Getting motor insurance when you return to Ireland


By law, you must have motor insurance to drive in Ireland. Motor insurance (also known as car insurance) protects you against liability in the event of an accident.

If you have a foreign driving license, you may be able to exchange it for an Irish licence when you return home, depending on the country it is from.

This page has information on buying car insurance when you return to Ireland, how to show evidence of your driving history abroad, and what to do if you are refused cover by Irish insurance providers.

Buying motor insurance

There are 3 types of motor insurance available in Ireland:

  • Third party
  • Third party fire and theft
  • Comprehensive insurance

The motor insurance you choose will depend on the level of cover you need and how much you are willing to pay.

You can find more information on these different types of motor insurance.

Your insurance premium

An insurance premium is the monthly or annual payment you make to an insurance company to keep your policy active.

The cost of your premium is determined by the level of risk an insurer considers you to pose as a driver. In some cases, an insurer may impose an extra charge to a standard premium to reflect any additional risk assumed. This is referred to as a ‘loading.’

You can read more about the factors that are considered when determining the cost of your insurance premium.

Can I use my previous no claims bonus when I return to Ireland?

A no claims bonus (also known as no claims discount) is a percentage discount on car insurance given to drivers who do not have any claims on their record. You can build up a no claims bonus over the years and it will lower the cost of your car insurance.

If you have been abroad for more than 2 years

If you have been abroad for more than 2 years and your previous Irish motor insurance policy expired over 2 years ago, you cannot use your previous Irish no claims bonus when you apply for car insurance in Ireland.

If you have been abroad for less than 2 years

If you have been abroad for less than 2 years, your no claims bonus will still apply. Your no claims bonus is based on your previous driving experience in Ireland in your own name. Insurance Ireland has published information on using a no claims discount when returning to Ireland (pdf).

Do insurers take my driving history abroad into account?

Each motor insurer will consider several factors when giving you a car insurance quote, including your claims history and where you were driving.

Insurers will take overseas driving experience into account as long as you can provide proof of claims-free driving experience abroad. In general, motor insurers will take your no claims history into account from the EEA, the UK, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, South Africa, and the USA. Some insurers may accept your no claims history from other countries.

When buying car insurance in Ireland, you may be asked for proof of your driving history and no claims record. Make sure you have the following documents:

  • A no claims discount statement
  • An additional letter or other official document from your last insurer stating the circumstances of your insurance cover (dates and type of cover) and your no claims driving history
  • Records of your previous driving experience in Ireland if you have any

Before you return to Ireland, make sure your current insurer can give you these documents and can arrange translation if necessary.

What can I do if I am refused motor insurance?

If you cannot get motor insurance from any insurer in Ireland, you can use the Declined Cases Agreement. Under the Agreement, if you are refused quotations from at least 3 insurers, you can email the Declined Cases Committee at, and they will get an insurance quote for you.

You must provide the 3 refusals in writing (letter or email) to the Declined Cases Committee. An insurance provider must give you a reason for a refusal if you ask for one.

If you would like to make a formal complaint against a motor insurance provider that operates in Ireland, you can read about how to do so from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission. Insurance Ireland has more information on what to do if you are refused motor insurance cover.

Useful contacts

If you have any queries or complaints on getting insurance cover in Ireland, you can email Insurance Ireland at This is a free information service and is not intended to replace professional advice.

Declined Cases Committee

Insurance Ireland
Insurance Centre
5 Harbourmaster Place
Dublin 1
DO1 E7E8

Tel: (01) 676 1820
Page edited: 21 March 2024