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Your health needs are important to consider when contemplating or planning to return to Ireland. This page offers an overview of the Irish health system and available supports to help you make an informed decision.

Before You Return

Before returning, make sure you have access to any medical records and prescriptions from abroad—having a record of your medical history can help physicians in Ireland meet your healthcare needs. Ask your doctor(s) (including any specialists or consultants) abroad for a copy of your file to be sent to you or your provider in Ireland.

Irish Health System

Both private and public health services are available in Ireland.

You can access public health services once you are ‘ordinarily resident’ in Ireland, meaning you have been living in Ireland for at least one year or if you intend to live in Ireland for at least one year. Visit the Health page on the Citizens Information website for more information on healthcare services in Ireland.

You may wish to take out private health insurance on your return to Ireland. For more on health insurance and to compare plans, visit the Health Insurance Authority of Ireland website.

Health Benefits and Supports

Depending on your income and age, you may be eligible a medical card or GP visit card.

  • Medical cards allow you to access a variety of health services free of charge. To qualify for a medical card, you must pass a means test in most cases. You may also be eligible for a Medical Card if you receive other benefits, have a disability, or collect a pension from another country in the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), Switzerland, or the United Kingdom.
  • GP visit cards allow you to see a doctor in Ireland free of charge. Anyone can apply for a GP visit card subject to a means assessment, however they are available to children under eight and people age 70 and over regardless of income.

If you require regular prescription medications, you can apply for the Drugs Payment Scheme to help with the cost of these. People with certain medical conditions can also avail of the Long-Term Illness Scheme and get some medications and medical appliances for free.

For more on these and other health supports available in Ireland, visit the Citizens Information website.

Registering with a Doctor / GP (General Practitioner)

Start looking for a GP before you return to Ireland if you do not already have one. A GP (General Practitioner, also known as a family doctor, or primary care doctor) is usually your go-to medical professional for non-emergency illnesses and health issues. A GP can refer you to specialist services and treatments as needed. You can find local GPs using the HSE’s Health Atlas. The Irish College of General Practitioners also has a directory of GPs on their website which may be useful in your search and includes practitioners in the counties in Northern Ireland.

Please note that some GP practices are full and may not be accepting new patients and/or have waiting lists, so it is best to start your search as soon as possible. We also recommend familiarising yourself with locations of local hospitals or out-of-hours GPs in case you need medical care urgently and/or outside of clinic hours.

Page last updated on 5 April, 2024

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