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 card that you must carry with you when using public transport. In some cases, a Free Travel Companion Card is available which allows a person to travel with the holder (if they are unable to travel alone). Free Travel Cards are non-transferable 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) with some exceptions.
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 cards. You should contact the Department of Social Protection to check whether your private bus operator accepts free travel cards - see 'Where to apply' below.
If you abuse your entitlement to free travel the Department will review your entitlement to a Free Travel Card. For example, abuse could include wrongfully presenting a card for travel or engaging in anti-social behaviour while using the card. When you use your Free Travel Card you must also follow the rules that apply to your mode of transport.
The Government has introduced 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. You must register for the Public Services Card when requested to do so by the Department in order to keep your entitlement to Free Travel. Your entitlement to Free Travel will be disallowed or withdrawn if you don't register.
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. (In some cases you may be asked to scan your Public Services Card however not all transport operators have this facility.) 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:
Read FAQs on the Public Services Card and free travel (pdf). Note that the Department of Social Protection is no longer issuing paper passes.
You can also read 'How to use your public services card for free travel' (pdf).
If you are entitled to free travel and you are married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting, you are entitled to a Free Travel Card 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 Card. This allows you to be accompanied by any person over 16 years of age, free of charge. To qualify for a Free Travel Companion Card you must satisfy certain conditions. Entitlement to the Companion Free Travel Card may be subject to periodic review. You can read about these conditions in the Free Travel leaflet (SW40).
The All Ireland Free Travel Scheme allows a Free Travel cardholder (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 Card 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 cardholders wishing to avail of the All Ireland Free Travel scheme within Northern Ireland must first get 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. However you can only apply 3 weeks before your 66th birthday. If you apply more than 3 weeks before your 66th birthday, your application will be rejected. There is further information on the extension of the Free Travel Scheme.
You should continue to use your current Free Travel Card 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 most Iarnród Éireann, Bus Éireann, Dublin Bus, Dart and Luas Services and on certain private bus and ferry services. Free travel does not include some special services such as Dublin Bus NITELINK and AIRLINK 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 you can use your Free Travel Card.
If you are aged 66 or over and are getting a social welfare pension, the Free Travel Card will issue automatically if you have registered for your Public Services Card. If you have not registered for a Public Services Card, you will be asked to register before your Free Travel Card issues to you.
If you are under age 66 and registered for a Public Services Card, you will get a Free Travel Card automatically when you are awarded an Invalidity Pension, a Blind Pension, Disability Allowance or Carer’s Allowance. If you have not registered for the Public Services Card, you will be requested to register before your Free Travel Card issues to you.
In all other circumstances, you must apply for free travel by completing a Free Travel application form FT1 (pdf).
You can get this form and 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 free travel or are issued a card automatically, the appropriate type of card (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 card by completing PART 2 of the application form above.
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). Paper passes are no longer being issued so if you need a replacement for a lost or damaged paper pass you must register for a Public Services Card.
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 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 have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000. The Phone Service will operate Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm during January 2017. You can also visit your local Citizens Information Centre.