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Health Services in Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland healthcare is provided through the National Health Service (NHS) and most NHS care is free. While a private health care sector exists, the public health service is used by the vast majority of people.


How do I register for health services?

When you arrive in Northern Ireland you must register with a General Practitioner (GP) at your local health centre to use the health service (except emergency services).


Medical card

When you register with a GP practice you will have to fill in a form – HS22X. You will receive a medical card and you can use this card to register with a dentist or with a different GP if you move to another area. Frontier workers resident in Ireland and employed in Northern Ireland are entitled to a medical card and to avail of the National Health Service (NHS).


What types of treatment are you entitled to?

GP Services

You are entitled to free GP services;

  • If you are living in Northern Ireland
  • If you are living in Ireland and working in Northern Ireland
  • If you are living in Ireland and become ill on a temporary visit to Northern Ireland

Irish citizens do not need any specific documents but other EU/EEA nationals who are looking for work should have Form E301 with them. Other EU/EEA nationals who are visiting the North should have their European Health Insurance Card (Form E101)


Emergency and immediately necessary treatment

Emergency and immediately necessary treatment is provided free of cost to everybody regardless of nationality.


Routine treatments (non-emergency services)

Routine treatments are provided free of cost to persons who live in Northern Ireland. The technical term for living in Northern Ireland is being ‘ordinarily resident’ and includes migrant workers and refugees


Maternity Services

You may get free maternity services from your GP, a midwife in a hospital or local health clinic and an obstetrician in a hospital if necessary. Maternity services are available to frontier workers resident in Ireland and employed in Northern Ireland.


Hospital Services

Hospital in-patient and out-patient services are free of charge. Generally, you must be referred by a GP. In emergencies you may go to the Accident and Emergency Department. Some hospitals have minor injury units which you may attend without a GP referral.


Community Care Services

Community care services for people who need them are provided by the various trusts. There is a range of services available including health visitors, district nursing, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, domiciliary care and domiciliary meals.


What services do I pay for?

Although health care is provided free of charge, there are some services that usually need to be paid for. These include Dental Services and Ophthalmic Services.


However you do not need to pay for these services if you:

  • Are aged under 16 or aged 16-18 in full time education
  • Are aged 60 or over
  • Are pregnant or have had a baby in the last 12 months (you should get an exemption certificate from the CSA Central Services Agency)
  • Have a listed medical condition (see leaflet HC11, available from main post offices, social security (jobs & benefits) offices and hospitals, for the current list – you should get an exemption certificate from the CSA if you have one of these conditions)
  • You or your partner are getting Income Support, Income based Job Seeker’s Allowance or are named on a tax credit exemption certificate or hold a HS Low Income Scheme Full Help Certificate (HC2).


If you are unsure about your entitlements seek advice from your local Social Security or Jobs & Benefits office.



Northern Ireland residents working in Ireland:

  • Are entitled to NHS health care, as they are legally resident in Northern Ireland

Ireland residents working in Northern Ireland:

  • Are entitled to a NHS medical card, however, their spouse and children are not eligible
  • Are eligible for free GP services
  • Are eligible to register with a NHS dentist
  • Are eligible for maternity services from a GP, a midwife and an obstetrician in a hospital if necessary

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