Community Services Card
The Community Services Card can help you and your family with the costs of health care. You'll pay less on some health services and prescriptions simply by showing your card.
- You can use your card for your dependent children aged under 18 years.
- Children visiting a doctor automatically get a subsidy. If your doctor has an extra charge, you may have to pay it.
How it can be used
We administer the Community Services Card on behalf of the Ministry of Health.
It can reduce the cost of:
- prescription fees if you don't belong to a Primary Health Organisation
- fees for after hours doctor visits
- visits to a doctor who is not your regular doctor
- 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 outside your area when you have been referred (at least 80km away for adults and 25km for children)
- home help.
You might pay less for prescriptions
There’s a ‘Government prescription charge’ for prescription items subsidised by the Government (there’s no Government prescription charge on items for children aged under six years). There may also be a premium to pay if the cost to manufacture the item is more than the Government’s subsidy.
If you don’t belong to a PHO and have a Community Services Card, all you pay is a small fee for a subsidised prescription item, but you still have to pay the premium if there is one. The amount of the prescription charge and the premium can change.
Who can get it
You may get the Community Services Card if you are:
- 16 years or over (not a dependent child)
- on a low to middle-income
- a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident
- normally live in New Zealand and intend to stay here
- have, or have applied for, refugee or protection status.
If you're 16-17, you may be able to get a card if you're studying full-time at a university or polytechnic.
If you receive either Scheme 1 Weekly Income Compensation or Scheme 2 Weekly Compensation from Veterans' Affairs you are eligible for a card.
You may also get the card if you have refugee or protection status or have applied for refugee or protection status.
If you cannot get the Community Services Card, you may be able to get some other type of help for your health costs. Ask your pharmacist about the Prescription Subsidy Card or your doctor about a High Use Health Card.
If you have a Community Services Card and are transferring to NZ Super, then your current card can be used to its expiry date, but you will need to reapply when it expires. NZ Super is counted as income and you need to update your income details.
This information is a guide only. Contact us to talk about your individual circumstances.
Getting a benefit or payment from us
You and your partner, if you have one, will automatically get 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.
If you get:
- Residential Care Subsidy, you'll automatically get a card, but your partner, if you have one, will need to apply for their own card.
- Student Allowance, you'll be sent a card automatically when your allowance has been approved, unless you have a partner who's working, then you'll need to fill out an application form.
- Student Loan or New Zealand Superannuation, you can ask for an application form by calling us on 0800 999 999, or you can pick one up from your local Work and Income service centre.
You'll automatically get a Community Services Card for a child you support if you're getting:
- Orphans Benefit
- Unsupported Childs Benefit
- Child Disability Allowance
You can sign the card on the child's behalf.
Low to middle-income families
You must be on a low to middle-income to get a Community Services card.
By income, we mean any money, goods and services you, or your partner, get from any source such as:
- New Zealand Superannuation or Student Allowances
- 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.
If you receive New Zealand Superannuation and a private pension, only half of your private pension may count as income. Please tell us the name and the full amount of the pension when you apply.
If you don't get New Zealand Superannuation and you get a private pension, we have to include the whole amount of your private pension as income.
You may be able to get a card if you're... And your yearly income (before tax) is... Single - living with others $26,330 Single - living alone $27,942 Married, civil union or de facto couple - no children $41,783 NZ Superannuation single, sharing accommodation $26,949 NZ Superannuation single, living alone $28,626 NZ Superannuation married, civil union or de facto relationship - no children $42,836 Family of 2 $49,993 Family of 3 $60,402 Family of 4 $68,682 Family of 5 $76,790 Family of 6 $85,852 For families of more than 6, the limit goes up another $7,986 for each extra person
Proof of income
After you apply we may write and ask you for proof of your income. We'll explain what you need to send.
If you're self-employed you must include your latest full set of business accounts and tax summaries with your application.
If you have a problem getting the information, please call us. You can ask your accountant to send us your financial details, but they can't sign the application form for you.
How to apply
You will need to get an application form, fill it in and send it to us.
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
- call into a Work and Income service centre
- ask your family doctor or pharmacy.
You need to provide 3 documents as proof of identity when you apply for a Community Services Card.
How do you get a card?
Your card is usually backdated. This means that the start date of your card may cover some after-hours doctors’ visits or prescriptions that you had to pay full price for while you were waiting for your card.
You may be able to claim back some of these costs (make sure you keep all your original receipts).
If you need to make a claim, call us on 0800 999 999. We’ll send a claim form for you to fill in. Please send it back to us along with your original receipts. Refunds are paid to your bank account. Remember, a Community Services Card doesn’t cover the whole cost of prescriptions or after-hours doctors’ visits so you won’t get everything back – you still have to pay something towards your costs.
Renewing your card
On your card is the date it starts and runs out. You can continue to use the card until it runs out, even if your circumstances change.
If you get one of the main types of income support or the Residential Care Subsidy, you’ll automatically get a new card before your old one runs out. If your benefit or Residential Care Subsidy has been stopped for any reason, you must re-apply for a card. You’ll need to ask us for an application form.
If you change from a Work and Income benefit to New Zealand Superannuation, you must re-apply for a card when your old one runs out.
If you get New Zealand Superannuation or Working for Families Tax Credits, your new card may be sent automatically before your old one runs out. Some people are sent a renewal form – if you get a renewal form, please fill it in and send it back straight away.
If you get Working for Families Tax Credits, you should get a new card before your old one runs out. If you don’t get a new card on time, please call us on 0800 999 999.
Other card holders will usually get a renewal form before your card runs out. Please fill it in and send it back straight away. If you don’t get a form or card before your old card runs out, please call us.
It takes three weeks to get a replacement card. Remember to keep the receipts for any costs you want to claim back when your card arrives.
If you’re on a low to middle-income there may be some other types of help you can get. If you have a disability you may not have to pay for home-support services if you need them.
You may also be able to get help if you have a child aged under 16 years who needs glasses. In either case, talk to your local health care professional.
Working for Families tax credits
If you’re working and getting Working for Families Tax Credits from Inland Revenue, you may qualify for a Community Services Card depending on your income. Check the income table on page 7. You’ll be sent an application automatically.
Pharmaceutical Subsidy Card
You can get a Pharmaceutical Subsidy Card from your pharmacist if you and your family have collected 20 subsidised prescription items in a year. All further prescriptions of fully subsidised pharmaceuticals are free for the rest of that year. The year starts on 1 February.
A small co-payment will still be charged for a prescription from a private clinician, such as a specialist or optometrist, although if you have a High Use Health Card in addition to a Pharmaceutical Subsidy Card there will be no co-payment.
To get a Pharmaceutical Subsidy Card, you must keep a record of the prescriptions you get. The pharmacist may keep a record for you. Ask your pharmacist about this.
High Use Health Card
If you don’t qualify for a Community Services Card, you may be able to get the High Use Health Card. This card can help if you visit the doctor often for an ongoing medical condition (12 times or more in the last 12 months). It gives you the same subsidies on doctors’ visits and prescriptions as a Community Services Card, but it is not a family card.
Please talk to your doctor if you think you qualify for the High Use Health Card.