Guidance

Healthcare for UK nationals living in Ireland

How to get state healthcare if you’re living, working or studying in Ireland.

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This information is about living in Ireland. There’s different guidance if you’re visiting Ireland.

If you’re a UK national living in Ireland, you’re entitled to state healthcare in Ireland on the same basis as an Irish citizen.

You can access state health services if you’re ‘ordinarily resident’ in Ireland. This means that you have lived or you intend to live in Ireland for at least a year.

You’ll need to pay a fee for some services. The amount you pay for healthcare depends on your circumstances.

Ways to get healthcare in Ireland

If you’re ordinarily resident in Ireland, you can access Irish healthcare system in one of two ways:

  • paying standard patient charges
  • with a medical card

Some people who pay charges may also be able to get a GP visit card which entitles them to free GP services.

If you’re temporarily living in Ireland but normally live in the UK, for example because you are studying or posted to work in Ireland, you may qualify for necessary healthcare paid for by the UK.

Medical card

You can get a range of health services and medicines for free if you have a medical card, including:

  • GP services

  • public hospital services

  • dental, optical and aural services

  • community care and personal social services

  • prescription drugs and medicines, subject to a small charge for each item

Medical cards are ‘means-tested’, which means they’re based on your income and personal circumstances.

Find out more about applying for a medical card

If you do not have a medical card

If you do not have a medical card, you’re entitled to the following:

  • public hospital services

  • maternity and infant care services

  • child health services

  • some other needs-based health services

You may have to pay inpatient and outpatient hospital charges.

GP services are not free in Ireland. You can apply for a GP visit card to access GP services for free.

You’ll qualify for a GP visit card if you’re:

  • over 70 years old

  • under 6 years old

  • earning below the qualifying income limit

Find out more about applying for a GP visit card.

Registering with a GP

If you have a medical card or GP visit card, you need to register with a GP who accepts these cards.

If you do not have either of these, you’ll have to register as a private patient. Private patients can register with any doctor, but you’ll be charged for GP services.

You can find local health services, including a GP, on the Health Service Executive (HSE) website. You can also contact them by phone.

HSE infoline\ Telephone:\ 1850 24 1850 (from Ireland)\ +353 41 684 0300 (from outside Ireland)\ Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm\ Saturday, 10am to 5pm

Frontier workers living in the UK or Ireland

If you live in the UK or Ireland but work in the other country and return to your country of residence at least once a week, you can access healthcare in both countries.

All frontier workers are entitled to healthcare in Ireland on the same basis as an Irish resident and can apply for a medical card if eligible.

UK-funded healthcare in Ireland

Some people can get their healthcare in Ireland paid for by the UK. This could be because you’re:

  • temporarily living in Ireland and normally live in the UK

  • receiving a UK State Pension or some other benefits

  • living in Ireland and working in the UK as a frontier worker

If your UK employer has sent you to Ireland temporarily (‘posted workers’)

posted worker is someone who is employed or self-employed in the UK but temporarily sent to another country to work.

As a posted worker, you’re entitled to necessary healthcare in Ireland paid for by the UK.

Not all state healthcare is free in Ireland and you may have to pay for services that you’d get for free on the NHS.

When you use a health service, show one of the following alongside photo ID:

  • UK-issued Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) or European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

  • UK driving licence

  • UK biometric residence permit

  • Northern Ireland voter’s card or medical card

  • 2 documents showing your UK address (for example a bank statement or utility bill), issued in the last 3 months

You may also be asked to provide documentation demonstrating the nature and length of your posting.

HMRC has a helpline for National Insurance enquiries from non-UK residents. They can answer questions about posted worker status and explain which documents you will need to get healthcare while posted.

If you’re studying in Ireland

If you’re a UK resident living and studying in Ireland, you’re entitled to ‘necessary healthcare’ paid for by the UK.

Not all state healthcare is free in Ireland and you may have to pay for services that you’d get for free on the NHS.

When you use a health service, show one of the following alongside photo ID:

  • UK-issued Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) or European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

  • UK driving licence

  • UK biometric residence permit

  • Northern Ireland voter’s card or medical card

  • 2 documents showing your UK address (for example a bank statement or utility bill), issued in the last 3 months

You may also need a letter from your educational institution confirming you’re enrolled in study.

If you were living in Ireland before 1 January 2021

If you’ve been living in Ireland since before 1 January 2021, you may be entitled to an Irish medical card funded by the UK if you’re an Irish resident and:

  • a frontier worker (someone who works in one state and lives in another) who began frontier work in the UK before 1 January 2021

  • receiving a UK State Pension

  • receiving another ‘exportable benefit’

Not all UK benefits that can be claimed while abroad entitle you to UK-funded healthcare in Ireland. Read more about claiming benefits if you move abroad.

If you are in scope, you will also be entitled to:

Planned treatment

UK and Irish residents can access pre-approved healthcare in the other country via the planned treatment route.

Moving back to the UK

If you return to the UK permanently you will be able to use the NHS like any other UK resident. Read more about using the NHS when you return to live in the UK.

Published 28 August 2019
Last updated 31 December 2020 + show all updates
  1. Page updated to reflect healthcare arrangements for UK nationals in Ireland under the new rules of the UK’s deal with the EU. New sections added: 'Ways to get healthcare in Ireland' and 'Frontier workers living in the UK or Ireland'.

  2. Details on the ways that you access healthcare have been updated. The guidance now only covers living, working and studying. Information on visiting has been moved to: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/uk-residents-visiting-the-eueea-and-switzerland-healthcare

  3. First published.