Tuesday 17 January 2017

Ex-pats face €600 driving lesson bill

Martin Grant

Published 05/08/2016 | 02:30

Current laws in Ireland mean people returning home from countries – such as the United States – cannot swap or exchange their foreign driving licence. Photo: Getty Images.
Current laws in Ireland mean people returning home from countries – such as the United States – cannot swap or exchange their foreign driving licence. Photo: Getty Images.

Irish emigrants returning home are being forced to pay out more than €600 for mandatory driving lessons.

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The Irish Independent has learned that Irish people returning home from abroad are being forced to 'learn' how to drive again - even if they are competent and/or fully licensed drivers.

Current laws in Ireland mean people returning home from countries - such as the United States - cannot swap or exchange their foreign driving licence.

Instead, drivers are forced to sit a theory test and complete 12 lessons with an approved driving instructor before they can take their final test.

All licences issued within the EU have "mutual recognition" and a licence from another EU country can be exchanged for an Irish licence within two to three months.

Agreements exist with certain countries, including Switzerland and New Zealand, where drivers can also exchange their driving licence for an Irish one.

However, drivers coming from countries which do not have an agreement or "mutual recognition" of licences must pay out for driving lessons.

"A person in this situation would have to apply for an Irish licence and start here as a learner," a spokesman for the Transport Department said.

Once the driver completes 12 lessons, they can immediately book a driving test and do not need to wait the normal six-month period.

People moving home and already hold an Irish licence are being reminded they can renew their licence up to 10 years after it lapsed to avoid undergoing a driving test.

While ex-pats and holders of a foreign licence can drive here for 12 months, once that time has passed drivers must apply for an Irish licence.

Irish Independent

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