change at the moment is that the licence will now be posted out to the applicant after the application has been processed, because the new plastic card licence is now produced in a specialist facility.

The new network of offices will provide a greater level of customer service than at present. For example it will be open Monday through Saturday and have longer opening hours to facilitate customers who may not be able to apply for their licence during normal working hours. The locations of the offices are currently being finalised and will be announced though a public information campaign in due course.

The fee for a ten year licence is €55, a three-year licence will cost €35 and a one-year licence will be €25. The cost of a learner permit is €35. Changes to existing licences and permits, for example, if you wish to add a ‘New Category’, will cost €35. Licences for the over 70s will remain free of charge. Under the terms of the EU 3rd Directive, a three-year licence will only be available on medical grounds or where a person is 67 years or older. These new fees were introduced on 1st January and represent the first driving licence fee increase since 1989.

In addition to the introduction of the new plastic credit card sized driving licence there are also some other changes to some licence category rules that come into effect as part of the new EU Licensing Directive.  The most significant of is that licences for trucks and buses will now last for five years instead of the current ten years. There are also changes to motorcycle licensing categories.

For details on the new licence, and to download an application form or for more information the changes to some driver licensing rules,