Advice from CAO ahead of 1 February application deadline

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The most important step before 1 February is to register on the system and obtain a CAO application number to help applicants avoid any restrictions

The Central Applications Office (CAO) application deadline for 2020 entry into undergraduate courses in Irish higher education institutions is Saturday, 1 February at 5.15pm.

CAO communications officer, Eileen Keleghan, asks potential applicants who have not yet started their application to carefully read the CAO Handbook and go to the CAO website and click on ‘Apply’ to start their application.

“It is important that applicants start their application well in advance of the final deadline in order to avoid any issues which may arise if they leave their application to the last minute.

“We appreciate that the completion of a CAO application can be quite a stressful time for applicants, but the most important step at this stage is to register on the system and obtain your CAO application number to help you avoid any restrictions.

Basic set-up

“This first step in the application process is very straight-forward. Applicants need to provide their identification and contact details, and select the qualifications and assessments sections that are relevant to them. On completing this section, and paying the application fee of €45, applicants will then receive their CAO application number. From there they can log in to their CAO account via the My Application facility to edit their application, provide additional information required to support their application, and to add their course choices” continued Ms Keleghan.

Guides to follow

The CAO website contains a number of guides and supports for applicants which should make the application process easy to navigate, including a ‘Demo Application Facility’ and step-by-step video guides talking applicants through the process of obtaining their CAO application number and editing their CAO account.

Strict deadlines

“Every year a number of applicants put off making their application until the last couple of hours or even minutes without thinking about the consequences of their browser timing out, their internet connection failing, or encountering payment issues. In order to be fair to all applicants strict deadlines apply and applicants should submit their application in a timely manner,” she added.

Late applications and restrictions

If an applicant is considering applying for a restricted course they should make sure to include the course details in their application before this deadline. If they do not apply for a restricted course before the deadline an additional fee of €10 applies for the use of the Change of Course Choices facility which is available (to registered applicants only) from 5 February to 1 March at 5:15 pm.

Applicants who do not process their application in advance of the 1 February deadline can make a late application at an increased fee of €60 for an online application or €90 for a paper application. This facility opens in March and closes at 5:15 pm on 1 May - restrictions apply.

Change of mind

Applicants who have already made a CAO application have up to 5:15 pm on 1 February to add, remove or re-order courses free of charge.

The CAO Change of Mind facility opens on the 5 May. This facility allows applicants the opportunity to add, remove or change the order of their courses as many times as they like (and free of charge) right up the 1 July at 5:15 pm, however it is important to note that restrictions apply. Applicants are reminded that they should list their course choices in genuine order of preference.

To apply to CAO go to and click on ‘Apply’.

Essential dates

  • CAO Normal Application Deadline is 1 February at 5:15pm.
  • CAO Change of Course Choices Facility for registered applicants opens on 5 February and closes on 1 March at 5:15 pm – a fee of €10 applies.
  • HEAR and/or DARE applicants must apply to CAO by 1 February at 5:15 pm.
  • HEAR and/or DARE applicants have until 1 March at 5:15 pm to complete their online HEAR or DARE form.
  • HEAR and/or DARE applicants must submit their supporting documentation to CAO by 15 March at 5:15 pm.
  • The CAO Late Application facility closes on 1 May at 5:15 pm – restrictions apply.
  • The CAO Change of Mind Facility opens on 5 May and closes at 5:15 pm on 1 July - this facility is free of charge. In general, restricted courses cannot be added using this facility and some mature applicants may encounter restrictions when using this facility.

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