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Before you go abroad

Before you travel for healthcare abroad you should:

  • make sure you are eligible for the Cross Border Directive (CBD) scheme
  • consider applying for prior authorisation
  • consider getting your medical records to bring with you
  • make sure you have travel insurance

You should also read the guide on applying for Cross Border Directive repayment before you get healthcare abroad so you understand:

  • if the healthcare you're getting is covered under the CBD
  • how much of the healthcare cost you can claim back

Prior authorisation

Prior authorisation is confirmation from the Cross Border Directive office in Ireland that you:

  • have followed the correct process to access healthcare abroad under the CBD
  • will be eligible to claim repayment towards the cost of your healthcare

Prior authorisation is optional. You don’t have to apply for it.

But if you are travelling abroad for inpatient care we advise you to apply for prior authorisation.  Inpatient care is treatment that involves an overnight stay in hospital. You do not need prior authorisation if you are having day case treatment.

Benefits of prior authorisation

Before you travel abroad you’ll have:

  • confirmation that you're eligible to claim repayment towards the cost of your healthcare
  • an indication of how much of the cost of your healthcare you can claim back from us

It also gives you time to decide if you:

  • can afford the healthcare upfront or can secure the funding
  • are comfortable with the consultant and the hospital abroad
  • are willing to go ahead if there is a shortfall between the cost of the healthcare abroad and how much you can claim back from us. You will be be responsible for paying the shortfall

How to apply for prior authorisation

To apply for prior authorisation you must submit:

  • a valid referral 
  • a completed application form
  • proof that you have travelled abroad for your first appointment with the consultant, in person

Download the prior authorisation application form (PDF, 320kb, 8 pages)

The application form

You and your consultant must fully complete and sign the form.

The consultant must make a note of the correct DRG (Diagnosis-Related Group) code for the inpatient treatment you are getting. They must put this on the form.

The consultant can get the correct DRG code from the document called the 'Admitted Patient Price List Summary (Inpatient)' (PDF, 415KB, 27 pages).

This document will also help to give you an indication of how much you can claim back from us for the healthcare you receive.

Once you and your consultant have completed the prior authorisation application form you must send it and the supporting documents to:

The National Contact Point Office
Cross Border Directive
St Canice’s Hospital
Co. Kilkenny

Decision on prior authorisation

We usually take about 20 working days to decide on your application for prior authorisation.

If we approve your application, you can then go abroad to get your healthcare knowing you will be able to seek repayment towards the cost of the healthcare.

If your healthcare changes

Prior authorisation is given for the healthcare you apply for.

On the day of your healthcare, your healthcare may change. The consultant may decide you need:

  • extra healthcare
  • different healthcare

The actual healthcare you have may be different from the one you got prior authorisation for.

If this happens, you will only be eligible to be repaid for the actual healthcare you get.

If you don't apply

You don't need prior authorisation to access healthcare abroad under the CBD. Prior authorisation is optional.

You can still get healthcare and claim repayment towards the cost of that healthcare once you are eligible and meet certain conditions

Read about what conditions you must meet to claim repayment under the CBD

Medical records

You might need to provide your healthcare provider abroad with your current medical records.

You should bring your records with you as well as information on any medicine you’re taking and any relevant test results.

Check with the GP or consultant who referred you or the doctor who’s treating you abroad about what information you need to bring.

Ask your GP or hospital in Ireland for your medical records.

Related topic

Find out how to access your medical records.

Travel insurance

We recommend that you take out travel insurance before you go abroad.

You should also take your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) with you.

The EHIC does not cover the cost of your healthcare under the CBD. But it will cover some other healthcare unrelated to your CBD treatment if you need them.

We recently updated this content. See the original version here


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page last reviewed: 08/11/2018
next review due: 08/11/2021