Medical Care in New Zealand on a Work Visa – Whats the deal?

New Zealand Medical Care

A Quick Guide to Medical Care in New Zealand on a Work Visa

So, whats the deal with medical care in New Zealand on a work visa? I thought I wasn’t really in the know about this topic until I started answering a question about it in my post Moving to New Zealand FAQs and I realised there was a lot more I could say. For that reason I am sharing this post all about the topic.

I’m sure that the information I give will have giant holes in places but I thought it might be useful to share my experience to give an idea of what is available and what costs will be. visa

The NZ Reciprocal Health Agreement with the UK

First thing to note is that I am a UK Citizen. The UK has a reciprocal health agreement with New Zealand. This agreement means the following (information from NZ Ministry of Health): NZ also has this agreement with Australia, but as for other countries, I think it differs so you will need to check.

A United Kingdom (UK) citizen is eligible for treatment (medical, hospital and related) on the same basis as a New Zealand citizen if they:

  • are ordinarily resident in the UK (including England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, the Island of Jersey and the Balliwick of Guernsey, comprising the islands of Guernsey, Alderney, Herm, Jethou and Sark) AND
  • are on a temporary stay in New Zealand (a temporary stay would be any stay that was not permanent, and to become permanent they would need to have a residence class visa or NZ citizenship) AND
  • require medical treatment which, in the opinion of a medical practitioner (or dentist for people under 19 years)
    • needs prompt attention
    • for a condition that arose after arrival into New Zealand, OR became, or without treatment would have become, acutely exacerbated after arrival.

This therefore means that should I be required to go to hospital, or have an operation, or some other kind of procedure, if it would be free for a New Zealander, it would be free for me, and this covers most things. If you are not from the UK, you will need to check what the situation is for nationals of your country travelling to New Zealand.


Do I need medical insurance in NZ on a Work Visa?

Even though I was  indeed covered by the reciprocal health agreement, during my time staying in New Zealand on a Working Holiday Visa, I chose to buy travel insurance for that year, before I left the UK. This is because firstly I would be in Australia and Bali and Sri Lanka before New Zealand, so I was effectively travelling and would need it. And secondly, because the advice on receiving the working holiday visa, is that you must have travel insurance.

A tip – If you buy travel insurance before you leave your home country and it runs out meaning you need to renew it, be sure to check the clauses. A lot of them wont count if you are not buying it from your home country and they often don’t allow a double purchase (but they won’t tell you this before you buy it)

If you are interested in a good NZ based company for health insurance while you are in NZ, I can recommend ORBIT. I used them and they are reasonable and have plans for different kinds of visas. They also allow you to buy insurance once already in the country. But, check if you even need it first…my next point.

Check what your visa allows

The type of health care you are entitled to depends on your visa. My Partner of a New Zealander Work Visa allows for health care the same as a New Zealander. So this means I am entitled to urgent and necessary care for free, but somethings are subsided and I need to make a contribution to receive them. Going to the GP is a good example of this. This will cost me about $70 per visit. Going to the dentist will also incur fees depending on how much work I need to get done.

You can find all the information about what a New Zealanders need to pay for here: Paying for healthcare services.

Had an accident in NZ? – ACC can help everyone

You need to know about this. New Zealand have this amazing system called ACC (Accidental Compensation Corporation) who cover any one who is injured during an accident in New Zealand. It’s aim is to get New Zealanders and visitors back to normal life if they have an injury. As long as the injury is from an accident, and is not an ongoing problem, you will be covered.

If you break your wrist while skiing, for example, ACC will cover the medical expenses and rehabilitation for this. This includes payment towards treatment, help at home and work, and help with income. New Zealand tax payers pay levies to cover this. It is really an amazing scheme and every one should know what they are eligible for when they come to NZ, so check out all the info on their website: ACC WEBSITE

An example of how it has worked for me: I hurt my knee on a hike and was able to get physiotherapy in order to help fix it, through ACC which reduced the price more than 50%. AMAZING and my knee is better.

Going to the Dentist

Going to the dentist will cost you, as it does almost anywhere now. I actually havent been yet in Wellington as I went when I was back home at Christmas. However, my boyfriend recently went for a check up and it cost him $80, he didn’t need any work done, so I am unsure of how much dental work costs. There is no guidance for cost from the Ministry of Health suggests shopping around. 

A visit to the hygienist will cost you around $120.

What are Doctors and Hospitals like in NZ?

I dont have any personal experience of going to the doctors in NZ yet so cannot officially report standards. However, I have heard that it is pretty similar in standard to Australia or the UK. There can be waiting times that feel longer than they should be but generally treatment is good and standards are high.

I have no doubt that some will disagree with this, so feel free to share your experiences in the comments below. It would be great to hear what people have been through in regards to this topic.

Check out this interesting article from the guardian about the good aspects of the healthcare system in New Zealand: NHS can Learn from NZ Healthcare Systema



medical care in new zealand on a work visa

Thanks for reading and come back soon!

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Josie x