Community Services Card

The Community Services Card can help you and your family with the costs of health care. Always carry your card to make it easy to get the benefits, like paying less on some health services and prescriptions.

Information

  • You don't have to be on a benefit to qualify for the card.
  • You can also use the card for your dependent children under 18.

We administer the Community Services Card on behalf of the Ministry of Health.

  • Who can get it

    You may get the Community Services Card if you:

    • are 16 or over
    • are not a dependent child
    • either:
      • are a New Zealand citizen
      • are a permanent resident, or
      • have, or have applied for, refugee or protection status
    • normally live in New Zealand and intend to stay here.

    You may also be able to get it if you either:

    • are 16 or 17 and studying full-time at a University or polytechnic, or
    • get paid from Veteran's Affairs either a:
      • Scheme 1 Weekly Income Compensation, or
      • Scheme 2 Weekly Compensation.

    It also depends on how much income you and your partner get.

    By income, we mean any money, goods and services you or your partner get from any source, such as:

    • wages
    • salary
    • New Zealand Superannuation
    • Student Allowance
    • interest or dividends from investments
    • income from a business or a family trust maintenance payments from child support
    • Working for Families Tax Credits from Inland Revenue
    • ACC payments
    • private pensions
    • income from rents
    • any regular benefits you get, like free board, meals or transport.

    Income limits

    You may be able to get a card if you're... And your yearly income (before tax) is less than...
    Single - living with others $27,590
    Single - living alone $29,280
    Married, civil union or de facto couple - no children $43,784
    NZ Superannuation single, sharing accommodation $28,910
    NZ Superannuation single, living alone $30,740
    NZ Superannuation married, civil union or de facto relationship - no children $46,110
    Family of 2 $53,480
    Family of 3 $65,829
    Family of 4 $75,945
    Family of 5 $85,882
    Family of 6 $96,819
    For families of more than 6, the limit goes up another $9,812 for each extra person

    Get a private pension

    If you also get New Zealand Superannuation, only half of your private pension may count as income.

    If you don't get New Zealand Superannuation, the whole amount of your private pension will be counted as income.

  • What you can use it for

    The Community Services Card can reduce the cost of:

    • visits to a health practitioner, eg, a doctor, if you're enrolled at their practice (for yourself, and your dependent children aged 14-17)
    • ACC visits to a general practice (eg. a doctor or nurse) if you are injured. You don't need to be enrolled at the practice
    • prescription fees
    • fees for after-hours health practitioner visits
    • glasses for children under 16
    • emergency dental care provided by:
      • hospitals, and
      • approved dental contractors (ask the dental provider if they are an approved contractor)
    • travel and accommodation for treatment at a public hospital you've been referred to outside your area:
      • at least 80km away for adults
      • at least 25km for children
    • home help.

    Prescriptions

    Many prescription items are subsidised by the government. If you have a Community Services Card, you'll pay a small fee. For children under 14, the prescription items are free.

    Sometimes there are part-charges or other pharmacy fees you still need to pay.

    Health practitioner visits for children under 14

    The Community Services Card won't cover the cost of children under 14 visiting a health practitioner, eg, a doctor, with their enrolled general practice. This is because most visits for children under 14 are already free. If your health practitioner has an extra charge, you will have to pay it.

  • When we automatically send you a card

    We'll automatically send you and your partner a Community Services Card if you're getting:

    • Jobseeker Support
    • Sole Parent Support
    • Supported Living Payment
    • Emergency Benefit
    • Youth Payment
    • Young Parent Payment
    • Veterans Pension
    • Accommodation Supplement.

    We'll also automatically send you and your partner a card if you're living in public housing, eg a Kāinga Ora (used to be Housing New Zealand) house, or you're receiving Working For Families Tax Credits.

    Residential Care Subsidy

    If you get Residential Care Subsidy, we'll automatically send you a card. If you have a partner, they'll need to apply for their own card.

    Student Allowance

    If you get a Student Allowance, we'll automatically send you a card once your allowance is approved. But if you have a partner who's working, you'll need to apply.

    Supporting a child

    We'll automatically send you a Community Services Card for a child you support if you're getting:

    • Orphans Benefit
    • Unsupported Child's Benefit
    • Child Disability Allowance

    You can sign the card on the child's behalf.

  • How to apply

    If you're getting a benefit or payment from us, we may automatically send you a card, it depends what benefit or payment you get.

    If you don't automatically get a card sent to you, you'll need to apply for one.

    Step 1 - Fill out an application form

    You can get an application form in any of these ways:

    • download the application form below
    • ring us on 0800 999 999 and ask for one
    • fax us on our DeafLink free-fax 0800 621 621
    • ask a health practitioner, eg, your family doctor or pharmacy.

    If you get Working for Families Tax Credits, you'll be sent an application form automatically.

    Step 2 - Gather your documents

    You need to provide 3 documents as proof of identity when you apply for a Community Services Card.

    Step 3 - Send everything to us

    Send your application form and documents to us at the address on the application form.

  • What happens next

    We'll process your application and let you know if we need anything else.

    We may send you a letter asking you for proof of your income. We'll explain what you need to send.

    • If you're self-employed, you must send us your latest full set of business accounts and tax summaries.
    • You can ask your accountant to send us your financial details, but they can't sign the application form for you.

    If your application is approved, we'll send you a Community Services Card.

    When you get your card

    On your card is the date it starts and expires You can continue to use the card until it expires, even if your circumstances change.

  • Costs you paid before you got your card

    Your card has the date it starts and expires. Sometimes, your card might start before you get it in the mail. During this time, you may have paid full price for:

    • after-hours health practitioner visits
    • prescriptions.

    If you did, you may be able to claim some of these costs back.

    To claim them, you need to:

    • fill out the 'Reimbursement of Health Overcharges Application Form'
    • gather all your original receipts
    • send your application form and receipts to:
      PO Box 5054
      Lambton Quay
      Wellington

    If your application is approved, we'll:

    • work out how much the Community Services Card would have covered and how much you would have paid
    • pay the cost of what the Community Services Card would have covered into your bank account.
  • Renewing your card

    If your card is due to expire, it will need to be renewed. It takes 3 weeks to get a replacement card.

    How you renew your card depends on what benefit or payment you're getting from us.

    Main benefit, Veteran's Pension, Accommodation Supplement or Residential Care Subsidy

    If you get a main benefit, Veteran's Pension, Accommodation Supplement or a Residential Care Subsidy, we'll send you a new card before your old one expires. Examples of main benefits are:

    • Jobseeker Support
    • Sole Parent Support
    • Supported Living Payment.

    If your benefit, Veteran's Pension, Accommodation Supplement or Residential Care Subsidy has been stopped for any reason, you need to re-apply for a new card.

    Living in public housing

    If you live in a public house, eg, a Kāinga Ora (used to be Housing New Zealand) house, we'll send you a new card before your old one expires.

    If you move out of your public house, you need to re-apply for a new card.

    Going from a benefit to NZ Super

    If you're on a benefit and going onto New Zealand Superannuation, you can use your card until it expires. Then you'll need to re-apply for a new card.

    Your NZ Super will be counted as income when you re-apply.

    NZ Super or Working for Families Tax Credits

    If you get New Zealand Superannuation or Working for Families Tax Credits, we'll send you a new card before your old one expires.

    Some people are sent a renewal form. If you get a renewal form, you need to fill it in and send it back straight away.

    Don't get a benefit or payment from us

    If you don't get any of these benefits or payments from us, we'll send you a renewal form before your card expires. You need to fill it in and send it back straight away.

  • Can't get Community Services Card

    If you can't get the Community Services Card, you may be able to get a:

    • Prescription subsidy
    • High Use Health Card.

    These are both managed by the Ministry of Health.

    Prescription subsidy

    You can get a prescription subsidy if you and your family have collected 20 subsidised prescription items in a year. The year starts on 1 February. Once you've collected 20, any other subsidised prescriptions are free for the rest of that year.

    You will still need to pay a small fee for a prescription from a private clinician, such as a specialist or optometrist. If you have a High Use Health Card as well as a prescription subsidy, a fee won't be charged.

    Talk to a health practitioner, eg, your pharmacist, about a prescription subsidy. You must have kept a record of the prescriptions you've gotten. They may keep a record for you.

    High Use Health Card

    This card can help if you visit a health practitioner, eg, your doctor, at least 12 times in 12 months for an ongoing health condition.

    Please talk to your health practitioner if you think you qualify for the High Use Health Card.