Travelling in Ireland by road

Before you hit the open road, here's what you need to know

Roads in the Republic of Ireland

Roads in Ireland are generally of a very high standard. Motorways (highways) are prefixed with an “M” (for example M50), while national roads are prefixed with an “N” (for example N18).

Roads in the Northern Ireland

Roads in Northern Ireland are prefixed with an "M" for motorway (highway); an "A" and a "B" for primary and non-primary roads.

Be mindful that signs in the Republic of Ireland show distances in kilometers, while in the North miles are used.

More information can be found at the National Roads Authority ( 


There are a number of tolled roads in Ireland.

Republic of Ireland

West-Link (M50 Motorway, Dublin)
M1 Motorway Boyne Bridge, Drogheda
East-Link (Dublin Port)
M4 motorway
M8 motorway
Dublin Port Tunnel
N25 Waterford City

Northern Ireland

There are no toll roads in Northern Ireland.

License and insurance

Visitors wishing to drive in Ireland will require either a full valid national driving license or an international driving permit issued abroad. Either of the above can be obtained from the country of origin.

Driving laws

Driving in Ireland is on the left hand side of the road and it is required that all passengers wear seat belts at all times in both the front and back of the vehicle. For those riding motorcycles, both motorcyclists and their passengers must wear helmets. Ireland’s laws on drink driving are very strict. Those drivers found to be contravening the laws will be heavily penalized.

Speed limits in the Republic of Ireland are:
50kph/30mph in built-up urban areas
80kph/50mph on single non-national open roads
100kph/60mph on national roads
120kph on motorways

In Northern Ireland, speed limits are:
30mph/50kph in built-up urban areas
60mph/96kph on single carriageways
70mph/112kph on dual carriageways and motorways (highways)


In the Republic of Ireland, signposts denoting speed limits are now in kilometers per hour. Also only in the Republic, signposts and place names are displayed in both Irish (Gaelic) and English. In Gaeltacht areas (an area where Irish is the primary language) only Irish is used.

Signposts and speeds in Northern Ireland are in miles and miles per hour while all place names are displayed in English only.


The island of Ireland is well served by petrol (gas) stations. Prices will vary between the petrol (gas) stations. The Automobile Association website features information on pricing in both Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Car Rental in Ireland

Car rental in Ireland is easy and accessible. Car hire companies are generally located in city centres, airports, ferry ports and, in some instances, train and bus terminals. For more information on car rental in Ireland see our car rental page or visit The Car Rental Council of Ireland. 

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