License regulations Q&A

By far the biggest issue people voiced to us during the recent Irish Motorbike and Scooter Show in the RDS was the licensing regulations. There’s evidently still a great deal of confusion and misinformation surrounding what you can and cannot ride and we’re going to address some of the questions people asked of us here. Each of these questions is representative of genuine enquiries put to us and we hope you find them useful.

MAG Ireland - The Irish Motorcyclists' Association

Q. I’m over 24 and I have never ridden a motorcycle before. Which license should I start out with?

A. Start with Category A because when you pass your Category A test you will have a license which entitles you to ride any motorcycle or trike. This is called “Direct Access”. Provided you are 24 or over it makes no sense to start out with the A1 or A2 categories.

Q. I had a provisional license for bikes years ago but  never did a test and now I want to take up biking again. Do I have to start over?

A. In a nutshell, Yes. Even if you could sit a test today based on your old provisional you’d be restricted to an A2 if you passed. Go for the Category A learner permit, get the IBT done then apply for your test. In less than a year from now you’ll be back on the road and enjoying motorcycling again and wondering why you didn’t do it sooner.

Q. My son is 20 and starts a new job soon. He recently gained a full car license. Can he ride a moped on it?

A. No. The automatic moped entitlement on a car license was removed in 2006. If you hold a car license issued before October 2006 then yes, you can ride a moped, but if issued since October 2006 then no, you can’t.

Q. I’m 22 and I have been told I have to go for an A2 license. What CC of bike am I restricted to?

A. You’re not. You’re subject to power and power-to-weight limits, not CC limits. This means you have a much wider choice of bikes. See:

Q. What’s all this new EU crap about licenses? I’ve been riding since I was 12 and never bothered with no test and nobody ever told me nothing!

A. You carry on sunshine, nothing we say is ever going to make any difference to what’s going on inside your head.

Q. Does my car license cover me to ride a trike?

A. It’s complicated. Some do, some don’t. Err on the safe side and assume it doesn’t. We’ll be covering this one in a separate post shortly.

Q. I’m 23 and hold a full A2 license. My insurance company says I can’t ride a restricted Fireblade/R1/Hayabusa. Is this right?

A. Absolutely. Bikes restricted to A2 (about 47bhp) can’t have started out at more than double that power restriction.

Q. I’m in my late 40’s and still have my full bike license from back in the day. I want to get back on a bike. Am I restricted in any way?

A. No, you’re good to go, but we strongly advise you to do a refresher course with an Approved Driving Instructor before taking to the roads again. The motorcycle you get on today is nothing like the skinny wheeled twin shocker you sold in 1990 to buy that car. Modern bikes are absolutely fantastic but can you say the same about your riding ability?

MAG Ireland - Promoting and protecting Irish motorcycling

MAG Ireland – Promoting and protecting Irish motorcycling

There are still a very small number of people out there who ignored the changes and continue to ride illegally on expired provisional licenses. If you’re one of these people now is a good time to put things right. Contrary to popular belief, the new licensing rules are not that bad. The basics are simple. If you’re over 24 go for a full A. If you’re 23 or younger it’s a bit more complicated, but not that much.

If you’ve been thinking of taking up motorcycling, or getting back in saddle after a long absence, there really has never been a better time to do it. Don’t be put off by rules and regulations. Make contact with an Approved IBT Instructor near you and start the journey of a lifetime.

Useful Links:

RSA List of Approved IBT Instructors:

Aged 23 or under? See our A2 License Facts page:

MAG Ireland – Getting on the Road:

National Driver License Service (NDLS):