Travel Costs

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You may be able to get essential travel costs paid to and from hospital for Health Service (HS) treatment if you find travelling difficult because of the cost, the length or complexity of the journey or the lack of access to private and public transport.

You may apply for help with travel expenses to services that a health care professional such as a GP or a dentist has referred you. This may be available for you if you do not have a medical need for ambulance transport but cannot afford the cost of travel.

Payment of travel costs to hospital for HS treatment is dealt with by the individual hospital. It is best to speak to the hospital you will be receiving your treatment to ensure that the cost of travel can be reimbursed.

However these services must not be:

  • Primary care medical or dental services
  • Provided during the same visit and on the same premises occupied by the doctor or dentist making the referral

You should aim to travel by the cheapest form of transport which is reasonable at the time you need to travel, taking into account the journey, your capability, medical condition and other relevant factors.

You should inform staff when you make the appointment that you are eligible for help with travel costs. You may also be entitled to help with the travel costs of a companion if, for medical reasons, the hospital agrees that you need someone to travel with you.

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Entitlement to Travel Costs

You can get help if you:

  • Are a war pensioner and the hospital treatment is for your pensionable disablement
  • Are getting, or their partner gets - Pension Credit Guarantee Credit, Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance (income-related), Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Working Tax Credit
  • Are named on a valid HC2 certificate under the Low Income Scheme
  • Are named on a valid tax credit exemption certificate. See whether you are entitled to help with health costs.
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The Low Income Scheme and HC3

If you are named on a valid HC3 certificate, under the Low Income Scheme, you may get some help towards travel costs. Your certificate should state the amount of help available.

You can contact the Health Charges Helpline on 0800 587 8982 for advice and information.

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Claiming Travel Costs

When at the hospital or treatment centre, you must be able to show your benefit award letter, HC2 or HC3 certificate to the hospital receptionist as evidence that you are entitled to be reimbursed for travel costs. You must also show your ticket or receipt for the travel cost to get the refund.

If you have already paid travel costs and think you may be entitled to help, you can apply for a refund for these costs by completing a HC5 refund form.

You have 3 months in which to claim a refund.

If you do not have the money available to travel to a hospital appointment and you cannot avail of an ambulance or community transport service, you may be able to claim in advance or apply for Finance Support.

Visit the NI Direct website for details of your local benefits office.

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