Sunday 20 October 2019

Explainer: Why Irish citizens are advised to ditch their British driving licence ahead of Brexit

The National Driver Licence Service (NDLS) recently reported that UK driver licences will become invalid in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
The National Driver Licence Service (NDLS) recently reported that UK driver licences will become invalid in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Mícheál Ó Scannáil

The AA has urged Irish citizens using a British driving licence to switch to an Irish licence after it was revealed that the UK documentation may become invalid after Brexit.

The National Driver Licence Service (NDLS) recently reported that UK driving licences will become invalid in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

In an official statement, the service recommended that Irish citizens ensure they have applied for an Irish driver licence before March 29, when the UK is scheduled to leave the EU.

“In the event of a no-deal Brexit the driving licence of a UK licence holder living here in Ireland will not be recognised and the driver will not be able to continue to drive here in Ireland on that licence,” the statement read.

“The advice to such driver is that they should exchange their UK driving licence for an Irish driving licence before the March 29, 2019, which is set as the withdrawal date of the UK from the EU.

“Under current arrangements a UK licence holder resident here in Ireland has an entitlement to make such an exchange. In such a case the driver will have all valid licence categories on their driver licence included on the Irish licence.”

In response to the NDLS’ statement the AA released further information for those citizens affected by UK licences losing validity in Ireland.

While the motoring association admitted that the chances of a no-deal UK crash out of the EU and that in that case an emergency change to the law is likely, they still advised that Irish citizens should acquire Irish driver licence as a precaution.

 “In reality the AA believes it is very unlikely to mean an immediate stop to British licences,” they said in a statement.

“It would need an emergency ‘patch’ in legal regulations to recognise them but the Department is aware of the issue and the AA has discussed it with them. Brexit or no Brexit, you are supposed to swap your British licence for an Irish one if you are resident in Ireland for more than 100 days. That law has never been enforced and didn’t matter while both licences were European.

“If you have applied to change your licence from British to Irish, provided that you have made the application before March 29 it will be processed with no problem. At the moment that takes between 10 and 17 days but the current situation may lead to increased demand.

“After 29th March if you still hold a British licence as an Irish resident and you have done nothing about it, then the way in which you exchange that for an Irish licence will depend on new post-Brexit regulations. They are not yet clear.”

The AA continued that regardless of Brexit, tourists to and from both the UK and Ireland can use their current driver licences, but those travelling from the UK to Ireland may need an international Driving Permit.

“If you have an Irish licence and are travelling in Britain or Northern Ireland there is no issue, your licence remains fully valid all the way through. If you have a British licence and are visiting Ireland but not resident here there is no change to the current arrangement.

“You can drive in Ireland, however it may become a requirement for you to obtain an International Driving Permit as your British licence will no longer be an EU licence. As above, the AA would expect that the Irish government would cater for this in post-Brexit regulations.”

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