Students apply for almost all full-time undergraduate courses through the Central Applications Office (CAO). If you haven’t yet begun your application, there’s no reason to delay.

Gathering the required documents and information can take longer than you think.

All students are strongly advised to read the CAO Handbook in full before beginning the process.

To help you refresh, we have included some important dates and details to remember for your 2021 CAO application.

1 February at 5:15pm: (€45 fee) Normal application closing date.

1 March at 5.15pm: Closing date for amending course choices. Closing date for completion of mature section of application form. Closing date for final completion of online HEAR/DARE forms.

15 March at 5:15pm: Latest date for HEAR/DARE supporting documentation to arrive in CAO. Remember: Applicants to DARE must have their Educational Impact Statement completed and signed by their schools, consultant reports may also be required. For the HEAR scheme, applicants may be required to obtain documents from the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Social Welfare. You should look into this immediately, if you haven’t already.

1 May at 5:15pm: (€60 online fee) Late application closing date.

By end of May: Statement of application sent to all applicants. This is your last chance to double check that all details that have been recorded are in your preferred order and coded correctly. You also must ensure that all exam numbers and exemptions are listed. If there are any incorrect or missing details; amend it and return it to CAO. If you have not received the statement by 1 June, you must contact CAO immediately, to ensure you receive an offer.

1 July at 5:15pm: Change of mind closing date. This is your last chance to change your course choices. You may not be able to apply for some of the restricted courses listed in the handbook, so please refer to HEI literature and the CAO Handbook before introducing a restricted course code.

Early July: The CAO makes offers to applicants who deferred college offers in 2020. This will include applicants who received a higher 2020 offer following an upgrade in the November-December Leaving Cert examinations. These offers are made by post and online at

22 July at 5.15pm: (€60 fee) An exceptional closing date for registered third-level students who chose to drop out of their current college course and re-apply for a new list of choices through the CAO.

To be confirmed: Leaving Certificate assessment format and results date.


Remember to enter your name on the application as it appears on your birth certificate or passport. Higher education institutions will require proof of ID at registration if you wish to apply under a different name.

All correspondence from CAO should be checked carefully to ensure that there are no errors or omissions. Make sure to check that all personal details, examination numbers and qualifications are recorded correctly to avoid any disappointment at the offers stage.

When contacting CAO be sure to send your query via the Correspondence Section of your CAO Account. Include your CAO application number and as much information as possible, to help staff answer your query.

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