Who can get a Medicare card

You must live in Australia or Norfolk Island to get a Medicare card.

And, you must be either:

  • an Australian citizen
  • a New Zealand citizen
  • an Australian permanent resident
  • applying for permanent residency - conditions apply
  • covered by a Ministerial Order, or
  • a Resident Return visa holder

You may also get a Medicare card if you’re visiting from a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement country.

If you live on an Australian dependency island

You’re eligible for Medicare services you get in Australia if you can give us evidence you’re a citizen or permanent resident of:

  • Cocos (Keeling) Islands
  • Christmas Island
  • Lord Howe Island

If you live in Australia and have a visa

If you live in Australia and have applied for permanent residency, you may get a Medicare card. 

You must:

  • be on a visa allowing you to work, or
  • prove your parent, spouse or child is an Australian citizen, permanent resident, or a New Zealand citizen living in Australia

This doesn’t include applying for a parent visa. Applicants for parent visas may be eligible for Medicare if they’re from a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement country and meet eligibility criteria. If you’ve applied for a Contributory parent visa you may get a Medicare card. If you’ve applied directly for the permanent Contributory visa without holding the temporary Contributory visa you’re not eligible until your permanent Contributory visa is granted.

If you adopt a child from overseas

If you adopt a child from overseas, you can add them to your card if:

  • they hold a permanent resident visa, and
  • you have a letter proving the adoption is finalised

If you adopt a child from Australia

If you adopt a child from Australia, you can add them to your card if you have:

  • their birth certificate,
  • a letter proving the adoption is finalised, and
  • your Medicare card

When you’re visiting Australia

You may get a Medicare card if you visit Australia from a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement country.

Some of your costs for medically necessary care may be covered during your stay.

You may be eligible if you live in a country that Australia has an agreement with and meet the agreement conditions.

Read more about Reciprocal Health Care Agreements.

If you’re a New Zealand citizen

You can get a Medicare card if you’re a New Zealand citizen and you:

  • have lived in Australia for 6 months or more, in the last 12 months - this can be all at once or in separate visits
  • intend to stay in Australia for 6 months or more, in the next 12 months - this can be all at once or in separate visits, or
  • are living in Australia and have applied for permanent residency

Page last updated: 9 November 2017