National Health Index entitlements

The National Health Index number (NHI number) is a unique identifier assigned to every person who uses health and disability support services in New Zealand. A person’s NHI number is stored on the National Health Index (NHI) along with that person’s demographic details.

The NHI and associated NHI numbers are used to help with the planning, coordination and provision of health and disability support services across New Zealand.

The NHI is associated with the Medical Warnings System, and is designed to warn health care providers of any known risk factors that may be important when making clinical decisions about individual patient care.

Are overseas visitors entitled to a NHI number?

Overseas visitors are entitled to a NHI number. The patient will be registered as a non-resident until documentation is sighted to prove the patients residency status. The patients health provider can contact Sector Operations on 0800 855 151 and we will update the NHI information.

Can a patient who holds a current visitors permit, work permit or a student permit get a NHI number?

Patients who hold a current visitors permit, work permit or a student permit are entitled for an NHI number. Depending on the term the permit is valid for determines whether the patient is eligible for publicly funded health and disability services.

If a patient is not a NZ Resident can they get a NHI number?

A patient does not need to be a New Zealand resident to be entitled to a NHI number. The patient will be registered as a non-resident until documentation is sited to prove the patients residency status. The patients health provider can contact Sector Operations on 0800 855 151 and we will update the NHI information.

Can a foreign diplomat get a NHI number?

A foreign diplomat is entitled to a NHI number. However a foreign diplomat with children is not entitled to any publicly funded health and disability services under the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations 1961, neither diplomatic staff nor their families are able to receive medical benefits while posted in New Zealand.

What information do you require before registering a patient for a NHI number?

The information Sector Operations requires before registering a patient for a NHI number is:

  • Family name
  • First name
  • Date of birth
  • Gender
  • Address
  • Residency status
  • The ethnicity the patient identifies with

What year did NHI numbers start being issued, as my patient has been overseas for some time?

NHI numbers have been allocated to new born babies since 1992 and are the cornerstone of health information in New Zealand. Prior to this date it was not a mandatory process to allocate a patient with a NHI number.

Can a person have two NHI numbers?

A patient should not have two NHI numbers. The purpose of a NHI number is a unique identifier to each patient and holds that patients information. This means that each person can be uniquely identified for the purposes of health care services and records.

If your patient has multiple NHI numbers please contact Sector Operations on 0800 855 151 and we will investigate the numbers and request a merge of any duplicate information.

What is the difference between a Resident and a Citizen?

The following pages on the Immigration New Zealand website give information on both NZ Residency and NZ Citizenship.

Why do I need to sight proof of residency?

Sighting proof of residency is part of the NHI registration process. The residency status of a patient is recorded against the NHI information and indicates whether a patient is entitled to any publicly funded health and disability services. We will not update a patients’ residency status until the documentation has been sighted.

Why do I have to sight proof of date of birth or name change information?

Sighting proof of date of birth or name change is required to ensure we have the most up to date and correct information for your patient. This way the patient information is correctly identified as belonging to that patient only.

What do we need to search for a NHI number?

The information Sector Operations requires is:

  • Family name
  • First name
  • Gender
  • Date of birth.

Additionally you may be asked to supply an address or middle name for your patient if we have more than one match. The additional information is requested to ensure we are giving you the correct NHI number for your patient.

If a patient has a NHI number does it mean they are automatically eligible for publicly funded health and disability services?

Please note any patient is entitled to a NHI number if they have received medical treatment while in New Zealand. Having a NHI number does not mean your patient is automatically eligible for publicly funded health and disability services. For more information, go to Eligibility.

Please note: you should not rely solely on the answers provided here; the contracts applicable to each provider and all relevant legislation must be consulted to determine the full rights & liabilities applicable to any service provider or funder.

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