There are two types of public service buses in Northern Ireland:
- Ulsterbus is a service which runs outside of Belfast. It also brings people from outside of Belfast to and from the city. Click here for information about routes, timetables and fares.
- Metro is the service which runs within Belfast. Click here for routes, timetables and fares.
NI Railways is the train company within Northern Ireland. Most people use trains for travelling into and outside of Belfast. Few people use trains to travel within the city.
If you are in a hurry, it is more convenient, or if it is late at night and there is no public transport available, you may wish to take a taxi. Taxis in Northern Ireland are required by law to have a licence, and they must display their licence (see picture on left) at all times on their car. It is very important to stay safe when you are taking a taxi.
Driving in the UK
It is unlikely that you will want to have a car with you while you are studying in Belfast. Belfast is a small city and most places are easy to get to on foot or by public transport. Parking is severely restricted and difficult to get both around the University and in the city centre.
If you do decide to bring a car to the UK, or to get a car while you are here, you must ensure that you abide fully by UK driving laws and you must be fully aware of and abide by the Highway Code.
Your driving licence from your home country will allow you to drive for up to 12 months in the UK. After the 12 month period, you must have a UK driving licence to allow you to drive. Therefore, you should prepare and take a UK driving test within the 12 month period in order to get proper permission to drive.
If the 12 month period ends and you have not got a full UK driving licence, you will have to apply for a provisional drivers licence. This will impose restrictions on you: for example, you will not be allowed to drive without having a full UK driver's licence holder in the car with you.
If you do not hold a valid overseas driving licence, you must apply for a provisional licence. You may then only drive a car displaying 'L' (learner) plates and you must be accompanied at all times by a holder of a full licence. You must not drive on motorways until you have passed your test. There will also be restrictions on your speed.
Tax and insurance
It is illegal to own a vehicle in Northern Ireland which isn't taxed and insured unless you have an off road certificate. Find out more about this here. You can find insurance on most market search engines, but Endsleigh operate a good service for international students.
It is compulsory for all drivers and passengers in the UK to wear a seat belt.
Alcohol and driving
You MUST NOT drink and drive. Drink-driving laws in the UK are very strict and there are severe penalties for people who are caught drinking and driving. Drink-driving is also socially unacceptable in the Northern Irish culture.