Asian tourist at Sydney Opera House

Health insurance for tourists

Planning a trip to Australia on a 600 visa? Consider taking out health insurance for peace of mind during your visit.

The Visitor visa (subclass 600) allows foreign citizens to visit Australia for up to three, six or 12 months for tourism or business purposes, or to visit family.

While it's not a requirement of this visa to have health insurance it is wise to have some form of insurance, either travel or health, as you'll be liable for any medical costs.

Why is health insurance so important for 600 visa tourists?

Unlike some other Australian visas, it is not a requirement of the 600 visa to take out health insurance for tourists. However, just because it’s not mandatory, doesn’t mean you don’t need cover. The Department of Immigration strongly recommends private health insurance for anyone coming to Australia on a 600 visa. This is for two very important reasons:

  • Without it you will be responsible for all your own medical costs in Australia, whether it’s a dental check up or a trip to the hospital emergency room after a serious accident.
  • Injury and sickness is unpredictable, particularly while travelling, so getting health insurance for tourists is an important part of the pre-flight checklist for experienced travellers.

You will need to compare Overseas Visitor Health Cover (OVHC) policies from Australian insurers to find one that offers the right level of protection for you during your visit. This type of cover is specially designed for visitors to Australia and carries extra benefits for travellers.

Which Australian health funds offer OVHC insurance?

 Health fundOverseas Visitor Health Cover policy features Find out more
HIF LogoHIF offers two policies to suit the needs of 600 visa holders:

  • Visitor Value Cover is a mid-range cover option for visitors aged 64 years and under. It offers all the same benefits as the Saver policy but also includes benefits for private hospital accommodation, labour ward charges, and out-of-hospital expenses such as X-rays and GP visits.
  • The Visitor Saver policy is perfect for young holidaymakers and tourists, offering cover for ambulance services, shared room public hospital accommodation, inpatient medical bills, theatre fees, pharmaceuticals and surgically implanted prostheses.
More info
Australian UnityAustralian Unity Overseas Visitor Health Cover helps you to reduce medical costs and look after your health right around Australia. Depending on the policy you take out you may get cover for:

  • Cover for doctor and specialist fees.
  • Hospital treatment and accommodation, theatre fees, day surgery and procedures.
  • Emergency ambulance.
More info
NIB LogoAll nib OVHC policies provide cover for ambulance treatment and transportation, public and private hospital accommodation, theatre fees and doctors fees, repatriation benefit and a funeral benefit. Mid and Top Visitor Cover also includes extras cover for dental, optical and physio.
  • Top Visitor Cover
  • Mid Visitor Cover
  • Basic Visitor Cover
  • Value Plus Visitor Cover
  • Budget Visitor Cover
More info
allianz underwriter logoOVHC from Allianz Global Assistance offers an extensive range of Australia-wide health and medical benefits. There are two plans available for travellers:

  • Visitors Plus Cover offers all these benefits but also includes out-of-hospital cover for GP visits, radiology, pathology and specialists’ fees.
  • Budget Visitors Cover is a hospital only policy that covers hospital accommodation, in-hospital doctors’ fees, theatre and intensive care fees, ward fees, in-hospital pharmacy, emergency ambulance and medical repatriation.
BupaBupa offers two levels of OVHC:

  • The Guardian Plus policy provides a higher level of cover and also includes extras cover for dental, optical, physio, chiro and more.
  • Standard Visitors Cover is a hospital-only policy, providing mid-level cover for inpatient medical services such as doctors’ and specialists’ fees, hospital accommodation and theatre fees. It also covers outpatient items such as GP visits and pharmaceutical items.
More info
HBFHBF OVHC is available in two forms:

  • The Comprehensive policy offers a higher level of benefits and also includes cover for things like GP visits, outpatient pharmaceuticals, maternity, heart surgery and cataracts.
  • The Standard policy covers public and private hospital treatment and accommodation for over 5,000 procedures, including theatre fees, medical gap cover and urgent ambulance treatment.
More info
medibankOVHC from Medibank Private is designed for fit and healthy holidaymakers who want the extra peace of mind that health insurance provides. It includes:

  • Medium tier hospital cover for hospital accommodation, doctors fees, theatre fees, in-hospital pharmaceuticals and more.
  • Cover for out-of-hospital expenses such as GP visits, pathology and radiology.
More info

How do I get Medicare benefits as a 600 visa tourist?

Medicare is Australia’s public healthcare system, and generally it only covers Australian citizens and permanent residents. Most visitors to Australia aren’t eligible for any subsidised medical care under it, unless there is an RHCA in place. An RHCA, or a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement, lets visitors to a country access public healthcare services there. This means that if you are visiting Australia from any of the following countries, you may be covered by Medicare to a certain extent. Australia has an RHCA with the following countries:

  • The United Kingdom
  • The Republic of Ireland
  • New Zealand
  • The Netherlands
  • Belgium
  • Italy
  • Malta
  • Sweden
  • Slovenia
  • Norway
  • Finland
If you are visiting Australia from any of these countries, you should learn about health care in Australia to find out how it can pay for your medical expenses.

What kind of 600 visa do I need?

You can come to Australia on a 600 visa in one of the following four streams:

  • The business visitor stream. If you’re heading to Australia on a short business trip to conduct negotiations, attend a conference or make business-related enquiries, you could qualify for this stream.
  • The tourist stream. If you’re travelling to Australia for a holiday, recreational purposes or to visit family and friends, you could qualify for this stream.
  • The sponsored family stream. This stream is for applicants who have been sponsored to travel to Australia to visit family. In some cases your sponsor may be required to provide a bond.
  • The approved destination status stream. This stream is for Chinese visitors who are travelling to Australia as part of an organised tour group. You must apply for this visa in China, before departing for Australia.

Depending on which stream you are in, you will likely be doing different activities while in Australia. Sometimes OVHC insurers might want to know more about what you plan to do on your trip so they can make sure you’re covered for active or adventure holidays.

Your 600 visa checklist

You’ll need to provide a range of documents to support your application for a 600 visa. Depending on your country of origin and your visa stream, the requirements will vary. Contact your nearest immigration office outside of Australia for details on what you will need to provide in order for your visa application to be accepted. For example, if you are going on vacation then you will need to provide the following to qualify for the tourist stream:

  • A completed visa application form
  • Certified copies of the biographical pages of your passport
  • A recent passport-sized photograph
  • A certified copy of your birth certificate
  • Evidence of sufficient funds for your trip, such as bank statements
  • A copy of your travel itinerary
  • Information to show that you intend to return to your home country

All documents must be certified copies, and any documents not in English must be accompanied by accredited English translations.

How to stay safe in Australia on a 600 visa

  • Make sure you have health care arrangements. You will most likely require an OVHC health insurance policy.
  • Know your communication options. You should be able to contact family or friends back home, and they should be able to contact you.
  • Before leaving, make arrangements in case of an unexpected emergency, such as if you need urgent funds to return home.

Speak to an Australian adviser to compare tourist visa health cover

Picture: Shutterstock

Richard Laycock

Richard is the senior insurance writer at and is on a mission to make insurance easier to understand.

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