Tuesday, 26 April 2022
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
397. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if a policy change will be made to allow driver licenses from the United States of America to be transferred to an Irish drivers’ license following similar policies that currently apply to licenses from Canada, Australia and Ukraine. [20499/22]
Ireland has driving licence exchange agreements in place with Australia and seven of the 10 Canadian provinces, but not with the United States of America.
Irish driver licensing law operates within a framework of EU law, which sets out the driver licensing legislation with which all member states must comply. The format of licences, categories of vehicles and the standards to be met in driving tests to qualify for a licence are all set at EU level.
Ireland may make bilateral licence exchange agreements with non-EU countries. These agreements can be made when the relevant authorities in each jurisdiction have studied and compared the two licensing regimes and each side is satisfied that they are compatible. For Ireland, this task is undertaken by the Road Safety Authority (RSA).
The RSA has previously explored exchange agreements with the USA. However, US driver licensing operates at state, rather than federal, level, meaning that there are 50 different licensing systems. This would require the development of 50 separate agreements.
When people come to Ireland with a non-exchangeable licence, they may obtain an Irish licence through the normal process. While many may have a safe driving record, we have no way of measuring that the standards of the driving test have been met.
People resident in Ireland who have held a full but non-exchangeable licence for longer than two years must go through the normal driver learning process but can avail of the shorter Essential Driver Training of 6 lessons, instead of the usual 12, and they do not have to be a learner for the minimum of 6 months before taking a driving test.
On 22 April, I signed an order to allow Ukrainians admitted to Ireland under the Temporary Protection Directive to exchange their Ukrainian licences for Irish licences. Such licences are valid for 12 months and will only apply to cars. This measure was taken in response to the immediate and extraordinary humanitarian crisis arising from the conflict in Ukraine.