How to Get Treatment Abroad

The Republic of Ireland and the EU Cross Border Directive

The EU-wide Cross Border Directive allows EU residents to access health services in any EU member state. If you face long waiting lists or don’t have access to specialist treatment, you can access treatment abroad and be reimbursed the cost of treatment*. This post is a quick guide for patients considering medical treatment in another EU country.

First things first: make sure you’re eligible for cross border care. The good news is that virtually every EU resident is covered by the Directive, if they need medical treatment that is covered by their national health services.

If you answered “Yes” to these three questions, you’re eligible to get medical treatment in another EU country and be reimbursed for it by the HSE. Here’s a quick overview of how the process works:

Only patients seeking inpatient treatment require prior authorisation under this scheme.

If you are seeking inpatient treatment that is, including at least one overnight hospital stay, then you are required to complete the Application Form and request prior authorisation from the HSE.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Who is eligible?
    Anyone who is a public patient in Ireland (that is, anyone who is a resident of Ireland) is eligible. Private patients visiting a private GP or specialist will require a Referral Letter from a public GP or specialist.
  • Who should apply for authorisation? What does it cost?
    Only patients seeking inpatient treatment need prior authorisation. It is completely free to apply.
  • Do I have to be on the waiting list to apply?
    No, you may also apply for treatment abroad by asking your GP or treating physician to write a Referral Letter.
  • How long does it take to be authorised for treatment abroad?
    The authorisation decision usually takes between 15 and 20 working days.
  • Which facilities can I get treatment from abroad?
    Any public or private medical facility in an EU or EEA member state. MEDIGO curates a list of hospitals, clinics and specialists who are experienced in treating international patients.
  • Will the HSE pay for my treatment upfront?
    After authorisation (for inpatient treatment), patients are responsible
  • *Which costs are included in the reimbursement?
    Only treatment costs are eligible for reimbursement. Accommodation, travel costs, and meal allowances are not included. In some cases, the cost of the hospital overnight stay is also not included.
  • How much will I be reimbursed?
    The maximum value of the reimbursement will not exceed the amount that the treatment would cost at a public hospital in Ireland. Prior to traveling, patients should find out how much their treatment abroad will cost and what their reimbursement rate will be.
  • Do I have to receive all of my treatment abroad?
    You may choose to have only certain parts of your treatment performed abroad.


Authorisation Documents
Here are documents you’ll need for authorisation and reimbursed under the HSE-operated Cross-Border Healthcare Directive:

  • Application Form: Section A to be completed by the patient, Section B by the GP or Treating Physician in Ireland
  • The Referral Letter from your GP or Treating Physician in Ireland should specify the type of treatment required, your general clinical and personal history, the name of the health professional you are being referred to, the location and name of the clinic or hospital to which you are being referred.
  • Pro-forma invoice to be completed by the Treating Physician abroad

Helpful Contacts

  • The National Contact Point is the governing body which grants authorisation for inpatient procedures within the EU and processes the reimbursements on behalf of the HSE. You can reach them by email at, telephone at 056 778 4546, or by post at Cross Border Healthcare Directive Department, HSE Cross Border Directive, St. Canice’s Hospital, Dublin Road, Kilkenny
  • The HSE website offers detailed information about the application and reimbursement procedures as well as a in-depth explanation of the Cross Border Directive.
  • The MEDIGO Care Team is always happy to help you find a specialist abroad and to guide you through the authorisation and reimbursement process. Don’t hesitate to send us an email or give a call at (+353) 76 888 6333.
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