Know your rights: Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance

I am getting the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment. I have one child starting school in September.  Can I qualify for the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance?

Yes, you can. To qualify for this payment which helps with back to school costs, you must be getting a social welfare payment or taking part in a training, employment or adult education scheme. People getting the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment, the Working Family Payment or the Back to Work Family Dividend can qualify. Your application will be means-tested and your total family income must be below a certain level for your family size.

Your children must be aged between 4 and 22 on 30 September 2021. If they are aged between 18 and 22 they must be in full-time second-level education in a recognised school or college in the autumn of 2021. In general, you must be getting an Increase for a Qualified Child with your payment.

The Allowance is €150 for children aged between 4 and 11 and €275 for children aged between 12 and 22. It is paid automatically to many families. This means that they do not have to apply for the payment. If you qualify automatically, you will get a letter before 21 June 2021 to let you know.

You need to apply online for the BTSCFA, if you do not get a letter confirming your payment. If any of your children are aged 18 or over, you must apply for the BTSCFA for them and show evidence that they are in second-level education (even if automatic payments have issued for other children in your family).

From 21 June 2021, you can apply for BTSCFA online through MyWelfare.ie. You must have a Public Services Card and a verified MyGovID account to apply online. If you have difficulties applying online, you can contact the BSCFA section on 071 91 93318 or 0818 11 11 13. The closing date for applications is 30 September 2021.

Read more about the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance and you can read detailed guidelines on gov.ie.


You can also get information and advice from:

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm
  • Our national call back service: Visit citizensinformation.ie/callback to request a phone call from an information officer

You can continue to contact your local centre by email or phone using the details in the Find a Centre page on citizensinformation.ie.

Know your rights: EU Digital COVID Certificate (DCC)

What is the EU Digital COVID Certificate (DCC)?

The EU Digital COVID Certificate (previously called the Digital Green Certificate) will help citizens move freely and safely within the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic. The DCC is for EU citizens, residents and their families and non-EU citizens who are legally staying or residing in the EU.

It will be proof that you have either:

  • Been vaccinated against COVID-19
  • Received a negative test result
  • Recovered from COVID-19

Being vaccinated will not be a pre-condition to travel.

What information will be included on the DCC?

The certificate will only contain necessary key information including:

  • Your name
  • Your date of birth
  • The date of issue
  • Relevant information about your vaccine or test or recovery
  • A unique identifier number

The DCC will be free and available in both digital and paper formats. The certificate has a QR code to avoid fraud.

Individual member states will decide how the DCC will be used as part of national public health measures. If you are travelling abroad you should always check the entry requirements before you travel.

The system will be used throughout the EU and will also be open to Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Iceland. You can check the European Centre of Disease Control’s map (EU traffic lights system) before you travel abroad.

You can read more about the EU Digital COVID Certificate (DCC) on citizensinformation.ie.


You can also get information and advice from:

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm
  • Our national call back service: Visit citizensinformation.ie/callback to request a phone call from an information officer

You can continue to contact your local centre by email or phone using the details in the Find a Centre page on citizensinformation.ie.

National Recovery Plan

An Economic Recovery Plan for Ireland was announced on 1 June 2021. The Plan will support the resumption of economic activity and get people back to work as Ireland opens up and recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Plan is set out under 4 pillars:

Pillar 1: Ensuring Sustainable Public Finances

Pillar 2: Helping People Back into Work
This pillar includes the extension of existing emergency pandemic financial supports including the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) and the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP).

Pillar 3: Rebuilding Sustainable Enterprises

Pillar 4: A Balanced and Inclusive Recovery

You can also get information on the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (pdf) which sets out how Ireland plans to utilise an initial allocation of €915 million in grants from the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility – which supports economic and social recovery, and addresses green and digital issues.

The Plan sets out 3 priorities:

Priority 1: Advancing the Green Transition (€503 million)
Priority 2: Accelerating and Expanding Digital Reforms and Transformation (€295 million)
Priority 3: Social and Economic Recovery and Job Creation (€181 million)

The National Recovery and Resilience Plan will work alongside and reinforce the Economic Recovery Plan (pdf). The draft National Recovery and Resilience Plan will be formally assessed by the European Commission, expected to take two months, before being submitted to the Council of the European Union for approval.


Know your rights: Carer’s Support Grant

I care for my mother full time and I get Carer’s Allowance. Last year, I automatically got the Carer’s Support Grant in June – will I get it again this year?

The Carer’s Support Grant is an annual payment made to full-time carers. It is paid by the Department of Social Protection (DSP) usually on the first Thursday of June each year. The grant is €1,850 (an increase of €150 from last year).

People getting Carer’s Allowance, Carer’s Benefit or Domiciliary Care Allowance are paid the grant automatically.  If you are getting one of these payments on the first Thursday in June, you automatically get the grant so you do not need to apply.

Full-time carers who are not getting one of these payments need to apply to the DSP. You must be:

  • Ordinarily resident in the State and caring on a full-time basis for at least six months (including the first Thursday in June)
  • Living with the person being cared for (or, if not, be contactable quickly by a direct system of communication, for example, telephone or alarm).

You won’t qualify if you are working, studying or training for more than 18.5 hours a week, getting a jobseeker’s payment or signing on for credits.

To apply, you need to fill out one application form (form CSG1) (pdf) for each person being cared for (a grant may be paid for each of them). You can get the form on gov.ie. For any given year, you can apply for the grant from April of that year until 31 December of the following year. So for 2021, you can apply up until December 2022.

You can read more about the Carer’s Support Grant on citizensinformation.ie


You can also get information and advice from:

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm
  • Our national call back service: Visit citizensinformation.ie/callback to request a phone call from an information officer

You can continue to contact your local centre by email or phone using the details in the Find a Centre page on citizensinformation.ie.

Know your rights: Frontier Worker Permit

I live in Ireland but travel to work in Northern Ireland every day. Do I have to apply for a Frontier Worker Permit to continue working there?

You are a cross border worker (also called a frontier worker). This is a person who lives in one country and works in another, returning to the country they live in at least once a week. For example, a person who lives in Ireland and travels to work in Northern Ireland is a cross border worker.

After Brexit, the UK introduced rules that affect EU citizens who work in Northern Ireland (and the rest of the UK). However, these rules do not apply to Irish citizens.

Irish and British citizens have the right to live and work in both Ireland and the UK because both countries are part of the Common Travel Area. Common Travel Area rights only apply to Irish and UK citizens, and not to citizens of other countries who live in Ireland or the UK.

So, if you are an Irish citizen you do not need a Frontier Worker Permit.

However, if you are an EU citizen who was a cross border worker before 1 January 2021, you must apply for a Frontier Worker Permit to continue working there after 30 June 2021. You can apply for the permit online. There is no charge for a Frontier Worker Permit.

If you became a cross border worker after 31 December 2020, you are not eligible for the Frontier Worker Permit. You must apply for permission to work in the UK as part of the UK’s Points Based Immigration System.

EU citizens who live in Northern Ireland and work in Ireland do not need to apply for permission to work in Ireland. You must apply for UK residence through the EU Settlement Scheme (if you were living in the UK before the end of 2020) or the Points Based Immigration Scheme (if you have moved there since the beginning of 2021).

You can find out more about cross border workers on citizensinformation.ie.


During COVID-19, you can find comprehensive integrated information online at citizensinformation.ie/covid19/ and you can get daily updates on what’s changed on Twitter at @citizensinfo.

You can also get information and advice from:

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm
  • Our national call back service: Visit citizensinformation.ie/callback to request a phone call from an information officer

You can continue to contact your local centre by email or phone using the details in the Find a Centre page on citizensinformation.ie.

Know your rights: Littering

I regularly walk near my home and I’ve recently noticed a lot of rubbish on the paths. Is there anything I can do about it?

Littering in an open or public place is an offence. Your local authority is responsible for keeping public places under their control, clear of litter. If you notice illegal dumping, you should report it to your local authority, or call the 24-hour National Environmental Complaints Line on 1850 365 121. The local authority will investigate your complaint and take action if necessary. If the local authority can find out who owns the rubbish, the owner can be prosecuted, even if they haven’t been caught in the act of dumping.

Local authority litter wardens and Gardaí can impose penalties for littering. People who litter can get an on-the-spot fine of €150, or if convicted they can get a maximum fine of €4,000.

If you own or are responsible for somewhere that is open to the public, it is your responsibility to keep it litter-free. This includes public parks, bus and train stations and school campuses. If you are a dog owner and do not remove your dog’s waste from public places and dispose of it properly, you can be prosecuted in the District Court.

You should contact your local authority to get more information on anti-littering campaigns or projects in your area.


During COVID-19, you can find comprehensive integrated information online at citizensinformation.ie/covid19/ and you can get daily updates on what’s changed on Twitter at @citizensinfo.

You can also get information and advice from:

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm
  • Our national call back service: Visit citizensinformation.ie/callback to request a phone call from an information officer

You can continue to contact your local centre by email or phone using the details in the Find a Centre page on citizensinformation.ie.

Know your rights: Inheritance rights of cohabiting couples

My partner and I have two young children together. We live together but we are not married and haven’t got around to making our wills. If something happened to one of us, would we automatically be entitled to each other’s estate?

It is important for you and your partner to discuss the matter of inheritance sooner rather than later. Because you are not married, neither of you is automatically entitled to inherit anything from the other. If your partner dies without a will, you have no right to any share of their estate no matter how long you have been together. So, for example, if you live with your partner but they own the house, you could be left in very difficult circumstances if they were to die unexpectedly.

If you own items jointly, these automatically pass to you and are not part of your partner’s estate. However, you might need to pay Capital Acquisitions Tax if the inheritance is above a certain threshold or value.  

If your partner has not made a will or has not provided for you, you may be able to apply to the courts to provide for you from your partner’s estate. This is known as the redress scheme for cohabiting couples. If you get redress by a court under this scheme, you may be exempt from paying Capital Acquisition Tax.

However, making a will can ensure that proper arrangements are made for you and your dependants and that any property is distributed in the way you both wish, subject to certain rights of spouses and children. Tax planning advice can help reduce or minimise the amount of tax your partner or family must pay. A solicitor can help you draft a will or you can draft one yourself.

You can read more about inheritance rights of cohabiting couples on citizensinformation.ie


During COVID-19, you can find comprehensive integrated information online at citizensinformation.ie/covid19/ and you can get daily updates on what’s changed on Twitter at @citizensinfo.

You can also get information and advice from:

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm
  • Our national call back service: Visit citizensinformation.ie/callback to request a phone call from an information officer

You can continue to contact your local centre by email or phone using the details in the Find a Centre page on citizensinformation.ie.

Know your rights: Applying for a student grant

I’m doing my Leaving Certificate this year and plan to go to college in the autumn. How do I apply for a student grant?

Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) awards higher and further education grants to people living in Ireland.

You complete an application form online to apply to SUSI. You must have an online account with SUSI before you can make your application. SUSI accepts grant applications for the 2021-2022 academic year from 22 April 2021.

You can use SUSI’s eligibility reckoner to see whether you meet the criteria for student grant funding.

These include:

  • You must be an Irish, UK, EU, EEA or Swiss national. You may also be considered for a grant if you have refugee status, subsidiary protection or leave to remain in Ireland.
  • You must have been ordinarily resident in Ireland for three of the last five years.
  • Your family’s means must be under the specified threshold for the previous tax year (2020). If you or your family have had a change of circumstances during the tax year, your changed circumstances may be taken into account.

You must be attending a course that is approved for a student grant. You can see the list of approved institutions and courses on SUSI’s website.

If you are refused a grant or are approved a grant at a rate that you don’t think applies to your situation, you can appeal the decision in writing to SUSI. You must appeal within 30 days of getting your decision.

If you are living in direct provision or are in the international protection system, you can apply for support under the Student Support Scheme for Asylum Seekers

You can read more about the Student Grant Scheme on  citizensinformation.ie.


During COVID-19, you can find comprehensive integrated information online at citizensinformation.ie/covid19/ and you can get daily updates on what’s changed on Twitter at @citizensinfo.

You can also get information and advice from:

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm
  • Our national call back service: Visit citizensinformation.ie/callback to request a phone call from an information officer

You can continue to contact your local centre by email or phone using the details in the Find a Centre page on citizensinformation.ie.

Know your rights: Emergency medical card

What is an emergency medical card and how do I apply for one?

An emergency medical card is a medical card that you can get without a means test in certain emergency situations.

You can get an emergency medical card if you:

  • Have a terminal illness and have been told you have 24 months or less to live
  • Are getting end-of-life treatment
  • Need urgent ongoing care and urgently need a medical card

Only a healthcare professional (for example, a doctor or consultant) can apply for an emergency medical card for you. They will send the application to the HSE.

If your application is approved, it can take up to 10 days to get your medical card in the post. However, your card will be active within 24 hours of your application being processed.  Your GP, pharmacy and hospital staff will see your card is active on their systems. This means you can access medical card services while you wait for your card in the post.

If you get a medical card because you have a terminal illness and have been told you have 24 months or less to live, the HSE will never review your card and your card will never expire.

If you get a medical card because you are receiving end-of-life treatment, the HSE will never review your card and your card will never expire. End-of-life treatment means you have been told you have less than 12 months left to live.

If you get a medical card because you need urgent ongoing care and urgently need a medical card, your card will expire after 6 months. You will need to complete a means assessment before your emergency medical card expires. The HSE will write to you to remind you to do this.

You can get more information from the National Medical Card Unit on (051) 595 129, or lo-call 1890 252 919 or you can contact your local Citizens Information Centre.

You can read more about emergency medical cards on citizensinformation.ie


During COVID-19, you can find comprehensive integrated information online at citizensinformation.ie/covid19/ and you can get daily updates on what’s changed on Twitter at @citizensinfo.

You can also get information and advice from:

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm
  • Our national call back service: Visit citizensinformation.ie/callback to request a phone call from an information officer

You can continue to contact your local centre by email or phone using the details in the Find a Centre page on citizensinformation.ie.

Know your rights: Parent’s leave

I am due to have a baby in three months and have arranged to take maternity leave. Am I entitled to any more paid leave to look after the baby?

Parent’s leave is a statutory entitlement for parents that allows each parent 5 weeks paid leave for a child born or adopted on or after 1 November 2019.  It aims to let working parents spend more time with their child.

It must be taken within 2 years of the birth of a child or in the case of adoption, from the date of placement of the child. If you have enough PRSI contributions, you get a weekly Parent’s Benefit payment of €245 from the Department of Social Protection during parent’s leave.

You can take parent’s leave in one 5-week block or in 5 one-week periods.You can visit citizensinformation.ie to find more about parent’s leave.

Parent’s leave is different to parental leave. Parental leave is unpaid and can be taken up until the child’s 12th birthday.

Summary of leave available for parents

Leave Who gets it? How long? Is it paid?
Maternity leave Female employees   26 weeks and up to 16 unpaid weeks Yes, Maternity Benefit is paid for 26 weeks
Adoptive leave One parent of an adopting couple or a parent adopting alone. 24 weeks and up to 16 unpaid weeks Yes, Adoptive Benefit is paid for 24 weeks
Paternity leave A parent of a child under 6 months of age (usually the father or partner of the mother, or in the case of adoption, the parent who is not taking adoptive leave) 2 weeks Yes, Paternity Benefit is paid for 2 weeks
Parental leave Parents and guardians of children under 12 26 weeks No, it’s unpaid
Parent’s leave Parents of children under 2 years of age (or in first 2 years of adoption placement) 5 weeks Yes, Parent’s Benefit can be paid for 5 weeks

You can read more about family leave and benefit on citizensinformation.ie


During COVID-19, you can find comprehensive integrated information online at citizensinformation.ie/covid19/ and you can get daily updates on what’s changed on Twitter at @citizensinfo.

You can also get information and advice from:

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm
  • Our national call back service: Visit citizensinformation.ie/callback to request a phone call from an information officer

You can continue to contact your local centre by email or phone using the details in the Find a Centre page on citizensinformation.ie.