Frequently Asked Questions

What do I enter in the Registration form?

Sample Registration form

Why is the Activation button not working?

Did you open the form using Acrobat Reader DC?

Check the text at the top left of the page when the document is open and you should see “SEC Registration.pdf – Adobe Acrobat Reader DC”.
Click the image to expand
Answer – if another program has opened the form (using Chrome or Safari extensions, for example) you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader DC installed to complete this form. To find out if you have it installed on your computer, follow these steps:
  1. Click the Start button on your task bar (usually found at the bottom left of the computer screen).
  2. Select All Programs from the pop-up menu.
  3. Verify that there is a folder called Adobe Acrobat listed.

If you don’t have Adobe Reader on your computer, you can download it for free here.

Adobe may suggest installing software from other companies along with Reader. Usually you do not want or need those, so uncheck them unless you’re sure you want them. If you use PDF products apart from Adobe Reader DC, the form may not be fully functional.

Are you accessing the document on a phone or tablet?

This document uses features available within Microsoft Windows (AES-256bit encryption) and may not work correctly using Apple or Android devices.
Answer – open the document on a Windows PC (e.g. a friend, your local library or an Internet Cafe).
Is your email address linked to Adobe?
Note: hotmail is not compatible. We suggest using Gmail.
First check your email drafts folder for the expected generated email.
If it is there, click send, you will receive the activation code in an email back which will arrive to your inbox folder.

If not, you can check the default email of Adobe Reader DC

  1. Click Edit->Preferences->Email Account-> The email address with a green or grey tick is the default email of Adobe
  2. If you wish to add your email >Add account-> Add gmail->(enter your gmail address)->Click your gmail address in the box and the Make default button->a tick should appear beside the gmail address in the box->click ok.
  3. Then click the activation button/submit again
  4. Click allow, enable and yes to all. You may be asked to enter your gmail address and password again.
  5. The pdf will create a draft email in your gmail email.
  6. Press send on that email
  7. In return you will receive an email with the activation code in it/confirmation email.

How do I send the activation email

1. Request activation code by email
2. View Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
3. Type activation code here to unlock. Until you activate the form, you will not be able to enter any information into the fields. To request an activation code, click the activation button. If you don’t see the following panel, check the topic above “Why is the Activation button not working?”

Select the top option if you use Microsoft Outlook and this is your PC. Select the bottom option to access your web account e.g. Gmail, Hotmail, Eircom, etc.

Gmail, for example, will ask you for your permission to proceed. Click “Allow”.

Once you reply “Yes” to this prompt, an email will be automatically created in your Gmail account (you may be asked for a password) and you should click “Send” (see below). Please be patient during these steps because it can take a few minutes depending on the speed of your PC and the Internet connection.

What will happen when I send the activation email?

 Answer – a response will be received to your email address within a few minutes containing a six-digit code. Enter the code, click on the first entry field and you will be able to complete the form.
Please note the message “Form unlocked” appearing beside the activation code

A message appeared about my webmail but nothing else has happened. What do I do now?

A draft email has been created in your default email folder.

Answer –  Check the taskbar, at the bottom of the screen, to see if there is an option waiting for your input.

Certificate Number

If you applied to the SEC block grant for 2019/20 input your 8-digit Certificate Number here.

If you are applying to the grant for the first time leave this box blank.

What internet browser should I use?

Use the browser that you would normally use, unless the browser is Microsoft Edge, which is not compatible with Adobe.

What is a Dependent Child?

A dependent child means a child, including foster children, who is:

  • Under the age of 18
  • Under the age of 23 in full-time education
  • Aged 18 or more and is certified permanently unable to work due to a medical condition

Who should I include in the parent section?

Include your first and last name and your partner/spouse’s first name and last name

What is the closing date for registration?

Applicants must have registered before the closing date of 30th November 2019.

I received an SEC grant last year, do I have to re-apply this year?

Yes, you must make an application for the 2020/21 school year even if you received a grant for the previous school year.

How do I find my Eircode?

Go to the Eircode site, enter your postal address and your code will be displayed.

What does Salutation mean?

Salutation is how you would like to be addressed in letters and emails, e.g Dear Mr & Mrs Smith, Dear Nicole etc.

What schools are included in the SEC Grant scheme?

Go to this page to see the list of secondary schools included in the SEC Grant scheme.

Whose contact details should I include on the form?

Include the contact details for the parent/guardian who is to receive all communications regarding the SEC grant application.

What email address should I use?

Use the email address that you would normally use unless it is a Hotmail account which is not compatible with Adobe. We recommend that you use a Gmail account.

What level do I put in for my child?

Enter the level they will be at for school year 2020/21 e.g if they are entering first year in 2020/21, then select “Form 1”.

Should I include all my children on the registration form?

Include all dependent children on the form. See FAQ above for details of what is a dependent child.

One of my children goes to a secondary school which is not eligible for a SEC grant, how do I include them on the form?

Include them as normal, but for secondary school they are attending select the “Other” option.

Is my information secure?

The risks associated with sensitive documents have always been high. But in a world where people regularly
access and transmit those documents on their mobile devices and public networks, the risks are higher than
ever. The most effective solution is to assign security parameters that are an integral part of the document itself.
Adobe Acrobat is designed to protect electronic documents inside and outside the network with convenient,
easy-to-use document-security capabilities that encourage users to keep information private.
Our solutions are based on the most current versions of Adobe Acrobat Pro and Adobe Reader DC.
The documents are protected with 256-bit AES encryption using Adobe Acrobat Pro, for your security. Other
products may not render the form correctly. More information is available by downloading this document

I am still having a problem on my PC. What do I do?

If you are still having difficulties, please send an image of your screen to with a detailed explanation of your problem. Follow the instructions below to locate the Windows Snipping Tool in order to create the image:

What do I enter in the Application form?

Sample Application Form

What internet browser and computer set up should I use?

Security of your personal data is very important and the system is designed with the highest security available presently.

You will need to use a laptop or a PC that is running Windows 7 or later. Older operating systems such as XP or Vista will not be compatible with current security standards.

Use the browser that you would normally use unless the browser is Microsoft Edge, which is not compatible with Adobe.

Similar to the registration submission you will need to have Adobe Acrobat Reader DC and not any other version of Adobe. Other versions may allow you complete the application and send it but the content will not go through and the application will need to be completed again using Adobe Acrobat Reader DC.

Gmail accounts work well with Adobe but some email addresses conflict with it and can cause difficulties e.g. Hotmail, Yahoo.

You will need to use a Windows PC or laptop preferably with Windows 7 or later. Apple Macs can also be used but may need settings to be amended to do so. Tablets and phones do not support the level of security that the application system runs on and cannot be used to apply for the grant.

All boxes surrounded with red are mandatory and must be completed to allow the form be verified. This allows the Submit button to appear.

What is the closing date for applications?

Applicants must submit the application online by midnight on the 14th January 2020. After submitting you will need to print the application form and:

  1. Sign it – all applicants
  2. Have the religion verification section signed by the Clergy/Minister in the child’s church.

Attach the verification documents and post to the address on the back of the application form by 14th February 2020.

What are the activation code boxes for?

The Activation Code establishes a secure link between your email address and the SEC.

Click on the box and your email account will draft an email to send to SEC so that you can prove that when you have completed the application it can be emailed to us. Click all continue and allow commands in the popup screens selecting the email you are using and when the draft appears, hit the send button. You will receive a reply within a minute or so with the activation code for you to enter in the blank box. Then click outside the box and the application will be unlocked for you to complete it.

What email address should I use?

Use the email address that you would normally use, unless it is a Hotmail account which is not compatible with Adobe Acrobat Reader DC. We recommend that you use a Gmail account.

Section A: What are the initials and months schedule at the top of the application?

These are the children for whom you are applying for a grant. Their month of birth is beside the initials of each child for you to identify them. Enter the child’s religion in this section.

Find the List of SEC Approved churches here 

You should have included all of your dependent children on the 2020/21 Registration Form. The SEC has a record of all the children you entered on your 2020/21 Registration Form.

Section B:

What is Employment status?

Select the status from the drop down boxes that is nearest to your present employment status. If you expect a change of employment status in the near future e.g. redundancy please insert a comment in the comment line provided at the bottom of the section.

I was employed in 2018 but I am unemployed now, what should I put for employment status?

Please include your current employment status on the form, unemployed and type into the comments section of the form that you were employed in 2018.

Employer name -enter the name of your employer here and if you are self-employed simply type in “self” or the trade name you use.

Company Director – If you are a company Director and you own 25% of the shares in the company either on your own or jointly with your spouse/partner you will need to send in the most recent full set of audited accounts when you get to print the application to sign and post in to the SEC.

Religious Denomination – please insert your own denomination by selecting from the drop down options or typing in the name of your church. If your church is not on the drop down list you may still be eligible, although the church must be a recognised protestant church by the SEC.

Marital StatusI live in Ireland with my children but my husband/wife lives abroad. What do I enter for my marital status? Married – Geographical separation is not a marital status.

Section C

Family Income Details: What period do I include for the questions in this section?

Calendar year 2018.

I am a PAYE employee and my partner is on self-assessed tax and we are individually assessed. What do I select from the drop down boxes at “Income taxed on the basis of”


Even if you are self-assessed and your partner is PAYE you select the option above from the drop down options.

My partner and I are jointly assessed for tax under the PAYE system. Where do I find the numbers to insert in the boxes?

You will need to refer to your P21 for the tax year ended 31 December 2018 and take the figures for income, PAYE tax, and USC, from the boxes circled in red shown in the sample below:

For employee PRSI contributions you will need to refer to your P60s for the year ended 31 December 2018 from the boxes circled in red shown in the sample below:

My partner and I are jointly self-assessed where do we get the figures to put in on the application at Section C?

You will need to refer to the Calculation section of your Form 11 Summary and take the figures from it. See the examples below:

Example 1-

Example 2-

Example 3-

Our only income is from the Department of Social Protection. What do we enter for the Income section C?

Select  option from the drop down options for Income taxed based on box.

Then scroll down the application to the section headed:and select the options from the dropdown list that matches the categories of payments you received in 2018 and insert the total amount received.

We do not receive enough income from employment or social welfare to allow us pay the living costs for our family and the shortfall in the SEC Grant we received last year and the cost of the fees for the secondary school our children are attending. We rely on assistance from family to be able to meet all our bills. How do we put this into the application?

Scroll down section C to the heading and select  from the drop down list and insert the amount received in 2018.

Section D:

We live in a house that is provided as part of my employment and we also have a house that we rent out that we intend to move into on our retirement. How do I enter these details on the application?
Firstly in Section D go to the first line of boxes headed and select   from the drop down list.

Then in Section E enter the details of the house you own but don’t live in and is rented out. If it is not rented out insert €0.01 in the rental box.

We inherited my wife’s parents’ farm 15 years ago and we bought additional land 10 years ago to improve its viability and we still owe money to the bank for this extra land. How do we enter this on the application?

In Section D under the heading enter the option “owned by us with a mortgage” and complete the details as requested showing the full estimated current value of the entire farm and the current balance of the loan outstanding.


We used to live in England and when we returned to Ireland we decided to keep the house we owned in England and we are renting it out to supplement our income from employment. Do we enter this into the property asset section of section E?

Yes. Type in “House” for the asset type box and convert the Sterling £ values and rental income into euro € by dividing the sterling amount by 0.9.


Do I include all mortgage/rent payments on the form?

Only include the rent/mortgage payments for the home that you live in.

For what year do I include my mortgage/rent payments?

Include the mortgage/rent payments that you are paying currently.

I have additional properties other than my home/business, what do I need to provide?

Applicants need to supply their property tax documents showing the property tax band their property is in.

I only have a small amount in my savings account, should I include it in the Assets section?

Include all savings accounts owned by you or your spouse even if there is only a small amount in the account.

What are Virtual Banks?

The option for Virtual banks refers to financial technology companies who offer banking services such as Revolut.

Section G

What do I need to include with my documents to get my medical costs included?

The following are examples of Special Circumstances that could be included on your application if they apply to you.

Special Circumstances are considered on a case by case basis and a clear cover letter with an outline of the costs to you in 2018 only would be helpful.

It is assumed that all available tax relief will be claimed by you

You paid for, or partially paid for Professional Home Carer to attend to your elderly relative in their home:

Provide a cover letter outlining the proportion of the cost to you.

Tax claim form eg Form 12

Provide a social welfare statement if you receive any social welfare in relation to the care of your elderly relative


You pay 25% of your relative’s home care bill of €40,000 per annum. You pay tax at a higher rate. Respite grant of €1700 is received.

Bill €40,000 – €1700 =  €38,000

Your expense is €38,300 x 25% = €9575

Your tax relief is €9575 x 40% = €3830

Maximum Special Circumstances allowance in this example: €5745

Your elderly relative spent a short period of 2018 in a nursing home and you paid or shared the cost with other relatives

Provide a cover letter outlining the total cost and what percentage of the total cost you paid. Please include dates.

Tax claim form eg form 12

The SEC will not include additional nursing home costs eg activities


The average wait time between applying for the Fair Deal Scheme and approval is 4-6 weeks.

Average nursing home cost is €1610 per week.

Maximum of four weeks will be considered by the SEC

You pay 40% of your relatives nursing home costs of €1800 per week plus €150 activity costs. No respite grant is received. You pay tax at 20%. Your relative stayed in nursing home for six weeks and received a total bill of €11,700. Your portion to pay is €4680

SEC allowable costs: €1610 x 4 = €6440

Your contribution: €6440 x 40% = €2576

Applicant tax relief: €2576 x 20% = €515.20

Special Circumstance: €2576 – €515.20 = €2060.80

You pay for long term nursing home costs:

The Fair Deal Scheme is available to all people who require long term nursing home care.

If you paid for costs before your relative’s fair deal scheme was finalised please outline this in a letter listing costs in 2018 and the date that the Fair Deal Scheme was finalised. See previous example

Provide bill, receipt and bank statement highlighting the payment in 2018.

Provide a copy of communication from Fair Deal Scheme confirming your application

You, your partner or one of your dependents has a long term illness

Provide Tax claim form eg form 12

If you have additional costs not provided by other schemes: provide a letter outlining costs to you in 2018 associated with the long term illness e.g. specialised equipment, adaption of your house, cost of getting to appointments/hospital, overnight stays etc

Your child has Dyslexia and in 2018 received a psychological assessment and attends special classes in addition to school

The SEC does not consider special circumstances for Dyslexia unless costs were deemed necessary by an education psychologist.

Your child has Dyspraxia or DCD

Provide a cover letter listing costs of supports and/or classes your child attends in relation to their Dyspraxia.

Provide documentary evidence showing a professional recommendation for your child to attend certain classes/activities due to dyspraxia

An example of support: occupational therapy, physiotherapy, exercise programmes, counselling for child or parents, psychotherapy, drama therapy, speech and language therapy

Please contact or 01 551 4693 if you wish to discuss your circumstances or are unsure which documents to provide


Verification of Religion Section

Is this our religion or the religion of the children we are applying for a grant for?

It is the children’s religion that needs to be verified here.

We are Church of Ireland as our children are and we do not know the charity number for the Church. Where do we get it from?

For Church of Ireland, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Society of Friends you do not need to enter the charity number as we know them already.


Our family attend a Pentecostal Church. Do we have to insert the charity number as well as the name of the church?

Yes please. Your Pastor or someone in church administration should be able to provide you with this number.

What does the error message mean when I click Verify on the Application Form?

You have missed filling in a mandatory red box on the form

Select None if the box does not apply to you.

Enter €0.01 if the amount does not apply to you

Select a dropdown option or type in information

For the meaning of a specific code click here

Once we have emailed the application have we completed the process to apply for a grant?

No. You will need to print off the application after you emailed it and then sign it and have the verification of religion section signed. Then post it in as instructed on the back page with the verification documents relevant to your details you have inserted on the application.


If you have a query in completing the application that you cannot find an answer for in this document please first read the Application Form guidelines

before emailing the details of your query to