Moving to Australia from New Zealand?

Get all information you need to make a successful and stress-free move across the ditch.

How to apply, what you’re entitled to, costs of healthcare, medicines through PBS and more…

Medicare is a publicly funded universal health care scheme in Australia. Operated by the government authority Medicare Australia, Medicare is the primary funder of health care in Australia, funding primary health care for Australian citizens and permanent residents (except for those on Norfolk Island).

Residents are entitled to subsidised treatment from medical practitioners, eligible midwives, nurse practitioners and allied health professionals who have been issued a Medicare provider number and can also obtain free treatment in public hospitals.

As an NZ Citizen, you are eligible for Medicare Australia. However, you do need to either be living in Australia for 6 months or provide proof that you’ll be living here for the next 6 months.

The info you will find below in this post:

Medicare Enrollment for NZ Citizens

Here is all the information you will need for Medicare enrollment for New Zealand Citizens: https://www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/enablers/medicare-enrolment-new-zealand-citizens.

It is recommended you wait one week after your arrival in Australia before applying, to allow time for Medicare to receive your visa details from the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs.

You get a Medicare card when you enrol in Medicare. They’ll usually tell you your Medicare number straight away and send your card in 3 to 4 weeks. They’ll send it to the address you give them. You can use a digital copy of your Medicare card as soon as you enrol.

You can get a digital copy of your Medicare card. You’ll need to sign into the Express Plus Medicare app to access it. To use the app, you need a myGov account linked to your Medicare online account. If you don’t have these, set them up and then download the app.

 

The process to enrol in Medicare Australia

Complete a Medicare enrolment form and mail or email it with your documents to Medicare Enrolment Services. You don’t need to get your supporting document certified. You can still apply in person in a Medicare Office. Please remember to take your passport.

As a New Zealand citizen residing in Australia, you need to provide 2 residency documents from the below (2 documents from Australia or 1 document from Australia and 1 from where you last lived).

Documents from another country:

  • sale of property (sale agreement)
  • cessation of a lease agreement for rental property
  • termination of employment (acceptance of resignation by employer)
  • transit document for household goods and/or furniture
  • closure of bank accounts
  • cancellation of health, property or contents insurance.

Documents from Australia:

  • purchase of property agreement and gas or electricity accounts in the same name
  • lease agreement for the rental of property and gas or electricity accounts in the same name
  • evidence of employment
  • evidence of children at school or university
  • private health insurance in Australia
  • opening of bank accounts
  • proof you moved household goods or furniture
  • property or contents insurance.

As you can see from the above, these documents support the fact that you have moved to Australia and plan to live there for the foreseeable future. Not just on holiday and wish to get cheap healthcare while there. Most rental agreements in Australia are for a 1-year minimum. If you moved your furniture over, you are not going to move it back in a hurry… etc.

You can read more on the Medicare Australia website, about the documents you need if you’re a New Zealand citizen to prove your identity and residency.

 

Medicare Australia Entitlements

  • Free treatment as a public hospital patient.
  • An 85% rebate on the scheduled fee for treatments when you haven’t been admitted to the hospital (ie. A visit to the doctor).
  • Medicare Safety Net – If you pay over and above the Medicare rebate you may be eligible. To find out more visit Medicare Safety Net.
  • Health Care Cards are available from Centrelink for those requiring additional financial help. Permanent residents are usually subject to a 2-year waiting period before one will be provided. 

Medicare Eligibility

You can find the below information on the Medicare’s eligibility criteria webpage.

You can enrol in Medicare if you live in Australia and you’re any of these:

You can also enrol if you’re a citizen or permanent resident of any of these: Norfolk Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Christmas Island or Lord Howe Island. You may be able to enrol if you’re visiting from a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement country. 

Costs of Healthcare through Medicare

Prescription Medicine

The PBS rebate is deducted before being sold to you. From 1 January 2024, you may pay up to $31.60 for most PBS medicines or $7.70 if you have a concession card. The Australian Government pays the remaining cost (except brand premiums and certain other allowable charges).

The PBS Schedule lists all of the medicines available to be dispensed to patients at a Government-subsidised price. The Schedule is part of the wider Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme managed by the Department of Health and Aged Care and administered by Services Australia.

Find out exactly how much your medication will cost in my costs of medication and operations in Australia post.

Doctor Visits

If your doctor has Bulk Bills (rather hard to find but more common for concession card holders), you should not have to pay anything for an appointment with your doctor.

If they do not bulk bill, you will need to pay the ‘gap’ between the Medicare rebate and the fee if the surgery will do the rebate on the spot, or the entire amount (most common). If you pay the entire amount you need to apply to Medicare for the rebate, in person or via the post.

The Medicare scheduled fee for a standard appointment is approximately $29.45 and the doctor’s fee can be around $40. Your out-of-pocket expenses are what is taken into account if you register for the Medicare Safety Net.

Operations and specialist services

The Australian Government Department of Health website has a tool for finding and understanding the costs of medical specialist services across Australia, including operations. You can search for a procedure or service or browse by category.

Find out how much your operational or specalist will cost in my costs of medication and operations in Australia post.

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)

Under the PBS, the government subsidises the cost of medicine for most medical conditions. Most of the listed medicines are dispensed by pharmacists, and used by patients at home. Some medicines are dangerous to administer and need medical supervision (such as chemotherapy drugs) and are only accessible at specialised medical services, usually hospitals.

The PBS Schedule lists all of the medicines available to be dispensed to patients at a Government-subsidised price. The Schedule is part of the wider Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme managed by the Department of Health and Aged Care and administered by Services Australia.

They now have the schedule online and it is updated every month. This online searchable version contains:

  • All of the drugs listed on the PBS
  • Information on the conditions of use for the prescribing of PBS medicines
  • Detailed consumer information for medicines that have been prescribed by your doctor or dentist
  • What you can expect to pay for medicines.

The Scheme is available to all Australian residents who hold a current Medicare card. Overseas visitors from countries with which Australia has a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement (RHCA) are also eligible to access the Scheme (New Zealand).

You will need to provide your Medicare card every time you present your script to the pharmacist to receive subsidised medication.

You can read more about PBS on their website and search the PBS schedule to see if your medication is covered and what you can expect to pay. 

Continence Aids Payment Scheme (CAPS)

In Australia, the government has a Continence Aids Payment Scheme, which is a yearly non-taxable payment to assist eligible people who have permanent and severe incontinence to meet some of the cost of their continence products.

As a New Zealand citizen who holds a Special Category Visa (SCV), you have permanent residency rights under the Australian Citizenship Act 2007, therefore you are eligible for the scheme.

You should be able to find everything you need to know on the Continence Foundation of Australia website

Medicare Australia Contact Details

For more information on Medicare visit: https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/contact-us.

You might be interested in…

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Still, got unanswered questions?

If you’ve read the above content and the answer to your question isn’t there, please write a comment below and I’ll research the answer for you. Please note, if the answer to your question is in the content above, I will not reply. Sorry, I just get too many questions these days and I can’t keep up.

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If you need advice on moving to Australia from New Zealand, I’ve created a helpful little questionnaire to point you in the right direction. It takes less than 20 seconds, so give it a go!

71 Comments

  1. Sian Robertson

    May 15, 2024 at 2:31 pm

    Hi there
    My family and I are planning to move to Melbourne next year and I’m wondering about Medicare entitlement. My husband and I are both NZ permanent residents and British citizens. My son is a NZ citizen.

    I’ve tried contacting various Australian Government departments, with no luck.

    Any info is appreciated!

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      May 20, 2024 at 11:53 am

      Hi Sian,
      Thanks for your comment.
      What visa do you plan to obtain to move to Australia?
      Once you have provided that I can check if you would be eligible for Medicare in Australia.
      Thanks

      Reply
      • Sian Robertson

        May 21, 2024 at 2:43 pm

        Kia ora,
        Thanks for your reply. I had a look at the different visa options…it all gets pretty complex! I think my best bet is for my husband and I to get NZ citizenship. Then we are eligible for Medicare and don’t need to get a visa.
        Thanks for your help!

        Reply
  2. KEITH WHITELEY

    February 27, 2024 at 12:19 pm

    For a NZ Citizen living in Australia on an SCV when does Medicare expire? If it when they leave Autrslia or is there a grace period after leaving Australia?

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      February 27, 2024 at 12:48 pm

      Hi Keith,
      Thank you for your comment.
      I can’t find any information online about exactly what happens when you leave Australia.
      You’ll get a yellow Medicare card if you’re visiting Australia from a country with a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement (RHCA). Yellow cards are valid until the expiry date on the card. To continue to access Medicare, you’ll need to meet the RHCA criteria for your country and re-enrol in Medicare.
      Standard green cards are valid for 5 years.
      Therefore, your Australian Medicare card is valid until the expiry date on the card or when your Australia visa changes. However, if you Medicare card is still valid and you re-enter Australia, you can use the same card.
      You can read more on the Australian Government website Services Australia: https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/your-medicare-card?context=60092.
      Hope the above helps. Please feel free to email me back any further questions you have.

      Reply
  3. Michael

    February 6, 2024 at 4:00 pm

    Hi there, I’m in the process of moving to Australia, but one hiccup I’m facing is finding out if I am able to receive continence products I.e catheters etc through Medicare. I’ve asked my district nurse team here who provide my products, but no luck so far any info you can find would be much appreciated

    Thanks,
    Michael

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      February 7, 2024 at 10:08 am

      Hi Michael,
      Thanks for your comment.
      In Australia the government has a Continence Aids Payment Scheme, which is a yearly non-taxable payment to to assist eligible people who have permanent and severe incontinence to meet some of the cost of their continence products.
      You should be able to find everything you need to know on the Continence Foundation of Australia website: https://www.continence.org.au/get-help/financial-assistance/continence-aids-payment-scheme-caps.
      As a New Zealand citizen who holds a Special Category Visa (SCV), you have permanent residency rights under the Australian Citizenship Act 2007, therefore you are eligible for the scheme.
      Hope the above helps.

      Reply
  4. Garry Baldwin

    January 31, 2024 at 3:24 pm

    Hi JJ
    my wife and I are looking to move to Townsville when our house is sold . We are both retired and I have had a triple A which required three stents to be fitted to my aorta , I also have atrial fibrillation which is controlled with medication. My wife is permanently on thyroid tablets. Will we be covered in Australia by Medicaid. Any assistance you could give would be very much appreciated.

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      February 8, 2024 at 11:20 am

      Hi Garry,
      Thank you for your comment. It has given me a great opportunity to improve the content in my Medicare post, as I discovered a lot of new tools available online since I last reviewed it. So thank you!
      Under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), the government subsidises the cost of medicine for most medical conditions.
      They now have the schedule online and it is updated every month. This online searchable version contains:
      – All of the drugs listed on the PBS
      – Information on the conditions of use for the prescribing of PBS medicines
      – Detailed consumer information for medicines that have been prescribed by your doctor or dentist
      – What you can expect to pay for medicines.
      The Scheme is available to all Australian residents who hold a current Medicare card. Overseas visitors from countries with which Australia has a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement (RHCA) are also eligible to access the Scheme (New Zealand).
      You will need to provide your Medicare card every time you present your script to the pharmacist to receive subsidised medication.
      You can read more about PBS on their website and search the PBS schedule to see if your medication is covered and what you can expect to pay: https://www.pbs.gov.au/browse/medicine-listing.
      Good luck with your move.

      Reply
  5. Simon Leadley

    July 3, 2023 at 5:33 pm

    HI, I am moving to Australia to work and live. I will apply for medicare when I arrive. However while I await acceptance to Medicare, how do I get coverage for any health care while in Australia?
    Regards
    Simon

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      July 17, 2023 at 12:29 pm

      Hi Simon,
      You can get healthcare in Australia under the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement. This covers essential treatment in a public hospital.
      The Reciprocal Health Care Agreement between New Zealand and Australia provides temporary coverage for medically necessary care in a public hospital and access to prescription medications at a lower price.
      The above is covered in my Australian health care system post: https://www.movingtoaustralia.co.nz/australian-health-care-system/.
      Good luck with your move.

      Reply
  6. Jeanette

    March 9, 2023 at 3:34 pm

    I am in the process of moving from Auckland to Cairns. I applied for medicare but could not provide satisfactory proof of address.I am presently staying with my nephew until I buy something myself. Medicare want a utility bill with my name on but that is presently not possible. They accepted a bank letter for one proof of address but rejected a letter re my tax file number. I now have a letter from transport department with my Queensland drivers licence. Would this be acceptable or what do you suggest I could do? Many thanks for your service.

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      March 10, 2023 at 11:06 am

      Hi Jeanette,
      Thank you for your message.
      Here is the list of documents accepted when proving you now live in Australia. You need:
      – 2 documents from Australia
      – one document from Australia and one from where you last lived.
      Documents from Australia:
      – Proof of rental or lease agreement, and gas or electricity account in the same name
      – Proof of purchase of property, and gas or electricity account in the same name
      – Proof of job
      – Proof your child is enrolled in school, childcare or university
      – Proof you’ve opened a bank account A statement showing you closed your bank account
      – Proof of health, property or contents insurance.
      Documents from the other country (NZ):
      – Proof you sold your property
      – Proof you ended your lease
      – Proof you ended your job
      – Proof you moved household goods or furniture
      – Proof you cancelled health, property or contents insurance
      It doesn’t look like they accept drivers licence.
      They need proof that you have moved to Australia, not just visiting. Hence why it needs to be something more long term like a job, rental property or insurance.
      You will not be able to apply until you have all the above.
      Sorry I couldn’t be of more help.

      Reply
      • Ali

        October 16, 2023 at 6:48 pm

        Hi, Just to let others know, I applied for Medicare in Melbourne on 8th August 2023 and yet (today is 16th October 2023) I have not received any response. When I asked the Medicare office, they said currently there is 3 months waiting time until they get to my application.

        Reply
  7. Vinny

    July 1, 2022 at 12:27 am

    Hey !! Iam an Australian citizen that has recently moved back to Australia so I reenrolled into medicare. Iam also 5 months pregnant. Can pregnant women have shorter waiting periods in order to receive their medicare card?
    Thanks

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      July 1, 2022 at 2:39 pm

      Hi Vinny,
      Thanks for your comment.
      Why don’t you replace your old card, if you had one? You can replace it by:
      – requesting a new card via your myGov account linked to Medicare, or the Express Plus Medicare mobile app
      – calling Medicare general enquiries on 132 011
      – visiting a Medicare Service Centre with your proof of identity.
      They will be able to tell you your number so you can start using it straight away.
      Let me know if I’ve got it wrong and you weren’t previously enrolled in Medicare Australia.
      Thanks

      Reply
  8. Joanna

    June 30, 2022 at 9:52 am

    Firstly thank you so much for creating this useful resource !
    I moved to Brisbane in April and it’s been super helpful.

    I applied for Medicate 5 weeks ago and haven’t heard anything except the automatic email response form the MES email.
    I had COVID last week (no major symptoms) but it made me wonder when I should be able to get my application confirmed.
    Does anybody know?
    Are there any FB groups I could join to ask this question?

    Thanks in advance!

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      June 30, 2022 at 10:29 am

      Hi Joanna,
      Thanks for your comment and compliment.
      So you applied online?
      I’ve just read that It may take up to 6 weeks to process your application if you apply between July and November, but you applied in May so this doesn’t apply to you: https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/after-you-apply-for-medicare-entitlement-statement?context=23266.
      If you want an immediate answer, I recommend calling Medicare on
      132 011 (7 days a week 24 hours a day), or take your application and ID into a Medicare Service Centre: https://findus.servicesaustralia.gov.au/.
      They will let you know either way, but it sounds like it could take 6 weeks.
      Thanks

      Reply
      • Joanna

        July 13, 2022 at 11:55 am

        Hi JJ,
        Thanks for your information and insights.
        FYI I sent in my application on May 21 via email and received my card in the mail on 8th July. So just over 6 weeks.
        Thanks again for your help and for the website!

        Reply
  9. Alan

    May 23, 2022 at 1:29 pm

    Hello, We are looking at relocating to Australia & would like to know if my Mum would be covered by Medicare.
    Mum is a New Zealand Citizen & is 90 years of age this October.
    Kind Regards, Alan.

    Reply
  10. Arn

    November 22, 2021 at 11:51 am

    Hi JJS,
    New Zealander thinking of moving to Australia.
    Could you please tell me what will happen if a New Zealander become seriously ill or diagnosed with a serious illness while in Australia. Will they be eligible for all medical treatments as compared to Australian Citizens/ Permanent residents ?
    Will Medicare or any other equivalent agency will help cover the cost of treatment ? i.e. ongoing treatments or specialist procedures etc.
    How is a New Zealander differ from Australian Citizen/ Resident when it comes to accessing healthcare ?
    Thanks heaps.

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      November 24, 2021 at 3:16 am

      Hi Arn,
      Thank you for your comment.
      Under Australia’s Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with New Zealand, New Zealand residents visiting/living in Australia are also entitled to services as public patients in a public hospital for medically necessary treatment and prescription medicines which are subsidised under the PBS. Same care as Australian citizens.
      New Zealanders who are residing in Australia are also eligible for Medicare and can be issued with a Medicare card upon presentation of documentation proving residence. Since New Zealand citizens who are lawfully residing in Australia are entitled to Medicare, they must also pay the Medicare levy and the Medicare levy surcharge (if their income is above the base income threshold and they do not have an appropriate level of private patient hospital cover).
      You can read more here: https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/rp1617/Quick_Guides/NZAust.
      Like in NZ, you can choose to take out private health insurance to give yourself a wider range of health care options and more comprehensive cover.
      Thanks

      Reply
  11. Ren

    June 11, 2021 at 3:52 am

    Hi, we are considering moving to Australia next year from NZ. My 11 year old has type 1 diabetes. Do you know if her insulin is covered by Medicare? What are the costs per month for her?

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      June 15, 2021 at 1:10 am

      Hi Ren,
      Thank you for your comment.
      I have looked into this before and the good news is as a NZ citizen you and your daughter are eligible for Australia Medicare card’s.
      A Medicare card will allow you access to medical professionals such as a general practitioner (GP) with the payment for the service subsidised. To purchase medications at subsidised rates through pharmacies a GP will provide you with a prescription for diabetes medication, such as insulin. More information on medication costs can be found on the PBS website: https://www.pbs.gov.au/pbs/search?term=insulin.
      Here is a great resource for you: https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/living-with-diabetes/managing-your-diabetes/visiting-or-moving-to-australia/.
      Please feel free to email me back any further questions you have.
      Good luck with your move.

      Reply
  12. Diana Hartog

    May 20, 2021 at 12:17 pm

    Hi there! My partner is an NZ citizen who has been residing/working in Australia for 4 years. I am an Australian citizen with 2 minors. Can we have combined Medicare due to us living together/being spouses for combined safety net / levy threshold purposes or will be require his own separate card?

    Reply
  13. Lorraine Brunton

    May 3, 2021 at 5:54 am

    Hi JJ,
    Thanks for the information you sent.
    My husband has a rare gastro condition called Cronkhite Canada Syndrome. He is on 8 weekly infusions of Infleximab (Remicade) which as I said is done at a public hospital in New Zealand.
    Really appreciate your help.
    Thanks

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      May 3, 2021 at 10:44 pm

      Hi Lorraine,
      I can’t find anything online stating whether your husbands condition is covered or not. Have you asked the doctor in NZ? They might know for sure. If the doctor in NZ doesn’t know you should reach out to The Royal Melbourne Hospital. I always advise to call before filling out the online form. Hopefully they can help: https://www.thermh.org.au/contact.
      Have a read of this page on the Australian Government Department of Health website: https://www.health.gov.au/about-us/the-australian-health-system.
      Please feel free to email me back any further questions you have.

      Reply
  14. Chelsea Taylor

    February 23, 2021 at 11:10 am

    Hi,

    Thanks for your great support! My parents are Australian citizens, living in Canada but will be returning to Australia six months/year. Can they apply for Medicare? They have a residential address and bank accounts in Australia
    Cheers
    Chelsea

    Reply
  15. Flora

    October 19, 2020 at 7:41 am

    Hi. We have just granted the PR status and will be moving to Australia within the future six months. Can we apply for the Medicare online? And how long does it usually take to get the Medicare card? Do we have to wait for the arrival of the card before we can get any medical benefits? Many thanks.

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      October 19, 2020 at 10:13 pm

      Hi Flora,
      Thank you for your comment.
      You will need to apply when you are physically in Australia.
      You are able to apply in person in a Medicare Office, please remember to take your passport, or you can submit your form and supporting documents to them by mail or email to Medicare Enrolment Services: https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/contact-us/write-email-or-fax-us#medicareenrolmentservices.
      You get a Medicare card when you enrol in Medicare. They’ll usually tell you your Medicare number straight away and send your card in 3 to 4 weeks. They’ll send it to the address you give them. You can use a digital copy of your Medicare card as soon as you enrol.
      You can fill out this form before you go into the Medicare Office to save time: https://www.humanservices.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/3101-1306en.pdf.
      Please feel free to email me back any further questions you have.
      Good luck with your move.

      Reply
      • Dave

        April 28, 2024 at 8:02 pm

        Hi! In the case of a family of 4 moving together from NZ to AU, myself and spouse, and 2 daughters over the age of 18, but living together in a rental with lease in my name, how would my daughters qualify for Medicare as they won’t have documents in their names for things like leases, moving, etc. They will have bank accounts in their own names once opened. They intend to get jobs but that could take time. Thank you!

        Reply
        • JJ Smith

          April 30, 2024 at 3:39 pm

          Hi Dave,
          Thanks for your comment.
          I recommend you all enrol together, as the Medicare Australia website states you need to provide a NZ passport for each person you want to enrol and 2 documents that prove your family live in Australia dated within the last 6 months.
          They also state, if you don’t have these documents, tell us, we’ll talk to you about other options, so they are happy to help.
          You can read more on their website, documents you need if you’re a New Zealand citizen: https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/documents-to-enrol-medicare-if-youre-new-zealand-citizen?context=60092.
          Please feel free to email me back any further questions you have.
          Good luck with your move.

          Reply

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