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Citizens Information


For information on childcare as well as different issues related to pregnancy and parenting, visit They also provide a discussion forums for parents. Citizens Information provides information on parenting from a legal perspective.

The legal age for sexual consent in Ireland is 17. For more on this, see b4udecide.


If you are staying in Ireland temporarily, you can use your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) in case of emergencies. Go to the European Commission's website on how the Irish health system works for more information.

For a more permanent stay, should you need to see a doctor, expect to pay a fee of between €45 and €60. A visit to the accident & emergency (A&E) department of a hospital will cost €100, unless you are referred by your doctor, in which case it will be free. To find your local GP (General Practitioner) or health clinic, see this services map from the HSE (Health Service Executive).

If you are living in Ireland and are having financial difficulties, you may qualify for a medical card. This card gives you free doctors' visits, prescribed drugs for a small fee, and public hospital services for free. Some people that do not qualify for a medical card, may qualify for a GP Visit Card, which provides for visits to the doctor free of charge.

If you don't qualify for either of these, you can apply for the Drugs Payment Scheme, which means you will not pay more than a pre-determined amount per month for prescriptions and medications.

You can apply for private health insurance from several providers. See Health Insurance Authority website for a comparison feature, FAQ and more.


Irish health system

HSE service finder

Medical Cards

GP Visit Cards

Drugs Payment Scheme

The Health Insurance Authority


Social assistance

Social security

You may need to satisfy some conditions to claim social assistance, see Citizens Information for more on this. Assistance is available in the forms of the following, and more:

  • Carer's Allowance
  • Child Benefit
  • Disability Allowance
  • Domiciliary Care Allowance

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  • Jobseeker's Allowance
  • One-Parent Family Payment
  • State Pension (Non-Contributory)
  • Supplementary Welfare Allowance



Pre-school is becoming more popular in Ireland. The Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme (ECCE) provides a year of free childcare and education for 3 hours a day, 5 days a week. Montessori schools focus on individualised care and attention within a group. Check out more Childcare Options.

Primary school begins for most children at around 4/5, although it is not obligatory until age 6. The primary cycle is 8 years. Children leave around age 12/13, and head on to secondary school. There are no state examinations to sit before leaving primary school

Post-primary school is mandatory up to the age of 16. The post-primary cycle is 5 or 6 years long. In Third Year, students sit a state examination called the Junior Certificate, and then have the option of doing a 'transition' year. This allows students to explore non-academic options before continuing on to the final two years, which are preparation for the final second-level state examination called the Leaving Certificate.

Note: The Irish language (Gaelic) is taught throughout primary and secondary schools, however children from other countries are sometimes exempt from learning Irish. You apply directly to the school of choice.


For many years the Roman Catholic Church has run the schools in Ireland, however this is changing. Most schools are still under the management of one denomination, but not always Catholic. There are also a number of non-denominational and multi-denominational schools. Schools that cater for a single religion will likely give priority to children of that religion but will also give places to with other religious beliefs, or none. Religion classes are common within these schools, but they are not mandatory.


All children in Ireland are entitled to free primary and post-primary education. Most primary schools are state-funded, meaning no annual fees. However, schools often need to fundraise for additional resources so you may be asked for donations. There are private schools, where a fee will be required. You may have to pay for books and uniforms as well as stationery.

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Early Childhood Care & Education Scheme

Childcare Options

Primary Schools explained

Post-primary Schools explained

School Fees


Third level education

Third level fees

Central Applications Office

Qualifcations Recognition

University & College

Third-level education in Ireland is provided by institutes of technology, universities and colleges of education. Most of these are state-funded, though most will usually require a student-services fee, which varies from year to year. Each institution sets its own tuition fees. These are payable unless it is your first full-time course and you have been resident in the EU/EEA or Switzerland for 3 of the 5 years previous to the commencement of your course. More on third level fees.

Applications go through the Central Applications Office. Generally the system for applications is based on points gained from the Leaving Certificate examination. Of the subjects the student has studied for this exam, the 6 best grades are chosen and converted into points (eg. A1 honours grade = 100 points, A2 honours grade = 90 points). Each third level course will require a minimum number of points for entry (eg. Medicine requires 560 points, business requires 340 points)

If you have taken post-primary school exams, and wish to have these recognised for entry into an Irish third level institute, contact Qualifications Recognition.

A small number of places are reserved for mature students (over 23 years). Applications are not based on the points from the Leaving Certificate and usually you must apply directly to the college of your choice.

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Learning English

MEI (Marketing English in Ireland) offer English courses throughout Ireland. You can select an area of the country to find your nearest course.

There are many language schools and courses around the country. Find your nearest one by contacting your local youth information centre.

There are also some free language exchange groups / english conversation groups around the country. Dublin city libraries lists some around the city.

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MEI - English language courses

Youth Information Centres

Dublin city libraries groups