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Language exemptions

Some HEIs have language general entry/matriculation requirements. Before applying for any course it is important to check the minimum entry requirements on the HEI website and prospectus. If you do not meet these requirements and you believe you may be entitled to an exemption, you should make an application to the relevant body (see below).

Have you been granted TCD or NUI exemption but it is not showing on your CAO Account?
You must post evidence of your exemption to CAO immediately.

Applying for an exemption

If you are seeking an exemption from minimum entry requirements such as Irish (ROI applicants only) or a third language you must do the following:

If applying to TCD, University of Limerick or Mary Immaculate College you must contact the relevant Admissions Office directly.

In the case of NUI institutions*, you must contact the NUI (see www.nui.ie for details). Apply to the NUI without delay and no later than 21 days after opening your CAO account.

*Member institutions of the NUI (i.e. UCC, UCD, Maynooth University, NUI Galway, RCSI, NCAD and St Angela`s College, Sligo) have a matriculation requirement for Irish (ROI applicants only) and may also have a third language matriculation requirement for certain courses - check institution literature for exact requirements.

Applicants must make arrangements for exemptions each year they apply.

Please note: CAO plays no role in processing exemption applications.

Informing CAO of an exemption

Exemption granted this year

NUI exemption: CAO expect to receive notification of exemptions directly from NUI beginning in February. If your exemption is still not appearing on your online application more than one month after it was granted please contact us. 

TCD exemption: CAO expect to receive electronic notification of TCD exemptions directly from TCD. When CAO are notified of an exemption, the applicant’s account will be updated and the exemption will appear under the qualification and assessment section of your application. If your exemption is still not appearing on your online application by the end of May please contact us.

University of Limerick/Mary Immaculate College exemption: CAO do not record exemptions that have been granted by University of Limerick or Mary Immaculate College. These exemptions will not appear on your CAO application.

Exemption granted in a prior year

NUI exemption from a prior year: If you have a copy of the letter granting your NUI exemption please post this to us. If you no longer have a copy of this letter then you will be required to contact NUI directly to advise them that you are reapplying to CAO. They will need your new CAO application number.

University of Limerick/Mary Immaculate College exemption from a prior year: CAO do not record exemptions that have been granted by University of Limerick or Mary Immaculate College. These exemptions will not appear on your CAO application. You should contact these HEIs directly for guidance.

TCD exemption from a prior year: If you have a copy of the letter granting your TCD exemption please post this to us. If you no longer have a copy of this letter then you will be required to contact TCD directly to advise them that you are re-applying to CAO and require further evidence of your exemption.

Checking that your exemption has been recorded on your application

In May, you will receive a Statement of Application Record instructing you to log in to your CAO account to check that all of your account and examination information is complete and correct. To check if your NUI or TCD exemption has been recorded, go to the Qualifications and Assessments section of your application. If you have an exemption recorded against your account it will appear here.

If you have been granted exemption from the NUI Irish (and/or third language) requirement and there is no reference to it in your account when the Statement of Application Record email issues, you must notify CAO immediately.

It is important to note that exemptions are a separate matter to supplying CAO and HEIs with information about a disability and/or specific learning difficulty.

Do I need to apply for an Irish exemption if I live outside the Republic of Ireland?

Candidates born and fully educated outside the Republic of Ireland who are presenting qualifications other than the Leaving Certificate for matriculation are automatically exempt from Irish and do not need to make application to NUI.

An NUI exemption from Irish will automatically be granted to candidates whose permanent residence is in Northern Ireland/United Kingdom and who are presenting only GCE/GCSE qualifications for matriculation.

However, please note that this is an exemption from minimum entry requirements only. Where a course has a specific requirement for a certain grade in Irish, for example, Primary School Teaching Courses, an NUI exemption will not meet this requirement. In such a case you would need to contact the HEI directly for guidance.