Tens of thousands of UK drivers in Ireland may be driving illegally post-Brexit

Tens of thousands of people living in the Republic of Ireland who use a UK driving licence could be driving illegally in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the Irish government has warned.

Some 40,000 people who live and work in the Republic and drive with a UK licence have been urged to change to an Irish licence before the end of October.

Ireland’s European Minister Helen McEntee said that while a significant number have already exchanged to an Irish licence, there could be thousands of illegal drivers on Irish roads if the UK crashes out of the EU.

Speaking at the National Driver Licence Service in Santry, Ms McEntee said: “We would encourage people to change over. It’s a process that takes no longer than five to 10 days. It’s 55 euro.

“If the UK were to become a third country they will no longer be recognised under EU legislation.”

Drivers who do not exchange their UK licence before October 31 will be forced to take driving lessons and re-sit their theory and driving tests to get an Irish licence.

Moyagh Murdock, chief executive officer at the Road Safety Authority, said: “This will not affect people that are (in Ireland) as a tourist or as a visitor, you will still be able to travel on a UK licence.

“There are many people who are still driving on a licence they may have acquired from Northern Ireland or in the UK over the years.

“We want to advise them that after October 31, in the event of a no-deal, it will not be recognised as a valid EU driving licence.

“Just like other third countries, you will have to go through a very different process and you may find that inconvenient. It could pose problems in terms of insurance and other matters.

“We have about 250 people a day applying to change from UK and Northern Ireland licences in the event of a hard deal.”

Ms Murdock said that there are plans in place to increase capacity and staff numbers to deal with the expected influx of applications over the coming weeks.

Some 32,000 UK licences have been exchanged this year compared to 6,000 in 2018.

Ms Murdock added that gardai will enforce the matter “as they see fit”.

She continued: “Some people are maybe, through human nature, leaving it to the last minute to come forward and we really urge those people don’t get caught and don’t be stuck without a licence.

“The bigger concern is the fact that if you’re involved in a collision, that opens up a lot of questions with your specific insurance company and people need to ascertain from those insurance companies where they stand if they’re driving post the 31st of October with a non-EU licence and yet they are resident in this country.

“I think the awareness campaign here is to get people to take responsibility.

“It is not down to the government to advise people how to drive legally after Brexit.”

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