Australian resident on a temporary visit to New Zealand

Guide to eligibility for publicly funded health and disability services.


Australian residents are covered by the New Zealand/Australia Reciprocal Health Agreement if they:

  • are on a temporary visit (up to two years) to New Zealand AND
  • in the opinion of the provider of medical treatment, they need immediately necessary medical treatment while in New Zealand.

Their medical treatment may be publicly funded as it would be for a New Zealand citizen:

  • IF that treatment is clinically necessary for the diagnosis, alleviation or care of the condition requiring attention
  • for pharmaceutical benefits, hospital services, and maternity services.

(Note: 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.)

Criteria: B8, Health and Disability Services Eligbility Direction 2011.

Proof of eligibility:

You will need to show your health service provider:

  • your Australian passport OR
  • your passport of other nationality with a current resident visa (including a resident return visa) issued by the Government of Australia OR
  • your Medicare Australia card, and your passport to prove that you are the holder of that card.

Definition of Australian resident:

"Australian resident" is defined by the Australian Health Insurance Act 1973 (s3 Interpretation) as people who reside in Australia and includes:

  • Australian citizens
  • Australian permanent visa and resident return visa holders
  • Australian temporary visa holders who are waiting for their permanent residency application to be processed.

Those listed are eligible to enrol in the Australian Medicare scheme – refer to the Health Insurance Act for a full list. "Australia" means the Commonwealth of Australia, and includes the territories of Coco (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island. It does not include Norfolk Island.

PHO enrolment:

  • A person who is only eligible for services under the reciprocal agreement may not enrol with a Primary Health Organisation (PHO) and is not entitled to free or subsidised care by a primary health provider/general practitioner. The ineligible person may register with a General Practice as a private patient, and should be allocated a NHI number if they do not already have one.

Eligibility under other criteria:

  • An Australian citizen or permanent resident who has been in New Zealand for a period of two years or more, or can demonstrate reasonable intention to remain in New Zealand for two years or more, is eligible for all publicly funded services, and can enrol with a PHO and get the same health subsidies as a New Zealand citizen.
  • Other Australian residents may also be eligible for other publicly funded services, under other criteria. For example, they may be fully eligible if they have a New Zealand work visa that, together with time spent on visas immediately prior, allows them to be continuously in New Zealand for two years or more. Or they may be eligible for maternity-related services funded to the same extent as for a New Zealand citizen if their partner is eligible for the full range of publicly funded health and disability services.

Insurance recommended:

  • The Government strongly recommends that people in New Zealand who are not eligible for publicly funded health and disability services should hold comprehensive travel insurance, including health insurance. The reciprocal agreement does not cover non-urgent treatment, rehabilitation or repatriation, and some services to New Zealanders such as doctors visits and pharmaceuticals are subject to part charges.
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