Medical services and social welfare for people with refugee status or subsidiary protection or permisson to remain


If you have been granted international protection (refugee status or subsidiary protection) you have the right to receive the same medical care and services and the same social welfare benefits as an Irish citizen.

The Department of Justice and Equality has published a guide to living independently (pdf) for people who have been granted refugee status or subsidiary protection or permission to remain

Medical services

The medical services you received as an asylum seeker will continue if you have been granted refugee status or subsidiary protection or permission to remain, as there is no difference in the provision for asylum seekers and people with refugee status or subsidiary protection or permission to remain.

The receptionist at the local health centre (see 'Where to apply' below) will provide you with a medical card application form, which you should complete and return to the Local Health Office as soon as possible. The medical card allows you and your family to access medical services free of charge. If you do not apply for and receive a medical card, you will be asked to pay for certain medical services. When you apply for a medical card, you choose a doctor that is taking part in the scheme and ask the doctor to sign your application form to accept you as a patient. Contact your Local Health Office for details of GPs in your area.

A medical card issued by the Health Service Executive enables you to receive free general practitioner services; prescribed drugs and medicines (some prescription charges apply); in-patient public hospital services; out-patient public hospital services; dental, optical and aural health services; medical appliances; maternity and infant care services; a maternity cash grant of €10.16 on the birth of each child and psychological services for those traumatised by torture, rape or other critical life experiences,

  • A Local Health Office may have waiting lists for these services and may have to give priority on the basis of medical need.
  • If you are pregnant or have small children, you should contact the local public health nurse at your local health centre. The nurse will keep in touch with you during your pregnancy and after the birth of your child and will offer help and advice.
  • If your income is too high to allow you avail of a medical card, you are entitled to general hospital services. Other services, such as GP services, must be paid for. It is possible to take out medical insurance to cover you and your family's medical needs.

Social welfare entitlements

If you have refugee status or subsidiary protection you are entitled to apply for social welfare payments on the same basis as an Irish citizen. Each social welfare payment has rules and conditions attached. You will satisfy the habitual residence condition, but you will have to meet other conditions. There is a broad range of social welfare entitlements. Your local social welfare office or Intreo centre will help you to apply for the correct payment for your situation - see 'Where to apply' below.

If you have been granted permission to remain, you are entitled to apply for social welfare payments as above. However, if you are getting a social welfare payment this may affect the renewal of your permission to remain or an application for citizenship.

The following are some examples of social welfare payments:

While waiting for a decision on your application for a social welfare payment, you can apply for Supplementary Welfare Allowance. Apply to the Department of Social Protection's representative (formerly the Community Welfare Officer).

Page edited: 6 January 2017