Other services

Community Services Card


The Community Services Card entitles the holder to:


To receive a Community Services Card, a person must be receiving a low to middle income.

This may be from:

Cardholders must also be:

– permanent legal residents of New Zealand and normally live here, or
– holders of, or applicants for, either refugee status or protected person status.

Some people receive a card automatically, while others need to apply

Community Services Cards are automatically issued to people receiving income-tested financial assistance.

Applications for a Community Services Card (to complete income tests for a card) are required from:

What Community Services Cards are used forTop

Services from doctors

Cardholders can receive treatment and prescriptions at reduced costs by using the card.

Doesn’t everyone have low-cost access through their own doctor without a card?

Since 1 July 2007, everyone enrolled with a primary health organisation (PHO) can receive low-cost or reduced-cost services from their own PHO without using a card.

People use a Community Services Card when they:

Without a card, these patients would be treated as casual patients and charged higher fees for services.

Other services obtainable using a Community Services Card

Other services are targeted to cardholders. These include:

Some local councils and private organisations also offer discounts to Community Services Card holders.

Numbers of Community Services Cards on issueTop

The number of cards on issue decreased between 2011 and 2012

This decrease (see table CS.1) largely reflected a reduction in the number of benefit recipients and Working for Families Tax Credit recipients holding cards.

Of the people holding Community Services Cards at June 2012 (see table CS.1):

table CS.1: Categories of clients holding a Community Services Card

Category of client Community Services Cards on issue1,2
2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Low-income earners and students not receiving a Student Allowance3 45,080 35,526 31,236 26,128 23,159
Family Support/Family Tax Credit recipients4 189,533 189,914 180,592 164,366 150,389
Veteran’s Pension recipients 7,869 10,041 9,924 9,588 8,944
Student Allowance recipients3 36,506 46,756 66,445 80,898 81,606
Main benefit recipients5 359,238 411,402 442,498 434,972 421,772
New Zealand Superannuation recipients6 288,438 272,920 266,605 262,851 265,872
Residential Care Subsidy recipients 19,062 25,082 24,899 24,278 25,231
Working families not receiving any of the above assistance 12,642 13,188 13,836 13,254 13,447
Total 958,368 1,004,829 1,036,035 1,016,335 990,420


  1. The number of Community Services Cards on issue at the end of June. Cards are issued to adults in family units and to children receiving a Child Disability Allowance. A family unit can be a single person or a couple and their dependent children, if any. A card can be used until the expiry date even if the client’s circumstances change.
  2. The number of Community Services Cards on issue has been revised owing to improvements in statistics. The table now includes cards issued to children receiving a Child Disability Allowance and unexpired cards being used following changes in clients’ circumstances.
  3. Since June 2003, most students receiving a Student Allowance have had a card automatically issued. Students not entitled to a Student Allowance must apply as low-income earners.
  4. ‘Family Tax Credit’ includes both Group 1 (unabated) and Group 2 (abated) recipients who have been subsidised at Group 1 levels since July 1993. This assistance was known as Family Support until 2005.
  5. ‘Main benefit recipients’ includes students receiving an Unemployment Benefit – Student Hardship or an Emergency Benefit, and includes children receiving a Disability Allowance who have their own card.
  6. Because of the income testing of Community Services Cards, not all recipients of New Zealand Superannuation are eligible to receive a card.