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Pregnancy and newborn care on a visa in Australia

9-minute read

Can I receive care if I’m on a visa?

Any pregnant woman is able to access care for herself and her baby in Australia during pregnancy, birth and afterwards.

However, if you are a visitor, student or newly arrived in Australia, the cost of your care will depend on the status of your visa or residency.

In Australia, pregnancy care is provided by midwives, doctors and obstetricians and you may choose to use publicly funded or privately funded care.

Am I covered by Medicare during my pregnancy?

Medicare provides access to medical and hospital services for all Australian residents and certain categories of visitors to Australia. Waiting periods and other conditions for Medicare benefits may apply.

The Australian Government has reciprocal healthcare agreements with some countries. These agreements are for essential medical treatment that requires care before you can return home and are not designed to replace travel insurance for health-related expenses.

If you are a resident of one of the following countries, you might be entitled to free or subsidised essential treatment while visiting Australia:

  • Belgium
  • Finland (except if you are here in Australia on a student visa)
  • Italy
  • Malta (except if you are here in Australia on a student visa)
  • the Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway (except if you are here in Australia on a student visa)
  • Republic of Ireland (except if you are here in Australia on a student visa)
  • Slovenia
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom

If you have arrived in Australia with a Refugee or Humanitarian Visa, or were granted a Permanent Protection Visa in Australia, you might be entitled to Medicare services.

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 or a bridging visa, you and your dependents (such as a spouse and children under 18) are required to have this insurance for the duration of your time in Australia.

There are different levels of OSHC insurance policies available and you can also choose which provider best suits your needs.

OSHC covers things like seeing a doctor, some hospital treatments, ambulance and some pharmaceuticals (medicines).

There may be a waiting period for pregnancy-related services, so be sure to check with your insurance provider.

Find out more on OSHC insurance, including a list of providers.

What happens if I am not eligible for Medicare and I fall pregnant?

If you are ineligible for Medicare, you can still get pregnancy care from an obstetrician, midwife or doctor. You can also get labour and birth care in a public or private hospital, birth centre, publicly funded homebirth program, or plan a homebirth with a privately practising registered midwife.

But to cover the costs associated with your care, you’ll need to have taken out private health insurance before becoming pregnant or you’ll have to pay the full costs associated with your care.

Will my baby be an Australian citizen?

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.

If neither parent is an Australian citizen or a permanent resident of Australia at the time of birth, the child is called a temporary resident. The child will hold the same visa subclass as the parent’s temporary resident visa.

Is there language support available?

If you have a Refugee or Humanitarian Visa, or were granted a Permanent Protection Visa in Australia, the Australian government provides free interpreters and a free translation service to help you talk to Services Australia.

There is also a multilingual phone service to speak to someone in your language about Centrelink payments and services.

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.

Will my baby be eligible for Medicare?

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.

Is my baby covered under the 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.

Do I need 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:

Where can I get more information?

Additional information is also available at:

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.

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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