Medicare Provider Number

Obtaining a Medicare Provider number after being approved by the Australian Medical Board and the Australian Medical Council depending on restrictions of your visa approval may restrict you to working and living in rural Australia.   

Under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act 2009, there is a range of registration categories under which a doctor can practise medicine in Australia. Different categories apply to different types of registration.

Your residency status and where and when you obtained your primary medical degree will determine the pathways to registration and any restrictions on obtaining a Medicare Provider Number.

Visa Options for Doctors

Most overseas trained doctors may only be able to obtain limited registration initially, and may have to undertake a period of supervised employment in an Area of Need which excludes major city areas and is defined as Rural or Remote Australia.

Doctors may obtain an exemption under section 19AB of the Act if they choose to practise within a District of Workforce Shortage (or area of need) for their specialty.

If a doctor holds a valid section 19AB exemption for a rural location, they can access Medicare benefits arrangements for professional services they provide at that location.

To treat private patients in Australia, you need to have a Medicare provider number.This number allows your patients to claim Medicare benefits for the services you provide.


Medicare Australia is responsible for applying to the Department of Health and Ageing for a section 19AB exemption on behalf of a Doctor as part of the Medicare provider number application process.

Medical practitioners are considered to have met the vocational recognition requirements of Section 19AA once they obtain a fellowship qualification within their speciality that is recognised within Australia.

The District of Workforce Shortage & Area of Need

If you want to treat private patients as a General Practitioner or a specialist, you will need a Medicare number to attract the Medicare rebate.

This is generally issued as a restricted provider number or but only if you work in a District of Workforce Shortage.   

This condition applies in all states and territories of Australia.   An Area of Need is any position/location in which there is a lack of specific medical practitioners or where there are medical positions that remain unfilled following recruitment attempts over a period of time.

Most international medical graduates (IMGs) who do not qualify for general or specialist registration, but who have the skills and qualifications considered sufficient to work under supervision will need to work in an Area of Need.

Medical jobs Australia’s focus is recruitment and retention of general practitioners (family physicians) for rural areas of Australia. If you’re interested in working as a rural general practitioner, we will guide you through each of the processes.   See registration

Apply for Medicare Provider Number

Please note that supporting documentation may be required to accompany the completed application http://www.medicareaustralia.gov.au/provider/pubs/medicare-forms/provider-number.jsp.

Medicare has produced several information products, including an information sheet which is available in 17 languages. You can order resource material about taking or sending PBS medicine overseas by completing the information materials reorder form [PDF, 83Kb] or emailing odd@medicareaustralia.gov.au.