Parking in Ireland – where (not) to park

To park or not to park… that is the question every driver should be asking when they arrive at their destination. Safe parking is a key part of safe driving – where you leave your car on arrival is as important as how you drive it there. Bad parking can endanger or obstruct others on the road, especially pedestrians or cyclists if they have to go onto the road to get by. Badly parked vehicles can pose a particular issue for wheelchair users, those who are visually impaired, and parents with prams. They can also add to traffic congestion, and lead to fines, clamping or penalty points for the driver. Your vehicle could even be towed away.

With many of us looking for outdoor attractions this year, and driving to beauty spots and landmarks on staycations, parking properly at these spots is more important than ever. There are many places and situations that parking is prohibited by law, so AA Roadwatch’s Lauren Beehan explains the information you need…

What does the law say?

The rules around parking in Ireland are mainly governed by the Road Traffic Acts (1961-2019), as well as bye-laws issued by local authorities. The key rule is that you cannot park a vehicle anywhere that interferes with the normal flow of traffic, or that obstructs or endangers others.

More specifically, the acts make it illegal to park a private car in the following circumstances:

  • On double yellow lines at any time
  • On a single yellow line, during the times shown on an accompanying sign
  • At the side of a road that has a single white lane down the middle and/or a “No Overtaking” sign (unless there are 3 or more lanes each way)
  • On zig-zag road markings (usually yellow outside a school, or white at a pedestrian crossing)
  • Where there is a “No Parking” sign, during the times shown
  • Where there is a restricted “Parking” sign, outside of the times shown
  • On a Clearway, indicated by a circle with an X through it, during the times shown
  • In a cycle lane during the hours it is operational
  • In a contra-flow bus lane at any time, or in a with-flow bus lane, during the hours it is operational
  • In a bus-stop, taxi rank or loading bay*
  • In a tram lane or on tram tracks

Collage of road signs indicating that parking is not permitted

  • On a pedestrian-only street
  • At a pedestrian crossing
  • On a footpath, grass verge or median (the space between two carriageways), even if this is right outside your house/business
  • In a designated disabled parking spot without a permit
  • Anywhere on a motorway, including the hard shoulder
  • 15 metres before or 5 metres after a pedestrian crossing or traffic lights
  • 5 metres before or after any junction
  • Anywhere that affects the entrance to or exit from a fire station, ambulance station or Garda station
  • Across an entrance to a premises/driveway, unless the owner has consented

*Loading bays may only be used by goods vehicles actively (un)loading for up to 30min.

What about on-street parking in towns and cities?

Most towns and cities have parking bye-laws, so watch out for signage indicating that a pay-and-display or disk parking system is in operation. If parking bays are marked, you must park within the lines of one space. In some pay-and-display areas, including in Galway, Cork and Dublin Cities, you must move after a specified length of time and you can’t park again in the same street for at least an hour after that. (Time-limits may not apply to vehicles with valid disabled parking permits or Car Club permits.)  If you’re parked in a bus lane or clearway at a time outside its signposted operating hours, you must move before the operating hours begin.

Road sign for disc parking

In most areas, parking is not permitted in an Electric Vehicle Recharging Bay except for vehicles being charged.

If there is no signage displayed, you may park at the side of the road, as long as it doesn’t contravene any of the other regulations listed above – but be considerate to others on the roads. The RSA advises parking in the same direction as traffic flow, as close to the kerb as possible, with the handbrake on and the vehicle in first gear or reverse. Don’t leave your headlights on. Passengers should get out on the kerbside where possible. Watch out for passing cyclists and pedestrians as you open the door – consider using the “Dutch Reach” described in our blog here.

What if I’m a resident?

If you’re a resident in an area with paid street-parking, you may need to apply for a resident’s permit from your local council to park on your street. In most cases, the permit allows you to park on a specific street or streets, but not necessarily a specific spot.

Keep in mind that even with a resident’s permit, the above laws still apply regarding double yellow lines, footpaths, clearways, cycle and bus lanes, etc. Most councils also issue visitor permits for guests visiting your home – check with your local authority to avoid any nasty surprises when your guests are ready to leave.

Watch out for the emergency services

Images showing parking blocking a fire engine's way, and a fire engine measured at 2.55m
Photos: Dublin Fire Brigade

Something to be mindful of, especially in housing estates and on narrow roads, is making sure that you have left enough space for emergency vehicles to get past. Dublin Fire Brigade often highlight types of parking that can impede them getting to emergencies, such as vehicles parked directly opposite each other in a housing estate. A spokesperson explained “We’re asking people to park with emergency vehicles in mind. Even legal parking can hinder access for the emergency services. It could be a neighbour or relative our fire engines or ambulances are trying to reach. Take a second to think after you park: ‘In an emergency, can help get through?’” So before you leave the vehicle, think about whether a 2.55m-wide fire truck or ambulance will get past your vehicle in a hurry.

What about private car-parks?

Private carparks, whether standalone or part of a business’s premises, can set their own regulations in addition to the law. Rules and any fees should be clearly signposted near the entrance, and vehicles can be clamped or towed if the driver fails to observe the regulations.

This blog about parking is one of a series on safe driving and road use. You can check out our posts about how to drive on a motorway here, how to safely share the roads with pedestrians and cyclists here and how to use your car lights properly here.