Healthcare in Ireland

Each country's health system is different and might not include all the things you'd expect to get free of charge from the NHS.

This means you may have to make a patient contribution to the cost of your care.

Visitors to Ireland

Finding help in an emergency

If you find yourself in a serious life-threatening emergency, you should call 999 or 112. Use these numbers for fire, ambulance, police and the coastguard.

Regardless of which number you call in Ireland, there will be no difference and the call will be handled in the same manner. The call is free of charge to the caller.

Emergency medical care is provided to anyone requiring urgent attention.

Healthcare up until the UK leaves the EU

The UK and Irish authorities have an agreement where UK residents do not need their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to access healthcare services if they're on a temporary stay in Ireland.

It's enough to show proof that you're ordinarily resident in the UK, such as a driving licence, passport or similar documentation that shows your NHS Number or its equivalent.

You may need to pay a fee to access public healthcare. You should always buy enough travel insurance and make sure you have access to funding to cover any medical treatment abroad.

Remember to keep all receipts and any paperwork (make copies if necessary) as they might be needed by you or your insurance company to apply for any refund.

Currently, you're able to access the necessary state-provided healthcare in Ireland at a reduced cost, or sometimes for free, if you're staying there temporarily.

You will not be covered for certain costs, including:

  • private treatment
  • being brought back to the UK
  • mountain rescue services
  • cruises

It's important that you ensure you're treated by a healthcare provider in the public system. You should be particularly careful if healthcare arrangements are made by a hotel or travel representative.

State health services in Ireland are provided in hospitals and communities across the country.

Provisional replacement certificate (PRC)

A PRC is a certificate demonstrating a person's entitlement to EHIC.

If you need healthcare but do not have your EHIC with you, you can call Overseas Healthcare Services and ask them to send a PRC to show to the hospital. This will avoid you being directly charged.

Contact Overseas Healthcare Services:

UK: 0191 218 1999
Outside UK: +44 191 218 1999

Open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm UK time.

Pre-existing conditions

Proof of ordinary residence in the UK and travel insurance should cover you for pre-existing conditions.

Pre-existing health conditions must be declared when you take out health insurance.

If you're travelling for the express purpose of obtaining medical treatment, see our section about 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 tell them that you're seeking treatment under EU regulations.

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. There's no charge for those eligible under EU regulations.

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 extra legal controls apply to these medicines.

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

Specific requirements also apply to:

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

You can visit the GOV.UK website for more information about travelling with controlled medicines.

After the UK leaves the EU

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the Common Travel Area will continue to apply. The UK and Ireland are working to agree continued reciprocal healthcare arrangements.

But if you're planning to visit Ireland after the UK leaves the EU, you should buy travel insurance, making sure the policy provides you with the necessary health cover to allow you to get any treatment you might need.

UK citizens are always advised to take out travel insurance when going overseas, both to EU and non-EU destinations.

British citizens do not need a visa to travel to Ireland and the Common Travel Area will continue to apply.

Find out more about travelling in the Common Travel Area if there's no Brexit deal

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

Working in Ireland

If you move to Ireland, you may 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 must 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're not eligible to receive free healthcare and do not have a Medical Card, you'll be charged for healthcare services.

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

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

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.

Contact HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for more details:

National Insurance Contributions and Employer Office
HM Revenue and Customs
BX9 1AN
United Kingdom

Telephone: 0300 200 3500
Outside UK: +44 191 203 7010

Opening times: 8.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (closed weekends and bank holidays).

For more information, see Planning your healthcare when moving abroad.

After the UK leaves the EU

If you move to Ireland, you may be eligible for a Medical Card, subject to habitual residence and means-testing. British citizens do not need a visa to travel to Ireland.

If you're a UK posted worker, the UK and Ireland are working to agree continued reciprocal healthcare arrangements. But you may also want to take out private healthcare insurance.

Pensioners in Ireland

Healthcare up until the UK leaves the EU

You may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK if you live in Ireland and get an exportable UK pension, contribution-based Employment Support Allowance or another exportable benefit.

In addition, you're usually asked to produce some evidence of your entitlement to healthcare in Ireland, such as proof of property rental or ownership.

If eligible, you'll need a medical card that entitles you to receive certain health services free of charge.

If you have a question about your health services, your entitlements, or how to access HSE health or social services in your area, contact the HSE infoline on 1850 24 1850 in Ireland or +353 41 684 0300 from abroad.

After the UK leaves the EU

If you move to Ireland, you may be eligible for a Medical Card.

To qualify for a Medical Card, you'll need to satisfy the Health Service Executive (HSE) that you live in Ireland, intend to live there for at least a year, and are eligible based on your UK social insurance or pension.

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

If eligible, the medical card entitles you to receive certain health services free of charge.

In addition, you're usually asked to produce some evidence of your entitlement to healthcare in Ireland, such as proof of property rental or ownership.

Students in Ireland

Until the UK leaves the EU, 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.

The government always advises UK citizens to take out travel insurance when going overseas, both to EU and non-EU destinations.

After the UK leaves the EU, the UK and Ireland are working to agree continued reciprocal healthcare arrangements. But you may also want to take out private healthcare insurance.

Page last reviewed: 28/01/2019
Next review due: 28/01/2022