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Cross Border Directive - get healthcare abroad

You can choose to get healthcare in other EU and EEA member states under the Cross Border Directive (CBD) if you’re ‘ordinarily resident’ in Ireland and not receiving a state benefit from another EU and EEA member state.

Ordinarily resident means that you've been living in Ireland for at least 1 year or can prove your intention to remain in Ireland for at least 1 year.

It's free to apply to access the CBD scheme but you must pay for any CBD treatment you get.

You then apply to us (the HSE) to claim the cost of the treatment after your return to Ireland.

If your application is successful, you will be reimbursed the cost of your treatment abroad or the cost the treatment would have cost in Ireland, whichever is the lesser.

Read about how to apply for the cost of your CBD treatment

How to qualify for the Cross Border Directive

CBD treatment is only available to Irish residents who qualify for public health care. You can’t get CBD treatment if you’re a private patient in Ireland.

Having private health insurance does not exclude you from CBD. But you cannot use your private health insurance to access your referral for healthcare abroad.

Only a GP or a consultant you are attending in a public capacity can refer you for CBD treatment.

You must travel abroad. You can not use telemedicine, for example an outpatient consultation abroad by Skype or video, at any time during the CBD process.

If you are unsure if you qualify for the Cross Border Directive, you can contact the Cross Border Directive office.

Types of healthcare

You can get healthcare in the EU or EEA if you qualify for that healthcare as a public patient in Ireland.

Your GP or consultant can tell you if the healthcare you want to get abroad is publicly available in Ireland and if you qualify for it.

There is no list of specific healthcare you can get abroad under CBD.

Generally, if the healthcare is available publicly in Ireland, you can be referred for the same healthcare abroad. But there is some specific healthcare that are not covered by the scheme.

Examples of healthcare that is available under the scheme include:

  • day, inpatient and outpatient care in acute hospital services, including psychiatric services
  • community-based out-patient care
  • dental and orthodontic services (with some exceptions, such as dental screening services in schools)
  • speech and language services
  • occupational therapy services (with some exceptions, such as assessment for aids at home)
  • psychology services
  • physiotherapy services
  • disability services
  • ophthalmic services
  • mental health services
  • methadone programme
  • addiction care

Examples of healthcare that cannot be accessed under the CBD:

  • organ transplants
  • any long-term care that helps people do everyday tasks such as nursing home care
  • vaccination against infectious diseases
  • clinical trials
  • drug therapies that aren't currently provided publicly in Ireland

Where you can get healthcare under CBD

You can get healthcare under CBD in any EU or EEA member state.

You can choose to get healthcare under CBD in the public or private sector abroad.

We recently updated this content. See the original version here

Page last reviewed: 08/11/2018
Next review due: 08/11/2021