Licensing Requirement

The Public Transport Regulation Act 2009 (PTR Act 2009) states that a public bus passenger service may only be provided in accordance with a licence.

A public bus passenger service is defined under section 2 of the PTR Act 2009 as the use of a bus or buses for the carriage of passengers in such a manner that:

  • Each journey is open to use by members of the public,
  • A charge or charges are paid in respect of each passenger, and
  • Save where the Authority otherwise determines
    • The service is provided on a regular and scheduled basis, and
    • Carriage is provided for passengers between specified terminal points or along a specified route or otherwise in accordance with a published timetable.

All public bus passenger services require a bus licence as per the PTR Act 2009 except for:

  • those provided solely for the carriage of children to or from school (please note that this exclusion does not apply to third level institutions);
  • services that are subject to a public services contract entered into under section 48 of the Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008;
  • international services (authorised under EU Regulations);
  • private-hire services where a bus is hired on behalf of a group for a fee that is determined independent of the number of passengers carried.

Why would you need to apply for a licence or a licence amendment?

There are 4 main reasons:

  1. Because it is an offence under the PTR Act, 2009 to:
    • Provide an unlicensed service.
    • Not comply with the licensing conditions of any existing licences.
    • Alter the provision of a service without obtaining an amended licence beforehand.

    A person who commits an offence is liable on summary conviction to a fine up to €5,000 per offence. Both the person committing the offence and the body corporate is liable to be prosecuted. The Authority may bring proceedings and prosecute the offence(s).

    Any public bus passenger service that you wish to provide which is not explicitly licensed should be the subject of:

    • a new licence application if you do not have a licence; or
    • an amendment application if you already have a licence and you wish to change the service you are providing (e.g. timetable, route, stops, nominate a subcontractor or add extra buses).

    The licensing process allows the Authority to make essential checks including whether the service you propose is safe for passengers.

  2. Because it is good for your business. Being fully compliant with the licensing regime gives you access to a range of initiatives provided by the Authority which have the potential to cut down on your business costs (e.g. advertising) and increase your customer base. These could include:
    • the addition of your service to the National Journey Planner, which currently has approx. 1 million trip searches each month, is published on and linked to Google Transit and other web services; and/or
    • the ability to apply for inclusion in the LEAP scheme (integrated ticketing). The LEAP scheme includes a reporting function which can help you monitor your business. New LEAP ticket machines will be rolled out by the Authority from the middle of 2015.

    However, please note that the Authority will only consider licensed public transport services for inclusion in the above initiatives when it is satisfied that these services are fully compliant and meet the other criteria for the initiatives.

  3. Because any non-compliance with the law may affect your future applications for licences or amendments or the renewal of your current licence(s). Under the PTR Act, 2009, the Authority may not consider an application unless the applicant establishes to the Authority’s satisfaction that he/ she has complied with national and international legislation on road transport. On applying to renew a licence a signed statement of compliance, to confirm adherence with all the conditions of the licence, must be submitted. In considering an application to renew an existing licence the Authority takes into account the degree to which the public bus passenger service has been provided in line with licence conditions.
  4. Because another operator may apply and be granted a licence before you. When deciding whether to grant a licence for a particular public bus passenger service, the Authority has to take into consideration the demand or potential demand for that particular service and how this demand is being met by the existing licensed or contracted public transport services. The Authority cannot take into consideration any services which are unlicensed or not explicitly included on an existing licence.Having a licence does not guarantee you exclusivity on the route, but it does guarantee that the Authority will consider the service you are providing as part of its determination of the demand or potential demand for any additional services.


Please see the Public Transport Regulation Act 2009, Authority’s Guidelines for the Licensing of Public Bus Passenger Services and the Brief Guide Public Bus Passenger Services for more information.