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CAO Handbook
Page 1 of 28


Central Applications Office (CAO):

CAO is an organisation which was founded in 1976 by the higher education institutions (HEIs) in the Republic of Ireland. The HEIs have delegated to CAO the task of processing centrally applications for admission to their first year undergraduate courses.

The purpose of the CAO is to process applications centrally and to deal with them in an efficient and fair manner. The HEIs retain the function of making decisions on admissions.


Welcome to the 2015 CAO Handbook.

Your Handbook will be an invaluable guide to the process of applying for courses in the Higher Education Institutions participating in the central application service. Read it carefully and keep it to hand for future reference.

You will find the answers to most of your questions in this Handbook. In addition, the CAO website contains a wealth of information for applicants as well as links to information pages on Higher Education Institution websites, and other external websites.

The CAO understands how important this process is to you and you are encouraged to research your course choices carefully and use all of the resources available to keep yourself informed.

If you have any questions for CAO that are not answered in CAO literature, or if you do not understand any instruction you receive from CAO, then you should not hesitate to contact us. The best way to do so is to use the email ‘Contact Us’ form on the website

We hope that you have a positive experience using the CAO service for application to Higher Education.


The CAO Application System operates from the CAO premises at:


Phone : (091) 509800

Fax: (091) 562344

The CAO website is at:

Application may be made online on this website.

Office contact times:

Office: 09:00 to 1:00 and 2:00 to 5:00 pm

Telephone: 09:30 to 1:00 and 2:00 to 5:00 pm

Monday through Friday.

Applicant’s Responsibility:

  • You, the applicant, are responsible for ensuring that an application is submitted complete, correct and on time.

  • In any one year, you may not present more than one application. You may apply online or on paper.

  • CAO will assume that anyone who is able to quote your CAO Application Number is authorised to make changes to your application.

General Principles:

Applications for admission in Autumn 2015 will be processed in accordance with the regulations, procedures and timetable described in the CAO Handbook 2015 (‘the Handbook’), in the CAO Application Form 2015 (‘the Form’) and in the other documents mentioned in the Handbook.

It is your responsibility to acquaint yourself with these.

Other such regulations and procedures in relation to online application, change of mind and acceptance of offers will appear on the CAO website.

The intention is to provide fair and equal treatment for all applicants and to minimise expense for the applicant-body as a whole.

CAO is purely an administrative facility and does not endorse or recommend any course. It is your responsibility to determine the status and the suitability of any course chosen.

CAO is agent for the HEIs participating in the Application System. These bodies agree annually the application regulations, procedures and timetable. CAO has no discretion to set them aside so as either to afford special treatment to any applicant over another or to deprive any applicant of their entitlement in favour of another.

Application Dates and Fees:

You should avoid submitting an application close to a Closing Date.

No extension to closing dates will be allowed.

All fees are Non-Refundable.



Normal application

(online or paper)


1 Feb 2015 (5:15 pm)

Online discounted rate


20 Jan 2015 (5:15 pm)

Late online application


1 May 2015 (5:15 pm)

Late paper application


1 May 2015 (5:15 pm)

Change of Mind


1 July 2015 (5:15 pm)

Application Fees are Non-Refundable.

You must ensure that you apply only once, either online or by paper, and pay the correct fee only once.