Ireland Driving Advice and Car Hire Info

Driving In Ireland

Ireland drives on the left and you can use the photo licence of any country to drive here for up to 12 months, providing the licence is written in Roman alphabet.Drivers from countries need their own licence plus an international driving permit. Speed limits range from 120kmh on motorways to 100/80kmh on other roads and 50kmh in urban areas.

The island of Ireland has 120,000km of roads, most of which are paved. There is an efficient and well maintained multi-lane motorwau network linking main urban areas. Motorways in the Republic of Ireland are –

M1 Dublin – Dublin -Dundalk – Belfast

M2 Dublin – Derry

M3 Dublin – Ballyshannon

M4 Dublin – Sligo

M6 Dublin – Galway

M7 Dublin – Limerick

M8 Dublin – Cork

M9 Dublin – Waterford –

M11 Dublin – Wexford –

M17 Galway – Sligo          –

M18 Limerick – Ennis – Galway   –

M20 Cork – Limerick

M50 Dublin ring road

A number of roads in Ireland are toll roads, including come sections of motorways and other non-motorway main routes. The following all include sections of toll road- M1,M3,M4,N6,M7,M8,N8,N25,M50, Dublin Port Tunnel, Limerick Tunnel, East Link Toll Bridge. All tolls can be paid by cash or credit card at barriers on the road or can be prepaid using the etoll system. Check if your rental car has an etoll pass at the rental office.

Northern Ireland has its own motorway network –

M1 – Belfast to Dungannon

M2 -Belfast to Antrim

M3 – M2 to A2 Sydenham Bypass in Belfast

M5 -M2 to A2 Shore Road ,Newtownabbey

M22- M2 to A6

None of the roads in Northern Ireland are toll roads.

Roads are in good condition throughout Ireland, and the standard of cars and driving is generally good. Some minor roads may be in worse condition but 4X4 vehicles should rarely be necessary.

Police sometimes set up road blocks to check for drink drivers and penalties are severe so limit your intake of ‘the black stuff’! Parking can be difficult in towns and the length of time you can stay is often denoted by lines on the roads. Its worth spending time to locate a sign detailing parking rules or ask a local shopkeeper to avoid a ticket.

Many visitors from the USA drive in Ireland .The main concern is likely to be driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road if you’re from USA or Mainland Europe. The Irish drive on the left and the steering wheel is on the right of the car. The gear stick will be on your left. (If you prefer an automatic car, you’ll need to specify that when renting as the majority of cars in Ireland have manual transmission/ stick shift). As with Brits and Irish people driving abroad, you’ll find that you adapt pretty quickly. The main difference you’ll notice is that at roundabouts, you’ll give way to the right. Also at a red light, in the USA you can turn right at a red light. No similar rule exists in Ireland. Also on a multi lane road, you should only overtake to the right of the vehicle you’re passing. Generally once you’re out of City Centres, the driving should be fine. If you’re concerned about navigating out of the centre of Dublin ,Cork or Belfast, arrange to pick up the car on the outskirts, or failing that ask a cab driver if you can follow him to the edge of town. Most will oblige and you just pay them the appropriate fare. Driving times and distances within Ireland and Northern Ireland are as follows-

Belfast –Dublin ,170 km, estimated travel time 2 hrs

Belfast – Limerick ,365km , estimated travel time 4 hrs

Cork- Belfast , 422 km, estimated travel time 4.5 hrs

Dublin- Cork 255 km , estimated travel time 3 hrs

Dublin – Galway 210 km , estimated travel time 2.5 hrs

Rosslare – Cork 190km, estimated travel time 2.5 hrs

Sligo- Rosslare 360 km, estimated travel time 4hrs 15

Currently the border between Northern and Southern Ireland is open and there are no passport checks or border restrictions. It is currently unclear how the UK and Northern Ireland leaving the EU will affect this. If you intend to cross the border in a rental car, you must inform the rental company of this, as they will need to complete aVE103 form for you, which allows you to take a hire car into a new country temporarily and ensures your insurance covers you for both countries. Also remember when crossing the border that speed limit signs in Northern Ireland are in MPH, in Southern Ireland they’re in KMH.

Although I try and keep the information in the site updated as much as possible, in a rapidly moving world, situations can change daily. Therefore please use the site as an approximate guide, and in conjunction with other resources in order to form your view on driving conditions, roads, safety etc.

Ireland Car Rental –
Sixt, Hertz, Europcar, Alamo, National, Avis, Budget, Thrifty, Dollar, Enterprise , have branches in Ireland.Also usually features on Car rental broker sites Web discount sites such as

We currently have no local car rental partners in Ireland. If you are a local car rental company who would like to feature on please check details on our Partnering page or contact us on

Ireland Self Driving Rules –
All companies should allow cars to be driven across the border but as stated above you must inform the rental company you intend to do this,a dn there is likely to be an additional charge for this. Most companies will also allow cars to be driven into mainland UK but one way rentals to UK are unlikely from the Republic or Ireland.


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