Health services for visitors to Ireland

Introduction

If you are visiting Ireland, you may be entitled to health services that are free or subsidised, depending on your circumstances. This page explains what public health services you can access in Ireland as a visitor.

Your entitlement to health services is mainly based on residency and means, rather than on your payment of tax or Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI). There are some exceptions and these are described below.

Your nationality does not determine your entitlement but there are specific rules for people from the EU/EEA, Switzerland and the United Kingdom (UK).

If you come to live, work or study in Ireland and intend to stay for at least one year or retire to Ireland, you are likely to be regarded as living here (ordinarily resident is the legal term) and to come under the rules as described in Entitlement to health services.

Some visitors to Ireland are not entitled to free or subsidised public health services except in cases of hardship. For example, visitors from outside the EU/EEA, Switzerland and the United Kingdom (UK). In general, if they have to use health services, they must pay the full cost of those services.

Irish citizens who are living outside Ireland

If you have been living and working in another EU/EEA country or Switzerland, your entitlement to health services when you return is decided under the rules that apply to EU nationals, (see ‘Visitors from the EU/EEA and Switzerland’ below).

If you are a living in the UK and visiting Ireland, you can get medical care if you become ill or have an accident during your visit. You may need to show proof of your UK residency such as a passport or driver's licence.

If you have been abroad on a short-term contract, you are still considered ordinarily resident in Ireland.

If you have been resident abroad for up to three years but your Local Health Office is satisfied that you did not establish an entitlement to health services in any other country, the HSE may regard you as ordinarily resident in Ireland if you need treatment when you return. This is so that people who emigrate from Ireland do not lose their health service eligibility on residence grounds before they establish eligibility elsewhere.

This provision does not apply if you are covered by EU regulations in another country. This provision does not entitle a person temporarily resident in another EU country to have the HSE extend the European Health Insurance Card beyond the normal period.

Visitors from the UK

If you are a UK citizen, you have access to healthcare under the Common Travel Area while visiting Ireland. This arrangement has not been affected by the UK leaving the EU. You can bring evidence of your UK citizenship.

UK residents can access necessary healthcare when visiting Ireland. You can show any of the following as proof of UK residency:

  • UK-issued Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) or European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
  • UK driving licence
  • Northern Ireland voter’s card or medical card
  • UK biometric residence permit
  • 2 documents showing your UK address (for example bank statement or utility bill) issued within 6 months

You will need to show photo ID if the document you present does not have a photo.

Visitors from the EU/EEA and Switzerland

If you are visiting Ireland, you can use a valid European Health Insurance Card issued by your home country to access healthcare.

If you have an EHIC, you can get necessary medical treatment in Ireland free of charge. EHIC only covers public healthcare, not private. You should bring your European Health Insurance Card with you when you are travelling to Ireland.

Certain categories of people, such as posted workers, are eligible for medical cards under EU rules – see the further information section on medical cards.

Visitors from countries outside the EU, EEA, Switzerland or UK

If you are visiting from outside the EU, EEA, Switzerland or UK, you do not have any entitlement to free or subsidised health services. You may wish to consider taking out travel insurance.

If you can show the HSE that you intend to live in Ireland for at least a year, you will be regarded as ordinarily resident and will be eligible for either free or subsidised health services. The HSE may look for evidence that you are legally entitled to live here for at least a year. .

Your dependents must show that they also intend to live here for at least a year to be regarded as ordinarily resident in Ireland. They are not automatically regarded as ordinarily resident based on your eligibility.

Students from countries outside the EU, EEA, Switzerland or UK

If you are a student from a country outside the EU, EEA, Switzerland or the UK, you are generally regarded as ordinarily resident if you are registered for a course of study that will last for at least one academic year.

If you are here for a shorter period, you are regarded as a visitor and you do not have any entitlement to free or subsidised health services.

Asylum seekers and refugees

If you are an asylum seeker living in direct provision, you are given a medical card while your application for international protection is being considered. If you get refugee status, subsidiary protection or permission to remain, then you are regarded as ordinarily resident and you come under the usual rules for entitlement to health services.

People who are not entitled to free or subsidised health services

If you are not ordinarily resident in Ireland and you are not entitled to health care under any of the circumstances described above, you may have to pay the full cost for any services provided. In cases of hardship the HSE may provide urgent necessary treatment at a reduced charge or without charge.

Page edited: 31 August 2021