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Newborn healthcare on a visa

4-minute read

If you are a parent or parents on an Australian visa, the following information will help you understand which healthcare services you may be entitled to for your newborn. This will largely depend on what kind of visa your baby has.

What kind of Australian visa will my baby be entitled to?

If you are applying for a visa for yourself in Australia, once you lodge information about your baby with the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs, your baby will be added to your own visa application.

If your baby was born in Australia, they will automatically have the same visa as you.

Services Australia determines healthcare entitlements for your baby depending on which type of visa your baby has. If you have recently come to Australia, waiting times may also apply.

Medicare eligibility

Some visas allow visa holders to enrol their baby in Medicare. Medicare allows you to receive cheaper or free healthcare and prescriptions and also free care in an Australian public hospital.

If you currently live in Australia, the following visas may allow you to access Medicare services:

  • Permanent visas (including returning residents): This may include your baby if you are currently applying for a permanent visa and you have the right to work in Australia or have a parent, spouse or child who is an Australian citizen or permanent resident, or a New Zealand citizen (who is an Australian resident). Some exclusions apply.
  • Temporary visa for a holder from a country that has a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with Australia: This may include migrants, refugees and humanitarian entrants, depending on their visa.

If you adopt a child from overseas, you may be able to add them to your Medicare card if they hold a permanent resident visa and you have a document to prove that the adoption is finalised.

Reciprocal Health Care Agreements

Your baby may be eligible for medically necessary health care that is publicly funded in Australia if you are a visitor from one of the following countries:

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

These agreements cover your baby for the same healthcare that is offered under Medicare, provided that the health care your baby needs can’t wait until you get home. Some agreements may require you to be a resident and/or a citizen of the reciprocal country.

Exceptions to the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement

Your baby will not be covered under an agreement if you are in Australia:

  • on a 405 Investor Retirement visa
  • on a 410 Retirement visa applied for after 1 December 1998
  • as a student from Finland, Malta, Norway or the Republic of Ireland.

Private health insurance

If you are visiting Australia on any other type of visitor visa and you are not from a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement country, you may need to pay for the whole cost of any medical treatment by a doctor or at a hospital in Australia. So it is recommended that you take out private health cover while you are here.

Visitors coming to Australia on a temporary student visa or applying for a visa subclass 457 also need to hold private health insurance to obtain their visa.

The level of healthcare cover your baby will have depends on the insurance policy you purchase. It is recommended you get the highest level of hospital cover you can afford. You also need to be aware of the waiting times that most private health insurance policies include.

To find out more about private health cover requirements for certain visas, visit the Australian Government’s private health insurance information website.

What if only one of us is on an Australian visa?

Children born in Australia are automatically Australian citizens if at least one parent is an Australian citizen or a permanent resident at the time of the child’s birth. This means they are entitled to receive the same healthcare benefits as all Australian citizens. You can also apply for citizenship for your baby if one parent is a permanent Australian visa holder.

Otherwise, once you have lodged an application, your baby will have the same visa status as the one parent who has the Australian visa.

What do I need to do to obtain healthcare for my newborn?

Further information is available from the following sources:

Other useful links

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: March 2020


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The information is not a substitute for independent professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional health care. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.

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