Free travel in Ireland

What is the Free Travel Scheme?

The Free Travel Scheme allows you to travel, free of charge, on public transport and some private bus and ferry services.

Everyone aged 66 and over, living permanently in Ireland, can get the Free Travel Scheme.

People with disabilities and carers aged under 66 may also qualify for Free Travel.

If you qualify for Free Travel and you are married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting, your partner may travel with you for free. If you can’t travel alone for medical reasons, you may get Free Travel for a companion. This allows a person aged over 16 to travel with you for free.

If you qualify for Free Travel, your Public Services Card (PSC) will have FT (for Free Travel) in the top left-hand corner. The letter following it shows who you can take with you:

  • FT-P - you can travel for free
  • FT+S - your spouse, partner or cohabitant can travel with you for free
  • FT+C - you can have a person (over 16) travel with you for free
You must carry it with you when you are using public transport.

Paper free travel passes are no longer being issued but you can still use your paper pass, if it is valid.

Where can I use Free Travel?

You can use your Free Travel on most Iarnród Éireann, Bus Éireann, Dublin Bus, DART and Luas Services and on certain private bus and ferry services (pdf).

Free travel is also available on Dublin Bus Nitelink, Go-Ahead Ireland and TFI (Transport for Ireland) Local Link services.

Free travel does not include some special services such as Dublin Bus AIRLINK services.

There are no restrictions on the times you can use your Free Travel.

You must show or scan your Public Services Card to the travel operator when you are travelling on public transport. Find out more about 'How to use your public services card for free travel'.

Living on the Aran Islands

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.

Going to Northern Ireland

You may also travel free of charge on certain cross-border services between Ireland and Northern Ireland. But to travel free in Northern Ireland, you must have a Senior Smart Pass – see ‘Travel in Northern Ireland’ below.

How to qualify for Free Travel

To get Free Travel you must be living in Ireland and meet one of the following conditions:

  • You are aged 66 or over
  • You are getting Disability Allowance, Blind Pension, Carer's Allowance or an Invalidity Pension
  • You are blind or visually impaired and meet the medical conditions for Blind Pension
  • You have been getting Incapacity Supplement or Workmen's Compensation with Disablement Pension for at least 12 months
  • You are a specified carer for a person getting Constant Attendance Allowance or Prescribed Relative's Allowance
  • 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

Widow or widower or a surviving civil partner

If you are a widow or widower or a surviving civil partner aged 60 or over, living in Ireland and your late spouse or civil partner had Free Travel, you can get Free Travel, if you are 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
  • A similar social security pension/benefit from an EU member state or a country with which Ireland has a bilateral social security agreement,
  • You are getting an ordinary Garda widow's pension.

Spouses, civil partners and cohabitants

If you are entitled to Free Travel and you are married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting, your partner travel with you for free.

Your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant cannot travel with you for free, if you are under age 66 and getting Free Travel because you are:

  • Getting Carer's Allowance
  • The nominated carer for a person getting Constant Attendance Allowance or Prescribed Relatives Allowance

Your PSC card must have FT-S on it to allow your partner travel with you. To add your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant to your Free Travel - see ‘How to apply for Free Travel’ below.

If you can’t travel alone

If you are unable to travel alone, you can have a person, over 16 years of age, travel with you for free. Your PSC card must have FT-C on it. To add a companion to your Free Travel - see ‘How to apply for Free Travel’ below.

Work and Free Travel

You can keep your Free Travel for 5 years, if you moved from one of the following disability payments to work:

  • Disability Allowance
  • Invalidity Pension
  • Partial Capacity Benefit (from Invalidity Pension)
  • Disablement Benefit paid along with Incapacity Supplement

You can also keep your Free Travel for 5 years if you transferred from Disability Allowance or Invalidity Pension to a Community Employment, SOLAS or a Back to Work scheme.

How to apply for Free Travel

If you are aged 66 or over and are getting a social welfare pension, your PSC will be issued showing that you have Free Travel automatically. You must have completed the PSC SAFE registration process and be getting one of the following payments:

  • State Pension
  • Invalidity Pension
  • Blind Pension
  • Disability Allowance
  • Carer’s Allowance

If you are married or in a civil partnership, your PSC will be issued with FT-S on it. If you are cohabiting, you must fill in Part 1 and 2 of the Free Travel application form FT1 (pdf).

If you are not getting one of the payments above, but you are eligible for Free Travel you must fill in the Free Travel application form FT1(pdf).

If you can’t travel alone

If you are unable to travel alone, you apply for a Free Travel for a Companion, using either an Over 70 Companion pass form (pdf) or an Under 70 Companion pass form (pdf).

You can get an application form for Free Travel from the Department of Social Protection. The form is also available at your local post office and Citizens Information Centre.

Lost or damaged Free Travel pass or PSC

There are currently 2 types of Free Travel Pass - a paper Free Travel Pass and a Public Services Card with 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 0818 837 000 to request a replacement card.

Where to apply for Free Travel

Free Travel Section

Social Welfare Services
College Road
Sligo
Ireland

Tel: (071) 915 7100 or 0818 200 400

Senior SmartPass for travelling in Northern Ireland

If you are 66 or over and have Free Travel you can travel free of charge on all bus and rail services within Northern Ireland using a Senior Smartpass card.

A spouse, civil partner, cohabitant or companion cannot travel with you for free on public transport within Northern Ireland. However, your Irish Free Travel allows your spouse, civil partner, cohabitant or companion to travel for free on certain cross-border services between Ireland and Northern Ireland. For example a cross-border train journey that starts in Ireland and ends in Northern Ireland or vice versa.

How to apply for a Senior SmartPass

To get a Senior SmartPass you must fill in an application form (FTNI1). You can get this form from your local Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office. It is not possible to get this form online.

Application forms for Senior SmartPass cards are also available at your local Citizens Information Centre.

You should not use a photocopy of the form as each form is barcoded. 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 Irish Free Travel pass/Public Services Card and
  • Proof of your address, (for example, a gas, electricity, phone bill or bank statement) and
  • Proof 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 6 weeks to process your application. There is further information on the extension of the Free Travel Scheme.

Renewing and replacing 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 in. (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 by email at smartpass@translink.co.uk or telephone 00 44 289 075 9129 and they will send you a renewal application.

If you lose or need to replace your Senior SmartPass for travel in Northern Ireland, you can fill in form (FTNI 2) (pdf).

Brexit and the Senior SmartPass

On 31 January 2020 the UK exited the EU. Senior SmartPass holders can continue to travel in Northern Ireland on the bus and train.


Page edited: 4 August 2022