Written Answers. - Driving Tests.

John Cregan

Ceist:

294 Mr. Cregan asked the Minister for Transport the situation regarding Irish citizens who have years of driving experience abroad, have had Canadian and USA licences and on return here must be treated as beginner provisional holders again; if a more sensible approach can be taken to returning senior citizens; and if he will guarantee that none of them will be put off the road in the proposed changes. [19300/03]

Irish driving licence regulations are required to operate within the framework of a harmonised EU system. The criteria essential for recognition of licences from other countries are testing and licensing regimes which meet the requirements of the EU directive and reciprocal recognition of Irish licences.

A person who holds a driving licence issued by a Member State of the European Union or of the European Economic Area, includes Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, is permitted to drive in Ireland for so long as that licence remains valid. Where such a person has taken up normal residence in Ireland, he or she may exchange their licence for an Irish driving licence without taking a driving test.

In addition, Australia, Isle of Man, Japan, Jersey, South Africa and South Korea are recognised states for the purpose of driving licence exchange under the terms of Article 30(7) of the Road Traffic (Licensing of Drivers) Regulations 1999. Under these regulations, persons holding a valid driving licence from a recognised state may exchange their licence for an Irish driving licence where they take up residence here, without the need for a driving test.
In all other cases a person taking up normal residence in Ireland must undergo the driver theory test, obtain a provisional licence and pass the driving test in order to obtain a driving licence.