EU Licence FAQs

Welcome to our FAQs page regarding the 3rd DLD (EU Driving Licence Directive) and its introduction to Northern Ireland on 19th January 2013 .

Our thanks to The Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) for providing the majority of the information below and MAG Ireland for their list of popular motorcycles to show which fall into which licence categories.

If you have any questions, which are not answered below, please get in touch and we will endeavour to find an answer.

Email us – Click Here
Or contact us – Click Here

Changes to Driving Licence and Test

Further information on all changes to all licences are available at nidirect governement services.
Motorcycles, you can ride and minimum ages – Click Here
Minimum requirements for mopeds and motorcycles used for tests – Click Here
Driving licence you need to ride a motorcycle – Click Here
Clothing Requirements for Test – Click Here

Get On – Routes To Riding

getonlicenceroute2013Get On’s Routes to Riding chart breaks down the new motorbike licensing laws, making it easy for you to see the exact path you need to take to get on two wheels!

Get On is a Motorcycle Industry funded campaign which aims to introduce as many people as possible to the fun, freedom and financial savings that can be made when you learn to ride a motorbike or scooter.

There are over 100 centres around the country, including Northern Ireland, that offer a free motorcycle training session allowing you to experience for yourself just how easy it is to ride!

All the kit is provided and you get personal guidance from a trained professional in a safe and secure area away from cars so you can relax and enjoy yourself.

And it’s completely free.

There’s no catch!

Routes To Riding – pdf – 749kb – Click Here

EU 3rd Directive FAQs – Mopeds and Motorcycles

Abbreviation Definition
CBT Compulsory basic training for learner moped and motorcycle riders
EC European Commission
EEA European Economic Area
EU European Union
MTV Minimum Test Vehicle

1. What is the EU Third Directive?

Driving licence rules in Northern Ireland stem from European laws – namely the Second Directive on Driving Licences (91/439/EEC). From 19th January 2013 a new Directive – the Third European Directive on Driving Licences (2006/126/EC) will come into force.

The Directive will introduce changes to driver licences and licence acquisition arrangements by harmonising definitions of vehicle subcategories within Member States. Furthermore, it introduces minimum standards for driving examiners and attempts to ensure that no one can at any one time possess more than one licence issued by an EEA state.

2. When will the changes happen in Northern Ireland?

All requirements of the 3rd Directive will come into effect from 19 January 2013.

3. What will the changes mean for the motorcycle industry?

Moped category P will be replaced with a new EU moped category AM. This new category AM is slightly different from category P as it will only cover mopeds with a maximum speed of up to 45 km/h instead of 50km/h. Drivers who hold a full category P licence prior to the introduction of the Directive, will retain this category on their licence;

Changes to the size categories (engine size and power output) of motorcycles, including a new medium-sized category A2;

Introduction of direct access to medium size (category A2) and large size (category A) motorcycles. The minimum age for direct access to medium size motorcycles (category A2) will be 19 and the minimum age for direct access to large motorcycles (category A) will be 24;

Progressive access approach, dependent on age, experience and competence, for younger motorcyclists who wish to progress in stages to the larger and more powerful machines – category A1 at 17, category A2 at 19 and category A at 21; and

The current entitlement, which enables motorcyclists to ride any size of motorcycle 2 years after passing the category A motorcycle test, will be removed.

4. Who will be affected by the changes?

Motorcycle examiners, Approved Motorcycle Instructors (AMIs) and moped and motorcycle learners will be affected by the changes to motorcycle licence and qualification arrangements.

5. Why are motorcyclists being targeted?

These new EU rules introduce measures that will make motorcycling safer as it will ensure that motorcyclists gain access to more powerful motorcycles by means of experience and/or age.

6. What are the new moped and motorcycle categories?

Old category

New Category


Minimum age

none Q Vehicle with a maximum design  speed not exceeding 25 km/h** there will be no specific test for this category. This category will be granted upon test pass of the qualifying categories below. 16years
P AM A 2-wheeled vehicle with a maximum design speed over 25km/h (15.5 mph) but not more than 45km/h (28 mph); orA 3-wheeled vehicle with a maximum design speed over 25km/h (15.5 mph) but not more than 45km/h (28 mph) – and up to 50cc and below 4kW orA light quadricycle – unladen mass under 350 kg and up to 45km/h (28 mph)** there will be no specific test for tricycles and quadricycles unless the design of the vehicle is to overcome a disability. These vehicles will be covered by category AM 16years
A A1 Motorcycles up to 125cc/11kW with a power/weight ratio not exceeding 0.1 kW/kg (*including tricycles up to 15Kw) 17years
None A2 Motorcycles up to 35kW a power/weight ratio not exceeding 0.2kW/kg and not derived from a vehicle of more than double its power 19 years
None A Unrestricted motorcycles above 35kW (*including tricycles over 15kW) 24 years (or 21 years via progressive access approach)

*Please note that tests for mopeds with three or four wheels, A1 and A tricycles and sidecar combinations will only be offered to the physically disabled

 7. What is Progressive Access?

The new EU progressive access (also known as “staged access”) rules impose minimum ages on persons under the age of 24 years who wish to ride more powerful motorcycles.

These younger riders will be obliged to qualify and gain a minimum of two years experience riding a less powerful machine before they can take a test for a higher category of motorcycle The period of two years experience will start from the date you receive full licence entitlement for the lower category.

Under the progressive access route, riders will be able to access the largest motorcycle, category A, at age 21, provided they have held the full A2 for a minimum of 2 years.

8. What is Direct Access?

Direct access is where a candidate can take a test for a higher category of motorcycle without having two years experience on a lower category of motorcycle, provided they meet the minimum age requirements for that category. The minimum age requirements for each category are:

Moped (category AM) – 16 years
Small motorcycle (category A1) – 17 years
Medium sized motorcycle (category A2) – 19 years
Large motorcycle (category A) – 24 years

9. Will a training option to progressive access be introduced?

The training option to progressive access was consulted upon in the 3rd EC Directive on Driving Licences Consultation paper. Due to the costs associated with implementing the training option, the Department decided to proceed with the testing option.

Although the Department will initially proceed with the testing option; the training option will be considered post implementation of the testing option, and will include stakeholders in the development of any such training.

10. What are the minimum test vehicle requirements?

Category and moped or motorcycle to be used on test Minimum age What is required to gain access to category

AM – Two-wheel machine with:

• cubic capacity of not more than 50cc

• maximum design speed not exceeding

45km/h (28mph)


CBT, theory and practical tests

A1 – Motorcycle without sidecar with:

• cubic capacity of at least 120cc and no more than 125cc

• engine power output not exceeding 11kW (14.6bhp)

• capable of a speed of at least 90km/h (55mph)


CBT (unless candidate passed moped test), theory and practical tests

A2 – Motorcycle without sidecar with:

• cubic capacity of at least 395cc

• engine power of at least 25kW (33bhp) not exceeding 35kW (46.6bhp)

• power to weight ratio not exceeding 0.2kW/kg not derived from a vehicle more than double its power


For Progressive Access, candidates must have held a full A1 licence for a minimum of two years and take the practical tests.For Direct Access, candidates must hold a valid CBT certificate (completed on an A2 or A motorcycle) and theory test certificate and take the practical tests.

A – Motorcycle without a sidecar with:

• cubic capacity of at least 595cc

• engine power of at least 40kW (53.6bhp)


Progressive Access – must have held a full A2 licence for a minimum of two years: take the practical tests
A – As above

(Direct Access)

Hold a valid CBT certificated (completed on an A2 or A motorcycle) and theory test certificate and take the practical tests
Please note that tests in mopeds with three and four wheels, A1 and A tricycles and sidecar combinations will only be offered to the physically disabledA three-wheeled moped or motorcycle is only suitable for test if the distance measured between the centre of the area of contact with the road surface of the two wheels is less than 460mm (46cm). It’s likely that these vehicles won’t be suitable for test from 19 January 2013.

11. Will the minimum test requirements for motorcycles change?

The European Union is considering making further changes to the new rules for motorcycles used for riding tests. The proposed changes to the rules will decrease the minimum kW output for A2 motorcycles from 25kW (approx 33.5 bhp) to 20kW (approx 27 bhp) which will increase the range of motorcycles available. The earliest these proposed changes will come into effect will be the end of 2013.

In summary the proposed changes are:

•   the rules for medium and large categories (A2 and A) will be updated to confirm the 5cc tolerance on engine capacity;

•   a power to weight ratio (as distinct from engine displacement) to cater for electric  motorcycles;

•  a change to the minimum engine power (kW) for medium sized motorcycles (Category A2) with a decrease from 25 kW to 20kW; and

•   a change for the largest of motorcycles (Category A) with an increase from 40kW to 50 kW. This will also include a minimum weight of 180 kg (unladen mass weight).

If the proposed amendments are accepted by the European Council and Parliament this will mean that there will be new minimum test vehicles from 19 January 2013 which may change again at the end of 2013 to reflect the new criteria specified above. Latest on this – Click Here The amendment has now been approved however there will be a longer lead in period, until 31st December 2018.

12. Will a motorcycle theory test be required for access to all the motorcycle categories?

For direct access a candidate will be required to present a valid (less than 2 years old) motorcycle theory test certificate.

If a candidate opts for the progressive access route, the candidate is not required to take a theory test each time they want to step up to the next category e.g. A1 to A2 to A provided they have obtained a full licence. The full licence entitlement of the lower category will cover the candidate for the theory test. However, if a rider has a full A1 licence and wishes to acquire A at age 24, without acquiring A2 previously, a valid theory test certificate would be required as this would be classed as direct access.

There is no progressive route from AM to A1, therefore if a candidate at the age of 16 takes a theory test and practical AM test and at the age of 17 decides to take an A1 practical test; they will not need to take a theory test if certificate is still valid.

13. If a candidate gains full category A1 at 17 but decides not to sit an A2 category test but returns at age 24 to gain their full category A, will another theory test need to be completed?

Yes, the candidate will be required to present a valid (less than 2 years old) Motorcycle Theory Test Certificate – therefore they will need to do another theory test.

14. Is Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) required for access to all the motorcycle categories?

All learner riders must complete a CBT course before riding a moped or motorcycle on the road. A candidate who has passed a moped test will not require CBT for category A1.

If a rider has completed CBT on a moped or A1 motorcycle, they will be required to complete an additional CBT course on an A2 or A motorcycle as the rider will not have been trained at speeds in excess of 45mph.

However, if a candidate has passed an A1 test and gained two years experience they will not require CBT for A2 or A (provided they meet the relevant age requirements) as they will be have been able to gain one year’s post-test experience riding at speeds in excess of 45mph.

15. Does the off-road manoeuvres test need to be completed for progression to each of the categories?

Yes. The motorcycle test consists of both the off-road manoeuvres test and the on-road practical test, therefore a candidate would be required to pass both these elements before they would be awarded full entitlement to either category A1, A2 or A.

16. Can full category P (moped) be used as entitlement to take a motorcycle test?

No, for tests from 19 January 2013 full category P (moped) will no longer be accepted as entitlement to take a motorcycle practical test. Category AM (moped) will replace category P (moped) but this will be classed as a separate category to A1, A2 and A.

17. Will I be restricted to riding at 45mph?

Proposals are currently with the Minister to remove the 45mph speed restriction requirements for categories A2 and A only, while being trained and tested and also for post test. It is intended these new measures will be in place on 19 January 2013, however the rider must still display an R plate, even if this restriction is removed.

18. Will these new changes mean an extra cost for riders wishing to progress to larger motorcycles?

Depending on a riders age and how quickly they wish to progress to the larger motorcycles, some candidates may have to take additional tests to obtain a large motorcycle (category A) licence under the age of 24 if they opt for the progressive route.

Statistics show that approximately 80% percent of test candidates are aged 24 years and over, therefore the majority of NI customers may prefer to take the direct access route, which would reduce the increased costs associated with progressive access.

19. What happens if a candidate passes their category A motorcycle test prior to the Directive?

Riders who passed their category A motorcycle test prior to implementation of the directive will still be restricted to motorcycles of 25kW for two years from date of test pass. However, from 19 January 2013, if a rider passes Category A at age 24, they will not be restricted for 2 years, they will be able to ride motorcycles above 35kW.

Also, from 19 January 2013 a rider who is within this 2 year power output restriction period will be able to take a further test in category A2 at 19 years or category A at 24 years to remove this 25kW power restriction.

20. What happens if a candidate passes their Category A off-road manoeuvres test prior to introduction of the Directive, but does not pass their Category A on-road practical?

Both elements of the motorcycle test, the off-road manoeuvres test and the on-road practical test, must be passed before entitlement to a motorcycle category is awarded. If the off-road element is passed before 19 January 2013 and the on-road practical test has not been completed before this date, the candidate can only be awarded the category that they are entitled to once they have passed both elements of the test.

For example, if the candidate is aged 18 and passes a Category A offroad manoeuvre test prior to 19 January 2013 but doesn’t pass the onroad practical until after 19 January 2013, they will only be eligible to be awarded Category A1. The table below shows the relevant changes:

Category of off road manoeuvres test before 19 January 2013

Minimum age on or after 19 January 2013

Category of on road practical test on or after 19 January 2013










On or after 19 January 2013 you’ll only be able to take your tests on the category of motorcycle described in the right-hand column of the table above. If successful, you will get the category of licence as listed in that column.

Age restrictions on riding larger motorcycles will apply and the existing entitlement to upgrade a restricted category A1 or A2 licence after two years ends on the same date. To ride a larger motorcycle, you’ll need to be old enough to take and pass the test on the larger size motorcycle.

21. If a candidate has a full A1 licence, do they still need to be accompanied by an AMI when learning to ride A2 and A motorcycles?

Yes, if a candidate is riding medium sized (category A2) and large (category A) motorcycles on “L” plates on a public road, they must be accompanied by an AMI at all times.

22. Will these changes have any impact on tricycle riders?

Yes. From 19 January 2013 category B1 (quads and tricycles) will no longer be granted as a sub-category of category B and there will also be changes to how tricycle entitlements will be displayed on the licence.

Existing tricycle riders will not lose their category B1 (trikes and quads) entitlement but it will be displayed differently on driving licences issued from 19 January 2013. It will be shown as category B1 and category A (restricted to tricycles), unless the rider already holds full A entitlement.

Tests for mopeds with three or four wheels, A1 and A tricycles and sidecar combinations will only be offered to candidates with a disability.

You will need to follow the same rules if you wish to ride a tricycle that falls within these categories.

See text below as regards Trikes & Sidecars as regards people with disabilities.

23. Where can I find out more information?

Further information on all changes to all licences are available at nidirect governement services

Changes to driving licence rules – Click Here

New driving licence rules for mopeds, motorcycles and tricycles – Click Here

New rules for mopeds and motorcycles used for tests – Click Here

MAG Ireland

MAG Ireland has put together a list of popular motorcycles to show which ones fall into which categories, to give riders, a better idea of what this all means.

They have also highlighted those full power motorcycles which can be restricted to meet the A2 licence requirements.

Click Here


From – Rick Hulse

NABD (The National Association of Riders With A Disability) Chairman

nabdlogocolourAs of January 19th 2013 Trikes will become part of the Motorcycle licence category. (Currently they come within the Car Category).

For people with existing full car licenses prior to January 19th 2013, nothing changes. (New licensing rules cannot be backdated).

After January 19th 2013 only people with disabilities will be permitted to take a test on a trike.

(This dispensation is greatly due to consultations between the NABD and the Driving Standards Agency (DSA)* including the submission of a very detailed report by the NABD Chairman relating to the use of trikes and sidecar outfits by disabled people).

For disabled people wishing to take a test on a trike after January 19th 2013 they will have to take a CBT (slightly amended to suit trikes). They will also have to do the motorcycle theory test and the practical tests (Mod 1 test is also slightly adapted to suit trikes; i.e. less cones and no avoidance manoeuvre etc.)

A disabled person taking a test on a trike will qualify for a licence restricted to trikes. It will not qualify them to ride solo motorcycles or drive cars.

Able-bodied people who don’t hold a full car licence prior to January 19th 2013 will have to pass a motorcycle test, on a motorcycle, before they can ride a trike. (Those who already hold a motorcycle licence will by default be able to ride trikes).

Able-bodied people who are currently riding trikes on L-Plates must successfully pass a test before January 19th 2013. After that date they can only ride a trike if they successfully pass a motorcycle test on a motorcycle first.

As far as I and the DSA are aware there is no change to the dispensation that allows disabled people to use a motorcycle and sidecar combination to take a motorcycle test, though this would also result in a licence restricted to motorcycles fitted with sidecars.

Rick Hulse
NABD Chairman
* DSA is the Driving Standards Agency in Great Britain the text above is still relevant for Northern Ireland

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