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Public Services Card

Source:  Citizens Information

The Public Services Card was introduced in 2012 to make it easier to access public services.

The card is replacing the Social Services Card used to collect social welfare payments and the Free Travel Pass. The card was initially rolled out to people getting certain social welfare payments and to new applicants for other social welfare payments. If you apply for, or are currently getting a social welfare payment (including Child Benefit) you may receive an invitation to register for your Public Services Card. A Public Services Card is usually issued when you are allocated a PPS number.

The Passport Service of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has announced that from 29 March 2016, all first-time passport applicants aged 18 and above who are resident in Ireland will need to have a Public Services Card for identification purposes. This new requirement also applies to a small number of adult passport applicants whose last passport was issued before 1 January 2005 and has since been reported lost, stolen or damaged.

The Public Services Card is issued in one of 2 ways:

  • Face-to-face registration – see ‘Registering for a Public Services Card’ below
  • Postal registration see ‘Postal registration’ below

What information does this card display?

The front of the card holds a person’s name, photograph and signature, along with the card expiry date. The back of the card holds the person’s PPS number and a card number. It also holds a magnetic stripe to enable social welfare payments such as pensions to be collected at post offices

If the person holding the card is entitled to free travel the card will also display this information in the top left-hand corner. If FT-P is written on the card the holder is personally entitled to free travel. If FT+S is written on the card the holder can travel with their spouse, partner or cohabitant. If FT+C is written on the card the holder can have a companion (over 16) travel with them for free (because they are unable to travel alone for medical reasons).

Registering for a Public Services Card

Face-to-face registration for a Public Services Card is called SAFE (Standard Authentication Framework Environment) registration.

The Department of Social Protection will send you a letter with your SAFE registration appointment. SAFE registration takes about 15 minutes to complete and usually takes place in your local social welfare office or Intreo centre. It is important that you attend for your appointment. It will help to avoid any potential difficulty with access to social welfare payments in the future. During this appointment your photograph will be taken and your signature recorded for your new Public Services Card, which will be posted to your home address. You will also be asked for the answers to some security questions.

You must bring certain documents with you to your appointment to prove your identity and address. You should also bring the letter you got confirming your appointment and, if you have one, your phone. If you currently have a Social Services Card (a swipe card used to collect social welfare payments), bring that with you too.

You must prove your identify to receive a social welfare payment or benefit. If you comply with the SAFE registration process when requested you are considered to have authenticated your identity. If you do not comply with the SAFE registration process your social welfare payments (including Child Benefit) and/or your social welfare entitlements (such as Free Travel) may be suspended.

Documents to bring to your SAFE registration appointment

1.Evidence of identity:

Irish citizens born in the Republic of Ireland Current Irish passport or current Irish or UK driving licence or Irish learner driver permit. If you are adopted, please bring your adoption certificate with you.
Irish citizens via naturalisation or Foreign Birth Registration Current Irish passport or Certificate of Naturalisation or Foreign Birth Registration certificate and Irish or UK driving licence or Irish learner driver permit.
Irish citizens born in Northern Ireland and UK citizens Current passport, or your birth or adoption certificate and current driving licence
EU citizens (other than Irish and UK) Current passport or national identity card
Non-EU citizens Current passport or 1951 travel document

For Irish citizens born in the Republic of Ireland, birth details can be verified online in most cases with the General Register Office. However, in some cases, it is not possible to locate the birth registration, so the person will need to return with a copy of his/her birth certificate.

If you wish to get a copy of your Irish birth certificate for SAFE registration purposes, you can get it from the Registrar at a reduced rate when you show your SAFE invitation letter.

The Department does not have access to the adoption register, so adopted people should bring their adoption certificate with them when attending their appointment.

2. Evidence of address (applies to everyone, whether an Irish, EU or non-EU citizen):

You need to show evidence of your address. You can use any of the following documents to do this (it must show your name and address):

  • A household utility bill
  • An official letter/document
  • A financial statement
  • Property lease or tenancy agreement,
  • Verifiable employer’s letter*
  • Confirmation of address by a third party such as a school principal/administrator, accommodation/property owner**or manager.

*Your employer does not need to own or provide the accommodation.

**If you are staying with friends or relatives an original household bill plus a note from the bill holder confirming your residency at the bill address is acceptable. This note can be written on the bill itself.

3. Additional helpful documents

If you have any of the items listed below, you should bring them along with you as they may also help to confirm your identity. If you do not have any of these, you should bring other documents or forms of photo ID instead*.

  • Irish Free Travel Pass
  • Medical card issued under the General Medical Service
  • European health insurance card
  • Credit/debit card
  • Student card

*The following items are not acceptable as proof of identity for the purpose of SAFE registration: Baptismal certificate, work ID card, Garda form ML-10, Garda age card, photocopied certificates or documents and expired documents generally.

Postal registration

Some current Department of Social Protection (DSP) clients can be issued with a Public Services Card by postal registration. If this applies to you the DSP may write to you asking your permission to use data that is already held by a government department (such as your passport photograph or Free Travel Pass photograph). If you give your consent to this data being used your Public Services Card can be issued directly by post and you do not need to visit an office to register in person. The letter will also ask you for answers to some security questions. These answers will be used to check your identity if you need to contact a DSP helpline.

Lost or damaged Public Services Cards

If your Public Services Card is lost, stolen or damaged, you should immediately contact the Public Services Card Helpdesk at 1890 837000.

Where to apply

While the Public Services Card is mainly issued by invitation, you can also contact your local social welfare office or Intreo centre to arrange an appointment.

Face-to-face SAFE Public Service Card registration can be carried out in certain Intreo centres and social welfare local offices.

Online appointments

If you want to get a PPS number or to be registered for a Public Services Card, you can now make an appointment online at

You will first need to register with the site. To do this you need a mobile phone number and two email addresses (a main address and an alternate address).

When you have made your appointment, print the notification and bring it to your appointment along with the required documents (listed in the notification).

You can access a list of offices that offer an online appointment booking service on


If you have general questions about the card or the registration process you can use the Department of Social Protection’s online query form.

If you have questions about the ‘face-to-face’ registration process contact:

Client Identity Services

Department of Social Protection
Shannon Lodge
Co. Leitrim

Locall:1890 927 999

If you have questions about the ‘postal’ registration process contact:

Department of Social Protection

Postal PSC Registration
Social Welfare Services Office
Main Street
Co. Monaghan

Locall:1890 800 124

Page last checked: July 2016

This webpage is for general information purposes only and while we endeavour to keep it up-to-date, errors may occur.  It is very important that you check with the relevant body to ensure the information is current and is applicable to your situation: – North /  South

If you would like to suggest amendments or highlight new information that could be useful to others please don’t hesitate to get in touch.