All you need to know about the

Free Travel Scheme

FREE TRAVEL SCHEME

Everyone aged 66 and over, legally resident and living permanently in the State (Republic of Ireland), is entitled to the Free Travel Scheme. Some people under 66 also qualify. If you qualify for Free Travel, you will be issued a card from the Department of Social Protection. You must carry your Free Travel Card with you when using public transport. In some cases, a Free Travel Companion Card is available, which allows a person to travel for free with the holder (if they are unable to travel alone). Free Travel Cards are non-transferable and can only be used by the named person.

If you abuse your entitlement to Free Travel, the Department of Social Protection will review your entitlement to a Free Travel Card. For example, abuse could include wrongfully presenting a card for travel or engaging in anti-social behaviour while using the card. When you use your Free Travel Card, you must also follow the rules that apply to your mode of transport.

SAFE registration and Public Services Card

The SAFE registration process establishes and verifies your identity. Your Free Travel Pass will be contained in the Public Services Card (PSC) that is issued following the SAFE registration process. You must undergo SAFE registration when requested to do so by the Department of Social Protection. Your entitlement to Free Travel will be disallowed or withdrawn if you don’t register.

If you are entitled to Free Travel, when you are issued with your new Public Services Card, it will also be your Free Travel Card. (The Public Services Card will eventually replace the Free Travel Pass.) The card will have “F-T” printed in a yellow octagon in the top-left-hand corner of the card. 

You must show your Public Services Card to the travel operator when you are travelling on public transport. When you receive your new Public Services Card, you must return your old Free Travel Pass to the Department of Social Protection (see ‘Where to apply’ below).

There are three categories of Free Travel:

  • If FT-P is written on your Public Services Card, you personally are entitled to Free Travel.
  • If FT+S is written on your Public Services Card, your spouse, partner or cohabitant can join you for free when you travel (they cannot travel for free alone). Your spouse, partner or cohabitant’s name will not be on the card.
  • If FT+C is written on your Public Services Card, a companion (over 16) can travel with you for free (because you are unable to travel alone for medical reasons).

Note that the Department of Social Protection is no longer issuing paper passes.

Spouses, civil partners, cohabitants and companions

If you are entitled to Free Travel and you are married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting, you are entitled to a Free Travel Card which allows your partner to accompany you free of charge when travelling. (This does not apply to people under age 66 who are getting Carer’s Allowance or who are nominated carers for people getting Constant Attendance Allowance or Prescribed Relatives Allowance).

If you are unable to travel alone, you may get a Free Travel Companion Card. This allows you to be accompanied by any person over 16 years of age, free of charge. You must satisfy certain conditions to qualify for a Free Travel Companion Card. Entitlement to the Companion Free Travel Card may be subject to periodic review. You can read about these conditions here.

Rules

You may be entitled to Free Travel if you are legally resident and permanently living in the State and:

  • You are aged 66 or over;
  • You are getting Disability Allowance, Blind PensionCarer’s Allowance or an Invalidity Pension;
  • You have been getting Incapacity Supplement or Workmen’s Compensation with Disablement Pension for at least 12 months;
  • You are blind or visually impaired and meet the medical conditions for Blind Pension;
  • You are a specified carer for a person getting Constant Attendance Allowance or Prescribed Relative’s Allowance;
  • You are getting a social security invalidity payment, or similar payment, from another EU member state or from a country with which Ireland has a bilateral social security agreement for at least 12 months;
  • You are a widow or widower or a surviving civil partner aged 60 or over whose late spouse/civil partner held a Free Travel Pass and who is getting one of the following payments: Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Partner’s (Contributory) Pension, Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Partner’s (Non-Contributory) Pension, One-Parent Family Payment, Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Partner’s Pension under the Occupational Injuries Benefit Scheme or a similar social security pension/benefit from an EU member state or a country with which Ireland has a bilateral social security agreement, or an ordinary Garda widow’s pension.
  • You have confirmed your identity through the SAFE registration process when requested to do so.

There are no restrictions on the times you can use your Free Travel Card.

Working and keeping entitlement to Free Travel

Since 6 April 2017, under the Make Work Pay initiative, if you move from a long-term disability payment (see list below) to a job, you can keep your entitlement to Free Travel for a period of 5 years, provided you have registered for a Public Services Card.

• Disability Allowance

• Invalidity Pension

• Partial Capacity Benefit (from Invalidity Pension)

• Disablement Benefit paid along with Incapacity Supplement

• Transfer from Disability Allowance or Invalidity Pension to a Community Employment, SOLAS or Back to Work scheme.

How to apply

If you are aged 66 or over and are getting a social welfare pension, the Free Travel Card will be issued automatically if you have confirmed your identity through the SAFE registration process when requested to do so. If you are not SAFE registered, you will be requested to do so before your Free Travel Card is issued to you.

If you are under age 66 and have confirmed your identity through the SAFE registration process, you will get a Free Travel Card automatically when you are awarded an Invalidity Pension, a Blind Pension, Disability Allowance or Carer’s Allowance. If you are not SAFE registered, you will be requested to do so before your Free Travel Card is issued to you.

In all other circumstances, you must apply for Free Travel by completing a Free Travel application form FT1 (pdf).

You can get this form and additional information from the Department of Social Protection – see ‘Where to apply’ below. The form is also available at your local post office.

If you are married or in a civil partnership and either of you applies for Free Travel or are issued a card automatically, the appropriate type of card (to allow your spouse or civil partner to accompany you free of charge) will be issued. If you are cohabiting, you must apply for this type of card by completing PART 2 of the application form quoted above.

If you are unable to travel alone, you should apply for a Free Travel Companion Pass separately, using either an Over 70 Companion Pass form (pdf) or an Under 70 Companion Pass form (pdf).

Lost or damaged Free Travel Passes

There are currently two types of Free Travel Pass: a paper Free Travel Pass and a Public Services Card Free Travel (with F-T written in the top left-hand corner). Paper passes are no longer being issued, so if you need a replacement for a lost or damaged paper pass, you must undergo SAFE registration and get a Public Services Card.

If your Public Services Card Free Travel is lost, stolen or damaged, you should telephone 0818 837000 to request a replacement card.

Where to apply

Free Travel Section
Social Welfare Services
College Road,
Sligo,
Ireland

Tel: (071) 915 7100
Lo-call: 0818 200 400 (note: the rates charged for using Lo-call numbers may vary)

If you wish to talk to someone face-to-face about your entitlements, you can visit your local Citizens Information CentreIntreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office.

The new 228 Route started Friday, 3rd May 2024 (Bank Holiday Weekend).

This is now the FASTEST, CHEAPEST & MOST DIRECT route to the city!