Medicare for Visa Holders

If you’re applying for an Australian visa, you’re probably wondering what your healthcare entitlements are.

Australia has an excellent public health system, but not all visa holders are covered by Medicare. Some people are required to purchase private health insurance and maintain coverage during their time in Australia.

Once you become a permanent resident or Australian citizen you are entitled to free access. Until then, it’s a little more complicated.

Reciprocal Healthcare Agreements

Australia has reciprocal healthcare arrangements in place with some countries. This means that visitors or visa holders from these places may be able to access some publicly funded care whilst in Australia. Not all agreements were created equal though and entitlements vary between countries.

Australia currently has reciprocal agreements with the following countries:

The Netherlands
The UK
The Republic of Ireland
New Zealand

*Reciprocal agreements generally apply regardless of your visa type.


Visitors from certain countries may be eligible to enroll in Medicare for up to 6 months from their arrival in Australia. As we mentioned above, not all reciprocal agreements are the same. For example, visitors from the Republic of Ireland cannot obtain a Medicare card; however, they can receive care at public hospitals if required.

You need to check exactly what the reciprocal agreement for your country covers. It’s recommended that visitors also purchase a standard travel insurance policy to cover them during their time in Australia.

PR Visa Applicants

As a PR visa applicant, you may also be able to obtain a Medicare card. Although some exclusions are in place, applicants who are entitled to work in Australia or have a parent, spouse or child who is Australian or from New Zealand, may also be able to apply.

Applying for Medicare

If you live in Australia and you have been granted PR, you can visit a Medicare centre and apply for a Medicare card. If you’re a visitor from selected countries with reciprocal agreements in place or you’re a PR applicant, you may also be able to apply.

If you provide Medicare with your bank details, any reimbursements will be paid directly into your account.

You will need to take the following documents with you:

– Current passport for each person who is applying
– Visa grant letter for each person
– Where an applicant does not have permission to work, they will need to provide evidence that they are a spouse, parent or child of an Australian citizen or permanent resident.

To learn more about enrolling in Medicare on a visa, visit your local Medicare centre or read this Government guide.