Health insurance - A guide for international students
What are the regulations for EU / EEA students?
Under EU / EEA regulations students from other member states who are attending a course of study are entitled to medical services in Ireland. In order to be eligible for any of these services, you will be required to provide the Irish health authorities with documentation from your home country that validates your entitlement.
You should therefore contact the Health Authority in your home country, well in advance of travelling to Ireland, to fulfill any registration requirements and to obtain the necessary forms that you will need.
Please note that you will normally have to pay for all optical and dental services while in Ireland. With regard to hospital services, if you have not obtained the necessary documentation entitling you to free or minimum-cost services, costs can be as much as EUR 550 per day.
What are the regulations for non-EU/EEA students?
The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) states: "All non-EEA students are required to have private medical insurance when coming to and residing in Ireland for the purpose of study. The private medical insurance should provide cover for accident and/or disease and should cover the student for any period of hospitalisation." Proof of insurance is required at the time of registration with immigration authorities. For short-term students and newly arrived first year students, travel insurance may suffice in some circumstances. » Read more
What are my options if I am going to obtain insurance?
You may obtain private medical insurance in your home country, but you must be certain that it is valid in Ireland and meets the requirement of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS). The policy documentation must be issued in English.
International student medical insurance is likely to be available through the institution in Ireland to which you intend to apply as they may have a group medical insurance scheme in place.
There is, however, no requirement for you to obtain insurance through your host institution and, in some circumstances, it may not be in your interest to do so. ICOS has identified a number of problems that can arise for international students in the area of medical insurance and we are currently developing extended advice on student insurance. Please check back.
What types of medical insurance are available?
The Irish immigration service requires that all non-EEA students have at least a basic policy covering emergency medical expenses, e.g. cover in the event of an accident requiring hospitalisation. The premium for this type of policy may be less than €100. Policies offering more extensive health cover are available for higher fees. It is important to feel clear on the type of policy you are buying and to assess whether it fully matches your requirements.
The three main private health insurance companies in Ireland are VHI, Aviva and Laya Healthcare. Please note that in order to apply for a health insurance policy from one of these companies you will need to have an address in Ireland and may also require a PPS number. Medical cover under such policies may only become effective following a waiting period of several months.
Last updated: February 2015