Free travel in Ireland
Everyone aged 66 and over, legally resident and 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 Employment Affairs and 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.
SAFE registration and Public Services Card
The SAFE registration process (pdf) is used to establish and verify your identity. Your free travel pass will be contained in the Public Services Card (PSC) that issues following this registration. You must undergo SAFE registration when requested to do so by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. Your entitlement to free travel will be disallowed or withdrawn if you don't register.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 Public Services Card will eventually replace the Free Travel Pass.) 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, though 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 Employment Affairs and Social Protection (see 'Where to apply' below).
There are 3 categories of free travel:
- If FT-P is written on your Public Services Card, you personally are entitled to free travel.
- If FT+S is written on your Public Services Card, your spouse, partner or cohabitant can join you for free when you are travelling (they cannot travel for free alone). Your spouse, partner or cohabitant’s name will not be on the card.
- If FT+C is written on your Public Services Card, a companion (over 16) can travel with you for free (because you are unable to travel alone for medical reasons).
Read FAQs on the Public Services Card and free travel (pdf). Note that the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection is no longer issuing paper passes.
You can also read 'How to use your public services card for free travel' (pdf).
Spouses, civil partners, cohabitants and companions
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 Employment Affairs and 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).
Senior SmartPass for travelling in Northern Ireland
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 local Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office.
The application form must be filled in with black ink only and returned in person (not posted) to your Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office. You must bring the following items with your application form to your Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office:
- Your current Free Travel Pass/Public Services Card and
- Evidence of your address, (for example, a gas, electricity, phone bill or bank statement) and
- Evidence of your identity, (for example, your driving licence, passport or another form of photo identification) and
- A recent passport standard colour photograph.
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.
Renewing a Senior SmartPass
Your Senior SmartPass will expire after 5 years.
- If you have electronically used your card within the last 2 years, you will get a new card automatically in the post from Translink when your card expires.
- If you have not used your card in the last 2 years, you will be sent a renewal application form to fill out. (The renewal form is not the same as a first-time application and you do not need to supply a photograph.)
- If you have never used your card, you will not hear from Translink at all. If you wish to get it renewed, you must contact Translink on 048 9075 9129 who will send you a renewal application.
Brexit and the Senior SmartPass
After Brexit, Senior SmartPass holders will still be able to travel in Northern Ireland on the bus and train.
You may be entitled to free travel if you are legally resident and permanently living in the State and:
- You are aged 66 or over
- You are getting Disability Allowance, Blind Pension, Carer's Allowance or an Invalidity Pension from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
- You have been getting Incapacity Supplement or Workmen's Compensation with Disablement Pension for at least 12 months
- You are blind or visually impaired and meet the medical conditions for Blind Pension
- You are a specified carer for a person getting Constant Attendance Allowance or Prescribed Relative's Allowance from the Department
- You are getting a social security invalidity payment, or similar payment, from another EU member state or from a country with which Ireland has a bilateral social security agreement for at least 12 months
- You are a widow or widower or a surviving civil partner aged 60 or over whose late spouse/civil partner held a free travel pass and who is getting one of the following payments: Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Partner's (Contributory) Pension, Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Partner's (Non-Contributory) Pension, One-Parent Family Payment, Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Partner's Pension under the Occupational Injuries Benefit Scheme or a similar social security pension/benefit from an EU member state or a country with which Ireland has a bilateral social security agreement, or an ordinary Garda widow's pension.
- You have confirmed your identity through the SAFE registration process (pdf) when requested to do so
Where free travel can be used
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 AIRLINK services. You may also travel free of charge on certain cross-border services between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Free travel is also available on the Dublin Bus NITELINK service.
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 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.
Working and keeping entitlement to Free Travel
Since 6 April 2017, under the Make Work Pay initiative, if you move from a long-term disability payment (see list below) to a job, you can keep your entitlement to Free Travel for a period of 5 years, provided you have registered for a Public Services Card.
•Partial Capacity Benefit (from Invalidity Pension)
•Disablement Benefit paid along with Incapacity Supplement
•Transfer from Disability Allowance or Invalidity Pension to a Community Employment, SOLAS or Back to Work scheme.
How to apply
If you are aged 66 or over and are getting a social welfare pension, the Free Travel Card will issue automatically if you have confirmed your identity through the SAFE registration process when requested to do so. If you have not SAFE registered, you will be requested to do so before your Free Travel Card issues to you.
If you are under age 66 and have confirmed your identity through the SAFE registration process, 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 SAFE registered, you will be requested to do so 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 Employment Affairs and 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.
Lost or damaged Free Travel Passes
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 undergo SAFE registration and get 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.