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Healthcare in Ireland

On this page you'll find information on the healthcare access you're entitled to and how to get it, whether you're:

  • moving to, or already living in Ireland (including students)
  • visiting Ireland (for example, on holiday)

Living in Ireland after Brexit

Under the Common Travel Area (CTA), British citizens living in Ireland will continue to be able to access healthcare on the same basis as Irish citizens after Brexit.

This is regardless of the circumstances in which the UK leaves the EU.

British and Irish citizens who live in Ireland will also continue to have access to free treatment if they need it while visiting the UK.

You may need to pay a fee to access public healthcare in Ireland on the same basis as Irish citizens.

If you live in or move to Ireland, you may be eligible for a Medical Card. The medical card entitles you to receive certain health services free of charge.

If you do not qualify for a medical card on income grounds, you may qualify for a GP Visit card. You can find more information on medical and GP visit cards.

Make sure you have all the right documentation and it is up to date. You may be asked to show evidence of your entitlement to healthcare in Ireland, such as proof of property rental or ownership.

You can find more information on the Irish Health Service Executive website (NHS equivalent).

Visiting Ireland after Brexit

Under the CTA, British citizens who visit Ireland will continue to have the right to access healthcare in Ireland if they need it while they are visiting.

UK citizens are always advised to take out travel insurance when going overseas. Check your insurance has the necessary healthcare cover so that you can get any treatment you might need.

If you have any pre-existing health conditions, talk with your GP and insurer about how to get the right cover, and how this affects your travel.

This guide will be updated with more information on travelling to Ireland as the circumstances change.

Healthcare in Ireland until the UK leaves the EU

Finding help in an emergency

Call 999 or 112 if you have a serious life-threatening emergency, or you need an ambulance. Calls are free of charge.

Visiting Ireland

Make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance if you're planning to visit Ireland.

The UK government always advises UK nationals to take out comprehensive travel insurance when going overseas.

Under the Common Travel Area (CTA), UK and Irish citizens enjoy additional rights in Ireland and the UK.

The UK and Irish authorities have an agreement where UK residents can access healthcare services by showing proof that they are ordinarily resident in the UK.

This can be:

  • a driving licence
  • proof of residence
  • documentation that shows your NHS Number
  • an EHIC

You can access state-provided healthcare in Ireland if you need it while you are visiting. You may need to pay a fee to access public healthcare in Ireland on the same basis as Irish citizens.

Make sure you're treated by a healthcare provider in the state system as you won’t be covered for private healthcare. Remember to keep all receipts and any paperwork.

Pre-existing health conditions

You should buy medical travel insurance before visiting Ireland if you have a pre-existing health condition.

You must tell the insurance company about any pre-existing health conditions you have so you can get the cover you need.

You should also take your EHIC card or proof of residence in the UK with you when you travel to Ireland.

If you are travelling to have planned medical treatment, read our guide to seeking medical treatment in Europe.

Dentists

Emergency dental treatment is available from dentists contracted to the Local Health Office.

If you need to see a dentist, contact the Local Health Office or health centre in your area to get details of contracted dentists or clinics.

In emergencies, check that the dentist you choose is contracted to the Local Health Office to provide services under the Primary Care Reimbursement Scheme system.

Make sure to bring your EHIC or proof of residence in the UK.

Hospitals

The Irish healthcare system consists of public and private hospitals.

For hospital treatment in an emergency, you can go directly to the A&E of any public hospital.

You should bring your EHIC or proof of residence in the UK to access public healthcare in Ireland on the same basis as Irish citizens.

You will still be charged a fee. If you arrive at A&E without a referral from a GP, you'll be charged a standard fee of €100.

Prescriptions

You must pay for your prescriptions in Ireland.

Bringing your own medicines to Ireland

Some prescribed medicines contain drugs that are controlled under the Misuse of Drugs legislation in the UK. This means that additional legal controls apply to these medicines.

You may need a personal license to take controlled medicines abroad.

Specific requirements also apply to:

  • the information that you must take with you
  • how you carry your controlled medicines

Visit GOV.UK for more information about travelling with controlled medicines.

Living in Ireland

You may need to pay a fee to access public healthcare in Ireland on the same basis as Irish citizens.

You will usually need to produce some evidence of your entitlement to healthcare in Ireland, such as proof of property rental or ownership.

You may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK if you live in Ireland and get:

  • an exportable UK State Pension
  • a contribution-based Employment Support Allowance
  • another exportable benefit

Contact the Health Service Executive (HSE) if you have a question about:

  • health services
  • your entitlements
  • how to access the Irish Health Service Executive (HSE) health or social services in your area

You can contact the HSE infoline on 1850 24 1850 in Ireland or +353 41 684 0300 from abroad. Or you can visit the Irish HSE website (NHS equivalent).

You may be eligible for a medical card that entitles you to receive certain health services free of charge.

To be eligible for a Medical Card, you need to meet Ireland's habitual residence requirements, which are also means-tested.

You may be eligible to receive free healthcare (category 1) or you may have to pay fees to access specific health services (category 2).

Free healthcare is means-tested. If you're eligible to receive free healthcare, you'll receive a Medical Card, which provides the following free services:

  • GP services
  • prescribed drugs and medicines, subject to a small charge for each item prescribed
  • state hospital services
  • dental, optical and aural services
  • maternity and infant care services
  • community care and personal social services, such as public health nursing, home help, physiotherapy, chiropody and respite care

If you do not qualify for a medical card on income grounds, you may qualify for a GP Visit Card.

You can find more information on Medical and GP Visit Cards.

You'll be charged for healthcare services if you're not eligible to receive free healthcare and do not have a Medical Card or a GP Visit Card.

Inpatient charges start from €80 per day up to a maximum of €800 in a rolling 12-month period.

You'll be charged a standard fee of €100 if you arrive at A&E without a referral from a GP.

UK posted workers

If you're a worker posted to Ireland by a UK company, you may be entitled to health cover funded by the UK in Ireland.

You can find out more from HM Revenue and Customs:

Students in Ireland

If you are a UK resident and studying in Ireland, you may be entitled to health cover funded by the UK.

The UK government always advises UK citizens to take out comprehensive travel insurance when going overseas.

Read our guide for healthcare when studying abroad

For more information about healthcare when living abroad, read our guide on planning your healthcare when moving abroad.

Page last reviewed: 28 August 2019
Next review due: 28 August 2022