Am I eligible?

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Anyone over the age of 16 years who is ordinarily resident in the State can apply for a Medical Card. If you are financially dependent on your parents or guardians, your parents or guardians need to apply for a medical card.

Medical card eligibility is based on an assessment of means. To qualify your weekly income must be below the income threshold. Any income, savings, investments and property (except for your own home) are taken into account in the means test. It is important that you give as much information as possible with your application; including dependents, mortgage payments, medical expenses etc.

You can apply online or by using the manual application form MC1.

Click here to read about our new online application system.

What if my income is higher than the income threshold?

Where an individual or household is over the income threshold, the HSE can apply discretion where undue hardship would arise from the costs of the household’s particular medical or social circumstances.

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

1. To Qualify for a Medical Card by Means Testing If your only income is a means tested Social Welfare Allowance, you will qualify for a Medical Card. You will also be eligible for a Medical Card if your income and your spouse/partner's income is below our income guidelines. Your income includes any income, property (but not your own home), investments and savings.

When we make an assessment for a Medical Card, we only assess you and your spouse's or partner's income after Tax and PRSI are deducted. We also make allowances for rent and mortgage payments, for childcare expenses, and travel to work expenses. Income or possible income from property is taken into account less any necessary associated costs.

You can read the current HSE Medical Card and GP Visit Card Guidelines here.

2. To Qualify for a Medical Card on the Grounds of Hardship


If your income is above the HSE income guidelines for your circumstances, you may still be entitled to a Medical Card on the grounds that paying for your medical costs causes you undue financial hardship. Such 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.

If the cost of this would cause you undue financial hardship, then you may get a card on these grounds. 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 on the grounds of undue financial hardship.


3. To Qualify for a Medical Card by Automatic Entitlement

Certain people who are ordinarily resident in Ireland may automatically qualify for a Medical Card. You may automatically qualify for a Medical Card if you are among the following groups:

  • You have EU entitlement under EU Regulations 883/04 (further details are provided below)
  • You may be entitled to retain Medical Card eligibility if you are participating in certain government schemes
  • A person affected by the drug Thalidomide
  • A person who has had a surgical Symphysiotomy.

This means that you will not be subject to financial assessment but will still need to complete an application form.

EU Eligibility

Where a person is EU-insured with a different country, and resident in Ireland, they can apply for a Medical Card. An application form must be completed, and returned with the appropriate E or S form from the competent institution of the state in which they are insured, or submit proof of their current state pension payment from the Department of Work and Pensions, UK.

They may be entitled to a Medical Card provided they are not subject to Irish social welfare security leglislation. A person is considered subject to Irish social security leglislation if s/he is in receipt of a contributory Irish social welfare payment or engaged in work in Ireland and subject to PRSI. The submission of the Medical Card application assists the National Medical Card Unit confirm eligibility under these regulations.

A person with Medical Card retention entitlement participating in certain government schemes.

In order to assess your eligibility under this provision, a Medical Card application needs to be completed and submitted.

Please ensure a letter from the scheme provider, detailing start and end dates of your scheme is submitted with your application.


Children diagnosed with cancer

The HSE now provided Medical Card eligibility to children, under 18 years of age who have received a diagnosis of cancer.

The parent or guardian whose child has had a diagnosis of cancer within the past 5 years can apply for a Medical Card by completing a MC1B application form (their GP must also stamp this form to confirm acceptance of the child onto their panel).

The income details of the child's parent or guardian do not need to be provided with this form but a medical report from the child's GP or medical consultant need to be provided with the application. The medical report should be dated within the last 6 months and detail both the cancer diagnosis and the date of the diagnosis.

Parent' or guardians can seek further assistance in completing the form by phoning callsave 1890 252 919 or by visiting their local Community Health Office.

The completed form can be emailed to or sent by post to:

The National Medical Card Unit, PO Box 12629, Dublin 11.