Obtaining a medical card in Ireland: a rundown

Are you interested in getting a medical card in Ireland? These cards can help reduce the cost of your healthcare services while you are living in Ireland. Want to know more about medical cards or see if you qualify? Read below for more information!

Medical cards are issued by the Health Services Executive (HSE) and allow you to access a variety of medical services free of charge or at a reduced cost. Whether you qualify for one depends on your status as a resident as well as your income. Status as a resident can be proven through your permit/visa, proof of renting/owning property, and records from your Irish bank account. 

Means Test

As far as income status goes, there are a number of criteria that must be assessed in the ‘Means Test’ including: 

  1. Total income
  2. Savings
  3. Properties and investments
  4. Childcare costs
  5. Rent/mortgage repayments

These will determine whether you, your partner, or children qualify for a medical card entitling you and your family to free or reduced cost health care. Bear in mind, child benefits and carers allowance do not affect consideration for a medical card. Regardless of income, however, the deciding officer will make a decision on giving you a medical card if they decide that not doing so would cause you and your family undue hardship.

Age as a component of the Means Test

Age is a determining factor in your means test, with differing regulations for people above the age of 70 and below the age of 70. Additionally, if you are aged 16-25 and are dependent upon a parent or guardian, you are eligible for a medical card if your parent has a medical card. This doesn’t apply however if they have a discretionary medical card and their income is above the means test. If your income is over the limit for a single person living with family, you will be deemed financially independent and the usual means test applies. Likewise, if you are not living with/dependent upon a parent or guardian, you are also assessed as an independent person regardless of income and your application will also be assessed via the standard means test for people under 70. 

If it is determined that your income is above the cut off point for a medical card in relation to your age and dependency status, you may be considered for a GP Visit Card which gives you access to the Drugs Payment Scheme

Qualifying for a medical card without a Means Test

There are some who may qualify for a medical card without a means test. These include:

  • Those with EU entitlement
  • Persons under 18 years of age who have been diagnosed with cancer in the past five years
  • People affected by Thalidomide
  • Women who have/have had a symphysiotomy
  • People who live in direct provision accommodation
  • Children in foster care
  • Children protected under Domiciliary Care Allowance
  • Women who were residents in certain State institutions 


How to apply for a medical card

The quickest way to apply for a medical card is to apply online. You can do this here. You will need to provide your PPS number, your date of birth, and your income and expense details. If you would like to apply by post, you may download the application form here and post it to the NAtional Medical Card Unit, PO Box 11745, Dublin 11, D11 XKF3. If you have any questions regarding the application form, HSE requests that you contact them before submitting the form. You can call them at 1890-252-919. 

HSE Reviews 

The HSE asks that you keep your circumstances up to date by periodically completing an online review form. If you do not supply this information, your application cannot be re-assessed and your card may not be re-issued. If you complete the review form by the HSE specified date but the review process extends beyond your card’s expiry date, your card’s validity may be extended so that you may continue to use it. This extension is on a monthly basis, therefore it is advised that you contact the Client Registration Unit to confirm that your card has been extended and you may continue to use it. 

You can use your medical card in Ireland for up to 3 months if you’re living in a different area. This allows you to visit any GP in the area who is participating in the medical card scheme. If you are going to be away from your stated residential area for longer than 3 months, you do not have to re-apply for a new medical card. Instead you should contact your new Local Health Office where you can find GP’s practicing within the medical card scheme in your new area. 

Adding your newborn to your medical card

If you hold a medical card in Ireland and you have a baby, you can apply for a card for your newborn if you are receiving Child Benefits. To apply, send a cover letter with your name, address, phone number, PPS number, your medical card information, and a photocopy of your baby’s birth certificate and PPS number.


If your application for a medical card has been denied, you may have the chance to appeal this decision. This may be because your circumstances have changed or you have left out relevant information from your original application. If you disagree with the outcome of your medical card application, you may make an appeal to the Appeals Office for your HSE area, contact details of which will be contained in your refusal letter. The Appeals Office will then reassess your application by HSE officers who were not involved in your initial application process. 


If you have any other questions concerning a medical card in Ireland, contact HSE. They will guide you through rules and regulations, filling out the application, what is covered by your medical card, and more. Have you applied or received a medical card in Ireland? Comment your experience and advice below!

Featured image: Hush Naidoo via Unsplash

Emma Grove
Emma Grove

Emma is a Californian-native, a food lover, and a Journalist for Babylon Radio. With a MA(Hons) from the University of Glasgow, Emma is interested in everything musical and cultural going on in Ireland!

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