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Ireland: Transportation

by Goinglobal

Major cities in Ireland are well served with public transportation networks. Airports, rail service, bus networks and ferries provide many links and services. However, some rural locations in the country are still best served by car. 

The majority of public transportation networks in Ireland serve the metro areas. State-run bus and rail services operate throughout much of the country, but some rural locations are not on the prescribed routes, and some services tend to be slow and infrequent. For those living outside of major cities, commuting by car may be the best way to get around.
The National Transport Authority’s Transport for Ireland(link is external) website (multiple languages) brings together a wealth of material about public transportation in Ireland. Its ‘Journey Planner’ section provides information on train, bus, tram, ferry and taxi services throughout the country.
Employers can purchase bus and rail tickets for an employee at discounted prices as part of the employee’s salary package. For more information, see Taxsaver.ie(link is external)


Because of Ireland’s small size, domestic air travel is not essential to getting around the island. There are eight international airports in the Republic of Ireland (ten, if one includes Northern Ireland).
Dublin Airport is Ireland’s busiest airport. In addition to domestic flights, it hosts international flights to Europe, North Africa and the United States.
The only two domestic routes are Dublin-Kerry and Dublin-Donegal, each taking about 40 minutes. Aer Lingusoperates domestic flights. 


The Irish Rail System (Iarnród Éireann) is the state-owned subsidiary responsible for operating passenger rail services in Ireland, linking the main towns and cities. Tickets can be purchased online or at vending machines and ticket offices, and are available on a daily, weekly, monthly or annual basis. The website(link is external) provides information on ticket options, timetables and station locations.
The Irish Rail System provides InterCity commuter rail services for Belfast, Sligo, Ballina, Westport, Galway, Limerick, Ennis, Tralee, Cork, Waterford and Rosslare Europort. It also operates the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transport) service in Dublin. The Irish Rail site provides information on DART fares and timetables.
Luas is a light rail transit system serving Dublin commuters. The Luas website(link is external)(English, Gaelic) provides more information on ticket options, routes, timetables and special deals.
All permanent residents of Ireland aged 66 and older are entitled to free travel on state rail services. Some residents under that age also may qualify (e.g., those receiving certain social security benefits or having certain medical conditions). 


The state-owned bus service, Bus Éireann, is a major provider of bus services throughout Ireland. It offers both intercity coach and commuter services for major cities. Bus Éireann’s core business is its Expressway network, which consists of more than 30 routes linking cities and major towns throughout Ireland. Its Eurolines(link is external)(English) coach service operates in 25 countries in Europe.
Bus Éireann tickets can be purchased online, at a bus station booking office, or, if boarding a bus outside of main cities, on the bus. The Bus Éireann (link is external)website (English) provides information on fares, and on the various packages and discounts available. Leap Cards(link is external) can be used to pay for public transportation services in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Waterford and Wexford. They are usually 20 percent cheaper than single-fare tickets.
Dublin Bus(link is external) provides reliable and frequent public bus service throughout County Dublin. Users can pay with cash, prepaid tickets or Leap Cards, which also can be used on Dublin’s Luas (light rail), DART (light rail) and commuter rail services. Dublin Bus also operates a late-night bus service called Nitelink(link is external)(English). 


Driving is the best way to travel around areas that are not well served by public transport. Driving is on the left-hand side of the road. Signs in primarily Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking) areas, mainly on the west coast, are written in Gaelic only.
Roads are generally well maintained. There are toll roads in Ireland, but disabled drivers are exempted from paying the tolls. Tolls are usually paid at toll booths, with the exception of the M50 eFlow Barrier-Free System, which permits drivers on the M50 ring road around Dublin to drive the toll road without stopping at a booth. Instead, the system photographs the license plate. The toll must be paid before 8 pm the following day, either online at Payzone outlets or by phone. Motorists can also create an eToll(link is external) account to pay tolls electronically.
Parking in Ireland often requires a payment, which can be made at Pay and Display machines on the street or via mobile phone (parkbytext(link is external)English).
AA Ireland provides a route planner(link is external) (English) that allows drivers to calculate driving time, distance and fuel costs. It also provides up-to-date and detailed fuel prices(link is external), including historical information. At the time of writing, unleaded gas is 1.28 EUR per liter, while diesel is 1.14 EUR per liter. The website Pumps.ie(link is external) also offers up-to-date fuel and diesel prices for Ireland, including prices at specific stations throughout the country (as reported by site members).
The Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) website provides live traffic information(link is external), including traffic cams, travel times and weather conditions. 

Driver’s License
A national driver’s license or an international permit is required to drive in Ireland, and it must be carried at all times.
Nationals of European Union (EU)/European Economic Area (EEA) member countries are allowed to drive in Ireland using their valid, existing licenses. Members of certain other countries, including Australia, Japan and South Africa, are allowed to exchange their driver’s licenses for Irish permits without having to take a driver’s test. Those not covered by one of these agreements (such as nationals of the US or Canada, except for the provinces of Ontario, Manitoba, and Newfoundland and Labrador) can drive in Ireland using their own license for a year, after which time they are required to apply for an Irish driver’s license.
To be eligible to apply for an Irish driver’s license, one must be considered an ‘ordinarily resident’ in Ireland, or have lived in the country for at least 185 days in each calendar year, as well as take a driver theory test, complete obligatory driving lessons and pass a driving test at one of the country’s test centers., The current fee is 55 EUR for a new driver’s license, renewals and the exchange of a foreign driver’s license.
For more information, consult the National Driver Licence Service(link is external)(NDLS) website (English). 

Buying a new car in Ireland is a straightforward process. If the vehicle is purchased from a dealer, it is the dealer’s responsibility to register the vehicle and pay the Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT). The price of the vehicle should include the cost of the VRT. Once the vehicle has been purchased, the owner must insure it and pay the annual motor tax.
Citizens Information provides a consumer guide(link is external)(English, Gaelic) to buying a new car that provides more in-depth information on the process.
Most drivers in Ireland are required to pay the federal motor tax. Those who have paid must display a tax disc on the windshield of their vehicles. Motor tax discs are issued for three, six or 12 months, and the rate is calculated by either engine size or CO2 emissions. The most recent rates can be found on the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government’s(link is external) website. The motor tax can be paid online(link is external) or at one’s local Motor Tax Office. 

To import a car into Ireland from abroad, one must first obtain auto insurance, pay both a Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) and the motor tax, and obtain new vehicle plates. To register an imported car, one must book an appointment at a National Car Testing Service (NCTS) center(link is external) (English) to have the car examined and pay the VRT. All new motor vehicles being registered for the first time are also required to have an electronic Certificate of Conformity(link is external) (e-CoC) that is produced by the vehicle manufacturer. Vehicles over four years old must undergo the National Car Test (NCT) and be retested every two years afterward. Vehicles ten years and older must be tested every year. The NCT costs 55 EUR.
The car must be registered within 30 days of arrival. For cars and small vans, the amount of VRT payable is based on a percentage of the recommended retail price, which includes all taxes, known as the Open Market Selling Price (OMSP). The OMSP can be determined using the VRT calculator on the Irish Tax and Customs(link is external) website (multiple languages).
However, some people may be able to import a foreign-registered vehicle and not have to pay the VRT. Exemptions apply to those who usually live outside Ireland for at least 185 days each year, those living in Ireland up to 12 months, and some who are performing certain tasks of definite duration in Ireland.
Those importing a new car from another EU country and those importing a new or second-hand car from outside the EU have to pay VAT (value-added tax), usually when registering the car. Those entering Ireland from countries outside the EU also must pay customs. 

Auto Insurance
One must have car insurance to drive in Ireland. There are three basic levels of auto insurance offered: 

  1. Third-party – pays out claims that others make against the insured for damage or injury
  2. Third-party, fire and theft – in addition to third-party coverage, the insured can claim for loss or damage to his or her car as a result of fire or theft
  3. Comprehensive coverage – includes third-party, fire and theft, and also covers damage to the insured’s car, no matter who is to blame 

Insurance Ireland, the representative body for the country’s insurance companies, provides a free Insurance Information Service(link is external) (English) to help the public with any queries or complaints. The website of Ireland’s Competition and Consumer Protection Commission provides a range of standard auto insurance quotes(link is external)(English) to serve as guidelines for those seeking insurance. 


Ferries are often used to travel to the smaller islands; numerous companies provide ferry services. The peak season for ferry travel is June through August, and some companies operate only during this period. Travel is always subject to weather conditions, so travelers should monitor the weather in the area of interest. Travel time is rarely more than an hour from the mainland.


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