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 guidance will be updated if anything changes to how you get state healthcare 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 living in Ireland or move there permanently before the end of 2020, your rights to access healthcare in Ireland will stay the same for as long as you remain legally resident.

This guidance explains what you need to do in Ireland depending on your circumstances.

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

You may still need to pay a fee for some services. For example, there are charges for overnight hospital stays or A&E visits.

At the moment, UK nationals can access the healthcare system in one of these ways:

  • with a medical card
  • with a GP visit card
  • buying private health insurance

You may qualify for an Irish medical card because you live in Ireland and get funding from the UK, for example if you’re a UK State Pensioner, or because of how much you earn.

Healthcare if you live and work in Ireland

You can get some state health services for free 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. The amount you pay depends on how much you earn. You can apply for either:

  • a medical card (known as Category 1)
  • a GP visit card (known as Category 2)

If you are not eligible for either of these, you’ll need to register as a private patient. This means you’ll pay the full cost of treatment.

You may need to get a Public Personal Service (PPS) number before you can apply.

If you’re living in Ireland or move there permanently before the end of 2020, your rights to access healthcare in Ireland will stay the same for as long as you remain legally resident.

This means you’ll continue to get state healthcare in Ireland from 1 January 2021 on the same basis as an Irish resident. You may also be entitled to free state healthcare in Ireland if you start drawing a UK State Pension.

Medical card

You can get some health services for free with a medical card. This is ‘means-tested’, which means it’s based on your income.

You’ll also have to show evidence that you’re entitled to healthcare in Ireland. For example, proof that you own or rent a property.

With a medical card you’ll get the following services for free:

  • GP services
  • state hospital services
  • dental, optical and aural services
  • maternity and infant care services
  • community care and personal social services, such as public health nursing, home help and physiotherapy

Apply for a medical card.

If you do not have a medical card

You can apply for a GP visit card which will give you access to GP services for free. It does not cover other costs, such as overnight hospital stays or prescriptions.

You can apply for a GP visit card if you:

  • are ordinarily resident in Ireland
  • cannot get a medical card

Apply 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 doctor 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. A GP visit can cost 50 euros.

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

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

A posted worker is someone who is employed or self-employed in the UK but temporarily sent to another European Economic Area (EEA) country.

As a posted worker, you may be able to get healthcare paid for by the UK.

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.

There will be no changes to healthcare access for posted workers in Ireland before the end of 2020.

UK-funded healthcare in Ireland

There’s different guidance if you’re a posted worker.

You may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK if you live in Ireland and receive either:

  • a UK State Pension
  • some other ‘exportable benefits’

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

You should apply for a medical card and provide proof that you’re eligible for UK-funded healthcare. This can be:

  • evidence of your UK state benefit, for example your State Pension
  • your driving licence
  • your proof of residence
  • your NHS Number

UK-funded healthcare from 1 January 2021

If you’re living in Ireland or move there before the end of 2020, your rights to access healthcare from 1 January 2021 will stay the same if you’re either:

  • receiving a UK State Pension
  • receiving another ‘exportable benefit’
  • a frontier worker (someone who works in one state and lives in another)

This means that you’ll get:

  • continued access to free UK-funded healthcare in Ireland
  • a UK-issued European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for travel
  • planned treatments in other EU countries via the S2 route
  • access to the NHS in England, Scotland and Wales when you’re visiting the UK

Studying in Ireland

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

When you register with a doctor or use a health service, show your:

  • driving licence
  • proof of residence
  • NHS Number
  • UK-issued EHIC

If you started studying in Ireland before the end of 2020, you’ll be entitled to healthcare on the same basis as an Irish citizen for the rest of your course.

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 January 2020 + show all updates
  1. 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

  2. First published.