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Medical Cards

A medical card issued by the Health Service Executive allows the holder to receive certain health services free of charge. Medical cards are small plastic cards (similar in size to a credit card, which shows the relevant patients and doctor's names and the patients medical card number.

Anyone over the age of 16 years who is ordinarily resident in the State is entitled to apply for a Medical Card. Ordinarily resident means that the applicant must have been living in Ireland, or intending to live in Ireland, for a minimum of one year.

Applicants can qualify for a Medical Card under the following three main categories:

People with European Union entitlementor people who are entitled under government employment & education schemes (e.g. Back to Work Allowance, Community Employment Schemes, Back to Education Allowance, etc.)

  • Means Test: Single People or Families who have an income that is within certain financial guidelines. Click here for more information on these guidelines.
  • Undue Hardship: People whose income is over the financial guidelines, but the HSE decides that the financial burden of medical or other exceptional circumstances would cause undue hardship. an example would be if you had an ongoing medical condition that required exceptional and regular medical treatment, or visits to the doctor or hospital. The HSE always considers other exceptional circumstances where a person or family has personal or social issues causing undue financial hardship. The card may be granted for the whole family, or for individual members of a family.
  • Automatic: People who are automatically entitled to a Medical Card are:

It is now possible apply for a medical card online at or alternately contact your local health office for a paper copy of the application form. Cards are usually issued for a year, after which time eligibility is reviewed and the card may be either extended or withdrawn if your circumstances have changed.

You can check the validity of a medical card by using the HSE client identifier checker.

Medical card holders are exempt from paying the Health Levy and from the Income Levy which was introduced in 2009. They may also be exempt from paying school transport charges, State exam fees in publicly-funded second-level schools. There may also be financial help with buying school books in certain schools.
For more information on these benefits visit Citizens Information.

GMS Medical Card holders are entitled to the following:

  • Doctor Visits - a range of General Practitioner services from the patients chosen doctor contracted to the HSE in your local area
  • Prescription Medicines: The supply of prescribed approved medicines, aids and appliances like wheelchairs, crutches etc. (A 50 cent fee per item applies, to a maximum of 10 per family per month, with some exceptions). In some circumstances a deposit may be required for aids and appliances which will be refunded on return of the aid or appliance.
  • Dental, Ophthalmic, and Aural health services
  • Hospital Care - all in-patient services in public wards in public hospitals, including public consultant services
  • Hospital Visits - All out-patient services in public hospitals, including public consultant services
  • Maternity Cash Grant on the birth of each child
  • Medical & Midwifery Care for Mothers, including health care related to pregnancy and the care of the child for six weeks after birth

Some personal and social care services, for example, public health nursing, social work services and other community care services, based on need.

If you belong to one of the following groups, you will get a Medical Card under EU Regulations:

  • You are living in Ireland and receiving a social security payment from another European Union /European Economic Area (EU/EEA) country or Switzerland and you are not getting an Irish social welfare payment (apart from Child Benefit or Early Childcare Supplement). You must not be liable to contribute to the Irish Social Welfare System (i.e. PRSI).
  • You are living in Ireland and working in another EU/EEA country or Switzerland and are liable to pay Social Insurance Contributions in that country.
  • You are living in Ireland and you are the dependent spouse or child of someone employed in another EU/EEA country and Switzerland. You must not be getting an Irish Social Welfare Payment apart from Child Benefit or Early Childcare Supplement and you must not be liable to contribute to the Irish social welfare system.

The following countries are currently members of the EU:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom (including Gibraltar).

Countries in the EEA are Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.