Health care while travelling overseas

Reciprocal Health Care Agreements (RHCA)

Do you know that as Australian citizens you are entitled to medical assistance in some countries when travelling overseas.

Medicare benefits are not available for treatment received overseas, however the Australian Government has signed Reciprocal Health Care Agreements (RHCA) with a number of countries. This means that as an Australian resident you are entitled to assistance with the cost of medical treatment in Belgium, Finland, Italy, Malta, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, the Republic of Ireland, Sweden and the United Kingdom.


These agreements cover any immediately necessary treatment you require.


Here are answers to some questions you may have regarding this kind of assistance overseas:

Will I need travel insurance?

RHCAs do not replace the need for private travel health insurance, and you are strongly recommended to take out suitable insurance covering you for the period that you will be away.

How will I prove I am eligible?

You will need to provide local authorities with:

  • your Australian passport or other passport which shows you are a permanent Australian resident
  • a valid Medicare card””if you do not have a valid Medicare  card, or your card will expire while you are away, visit a Medicare office and arrange for a new card before travelling overseas.


It is important that you advise medical staff in the country you are visiting that you wish to be treated under the RHCA with Australia.

What about medicine?

Medicine is generally not subsidised under the RHCAs. When planning to travel overseas with Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medicine for your personal use, or the personal use of someone travelling with you, it is important that you:

  • talk to your doctor and discuss the medicine you will need to take with you
  • contact the embassy of the country you are visiting to ensure the medicine is legal there
  • carry a letter from your doctor detailing what the medicine is, how much you will be taking, and stating that it is for your personal use
  • leave the medicine in its original packaging so it is clearly labelled with your name and dosage instructions.


Illegally taking PBS medicine out of the country may result in a fine of up to $5000 and/or two years imprisonment.


For more information

For more information about travelling overseas visit the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade ”˜smartraveller’ website at




Write       Medicare Australia

GPO Box 9822

in your capital city

Call         132 011*

TTY         1800 552 152** (hearing and speech impaired)

TIS           131 450* (Translating and Interpreting Service)


If you need help translating this information call the TIS on 131 450*.


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