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Travelling for Healthcare - EU Schemes

If you are ordinarily resident in Ireland, you have the option to receive medical care in other EU member states, Switzerland, or the European Economic Area, which includes Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway.


Under the Cross-Border Healthcare Directive or the Treatment Abroad Scheme, you can receive planned healthcare abroad. Typically, the Treatment Abroad Scheme covers treatments not available in Ireland, while the Cross-Border Healthcare Directive covers only treatments available in Ireland. As everyone’s situation and treatment plan is different, it is important to check your eligibility and make your application under the correct scheme. We recommend that you get in touch with the HSE Offices administering each scheme for guidance on which one may apply to you. 


EU Cross-Border Directive

If you are entitled to health services that are publicly funded and available in Ireland, you may opt to access those services in another member state of the EU or EEA under the Cross-Border Healthcare Directive.

  • The treatment abroad can be in public or private healthcare.
  • Some types of treatment need to be authorised in advance.
  • You pay for the healthcare and then apply for a refund.
  • You need the same kind of referral for healthcare abroad as you would for healthcare in Ireland. For example, from a GP (family doctor) or hospital consultant.
  • Travel costs and living expenses abroad are not covered.


Treatment Abroad Scheme

If you are a public healthcare patient and require treatment that is not available in Ireland or is not available within the usual time needed to get it, taking account of your medical circumstances, you may be able to use the Treatment Abroad Scheme to get the treatment in another country in the EU, EEA or Switzerland.

  • The treatment abroad must be in public healthcare.
  • Treatment must be pre-authorised.
  • You do not have to pay the healthcare provider abroad for pre-authorised treatment.
  • You must be referred for treatment abroad by an Irish-based consultant who is treating you as a public patient. You cannot refer yourself or be referred by a GP.
  • The Treatment Abroad Scheme may provide assistance with travel costs for the patient and a travelling companion where appropriate



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