Both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are packed with places to visit, experiences to enjoy and stunning natural sights, making them a popular place for holidays and short breaks. Clearly, business trips to Ireland are also common on both sides of the border.
What is sometimes slightly blurred is the fact that the Republic of Ireland – also known as Eire – is not part of the UK. It is a separate country, with its own laws and health system, which is why you previously needed a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to access free medical help while visiting this large part of Ireland.
This situation has changed due to the UK leaving the EU. You now need to consider an Ireland GHIC application. It is the best way to make sure any health services required during your trip don’t come with a hefty price tag!
This guide will explain what an Ireland UK Global Health Insurance Card is, how to apply for one and how to use it if you face an injury or illness on holiday or working in Eire.
Differences between an EHIC and an Ireland GHIC
When the UK was part of the European Union, business and leisure travellers could apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). It was part of a cross-Europe reciprocal agreement to provide state-funded health services.
Post-Brexit, that has been replaced by a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). This too is based on a reciprocal agreement. So, your Ireland UK GHIC Card and Italy GHIC Card entitles you to free medical assistance in that country.
The scheme is new and may eventually encompass commonwealth nations, but for now, your Ireland GHIC can be used in that country and the 26 other members of the EU only.
Please note, if you still have a valid EHIC card, you can continue to use that. However, if that expires or this is a new application, you need to register for a GHIC.
Is it worth bothering with an Ireland UK GHIC Card?
We will show you how to make an Ireland GHIC or Latvia GHIC card application later. First, it’s important to be aware of the reasons why you need an Ireland GHIC Card, even if your visit there is short.
Dublin is one of the most popular short break destinations from the UK, due to how close it is and the fact it is such a lively, historic capital. People return to Dublin regularly to sample more of its famous warmth, whiskey, Guinness, and good food!
Though of course, laid-back Galway and the culturally splendid Cork are big magnets for tourists too.
City breaks in Ireland are always memorable, and often inexpensive. However, with an Ireland GHIC Card, any mishaps or illnesses on your city break won’t result in big bills and bad memories!
The same applies if you are exploring Ireland’s glorious coast and countryside. The Emerald Isle offers an awe-inspiring landscape, as well as historic castles, majestic lakes and timeless Gaelic villages. Some visitors go hunting for locations where the TV series Game of Thrones was filmed!
A road trip in Ireland, or hiking, cycling or boating adventures in Eire, all carry their own risks. Ones that can mean you will be very relieved that you applied for an Ireland UK Global Health Insurance Card!
How to use an Ireland Health Insurance Card
When on a leisure or business trip to the Republic of Ireland, if you face an illness or injury that requires medical attention, how do you use your Ireland Health Insurance Card?
It is important to note that you can’t get free treatment if you go to a private doctor or hospital. However, you will receive free health services from doctors covered by Ireland’s Health Service Executive’s (HSE) primary care scheme. (The country’s public health system).
The same applies to hospital treatment. If you show your Ireland GHIC card, your treatment is free at facilities contracted to the HSE. Emergency ambulance transport should also be covered, though you may have to pay a fee for prescriptions to be filled in Ireland.
The sort of health services covered by your Ireland GHIC are those that are urgent or unavoidable. That includes such treatments as dialysis that must be arranged in advance to manage an existing health condition.
However, you can’t use your Ireland GHIC to offset costs for elective healthcare. In other words, when you choose to go to the country for an operation or procedure or to give birth.
How to make an Ireland GHIC Application
The way to apply for a GHIC like Lithuania GHIC card (including one to use in Ireland) is to either go directly through the NHS process or to use a specialist service that saves time and hassle.
Eligibility for an Ireland GHIC Card is relatively straightforward. You will be asked to prove your identity, address and UK citizenship.
Ireland GHIC Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need an Ireland GHIC to visit Northern Ireland?
If your trip is to Belfast or any other part of Northern Ireland, you don’t need this card. That is because Northern Ireland is covered by the UK National Health Service (NHS).
However, it is still worth applying for an Ireland GHIC card. This gives you peace of mind and assistance should you cross the border to visit any part of the Republic of Ireland.
Can anyone have an Ireland UK Global Health Insurance Card, including kids?
As long as you are able to prove you are a resident and citizen of the UK, you are entitled to apply for an Ireland GHIC. You can apply on behalf of yourself, but also your family members. This is because anyone in your travel party – including under 16-year-olds – needs a separate Ireland GHIC card.
Can I use my Ireland UK GHIC Card in all other countries?
One of the best things about applying for an Ireland UK Global Health Insurance Card is that you can use it for other trips in the future. This includes return visits to Ireland (the expiry date of GHICs has not yet been published but is likely to be five years). You can also use this card in all other countries within the European Union, and potentially in other nations that reach a reciprocal agreement with the NHS.