If you are a medical practitioner and a UK citizen, take full advantage of the reciprocal health agreement with New Zealand, reducing the need for some health insurance.


New Zealand has a high reliance on overseas-trained radiologists, psychiatrists and emergency medicine physicians.  Doctors coming from the UK acclimatise well to the NZ health system and the NZ government has taken steps to encourage immigration of this cohort.  

While it’s still recommended that you use travel insurance to cover the unexpected, under a reciprocal health agreement between New Zealand and the UK, bona fide citizens staying temporarily in Aotearoa New Zealand are eligible for treatment (medical, hospital and related) on the same basis as a New Zealand citizen, if you meet certain conditions.

These are that you:

  • are ordinarily resident in the UK (including England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, the Island of Jersey and the Bailiwick of Guernsey, comprising the islands of Guernsey, Alderney, Herm, Jethou and Sark) and
  • are on a temporary stay in New Zealand 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

It’s important to note that the UK Reciprocal Health Agreement is restricted to UK citizens and does not cover people with permanent residency for the UK and when healthcare providers are assessing whether a UK citizen is ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK, the duration of absence from the UK will be relevant to the decision they make.

There are other things to note. For example, when receiving services under the reciprocal agreement, you may not enrol with a Primary Health Organisation (PHO). A PHO is made up of a number of primary care practices (general practices) which work together to care for patients who are registered with them. There are 32 PHOs spread across the country and paid for Health New Zealand – Te Whatu Ora.

While you are unable to register with a PHO, you are able to register with a GP. You should get the same health subsidies as a New Zealand citizen when visiting a general practitioner as a casual patient, if the medical practitioner has decided your condition needs prompt attention. You should be allocated a National Health Information (NHI) number if you do not already have one. This means any practitioner or pharmacist etc is able to see your prescription record and other details. The information is held securely.

UK citizens may also be eligible for other publicly funded services, under other criteria. For example, if you have a work visa that, together with a stay on any other previous visa, allows you to be continuously in New Zealand for two years or more (i.e., fully eligible), or if you require maternity-related services and have a partner who is eligible.

For a full copy of the legislation which applies to this agreement, please see here.

*To be considered a permanent resident you would need to have a residence class visa or NZ citizenship

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