Everyone aged 66 and over living permanently in the State is entitled to the Free Travel Scheme. Some people under 66 also qualify. If you qualify for free travel, you are issued with a pass that you must carry with you when using public transport. In some cases, a Free Travel Companion Pass is available which allows a person to travel with the holder (if they are unable to travel alone). Free travel passes are non-transferrable and can only be used by the named person.
Free travel is available on all State public transport (bus, rail and Dublin's LUAS service). Free travel is also available on a limited number of services operated by private bus transport companies. Private bus transport operators that have opted in to the Free Travel Scheme accept free travel passes. You should contact the Department of Social Protection to check whether your private bus operator accepts free travel passes - see 'Where to apply' below.
The Government is introducing a Public Services Card which will allow people to access a range of government services and payments. The Public Services Card will eventually replace the Free Travel Pass.
If you are entitled to free travel, when you are issued with your new Public Services Card it will also be your Free Travel Card. The card will have F-T printed in a yellow octagon in the top-left-hand corner of the card. You can see a sample card on welfare.ie (pdf).
You must show your Public Services Card to the travel operator when you are travelling on public transport. When you receive your new Public Services Card, you must return your old free travel pass to the Department of Social Protection (see 'Where to apply' below).
There are 3 categories of Free Travel Pass:
If you have a Free Travel Pass and you are married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting, you are entitled to a Free Travel Pass which allows your partner to accompany you free of charge when travelling. (This does not apply to people under age 66 who are getting Carer's Allowance or who are nominated carers for people getting Constant Attendance Allowance or Prescribed Relatives Allowance from the Department of Social Protection).
If you are unable to travel alone you may get a Free Travel Companion Pass. This allows you to be accompanied by any person over 16 years of age, free of charge. To qualify for a Free Travel Companion Pass you must satisfy certain conditions. You can read about these conditions in the Free Travel leaflet (SW40).
The All Ireland Free Travel Scheme allows a Free Travel passholder (those aged 66 and older) to travel free of charge on all bus and rail services within Northern Ireland using a Senior Smartpass card. Similarly, Northern Ireland Senior Smartpass holders are entitled to travel for free on services in Ireland using their existing Senior Smartpass. If your Free Travel Pass allows you to be accompanied by a spouse, civil partner or cohabitant or companion they may continue to travel with you for free on cross-border journeys but they cannot accompany you for free on public transport within Northern Ireland.
Free Travel Pass holders wishing to avail of the All Ireland Free Travel scheme within Northern Ireland must first obtain a Senior SmartPass card. To get a Senior SmartPass card you must fill in an application form (FTNI1). (It is not possible to get this form online, to get a form you must contact your social welfare local office).
The application form must be filled in with black ink only and returned in person (not posted) to your social welfare local office. You must bring the following items with your application form to your social welfare local office:
It may take up to six weeks to process your application. There is further information on the extension of the Free Travel Scheme.
You should continue to use your current Free Travel Pass for travel in this State.
Your Senior SmartPass will expire after 5 years.
You may be entitled to free travel if you are permanently living in the State and:
Free travel is available on Iarnród Éireann, Bus Éireann, Dublin Bus, Dart and Luas Services and on certain private bus and ferry services. You may also travel free of charge on certain cross-border services between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
If you are permanently living on any of the Aran Islands, you may get up to 12 single (or 6 return) air trips each year between the islands and the mainland. People who live permanently on Tory Island (Co. Donegal) are entitled to a 8 (or 4 return) free journeys on the seasonal helicopter service operating between the island and the mainland.
There are no restrictions on the times at which you can use your Free Travel Pass. Therefore, there is no need for unrestricted passes, permitting free travel at peak times.
If you are aged 66 or over and are getting a social welfare pension, the Free Travel Pass will issue automatically. If you are under age 66, you will get a Free Travel Pass automatically when you are awarded an Invalidity Pension, a Blind Pension, Disability Allowance or Carer’s Allowance. In all other circumstances, you must apply for free travel by completing a Free Travel application form FT1 (pdf).
You can also obtain this form and other additional information from the Department of Social Protection - see 'Where to apply' below. The form is also available at your local post office.
If you are married or in a civil partnership and either of you apply for a Free Travel Pass or are issued one automatically, the appropriate type of pass (to allow your spouse or civil partner to accompany you free of charge) will be issued. If you are cohabiting, you must apply for this type of pass by completing PART 2 of the above application form. If you already have a Free Travel Pass (single status), you should return it with the application form.
People living in Dublin, Limerick, Cork, Galway or Waterford must exchange the Free Travel Pass for a photo pass at the CIE office in the city - see 'Where to apply' below.
There are currently 2 types of Free Travel Pass - a paper Free Travel Pass and a Public Services Card Free Travel (with F-T written in the top left-hand corner).
If you lose your paper Free Travel Pass or if it is stolen, you should fill in form FT27 (pdf) for a replacement Free Travel Pass.
If your paper Free Travel Pass is worn or damaged, you should return it to DSP to be replaced.
If your Public Services Card Free Travel is lost, stolen or damaged, you should telephone 1890 837000 to request a replacement card.
Social Welfare Services
Tel:(071) 915 7100
Locall:1890 500 000
You can email the Free Travel section using the secure Free Travel enquiry form. If you wish to talk to someone face-to-face about your entitlements, you can visit your local Citizens Information centre, social welfare local office or Intreo centre.
If you live in Dublin, Limerick, Cork, Galway or Waterford, and you have already received your Free Travel Pass, you must exchange the photo pass voucher issued with your free travel pass for a photo pass at the CIE office in your city. The addresses for the CIE offices are listed below. The travel operator may also require you to provide additional proof of identification and photo ID regardless of where you live. If this is a condition of travel, the travel operator should notify passengers of this (either on their bus or on their website) so that you are fully aware of any documentation you need to travel.
59 Upper O'Connell Street
Tel:(01) 872 0000
Tel:(021) 450 8188
Tel:(061) 31 3333
Tel:(051) 87 9000
Tel:(091) 56 2000
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.