Medicare card

Who can get it

You can get a Medicare card if you live in Australia or on Norfolk Island and meet certain criteria. You may also get a card if you visit from certain countries.

You can get a Medicare card if you live in Australia or on Norfolk Island and are:

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

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

If you’re an Australian citizen

You can get a Medicare card if you’re an Australian citizen and you live here.

Read more about how to enrol in Medicare if you’re an Australian citizen.

If you’re an Australian citizen and you live overseas

If you’ve moved overseas, you continue to be eligible for Medicare for 5 years. The 5 years starts from the date you first left Australia.

You can’t access Medicare services from outside of Australia. If we have a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with the country you’re in, you may get access to medically necessary care. You’ll need a Medicare card to do this.

If you live overseas for more than 5 years you’ll no longer be eligible for Medicare. You will need to re-enrol in Medicare when you move back to Australia to live.

If you live on an Australian dependency island

You can get a Medicare card if you’re a citizen or permanent resident of:

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

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

Read more about how to enrol in Medicare if you’re a New Zealand citizen.

If you have a permanent visa or have applied for one

If you have a permanent resident visa

You can get a Medicare card if you live in Australia and have a permanent resident visa.

Read more about how to enrol in Medicare if you have a permanent resident visa.

If you have a permanent resident visa and live overseas

If you’ve moved overseas, you continue to be eligible for Medicare. You’re eligible for 12 months from the date you first left Australia.

You can’t access Medicare services from outside of Australia. If we have a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with the country you’re in, you may get access to medically necessary care. You’ll need a Medicare card to do this.

If you live overseas for more than 12 months you’ll no longer be eligible for Medicare. You’ll need to re-enrol in Medicare when you move back to Australia to live.

Find out how to enrol or re-enrol in Medicare if you’re returning to Australia to live.

If you live in Australia and have applied for permanent residency

You may be able to get a Medicare card if you live in Australia and have applied for a:

  • permanent residency visa, excluding parent visas, or
  • permanent protection visa

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 includes if you’ve applied for a combined spouse visa 309/100 or 820/801.

You’re eligible for Medicare from the date you applied for permanent residency. This date may be different to the date you were granted your temporary visa 309 or 820. If you applied outside Australia, you’re eligible from the date you arrived in Australia to live.

Read about how to enrol in Medicare if you’ve applied for permanent residency.

If your permanent resident application was refused

If your permanent resident application was refused and you:

  • have lodged an appeal, you may be able to get a Medicare card
  • haven’t lodged an appeal, you’re not eligible for Medicare unless you’re covered under a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement

If you’re a Parent visa applicant

If you’re an applicant for Parent visa subclass 804 or 103, you can’t get a Medicare card unless you’re eligible under a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement.

If you’re a Contributory parent visa applicant

If you’re an applicant for a Contributory parent visa, you can get a Medicare card if you hold a:

  • temporary visa subclass 173 or 884, or
  • temporary visa subclass 173 or 884 and have applied for permanent visa subclass 143 or 864

If you’ve applied directly for the permanent Contributory parent visa subclass 143 or 864 without holding the temporary Contributory parent visa first, you’re not eligible until your permanent Contributory parent visa is granted. However, you may be able to get a Medicare card if you’re eligible under a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement.

If 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 meet the agreement conditions.

Read more about Reciprocal Health Care Agreements.

If you have adopted a child

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

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

If you adopt a child from overseas, the child will get their own Medicare card if:

  • the adoption has not been finalised, and
  • they hold a permanent resident visa, or
  • they have applied for permanent residency

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

If the adoption is not finalised, the child will get their own Medicare card.

Page last updated: 9 November 2018