How to rent and drive a car in Ireland in 2023 (tips and experiences)

půjčení auta v Irsku

Panoramic roads past wild cliffs and mountain passes across unspoilt countryside encourage you to get in the car and explore Ireland on your own. How does car rental in Ireland work, what are the costs, fees and requirements and what to prepare for when driving in Ireland? We’ll cover everything in today’s guide, including useful tips and links to make your car rental in Ireland smooth and easy.

Bus tours are a great way to see the best of Ireland without having to plan anything. But if you prefer freedom of choice, a car is the best option.

How do I rent a car in Ireland? or another similar service is the best way to rent a car in Ireland. You can find international and local car rental companies in one place, so you can filter the best for price and quality. Thanks to free insurance and cancellation, you don’t have to worry about any additional costs.

By booking in advance you also get a better price and choice. You will then collect the car with your booking number, ID and driving licence.

You and the rental company will work out the last details of the rental contract, check your car and you’re ready to go.

This is the short version of renting a car in Ireland. Below we will discuss the whole procedure in more detail so that you know what pitfalls you may encounter, which insurance to choose, etc.

In the second part of this article, we’ll share some tips on driving in Ireland and what to look out for.

What are the requirements for renting a car in Ireland?

To rent a car in Ireland you need:

  • age over 21 years
  • valid passport or ID card
  • you must have held a driving licence for at least 2 years
  • driving licence from your home country if you are EU/EEA nationals
  • driving licence from your home country, if it is in Latin and you have been in Ireland for more than 12 months
  • International driving licence, if your licence is not in Latin or does not have a photo

How much does it cost to rent a car in Ireland?

You can rent a car in Ireland from €40-50 including full insurance and fees. Prices are higher in high season.

Many rental companies charge extra for drivers aged 21-25 or over 75. This is because statistically, drivers are at their riskiest at this age.

Northern Ireland entry fee

Planning to extend your travels in Ireland to Northern Ireland? The good news is that car rental companies often allow this. However, you will be charged a fee when you cross the border. This is usually around €30. Remember to inform the rental company when you pick up the car.

Tip: The fee is charged each time you enter Northern Ireland, so plan your itinerary to avoid multiple entries.

There is no physical border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. You’re free to go.

Fuel prices in Ireland

Fuel prices in Ireland are on average compared to other European countries.

The average price of petrol (Natural 95) was €1.63 per litre and diesel €1.71 per litre at the end of February 2023. You can check current petrol and diesel prices at this link.

Car rental in Ireland

Step 1: Reserving a car

Where to book a car in Ireland?

Use a verified company to book your car. We have experience with several companies and in Ireland we have found the best It has the widest range of cars from verified companies at low prices (working with Hertz, Enterprise, Europcar, Sixt, Avis and many more).

Tip: Larger car rental networks offer better service and facilities (not a requirement). This also applies to assistance services should complications arise during the car rental process.

With Rentalcars you can compare prices from local and international car rental companies in the area to get the best price. Another advantage is that they are translated into many languages – technical details about the car and insurance seem less threatening in the native language :).

You can cancel your reservation free of charge up to 48 hours before picking up the car.

How do I book a car in Ireland?

When booking your car, please specify the pick-up location (and return location if different). If you return the car elsewhere, the car rental company may charge you an additional fee (for taking the car to the original location).

You will now see all cars that meet the criteria. The prices you see do not yet include insurance and other fees.

Choose your desired car model. I recommend choosing smaller models as some roads in Ireland are really narrow. Sometimes they even act as a one-way street, even when they are not. A smaller car comes in handy when parking, too. Parking spaces tend to be scarce in tourist areas and with a smaller car you are more likely to find one.

This is also true when parking on the side of the road, when you’re just getting out for a few minutes to see a nearby attraction. There are many similar places in Ireland.

On the other hand, if you have more than one piece of luggage, you need to think about how to fit it in the car (this information is listed on each car).

Please note: Once you have chosen a car, read all the terms and conditions in detail. If you are selecting through, please read the Important Information, Included in Price and Insurance sections carefully.

car rental in Ireland
Ring of Kerry

Which car insurance to choose in Ireland?

Standard liability insurance is legally included in the price.

The basic price also includes financial cover in case of accidents and theft. This is compulsory in Ireland and you can’t rent a car without it. The downside is that this insurance has a high deductible.

What does that mean? If you have a scratch or accident on your rental car, you must pay for the amount of the damage (up to the maximum deductible).

In order to protect itself that you will actually pay for this damage, the rental company will block an amount on your credit card for the duration of the rental period that is equal to the deductible. Once you return the car in good condition, the amount will be released immediately.

The amount of the deductible varies for each car model. You can find the specific amount for each car in the Included in the price section . This is the amount that the rental company will block for the duration of the rental.

Please note: You will need a credit card to block your deductible, not a debit card. It is a common practice all over the world. A credit card is less risky than a debit card – anyone can get a debit card, but with a credit card you need to meet specific requirements. Fortunately, setting up a credit card is now a matter of minutes (the card usually arrives at your home within a week).

And how can you protect yourself? One option is to purchase comprehensive insurance, which Rentalcars offers. If something happens to the car, Rentalcars will then refund you.

Car rental companies also offer insurance. It can be arranged locally. These insurances have different markings:

  • CDW (Collision Damage Waiver) – basic collision insurance
  • FDW or FCDW (Full Damage Waiver) – full breakdown insurance without chassis and wheel insurance
  • Super CDW – full breakdown insurance including chassis and wheels

Another option is to ask your bank if your card offers this insurance.

If you take out insurance with Rentalcars (which includes all insurance including chassis and wheels), you do not need to take out additional insurance. Everything is already included.

Can I rent a car on the spot?

Yes, you can also rent your car without a reservation. But this has several disadvantages:

  • when booking in advance, you can carefully read the terms and conditions of car rental in Ireland
  • by booking online you get a better price
  • greater likelihood that the selected car model will not be available
  • the whole process will be more time-consuming, as you will have to arrange everything in the office on site

If you plan to rent a car with an automatic transmission, book well in advance. They tend to be gone early because there are only a limited number of them.

How to save money when renting a car in Ireland?

  • Book your car in January, when car rental prices in Ireland are at their lowest. On the contrary, the highest rates are in November, December and from May to August.
  • Don’t rent a car with GPS. Use Google Maps, which works well in the offline version.
  • Cars with automatic transmissions are more expensive than cars with manual transmissions.
car rental in Ireland
Regional and local roads tend to be narrow.

Step 2: Takeover of the car

Prepare your documents and sign the lease agreement

Pick up your car at the location of your choice. Please present your booking confirmation, ID (passport or EU ID card) and driving licence.

Based on your confirmation, the rental company will draw up a rental contract and add everything that is needed (additional passengers, additional insurance, etc.). Sometimes it will also provide a diagram showing the external damage to the car.

Check the condition of the car

Check the condition of the car and if you find further damage, take a photo or upload it. Anything that is not documented can then be charged to you.

Check the lights (including fog lights) and see if the car has a safety triangle, a vest, spare tire, jack and wrench if the tire needs to be changed.

When you pick up your car, the rental company will also inform you how to return the car and how to pay the M50 toll.

Did you rent a car with a manual gearbox? Before you drive off, try out the gearshift. Especially if you’re right handed, because in Ireland you shift with your left hand. Also try the reverse gear, which is not the same in every manual gearbox.

If possible, it’s a good idea to drive around the parking lot a bit.

Read: The Complete Guide to Transport in Dublin

Step 3: Return the car

Fill up the tank as agreed at the time of booking (see Important information when booking for more information). You don’t need to clean your car unless it is excessively dirty.

Return the car to the agreed location and wait for the employee to check it in front of you and confirm that everything is in order. Please allow approximately 30 minutes to return the car.

car rental in Ireland
It wouldn’t be a visit to Ireland if the sheep didn’t block your way at least once :).

Tip: or a similar service is the best way to rent a car in Ireland. You can find international and local car rental companies in one place, so you can filter the best for price and quality. Thanks to free insurance and cancellation, you don’t have to worry about any additional costs.

Basic rules for driving in Ireland

  • In Ireland, you drive on the left and cars steer on the right. It takes some practice, but you’ll see that you get used to it relatively quickly. In addition, there are signs on the roads that tell you to go left (for example, near the airport).
  • There are a lot of roundabouts in Ireland. Turn left at the roundabout and go clockwise.
  • The left lane is the slow lane.
  • Unless otherwise stated, drivers on the right have right of way. Sheep always take precedence. It wouldn’t be a visit to Ireland if the sheep didn’t block your way at least once :).
  • Signage in Ireland is bilingual (English and Irish in italics). In Northern Ireland, signage is in English only.
  • The police in Ireland are called the Gardaí. If you need help, call the national emergency numbers 999 or 112.
  • In the event of a breakdown, please call the assistance service (contact details will be provided in the rental contract).

Tip: Make sure you understand Irish signs before you go. They are basically similar, but some may be slightly different. Take a look at the road signs in Ireland.

I also recommend watching this short video if you have no experience with driving on the left:

Is there a toll in Ireland?

Yes, there are tolls on selected sections of motorways and national roads in Ireland. GPS or navigation (Google Maps) will alert you. Toll gates are common on most of the motorways.

The exception is the M50 ring road, which runs around Dublin. This is where the so-called. A barrier-free toll system that just records your registration plate. There is no toll gate – you pay the toll here.

If you would like to avoid paying tolls, select “Avoid toll sections” in the navigation. The journey will be longer but more scenic.

car rental in Ireland
Toll road sections, source:

What are the speed limits on the roads in Ireland?

The speed limits on roads in Ireland are as follows:

  • 50 km/h for cities
  • 80 km/h on regional and local roads
  • 100 km/h on major national roads (even dual carriageways)
  • 120 km/h on motorways

Speed limits in Northern Ireland are in mph and are similar to those in Ireland: 30 mph (50 km/h) in built-up areas, 60 mph (about 100 km/h) on open roads and 70 mph (113 km/h) on motorways.

Read: The most beautiful places in Dublin

How are roads marked in Ireland?

  • M – motorways including the M50 (around Dublin)
  • N – national roads that connect major cities
  • R – regional road between smaller towns and villages
  • L – local roads, which are often very narrow

What to look out for when driving in Ireland

  • Fasten your seat belts.
  • Do not drive under the influence of alcohol – in Ireland, the tolerance is 0.05‰.
  • Watch your speed – traffic cameras measure frequently.
  • As far as parking is concerned, a yellow line indicates restricted parking and a double yellow line indicates no parking.
  • Carry cash – not all parking meters and toll gates accept cards.

Summary: How to rent and drive a car in Ireland

How to rent a car in Ireland? or another similar service is the best way to rent a car in Ireland. You can find international and local car rental companies in one place, so you can filter the best for price and quality. Thanks to free insurance and cancellation, you don’t have to worry about any additional costs.

What do I need to rent a car in Ireland?

To rent a car in Ireland, all you need is an age over 21, proof of identity, a booking confirmation and a driving licence (for EU/EEA nationals, a normal driving licence from their home country will suffice).
For detailed instructions on how to rent a car in Ireland, see our guide.

How to drive in Ireland?

The main difference is that in Ireland you drive on the left and you, as the driver, sit on the right. Highways and main roads are in good condition. But be prepared that smaller regional and local roads can often be very narrow. Sometimes they even act as one-way streets. For this reason you need to be vigilant and watch out for pedestrians, cyclists and especially sheep, which always have the right of way in Ireland.

These were our tips on how to rent a car in Ireland. Do you have a question? We’ll be happy to answer it in the comments below. Have a safe journey!

More information about Ireland

DUBLIN: Check out our 20 tips on what to see in Dublin (+ more useful information and tips for your trip). Get inspired by our tips for trips around Dublin. Here is a detailed guide to transport in Dublin.

IRELAND: In our list of the 25 most beautiful places in Ireland, we’ve put together our tips on what not to miss in Ireland.

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