Medical Card

Medical Card

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If you’re a resident in Ireland looking for access to essential health services without financial stress, the Irish Medical Card could be your answer. This guide provides a concise overview of what the card is, who’s eligible, and how to apply.


The Irish Medical Card, issued by the Health Service Executive (HSE), grants you access to crucial health services at no cost. It typically covers your spouse or partner and dependent children. To qualify, you must be “ordinarily resident” in Ireland, planning to stay for at least a year, and meet specific income criteria, considering factors like income, savings, investments, and property (excluding your primary residence).

Special Considerations for Ukrainian Nationals

Ukrainian nationals arriving in Ireland under the Temporary Protection Directive might qualify for immediate medical card issuance, with specific application forms available.

Covered Health Services

Medical cardholders enjoy free access to:

  • GP (family doctor) services, including out-of-hours appointments.
  • Prescribed drugs and medicines (some nominal charges apply).
  • In-patient public hospital services, out-patient services, and medical appliances.
  • Dental, optical, and aural services.
  • Maternity and infant care services.
  • Personal and social care services, including public health nursing and social work.
  • Short-term counseling for mild to moderate psychological issues through the Counselling in Primary Care Service.

Medical cardholders also benefit from reduced Universal Social Charges, potential exemptions from school transport charges and State exam fees, and financial assistance for purchasing school books in specific cases.


Means Test

Your eligibility is determined by a means test based on your total income. Different rules apply depending on your age:

  • Means test rules for people under 70 years of age
  • Means test rules for people over 70 years of age

In some cases, those exceeding income limits may still qualify if not having a card would cause financial hardship.

People Aged 16–25, Including Students

  • Aged 16–25 and financially dependent on a parent or guardian with a medical card? You’re eligible.
  • Live with a parent or guardian, and your income exceeds the limit? Standard means test applies.
  • Financially independent or not living with a parent or guardian? The standard means test is used.

Domiciliary Care Allowance

Children receiving Domiciliary Care Allowance are eligible for a medical card without a means test.

Other Qualifications Without a Means Test

  • EU entitlements.
  • Children under 18 years diagnosed with cancer in the last 5 years.
  • People affected by Thalidomide.
  • Women who’ve had a symphysiotomy.
  • Residents of direct provision accommodation.
  • Children in foster care.
  • Women who were residents in specific institutions.

After Your Card is Issued

Inform the HSE if your circumstances change, as this may affect your eligibility. Cards are subject to periodic review; failing to provide requested information may result in non-renewal.


HSE periodically requests confirmation of circumstances via an online review form, also available in paper form.

Returning to Work

Social welfare recipients returning to work may keep their card for up to three years. Dependent family members may also retain their cards.

People Taking Part in Government Schemes

Certain government schemes allow participants to maintain their medical cards while on the program.

If You Move

You can temporarily use your medical card in a different area for up to three months. For extended moves, contact your new Local Health Office.

How to Apply for a Medical Card

Follow these steps:

  1. Gather Information: Collect Personal Public Service (PPS) numbers for yourself and dependents. Choose a participating GP.
  2. Apply Online: Visit for the quickest application process.
  3. Apply by Post or Email:

Applying Aged 16–25

If you’re aged 16–25 and financially dependent on your parents or guardians, submit your own application separately. Your parents or guardians must apply as well, sending both applications together.

Selecting a Doctor

Choose a GP from the HSE’s list of doctors accepting medical card patients. If you apply online, the HSE will contact the chosen GP for you. If using a printed application form, contact the GP directly. If your preferred GP can’t accept you, try another participating GP in your area.

Adding an Infant

Medical cardholders can apply for their infant if they receive Child Benefit. Include your details, a photocopy of the child’s birth certificate and PPS Number, and send to your Local Health Office.

Children with Domiciliary Care Allowance

If your child doesn’t have a medical card or GP visit card, register them online or download a registration form. Existing cardholders don’t need to re-register.

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