Changes to Ireland’s contraceptive services

February 18th, 2023 7:05 AM

By Southern Star Team

Since January the free contraception scheme opened to 26-year-olds and will be further expanded to include 27 to 30-year-olds from September 1st. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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IN Budget 2023 it was announced that the age range for free contraception will be extended to include women aged 16 and aged 26 to 30, from 1st September 2023. 

This change requires legislation. 

Is contraception free in Ireland?

You can get free contraception if you are:

• A woman or person with a uterus

• Aged 17 to 26

• Living in Ireland

What contraception costs are free for people aged 17 to 26?

• Any GP appointments about your contraception options

• Contraception prescriptions from your doctor (at participating pharmacies)

• Emergency contraception (the morning-after-pill)

• Fitting, removal and check-ups of long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs)

• Other types of contraception such as contraceptive injections, implants, IUS and IUDs (coils), the contraceptive patch and contraceptive ring

• Prescriptions for combined oral contraception (the daily pill)

How do I get free contraception if I am aged 17 to 26?

You do not need a medical card.

You need to book an appointment with a GP or doctor to discuss your contraception. This appointment will be free. The GP and pharmacy will ask for your: PPS number, name, date of birth and address.

Your GP will use this information to let the pharmacy know not to charge you for your free contraception prescription. 

You can also collect your free contraception from some family planning clinics.

Is contraception covered by my medical card?

If you have a medical card, you get free contraceptive drugs, devices and free GP services including contraceptive advice. This also includes emergency contraception. You will have to pay a prescription charge for items you get from pharmacies under the medical card scheme.

What if I do not have a medical card?

If you do not have a medical card, and you are not eligible for the free contraception scheme (above), you will have to pay for contraception and contraceptive services. You may be able to reduce the cost of your contraception through the Drug Payment Scheme. 

For example, the cost of long-acting reversible contraceptives such as the IUS (hormonal coil) or IUD (copper coil). You may also be able to claim tax relief on medical expenses.

Can I get free condoms in Ireland?

Condoms are not free under the medical card or free contraception scheme.

You can get free condoms from:

•Sexual health or GUM (genitourinary medicine) clinics

• Some sexual health NGOs

• Many third level colleges

Where can I get emergency contraception?

You can get emergency contraception tablets (sometimes called the morning-after pill) over the counter in most pharmacies without having to go to a doctor for a prescription.

You can get free emergency contraception if:

• You have a medical card, or ... you are a woman or a person with a uterus, aged 17 to 26 and living in Ireland.

• You can read more about contraception services by consulting the HSE website at

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