On Tuesday 14 February, the Irish government announced the closure of the Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP). IIP applications via approved projects may be granted a grace period of three months to submit the finalised application. Any interest in IIP is the last chance and would have to apply on an urgent and immediate basis or the programme will no longer be available. Contact us now.

Healthcare in Ireland and insurance planning for immigrants

If you’re thinking about making the Emerald Isle your home, fáilte! There is plenty to get excited about when it comes to living in Ireland, but before you move, it’s important to ensure you and your family have adequate health insurance.

Some of the challenges that immigrants face when it comes to healthcare services include language barriers; difficulties in arranging care without medical insurance coverage; lack of familiarity with the healthcare system; cultural differences; divergent understanding of illness and treatment; negative attitudes among staff; and lack of access to medical histories.

In this article, we look at the healthcare and medical services available in Ireland and speak to an insurance expert to understand more about insurance planning prior to moving abroad, the types of insurance emigrants should keep or forgo when moving overseas, and the insurance policies that can be used for tax planning.

Ireland’s healthcare and medical services

Ireland offers high quality and advanced healthcare and medical services. For families and individuals immigrating to Ireland, there are various routes to accessing healthcare:

GP – Access to a doctor, or general practitioner – GP for short – is essential for general health issues and non-emergency illnesses. A list of local GPs can be found on the website of the Health Service Executive (HSE), and registration with a practice can be done by providing name, address and PPS number. Unless it’s an emergency, GPs are the gateway to the Irish hospital system. If you need any hospital service, your GP will usually refer you to the place or person you require. For example, if an X-ray, blood test, scan or other procedure is necessary, your GP will tell you where you should go. He or she will also provide you with a letter of referral. Similarly, your GP will refer you to a consultant if you need special expertise.

A&E – The Accident and Emergency department of a hospital, A&E for short, is where you go if you’ve had an accident or feel extremely unwell. Treatment is on a needs basis, so if the condition is not urgent the wait time may be extensive. There is a charge of €100 to attend without a GP referral.

Private Healthcare – If you are a private healthcare patient covered by health insurance, you may be eligible for a range of benefits. These include faster access to diagnostic investigations and subsequent treatments through your choice of consultant, and access to both public and private hospitals depending on your insurance plan (including high-tech hospitals). Treatment and services for private patients are provided by a wide network of private hospitals and clinics, as well as public hospitals.

Private hospitals are located across Ireland and offer some of the most technologically advanced healthcare treatment options. The best include:

The Hermitage Medical Clinic: Hermitage Clinic, part of Blackrock Health, is a 112-bed private hospital in Lucan, West Dublin. The specialised medical teams provide medical, surgical and advanced radiotherapy care to patients and are supported by the very latest medical technology. The most up-to-date radiology equipment is available including MRI, PET/CT, Nuclear Medicine, 64 slice CT, Mammography, Ultrasound, X-ray and Fluoroscopy. They also have a fully integrated RIS/PACs system.

Blackrock Clinic: Blackrock Clinic, part of Blackrock Health, is Ireland’s leading high-tech hospital, focused on developing and delivering the newest and most technologically advanced healthcare.

Since it opened in the mid-1980s, the Blackrock Clinic has been recognised by the Joint Commission International (JCI), which accredits only hospitals that raise safety and quality of care standards to the highest levels, and was one of the first hospitals in Ireland to attain this international recognition.

Beacon Hospital: Beacon Hospital is one of the most technologically advanced private hospitals in all of Europe. It has Ireland’s most advanced diagnostic equipment and an Emergency Department located in Dublin.

With over 300 Consultants and 1,700 medical professionals, Beacon Hospital operates as a full-service acute hospital. Treatment and services include orthopaedic surgery, heart surgery, neurosurgery, general surgery, comprehensive cancer care (medical oncology and radiation oncology), and general and emergency medical services.

Beacon Hospital has satellite locations in Dublin 8, Wexford, Mullingar and Drogheda.

Bon Secours Private Hospital: Established in 1951, Bon Secours Hospital is an independent acute care private hospital located in Glasnevin in North Dublin. The Bon Secours Hospital Dublin is part of the Bon Secours Health System, Ireland’s largest independent healthcare provider incorporating a network of four modern acute hospitals in Cork, Dublin, Galway and Tralee. The Health System also includes a Consultation Centre in Limerick and a Care Village in Cork.

St. Vincent’s Private hospital: One of the world’s leading hospitals providing front-line, acute, chronic and emergency care across over 50 different medical specialties, St. Vincent’s is the only integrated multi-hospital campus in Ireland. Its Emergency Department (ED) is the major referral centre for the region for patients with strokes and major trauma.

St. Vincent’s Private Hospital is part of the St. Vincent’s Healthcare Group (SVHG), the group also includes St. Vincent’s University Hospital and St Michael’s Hospital, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin.

Insurance planning

Ireland’s public healthcare system is highly regarded. It ranked 11th for the best healthcare in the world in a 2018 study published by The Lancet, placing 12 positions above the UK. It also boasts more hospital beds per person than the UK, according to the OECD.

However, Ireland’s public healthcare is not always free. And having health insurance to pay your medical and hospital expenses can provide peace of mind for you and your family. With health insurance, you can expect:

  • more options to choose top class private hospitals in Ireland
  • quicker access to necessary medical care
  • treatment in hospitals as a private patient

The average annual cost of Irish health insurance paid by individual policyholders as of December 2021 was €1,470 for adults. While insurance is an additional expense, not having it could prove far more costly.

Families planning to relocate overseas may wonder if the insurance plans they have purchased in their home countries are still effective once they move, and whether life insurance can be an effective tax planning tool.

We spoke to Gigi Tsoi, District Director of Wealth Management and Protection, about the things to take into account regarding healthcare and insurance when moving abroad.

Medical and healthcare insurance is just one of five main categories of insurance to review when moving abroad. The others include life insurance, critical illness insurance, accident insurance or long-term disability coverage, and Investment-Linked Assurance Schemes (ILAS).

Gigi suggests that families first review their current medical insurance to understand any existing coverage and its suitability for the country they are moving to. If coverage is limited, she recommends families invest in a high-quality international health insurance plan to cover their medical needs. Such an insurance plan can be a lifeline in case something happens when they are abroad and they need to seek global medical treatment.

She also highlights how Inheritance Tax (IHT) can be offset with life insurance, or that people can avoid IHT being charged by putting the assets in trust.


For families moving overseas, residing in a country with a good healthcare system and access to medical care is important. The healthcare and medical system in Ireland is modern, safe and among the best in the world, making Ireland a great place to live, study, work and retire. When families have adequate insurance coverage, they will have peace of mind that they and their loved ones will be protected financially and enjoy a good quality of life in Ireland.

Why choose? Living in the UK and Ireland

Did you know that once you have citizenship in either the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland, you and your family have the right to reside in the other, and enjoy the same associated privileges, including the right to work, study and vote in certain elections, as well as to access social welfare benefits and health services?

In this article, we explain why and how, and delve a little deeper into the historical links between the UK and Ireland and the cultural similarities between the two. In addition, we speak to a UK immigration expert, who shares the latest UK immigration policies, opportunities for emigration following the close of the UK Tier 1 investor visa, and an alternative immigration route to the UK.

The United Kingdom and Ireland

Historically, relations between the United Kingdom and Ireland have been influenced by issues arising from their shared history, with Ireland flitting from periods where it was under the control of Great Britain and times when it was fighting to establish or maintain independence.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, war and colonization saw Ireland come under the control of the English. In 1782, Ireland gained near-independence from Great Britain, but in 1801, the kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland merged to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Violent campaigns for autonomy followed, culminating with a war of independence that ended with the Anglo-Irish treaty of 1921. This saw the partition of Ireland into the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland, the latter which remained part of the UK. In 1937, Ireland declared itself fully independent of the UK.

Both Ireland and the UK joined the European Union in 1973. In June 2016, the UK held a referendum in which a majority voted to leave the EU. Brexit became effective in early 2020 with a deal reached on 24 December 2020, keeping Northern Ireland in the European Union Single Market for goods and maintaining a free border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The Republic of Ireland became the only English-speaking country in the EU.

Culturally, the four nations of the British Isles (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) have many similarities and people travel between each nation as if it were one.

Geographically, the UK shares a 499km international land border with the Republic of Ireland. And Dublin, the Republic of Ireland’s capital, is just 288 miles from London—a flight takes less than 1.5 hours and is very reasonably priced, with tickets available from £12 for a one-way trip and from £30 for a round trip. It’s therefore no surprise that people who live in Dublin might pop over to London for a weekend shopping trip or a UEFA champions league game during the football season.

Living in Ireland has many similarities to living in the UK – particularly when it comes to accessing good quality education. The UK and Ireland have very similar education systems and both provide a world-class education. In each country, there are five stages of education – early years (nursery), primary, secondary, further education (FE) and higher education. Irish secondary graduates can apply to study in UK universities through their schools or through the UCAS website, and there is a point-based system that can be used to compare the grades of the Leaving Certificate in Ireland with GCSE and A-level results in the UK. Likewise, British students can apply for undergraduate courses in Ireland through the Central Applications Office (CAO) – the Irish equivalent of UCAS.

In both Ireland and the UK, students are admitted onto a specific course rather than to a university. They are accepted, for example, to study Nursing at Queen’s University in Belfast, or to study Business & Management Studies at University College Cork (UCC). Some subjects in Irish universities are ranked among the top 50 in the world for their area or speciality. In 2021, the highest rank for Ireland was University College Dublin’s (UCD) Veterinary Science department, which placed 23rd in the QS World University Rankings by Subject. It was closely followed by the English Language and Literature programme at Trinity College Dublin, in 25th position. Between them, UCD and Trinity held eight top 50 positions, while University College Cork placed 49th for Nursing.

Additionally, due to Ireland’s burgeoning start-up, FinTech and entrepreneurship scene, some business courses at Irish universities have outperformed those in other UK and European universities, with the highest number of graduates going on to become entrepreneurs. The table above shows the top 10 universities in Europe by entrepreneur count, as well as the number of companies founded by those entrepreneurs, and the total of venture capital raised, according to PitchBook, a platform that provides financial data.

Common Travel Area arrangements (CTA)

The Common Travel Area (CTA) is a long-standing arrangement between the UK, the Crown Dependencies and Ireland that pre-dates both British and Irish membership of the EU and is not dependent on it.

Under the CTA, British and Irish citizens can move freely and reside in either jurisdiction and enjoy associated rights and privileges, including the right to work, study and vote in certain elections, as well as to access social welfare benefits and health services.

The UK and Irish governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in May 2019 reaffirming their commitment to maintain the CTA, and the associated rights and privileges, in all circumstances, and the CTA remains unchanged after Brexit.

UK immigration policies update and alternatives

2022 is shaping up to be a year of change with regard to UK immigration. The UK government has announced wide-ranging updates its Immigration Rules. Families who are planning to move to the UK through the non-BNO route may face challenges due to these policy changes, but rest assured, there are alternatives to the UK.

We spoke to Janine Miu, founder of UK Immigration Specialist, and a specialist in UK Immigration Law, about the changes to the UK immigration policy, the visa programmes that are currently available, and her views on an alternative route to the UK via Irish immigration by investment.

Following the closure of the UK Tier 1 investor visa, families and non-BNO passport holders who are looking to emigrate to a place that offers a high degree of residing flexibility, and who may still have an ultimate goal to live in the UK, can consider the IIP. Janine recommends it as a good alternative.

The IIP allows families to receive their Irish permanent residency in about six months, and families are only required to spend one day per calendar year in Ireland to maintain their residency status. After five years, they can apply for citizenship and receive a passport. Irish nationals enjoy a right of residence in the UK under the Common Travel Area (CTA) arrangement.

It’s important to note that the Enterprise Investment option in the IIP has 100% capital protection, meaning that investors can take their 1 million euros back at the end of the investment period, while investments in the UK Investor Visa have no full principal repayment guarantee.

Investing in the IIP will pave the way for the families to choose to live in both Ireland and the UK, enjoying optimal privileges and opportunities to study, work and enjoy a high standard of living.