From the 29th October 2013, a new “face to face” application process has been introduced if you are applying for either a new or replacement learner permit or driver licence.   Motorists must now visit one of the 34 National Driver Licence Service (NDLS) Centres around the country rather than their local motor tax office when seeking a new licence or a renewal.  Applications are no longer being accepted at local authority motor tax offices from Friday, 25th October.  The aim of this new application procedure is to increase the level of security around the driving licence, combat fraud and keep unlicensed and illegal drivers off the roads.  The Service wants to ensure that the only person who uses a motorist’s licence is the motorist.

Since January 2013, the Road Safety Authority has been tasked by the government to manage the processing and production of driving licences in Ireland.  Since then, the paper licence has been replaced by a plastic card driving licence.   This licence is safer because of high level security features.  Also, the licence will have a microchip in it which will, from January 2014 contain all the information relating to the licence.  It is anticipated that the licence can be read by special card readers which will be managed by the RSA and will be available to An Garda Síochána.  You can also specify your desire to be an organ donor on the licence or permit.  The introduction of the plastic licence and the increased security measures was on foot of an EU initiative to have a secure, compact style of licence in all member states.

There is at least one NDLS centre in every county in Ireland.  The local NDLS centre in Kerry is at Mezzanine Unit, Manor West Shopping Centre, Tralee.   However, you can apply in any of the centres around the country and not just the one located nearest to you.  The centres have flexible opening hours to enable motorists to visit at convenient times.  They will be open from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday and from 9 am to 2 pm on Saturdays.  They will also remain open during lunchtime.  It is possible to renew your licence or learner permit up to three months before it expires.

The extra layer of security that is being introduced will require a motorist to bring additional documentation to confirm their identity at a personal meeting with an agent in an NDLS centre.  Also, a digital photograph and signature will be captured by an agent at the centre.  Accordingly, it will not be necessary for a motorist to bring photographs to the centre.  Notwithstanding the increased security measures, the costs of obtaining a driving licence or a learner permit remain the same.  The cost of a ten year licence is €55, a three licence is €35 and a one year licence is €25.  The cost of a learner permit is €35 and lasts for two years.  A motorist will only ever need to attend a NDLS centre once to do the face to face application.  Subsequently, any renewal of licences can be obtained through a phone or postal application.

Since January 2013 also, a three year licence is only available to those over 67 years of age.  This may also be the case for certain motorists based on a doctor’s recommendation on medical grounds.  For motorists who are 60 to 66 years of age, their licence will expire on their 70th birthday.  Licences for the over 70’s remain free of charge.

When attending the face to face meeting at the NDLS centre, you must have a fully completed application form together with certain documentation to confirm that you are the person applying for the licence.  The application form is available on the NDLS website, your local Garda Station, Driving Test Centre or Theory Test Centre.  If you already hold a licence or learner permit, you will need to bring your current driving licence or learner permit and evidence of your PPS number.  However, if you are applying for a full licence or a learner permit for the first time, you will need photographic ID, proof of residency entitlement, proof of your address together with evidence of your PPS number.  There may also be other documentation required as part of the normal application process, for example an eyesight report, theory test certificate etc.  It is anticipated that the application process should take less than 10 minutes.  Once the application process has been completed, your application will be sent to the Central Licensing Processing Unit and your new plastic card learner permit or licence should be posted within eight working days.

Further information is available on the NDLS website www.ndls.ie