New Zealand Visa & Migration Specialists

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Healthcare in New Zealand

New Zealand has a public healthcare system that provides for free or low cost medical treatment for all permanent residents, as well as the Accident Compensation Corporation, which covers treatment for accidents sustained by anyone, regardless of immigration status. Many residents choose to purchase supplemental health insurance that provides for greater control and flexibility in their care, but it is not required.


There are several ways to access healthcare services in New Zealand. The method you choose will depend on what type of assistance you need.


Emergency medical help can be found in the local hospital’s emergency department. Emergency personnel will assess and treat patients who have serious or life-threatening injuries or illnesses.


For non-emergency medical care, the place to start is with a GP, or General Practitioner. In New Zealand, GPs work in groups called practices, and maintain offices in a Medical Centre. GPs are fully trained medical doctors, qualified to diagnose your condition and refer you for further tests or specialist treatment if necessary. Ongoing treatment may fall under the free public health system or occur through a private provider who will expect that patient to pay.


Medications may be purchased at the pharmacy, otherwise known as a chemist. Pharmacies carry a selection of over-the-counter medicines such basic painkillers and allergy tabs, but a prescription from a GP is necessary for more powerful medicine.

Healthcare for Non-residents

Non-residents must pay for their healthcare unless they are on a work visa that runs for at least two years. The exception is when medical care is required after an accident, attack, or sexual assault, in which case, treatment is covered by ACC’s no-fault protection scheme. ACC protects accident victims regardless of how they became injured or their status in the country.


For routine and preventive care, emergency treatment for illness, and prescription coverage, visitors and short term workers in New Zealand should carry insurance that is issued in their home country.


If you hold a long term work visa, you are eligible for publicly funded health and disability services, provided that your visa either:

entitles you to remain in New Zealand for two years or more, OR

entitles you to remain in New Zealand for a period of time which, when added to the time that you have already resided lawfully in New Zealand prior to being issued your current visa, equals or exceeds two years


Check out the New Zealand Ministry of Health website to learn more about eligibility requirements for publicly funded health care. ⋆