Eligibility questions and answers for consumers

Topics covered

On this page:

If the Guide to eligibility or the answers below do not answer your question, email the question to eligibility@moh.govt.nz for an answer.


Accidents

What injury cover do visitors have?

New Zealand has a universal accident insurance scheme (ACC) that covers treatment costs for accidental injuries. The scheme covers New Zealand citizens, residents and visitors for acute accident-related hospital treatment, and a wide range of other services approved by ACC. Claims for ongoing treatment must be accepted by ACC, and part charges may apply.

While ACC covers visitors’ accident-related treatment, comprehensive travel insurance is strongly recommended to cover repatriation expenses and claims not accepted by ACC.

To find out more about the scheme, visit the ACC website.

Acute and elective care

What ‘acute’ and ‘elective’ care can ineligible people access?

Anyone requiring acute services will be able to receive the services they require. If they are not eligible, they can expect to be invoiced for the services they received. Ineligible people needing ‘elective’ services may receive the treatment through the public system, where there is capacity beyond meeting the needs of the eligible population. In some cases, they will be asked for payment in advance.

If a person is too unwell to make an informed decision about whether they want further treatment, and a clinician determines that treatment is necessary to prevent loss of life or significant disability, treatment should be provided. If the person is not eligible for that treatment to be publicly funded, they would be asked to pay afterwards.

Aged parents

Can all foreign nationals access aged care?

To be eligible to receive publicly funded age-related disability support services, a person would need to:

  • be a New Zealand citizen; OR
  • be an Australian citizen or permanent resident who has been living or is intending to live in New Zealand for two years or more; OR
  • hold a residence class visa OR
  • be a refugee, protected person or victim of people trafficking or in the process of applying for or appealing for that status.

To be eligible for public funding for aged residential care (a residential care subsidy) and other older people services, an older person must meet the eligibility criteria for public funded health and disability services and be assessed as requiring residential care indefinitely, and undergo a financial means assessment.

If they are not eligible for publicly funded health and disability services, a person can access private care in a residential care setting, but if their personal funds are exhausted, and they are still not eligible for public funding or not assessed as requiring residential care, no public funds will be made available.

For more information about eligibility, see Residential care.

Australians

Do all Australians have the same eligibility?

No. There are two different eligibility classes for Australians.

Australian citizens and Australian permanent residents who have migrated to New Zealand are eligible for the full range of services, provided they have or intend to stay here for at least two years.

Australian residents who are not intending to stay for two years or longer are eligible for immediately necessary hospital and maternity services and pharmaceuticals. They’ll need to pay the full cost of primary health care consultations (eg, with a local doctor or nurse), often called the ‘casual’ rate. This is what New Zealanders pay if they choose not to enrol.

I’m from Australia, and I’m thinking of moving to New Zealand to live. Do I need to enrol when I get there?

New Zealand doesn’t have a national Medicare system like Australia. Eligibility is instead assessed by the provider at the time the health services are provided. If a person is eligible, treatment is provided under the same conditions as for New Zealand citizens, and is subject to the same charges as New Zealanders would pay.

In New Zealand, eligible people can enrol with primary health organisations (PHO), which entitles them to subsidised primary health care, such as GP consultations and pharmaceuticals. Australian citizens and Australian permanent residents are able to enrol with a PHO if they are staying in New Zealand for at least two years (counting from the day they arrived).

If you think you qualify in this way, you’ll need to show the PHO your passport (including your residence visa if it is not an Australian passport), and proof that New Zealand will be your principal place of residence for two years or more (for example, work contract, house long-term lease, ownership, or mortgage and your Australian Passport or your valid Passport of your own nationality with a current Australian Resident Visa.

I’m an Australian citizen here on holiday. Do I get to access publicly funded health and disability services?

Yes, but for immediately necessary hospital treatment, maternity services and pharmaceuticals only. Australian visitors to New Zealand are not entitled to publicly funded emergency transport by ambulance. This includes both non-injury and emergency transport. (Similarly, New Zealand visitors to Australia are not entitled to publicly funded emergency transport by ambulance.)

New Zealand has a reciprocal health agreement with Australia that covers Australian residents and citizens who are not ordinarily resident in New Zealand for immediately necessary medical treatment while they are on holiday.

Cover includes immediately necessary pharmaceuticals, hospital and maternity care clinically necessary for the diagnosis, alleviation or care of the condition requiring attention, on terms no less favourable than applies to New Zealanders. The services funded in New Zealand are not the same as in Australia. General practitioners (GPs) and other primary care is not covered. GP prescribed medications are subject to part charges. You may have to pay some or all rehabilitation costs. It is recommended you have comprehensive travel insurance.

Read more about the reciprocal health agreement between New Zealand and Australia.

I’m an Australian permanent resident and I got a New Zealand resident visa in my passport when I arrived. Does that not mean I’m eligible for all publicly funded health and disability services?

Australian citizens and Australian permanent residents automatically get resident visas on arrival to New Zealand. However, they’re required to demonstrate an intention to stay for at least two years from the date they arrived in order to be eligible for the same level of free and subsidised services as New Zealand citizens.

This is similar to Medicare enrolment in Australia, where visiting New Zealand citizens may not enrol in Medicare Australia but can have free, urgent hospital services under the reciprocal health agreement between the two countries.

Children

I’m not eligible but my partner is - does that mean my child is eligible?

Unless your partner has been officially appointed or has applied to be your child’s legal guardian, and the child is in their care and control, your partner's eligibility cannot be used to give eligibility to your child.

In the Eligibility Direction, ‘guardian’ means:

  1. a testamentary guardian within the meaning of section 26 of the Care of Children Act 2004; or
  2. a Court-appointed guardian within the meaning of section 27 of that Act; or
  3. a person who is treated by the Department of Labour as having a dependent child within the meaning of section 4 of the Immigration Act.

Proof of guardianship will differ in each case. If a guardianship order was made by the New Zealand Family Court, you will be able to request Court documentation (eg, an appointment form signed by the Registrar of a Family Court in New Zealand).

For guardianship orders made overseas, proof of the relationship being recognised by the Department of Labour will either be on the visa label in the passport, or written confirmation from Immigration NZ.

 Citizens

I’m a New Zealand citizen, live overseas and am in New Zealand for a visit. Is my child eligible? She’s not a New Zealand citizen

Yes, a child in the care and control of a New Zealand citizen is eligible. You’ll need to demonstrate you are their parent or legal guardian (or going through a legal process to become one). Your child may receive hospital treatment at any hospital in the same way as other New Zealanders. However, if visiting a doctor, you'll need to pay the same rate as a casual (non-enrolled) New Zealander.

Are all New Zealand citizens eligible for publicly funded health and disability services?

Yes. New Zealand citizens are eligible for publicly funded services whenever they are in New Zealand – whether they have been in New Zealand for all their life, or whether they have just flown back from living overseas.

How can I prove I’m a New Zealand citizen – I can’t find my passport or birth certificate?

Contact the New Zealand Citizenship Office, Department of Internal Affairs and ask them to issue you new documentation. Visit the Department of Internal Affairs website for more information and contact details for the national office or an office near you.

Compulsory treatment

Would a person who would meet the criteria for a compulsory order under the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act be considered eligible for treatment under this direction even if an order was not in fact made?

Yes. The person would have to meet the compulsory treatment criteria. They would need to have a mental disorder, plus be a risk to themself or others. Not all people who would benefit from treatment for mental illness would formally meet both these two criteria.

Course of treatment

If I am not eligible for the whole time I’m receiving a course of treatment, will I be charged?

You will not be charged for services you receive when you are eligible (unless charges would apply to anyone). You will need to pay for the services you receive if you become ineligible.

Diplomats

Are diplomats, and their family members, eligible for publicly funded health services?

No. Foreign diplomats and their family members are not eligible for publicly funded health and disability services. The Government they’re representing is responsible for covering their health costs. They may receive medical care in the public health system but must pay for all medical and associated costs.

Foreign diplomats and their family members are covered under the accident compensation scheme and may receive medical treatment under the public system as the result of an accident, including motor vehicle accidents.

Please refer any queries to Protocol Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Wellington.

Doctors

How do I get health and disability services when I am visiting New Zealand?

If you are seriously ill or injured, you should go to the local hospital or emergency clinic, or phone for an ambulance (dial 111). You will need to pay for health services unless you are eligible for publicly funded health and disability services. To find out if you are eligible, use the Guide to eligibility for public health services.

If you are not seriously ill or injured, but require medical treatment you should make an appointment with a health centre, general practitioner (GP) or medical centre. They will refer you to another health service provider if further treatment is necessary.

A list of local hospitals, health centres, GPs and medical centres can be found in the green pages at the front of every White Pages telephone directory, from the nearest citizens advice bureau or primary health organisation. There is also a free, 24-hour health advice line, Healthline, on 0800 611 116.

I have received an invoice from the local public hospital. Do I have to pay?

You will have to pay unless you met the eligibility criteria for publicly funded health and disability services at the time you received the services that are being billed for. It may be that the hospital simply hasn't received documentation confirming your eligibility. You can use the Guide to eligibility for public health services to see whether you meet any of the criteria and, if you do, the documentation you’ll need to provide the hospital.

If you do not pay, and your visa has been sponsored, your sponsor may be sent an invoice and subject to debt collection procedures as well.

The hospital (or district health board, or doctor) says I am not eligible for publicly funded health or disability services. I think I am. What can I do?

First, use the Guide to eligibility for public health services to see whether you meet any of the criteria. If you do meet the criteria, take proof to your health service provider. If your health service provider still thinks you are not eligible, ask them to explain why. If you are unable to resolve the situation with your health service provider, you or they can ask the Ministry of Health for an eligibility determination.

For information on the determination process, see Determination of Eligibility.

I am very unhappy with the treatment I have received from a health professional. What can I do?

If you are able, discuss your concerns with your health service provider. If you are not satisfied, and the health service provider is part of a larger organisation, such as a hospital or medical centre, ask to speak to someone authorised to follow up complaints.

If you are still dissatisfied after following up these options, the Office of the Health and Disability Commissioner has been set up to investigate complaints about health and disability services or service providers. The Office will also be able to advise you about other available options.

Information on the Office of the Health and Disability Commissioner can be found at the Health and Disability Commissioner website.

Ineligible people

I don’t think I’m eligible for publicly funded health services, but will I still be treated if I become very unwell (for example, burst appendix, heart attack)?

Yes, you will be treated if the condition is acute. However, be aware that you will be charged for the services you receive if you are not eligible for publicly funded services.

The Government strongly recommends you get comprehensive travel insurance if you are not eligible for publicly funded health and disability services.

Lawfully in New Zealand

What does ‘lawfully in New Zealand’ mean?

For foreign nationals, being lawfully in New Zealand generally means that they hold a visa permitting them to stay in New Zealand. This is important to understand for work visa holders whose work visa is not for two years, but immediately prior, they were in New Zealand. If time spent lawfully in New Zealand immediately prior to the work visa and the length of the work visa equals two years or longer, the work visa holder would be eligible.

Long-term residents in New Zealand

I am a citizen of Fiji (or Samoa, or Tonga, or England, or any other country except Australia, Niue, the Cook Islands or Tokelau), but have lived in New Zealand for many years. Am I eligible for publicly funded health care?

Unless you have become a New Zealand citizen, or have a current New Zealand work visa or New Zealand residence class visa (or residence permit) in your passport, you may not be eligible for publicly funded health or disability services.

If you believe that you have residence in New Zealand, but do not have passport documentation to prove it, contact Immigration New Zealand for information on how to prove your residency status.

Maternity (pregnancy) services

I am a New Zealand citizen and my partner, who is here on a visitor visa, is pregnant. Will her maternity services be publicly funded?

Yes. The wife or partner of an eligible person is eligible for the same maternity-related services as New Zealand citizens, including antenatal, labour, birth, and post natal services. She will need to show proof that you are her husband, civil union or de facto partner, and that you are eligible.

I am a New Zealand permanent resident and my partner, who is here on a visitor visa, is pregnant. Her visa has now expired. Will her maternity services be publicly funded?

It is important that foreign nationals comply with immigration legislation and take responsibility for their immigration status. Pregnant partners of eligible people are eligible for publicly funded maternity-related services, provided they can prove their husband or partner is an eligible person. Permanent residents are eligible people.

My partner is a New Zealand citizen and I have a visitor’s visa. Although I am eligible for publicly funded maternity-related services, I cannot keep the child and want an abortion. Will the abortion be publicly funded?

No. People need to be eligible in their own right for an elective termination of pregnancy.

How can I demonstrate that I am the partner of an eligible person?

Acceptable proof of partnership includes:

  • a marriage or civil union certificate, OR
  • a visa granted by Immigration New Zealand on the basis of the relationship, OR
  • home ownership or tenancy papers, shared bank accounts etc. or a statutory declaration from both you and your partner, detailing how you meet the definition of ‘de-facto partner’ in section 29 of the Interpretation Act 1999 (New Zealand Legislation website).

I am a New Zealand citizen and my pregnant partner has a visitor visa. She has developed a condition that the doctor says is a result of the pregnancy. Will treatment of the condition be publicly funded?

This is a clinical decision. If the judgement is that the condition will significantly impact on the pregnancy or its outcome, services may be publicly funded in the same way as they would be for a New Zealand citizen.

See also the Pregnancy services page for more information.

Medicines

I’m travelling to New Zealand from overseas. Can I bring my medication with me? If I can’t bring all I need, can I get more prescribed medicines while I’m there?

If you are travelling to New Zealand and want to bring medicines with you, you can bring for your own personal use:

  • THREE months supply of a prescription medicine and/or
  • SIX months supply of an oral contraceptive.

It is advisable to keep your medicine in its original packaging so that pharmacy labels are clearly visible. It is a good idea to carry a letter from your doctor outlining that you are being treated with the medicine. All medicines should be declared to Customs upon arrival in New Zealand.

Please be aware that medicines containing ingredients that are classified as Controlled Drugs in New Zealand are subject to further and more stringent regulations. If you have been lawfully prescribed a Controlled Drug for the treatment of a genuine medical condition and you wish to travel to New Zealand you should contact the New Zealand Customs Service to establish what it is you need to do to bring this medicine to New Zealand. Contact details for the New Zealand Customs Service are available from the Customs website.

What do I do if I am travelling to New Zealand for greater than three months and need more medicines?

Upon arrival in New Zealand you can make an appointment with a New Zealand doctor who may be able to prescribe the same or similar medicine that is readily available from a New Zealand pharmacy. You will need to pay the cost of the medicine and the consultation fee from the doctor. See Visting a doctor.

Alternatively, you may have more medicines sent to you in New Zealand. The maximum quantity you may import is THREE months supply of a prescription medicine or SIX months supply of an oral contraceptive. The rules about importing medicines are outlined on the Medsafe website.

I am covered by the reciprocal agreement between Australia and New Zealand (or the United Kingdom and New Zealand). Will my regular medicines be partly publicly funded, as they are for New Zealanders?

View answer in the Reciprocal Agreements section.

I am in New Zealand and want to import medicines from overseas. What must I do?

Information for people wishing to import medicines from overseas is available on the Medsafe website. There is a contact email address on that page if you have further questions.

I’m a New Zealander planning to travel overseas. Can I take my medicine with me?

To find out the quantity of a medication you can take into a country, we recommend you call the embassy or consulate of that country. If there isn’t an embassy or consulate in New Zealand for the country you are travelling to, you should contact the Customs service of that country.

Medicines should be kept in their original packaging so that pharmacy labels with directions are clearly displayed. It is a good idea to carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor as well. The medicines should be declared to Customs upon arrival in each country you are travelling to.

How much medicine can I get in New Zealand to take overseas with me?

For any prescription medicine, your New Zealand doctor is able to prescribe THREE months of medication, except in the case of oral contraceptives, where SIX months’ supply can be prescribed. Most countries allow this much to be carried with you while you travel. Be aware that some countries allow less than this so it is best to check with the country you are travelling to.

For Controlled Drugs, such as morphine and methylphenidate, your doctor can only prescribe ONE month supply of medication. The rules surrounding travelling with Controlled Drugs are different for every country. If you are travelling with Controlled Drugs, it is extremely important that you contact the Customs service or embassy of the country that you are travelling to before you travel.

Further information for New Zealanders travelling overseas is available at the Safe Travel website.

Mental health

What should I do if I think I might hurt myself or someone else?

Go to your local mental health facility and ask for help. You will be assessed for free and further treatment may also be publicly funded depending on the outcome.

New Zealand citizens

I am a New Zealand citizen living overseas and am thinking about coming back to New Zealand to live. Would I be able to access free health care straight away?

As a New Zealand citizen, you would be eligible for publicly funded health and disability services while in New Zealand, regardless of the time spent away from New Zealand.

At your first visit to a health care provider you will need to show your New Zealand passport to demonstrate you are still a New Zealand citizen. You’ll be able to enrol with a PHO if you intend to continue with that practice.

New Zealanders travelling overseas

I’m a New Zealander going to Australia on holiday. Should I get travel insurance?

Yes. The reciprocal agreement with Australia covers New Zealand citizens and permanent residents for only immediate necessary medical treatment while you’re on holiday. Cover includes medical treatment that, in the opinion of the provider, is clinically necessary for the diagnosis, alleviation or care of the condition requiring attention, on terms no less favourable than applies to Australians.

However, cover does not include the same publicly funded services as New Zealand. You may also not be covered by ACC for any accidents that occur overseas. Costs for those things that are not covered (eg, ambulances) can be very high so the Government recommends that you have comprehensive travel insurance.

I am a New Zealander and I have moved to Australia for work. Am I covered by the Australia-New Zealand reciprocal agreement?

The reciprocal agreement between Australia and New Zealand is for citizens and residents of those countries who are in the other country on a temporary stay. If you have moved to Australia, contact Medicare Australia to find out about enrolment.

I’m a New Zealand resident going to the United Kingdom on holiday. Does the Reciprocal Agreement cover me for emergency care?

No. You have to be a New Zealand citizen to be covered by the Reciprocal Agreement between the United Kingdom and New Zealand. It is recommended you have comprehensive travel insurance.

NHI numbers

I have an NHI number. Am I eligible for publicly funded health services?

Not necessarily. An NHI number is assigned to anyone receiving health or disability services, regardless of their eligibility status. Use the Guide to eligibility for public health services to determine your eligibility.

Pacific people

Are people from the Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau eligible for publicly funded health and disability services?

Citizens of the Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau are eligible in the same way as other New Zealand citizens. There will be waiting times for some services, and part-charges apply (for example, for primary care or pharmaceuticals) on the same basis as for other New Zealanders.

Residents of those islands who are not citizens must meet one of the other eligibility criteria before they can access publicly funded services. See the Guide to eligibility for public health services to see whether a person meets any of the other criteria.

Are people from Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Kiribati, Tuvalu or Vanuatu eligible for publicly funded health and disability services?

The New Zealand Government funds health services through a special agreement with the governments of Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Kiribati, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. If a person is not referred through this agreement, their country’s government is unlikely to agree to pay for the services received.

For more information on eligibility of Pacific Island people, see Services for Pacific Island people or contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade for further information.

Permanent resident visa, resident visa, residence permit and returning resident’s visa

What visas do residents need to show to demonstrate their eligibility?

Foreign nationals allowed to remain permanently in New Zealand may hold:

  • a resident visa
  • a permanent resident visa, or
  • a residence permit, and a returning resident’s visa (issued before 29 November 2010).

Since 29 November 2010, resident and permanent resident visas (residence class visas) have been issued in place of residence permits and returning resident’s visas. Residence permits are now deemed residence class visas under the Immigration Act 2009.

I have a letter stating my residency application has been accepted in principle. Am I eligible?

You will not be considered eligible as a resident until your application has been finalised, which is when you will be issued residency labels in your passport.

I’m a British citizen, but have been in New Zealand for forty years. I don’t have a passport as I haven’t been out of the country for years. How can I prove my eligibility?

See Long-term residents above.

Permit or visa

What is the difference between a visa and a permit?

Prior to 29 November 2010, visas allowed foreign national to travel to New Zealand. Permits gave that person permission to stay in New Zealand for a particular purpose (eg, to work, study, visit, or reside permanently). Visas granted overseas were in the form of a label in the passport and a stamp at the border. If a foreign national had a current permit, they were lawfully in New Zealand.

Permits ceased to be issued from 29 November 2010, under the Immigration Act 2009. Visas are now issued for both travel rights and lawful stay. Permits issued prior to that date are deemed visas under the Act. This is particularly important to know for eligibility for work visa holders.

Policy

Who sets the criteria for eligibility for publicly funded health and disability services?

The criteria are set by the Minister of Health. For services funded through DHBs, this is generally done through Ministerial Directions under section 32 of the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Services Act 2000.

The Minister is prevented by law from making a direction or notice about a specific person or activity.

The current (2011) Ministerial Direction on eligibility provides a specific role for the Ministry of health in determining eligibility if there is a question or dispute about whether a person meets the criteria. The Ministry determination is specific to the person and their particular circumstances, and must be consistent with the criteria. There is no provision to make exceptions to the criteria.

For more information see the Eligibility Direction.

Private health insurance

Should I get health insurance?

The Government strongly recommends that people who do not meet the eligibility criteria take out comprehensive medical insurance. People who do meet the eligibility criteria decide for themselves how much coverage they personally want above and beyond publicly funded services.

More information on what is funded can be found under Publicly funded health and disability dervices.

You can get further information on insurance by contacting:

  • overseas private health insurers – to request details of the policies they offer, and consider the level of coverage in light of publicly funded health and disability services
  • your local district health board and other service providers – for actual costs of services that are not fully funded or partially subsidised for eligible people.

Reciprocal agreements

I am covered by the reciprocal agreement between Australia and New Zealand (or the United Kingdom and New Zealand). Will my regular medicines be partly publicly funded, as they are for New Zealanders?

The reciprocal agreement with Australia covers immediately necessary pharmaceuticals (and maternity services and hospital services).

The reciprocal agreement with the United Kingdom covers services for conditions that arose in New Zealand, became worse while in New Zealand or without treatment would have become acutely exacerbated. If this is true, the pharmaceuticals may be funded (provided other conditions of the reciprocal health agreement are satisfied). Otherwise, United Kingdom nationals should bring their regular medications with them, or have health insurance or the means to pay for regular medications.

See also questions and answers related to Reciprocal agreements that New Zealand has with the United Kingdom and Australia.

Are UK permanent residents covered by the reciprocal agreement between United Kingdom and New Zealand?

No.  Only UK citizens/UK passport holders are covered under the reciprocal agreement.

Refugees, protected persons and asylum seekers

I have a letter from Immigration New Zealand. It says my application for refugee status has been accepted. The DHB won’t accept it as it’s too old.

You will need to get new written confirmation from Immigration New Zealand that your application is still being decided. Alternatively, health service providers can contact the Refugee Status Branch of the Department of Labour on 09 914 5999.

I am a refugee. I’m being asked to show my passport but I don’t have one.

The letter stating that you have refugee or protected person status is enough to prove your eligibility.

Are asylum seekers eligible for publicly funded health and disability services?

Once asylum seekers’ application for refugee status has been accepted, they are eligible for publicly funded services under the same criteria as refugees. If their application for refugee status is denied and they don’t appeal against the decision to deny them refugee status, or they lose an appeal, they are no longer eligible.

Students

I have a student permit and arrived before 29 October 2003. Am I eligible for publicly funded health and disability services?

Eligibility for long term student visa holders ended on 15 April 2011.

Under the 2003 Health and Disability Services Eligibility Direction, student permit holders who met the eligibility criteria of the 2000 Eligibility Direction had their eligibility ‘grandparented’ while they remained on consecutive permits, which continued their health cover while they completed their studies.

See the 2000 Eligibility Direction (Department of Internal Affairs website) and the 2003 Eligibility Direction for further detail.

Sponsorship

I am sponsoring a family member to move to New Zealand. What does that mean for health services?

If a migrant is not eligible for publicly funded services but has a sponsor, the sponsor may be responsible for meeting some of the unpaid hospital debts.

United Kingdom citizens

Are permanent residents of the United Kingdom covered by the reciprocal health agreement between New Zealand and the UK?

No. Only United Kingdom citizens ordinarily living in the United Kingdom are covered by this agreement, and subject to certain conditions. Visit the Reciprocal health agreement page for further information.

Are laboratory tests or medicines covered under the reciprocal agreement between the UK and New Zealand?

If laboratory tests or medicines are prescribed by a doctor for prompt treatment of a condition that either arose in New Zealand or became (or would have become if not treated) unexpectedly worse while here in New Zealand, then the person is eligible for publicly funded subsidies. However, if a New Zealand citizen would have had to pay for the same test, so would the United Kingdom citizen.

I'm visiting New Zealand from the UK and am pregnant. Can I access any free or subsidised maternity services?

A reciprocal agreement between New Zealand and the United Kingdom provides for treatment for NZ and UK citizens that, in the opinion of a medical practitioner (doctor) is required promptly for a condition that arose after arrival in New Zealand, or for a pre-existing condition that required, or would have required urgent treatment. This is generally interpreted as covering, for pregnancy, full term childbirth services, or premature delivery.

Related conditions, such as toxaemia, would also be covered if, in the opinion of a medical practitioner, prompt treatment was required.

Routine antenatal and postnatal services would not be covered.

Visitors

I am here on a visitor’s visa and arrived here a couple of years ago. Am I eligible for health services?

Visitor visa holders may be eligible for any publicly funded service if they are under 18 and the child of an eligible person. They may also receive services funded for anyone in New Zealand, for example ACC, compulsory health services, or maternity-related services as the partner of an eligible person.

Adult visitor permit holders are usually ineligible for the full range of publicly funded health and disability services.

We have an adult patient on a visitor’s visa who arrived before 30 October 2003. Are they eligible for publicly funded health and disability services?

Eligibility for long term visitor visa holders ended on 15 April 2011.

Under the 2003 Health and Disability Services Eligibility Direction, visitor visa holders who met the eligibility criteria of the 2000 eligibility direction had their eligibility ‘grandparented’ while they remained on consecutive visitor visas, to enable them to become eligible under other criteria (eg, permanent residency), or until they left New Zealand.

See the 2000 Eligibility Direction (Department of Internal Affairs website) and the 2003 Eligibility Direction for further detail.

Work visa or permit

I have a work visa but have been in New Zealand for less than two years. Am I eligible for publicly funded health and disability services?

Check the Guide to eligibility for public health services. If your visa allows you to stay for two years or more you will be eligible. If not, and you’re later granted another work visa, you may become eligible if able to stay for a consecutive two year period. There are also some other circumstances where a person who has been in New Zealand for less than two years may be eligible for some services. The New Zealand government strongly recommends you obtain travel insurance that includes health cover.

I have a work visa. Can I access public health and disability services?

You may access health services, but if not eligible will need to pay for the services.

To give you eligibility, your work visa:

  • must entitle you to be in New Zealand for a minimum of two years (work visas start on the person’s first day in New Zealand), or
  • if your work visa is valid for less than two years, you must have had a visa immediately prior to it on which you were in New Zealand for the balance of two years.

If you do not meet any of the eligibility criteria in the Guide to eligibility for public health services, you can expect to be charged for any health services you receive.