How to access healthcare if you're visiting from overseas

Some of your costs for medically necessary care in Australia may be covered if your country has a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with Australia.

Medicare

Medicare is the scheme that gives Australian residents access to healthcare. It gives all Australians and some people from overseas a wide range of health and hospital services at no cost or low cost.

We'll see if you're eligible for Medicare when you come to hospital.

Read more about enrolling in Medicare on the Human Services website or phone Medicare on 13 20 11.

Reciprocal Health Care Agreements

Reciprocal Health Care Agreements cover treatment that is medically essential. This mean emergency treatment for an illness or injury that happens in Australia and needs to  be treated before you return home.

The Australian Government has signed Reciprocal Health Care Agreements with the following  countries:

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

These agreements give you access to some health services for essential medical treatment while visiting Australia, including:

  • free treatment as a public inpatient or outpatient 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. This includes outpatient services for prescription medicines that are medically necessary and are subsidised under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

Read more about Reciprocal Health Care Agreements on the Services Australia website.

Overseas students

If you’re in Australia on a student visa from the United Kingdom, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, Slovenia, Italy or New Zealand, you’re covered by Medicare.

Students from Norway, Finland, Malta and the Republic of Ireland aren’t covered by the agreements with those countries.

Students from Belgium, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden must take out Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) as a condition of their student visa. Read more about Overseas Student Health Cover on the Commonwealth Ombudsman Private Health Insurance website.

International visitors not eligible for Medicare

International visitors entering Australia for the purpose of seeking medical treatment must apply for and enter Australia on a medical treatment visa. Read more about medical treatment visas on the Department of Home Affairs website.

If you’re not eligible for Medicare and you need unplanned medical treatment, you’ll have to pay for it. This includes any care you get in a public hospital. We strongly recommend any visitors to Australia get travel insurance before their holiday.

Sometimes getting treatment in a private medical clinic may be cheaper than a public hospital.  We recommend you contact private medical services as well as public hospitals if you need treatment.

If you'd like more information on Medicare ineligible charges, you can email our revenue team at CHHHSRevenue@health.qld.gov.au.

Last updated:November 2021