Can I receive care for myself and my baby if I’m on a visa?
If you’re in Australia on a visa, you can access care for yourself and your baby during pregnancy, birth and afterwards. However, the cost of your care and your baby’s care will depend on the type of visa and health insurance you have.
Am I covered by Medicare during my pregnancy?
Medicare is the Australian government program that helps with the cost of healthcare services for all Australian residents and some visitors to Australia.
You can enrol in Medicare if you are:
- a New Zealand citizen
- in the process of applying for Australian permanent residency
- on certain types of visas, such as a humanitarian visa — see this list to find out if your visa is included
Medicare can pay (partly or fully) for many pregnancy and newborn healthcare costs, including:
- doctor and midwife appointments
- blood tests
- birth in a public hospital
- hospital care for your baby
- vaccinations for your baby
You may be able to enrol in Medicare if you come from a country that has a reciprocal healthcare agreement with Australia. However, your cover will be more limited.
Find out how to enrol in Medicare.
Am I covered by a reciprocal healthcare agreement?
The following countries have a reciprocal healthcare agreement with Australia:
- the Netherlands
- New Zealand
- the Republic of Ireland
- the United Kingdom
If you come from one of these countries, you might be entitled to urgent treatment in the Australian public health system. This covers emergencies and health conditions that must be treated immediately, before you can return home. Each country’s agreement is a bit different — find out the details specific to your country.
It’s important to buy private health insurance to cover things that are not included in the agreement. These include non-urgent treatment, ambulance services or treatment in the private health system.
You may need to wait up to 12 months to be covered for pregnancy care and birth by private health insurance.
Even with the reciprocal healthcare agreement, if you are on a student visa and come from Finland, Malta, Norway or Ireland, you are not covered by these agreements.
Do I need private health insurance?
If you are visiting Australia on a visa that doesn’t let you enrol in Medicare and you are not from a country with a reciprocal healthcare agreement, you may need to pay for the whole cost of any medical treatment you have in Australia. For this reason, it is highly recommended that you take out private health cover while you are here — even if your visa doesn’t require it. This is called Overseas Visitors Health Cover (OVHC).
For some types of visas, you must have OVHC before you can get the visa.
Private health insurance may cover the costs of your pregnancy care and birth, but only if you have already completed the waiting period. This can be up to 12 months, so it’s important to buy insurance before you become pregnant.
Some insurance policies may not cover pregnancy and birth. Check with your insurance provider what you are covered for.
A hospital stay can be very expensive, so think about getting the highest level of hospital cover you can afford.
To find out more about private health cover requirements for certain visas, visit the Australian Government’s private health insurance information website..
What type of cover do I need if I’m a student?
Overseas students in Australia must have Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC). If you are on a student visa, you must have this insurance for the whole time you are in Australia.
If your dependants (your partner and children under 18 years of age) are on your student visa, they also need to have OSHC.
OSHC can cover you for pregnancy care and birth, however there is usually a waiting period of 12 months. This means that you will not be covered for pregnancy care or birth for the first 12 months you are insured. However, you will be covered for emergency treatment. Be sure to check these details with your insurance provider.
There are a few insurance providers that offer OSHC. They might offer different levels of insurance. Check with your insurance provider what your policy covers.
Find out more on OSHC insurance, including a list of providers.
What happens if I have no insurance and I become pregnant?
If you have no insurance, you can still have healthcare during pregnancy, birth and afterwards. However, you’ll have to pay the full cost of your and your baby’s care. Call your local hospital to find out about their fees.
Will my baby be an Australian citizen?
If your baby is born in Australia, and at least one parent is an Australian citizen or permanent resident at the time of the baby’s birth, they will automatically be an Australian citizen.
If both parents are not Australian citizens or permanent residents at the time of the baby’s birth, the baby will not be an Australian citizen.
What kind of visa will my baby have?
If your baby is born in Australia when you and their other parent are on a visa, the baby will automatically have the same visas as you and their other parent.
If you are on a visa and the other parent is not an Australian resident or on a visa, your baby will have the same visa as you.
If you are applying for a visa for yourself in Australia when your baby is born, your baby will be added to your own visa application.
You will need to notify the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs about your baby’s birth so that your baby can be added to your visa or your visa application.
Will my baby have Medicare?
If your baby is an Australian citizen or is eligible to become an Australian citizen then you may be able to enrol them in Medicare. You might also be able to enrol your baby in Medicare if your baby has a certain type of visa, such as a humanitarian visa. You might also be able to enrol your baby in Medicare if you come from a country that has a reciprocal healthcare agreement with Australia. Contact Services Australia to find out more about eligibility.
Find out more about how to enrol your baby in Medicare.
Will my baby need private health insurance?
If your baby won’t be able to get Medicare, it’s a good idea to make sure they will be covered by private health insurance. If your baby needs any treatment after they’re born, it could be very expensive if you don’t have insurance.
Talk to your insurance provider before you become pregnant to find out when you need to take out insurance for your baby and what they will cover for your baby.
Is there help available if I speak a language other than English?
The Australian Government provides free interpreters and a free translation service to help you talk to Services Australia. You can use this if you have questions about Medicare.
If you need an interpreter for healthcare appointments, you can call the Australian Government’s Translating and Interpreting Service, TIS National, on 131 450. Most of the time this will be free of charge.
Where can I get more information?
More information and support is available from these services and organisations:
- The Department of Home Affairs can give you information about Australian visas and citizenship, including links to resources and support.
- Services Australia can give you information about healthcare in Australia, including Medicare.
- Find out here what help is available for migrants and refugees in Australia.
Speak to a maternal child health nurse
Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.
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Last reviewed: September 2022