Medicare is a government subsidised health care system which gives access to:

  • Free or subsidised treatment by health professionals such as doctors, specialists, optometrists and dentists. Medicare may also give limited access to other allied health practitioners.
  • Free treatment and accommodation as a public patient in a public hospital
  • Some coverage for services and procedures as a private patient in either a public or private hospital.

Eligibility for Medicare is determined in accordance with your residency status in Australia, as well as other factors.

The following people are eligible for coverage by Medicare:

  • Australian or New Zealand citizens living in Australia
  • Permanent residents of Australia
  • Some applicants who have applied for permanent residency and meet the requisite criteria.

Medicare provides a wide range of services.  Further information in your language may be available here.

Reciprocal Health Care Agreements

In addition to travel insurance, students, tourists and other persons with temporary residency status in Australia may be eligible to sign up for limited Medicare coverage by virtue of a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with their country of citizenship.

These agreements provide some health services and subsidised medicines to visitors from the following countries when they are in Australia:

  • New Zealand
  • the United Kingdom
  • the Republic of Ireland
  • Sweden
  • the Netherlands
  • Belgium
  • Finland
  • Italy
  • Malta
  • Norway
  • Slovenia.

Note that students from Norway, Finland, Malta and the Republic of Ireland are not covered by the reciprocal agreements with those countries.

Period of cover

Residents of New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Sweden, Finland or Norway, will be covered for the entire length of their stay in Australia.

Residents of Belgium, the Netherlands or Slovenia, will need their European Health Insurance cards to enrol in Medicare. Eligibility for residents of these countries will then be determined in accordance with the expiry date shown on their European Health insurance card, or the last date of their authorised stay in Australia, whichever is the earlier date.

A person must be a citizen and resident of Malta or Italy to be eligible for coverage under those specific agreements. Coverage is for 6 months from the date of the eligible person’s arrival in Australia.

What is covered?

Reciprocal Health Care Agreements only cover medically essential treatment. This means that any condition which was known about before your travel to Australia will not be treatable under these agreements. Any unforeseen illness or injury which occurs during your stay in Australia and cannot wait for treatment until you get home will be treatable.


With the exception of students from Belgium, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden, you must be covered by Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) in order to be issued a student visa.

Holders of a Student visa from the United Kingdom, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, Slovenia, Italy or New Zealand, are covered by Medicare for the duration of their student visa.

The Reciprocal Agreements signed with Norway, Finland, Malta and the Republic of Ireland do not cover students for the duration of their studies in Australia.

What Sort of Treatment am I Entitled to Under Reciprocal Agreements

Residents of the United Kingdom, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, Belgium, Norway, Slovenia, Malta and Italy are entitled to the following treatments while in Australia:

  • free treatment as a public in-patient or out-patient in a public hospital
  • subsidised medicine under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)
  • Medicare benefits for out-of-hospital treatment provided by a doctor.

Residents of the Republic of Ireland and New Zealand are entitled to:

  • services as a public patient in a public hospital (including outpatient services) for medically necessary treatment and medicines available on prescription which are subsidised under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), at the general rate.

 It is important to remember that Reciprocal Health Care Agreements are not designed to replace private travel health insurance for overseas travel.

You will be required to tell your heath care provider that you wish to be treated under a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement.

Persons not covered by Medicare or Reciprocal Health Care Agreements

Persons not covered by Medicare or Reciprocal Health Care Agreements would be well advised to consider full medical coverage when taking out travel insurance