Travel Insurance for visitors to Australia. Your quick guide

Roberto Efflandrin

When you visit any new country, it’s better to be safe than sorry, that’s why organising travel insurance for when those unforeseen situations arise is a smart decision.

If you are planning to visit Australia and you aren’t sure if you should take out travel insurance, this article will cover whether it’s compulsory, some of the top providers and some other valid information that will help make your decision easier.

💸 Hold over 40 currencies in your account and spend at the mid-market exchange rate with the Wise card while abroad.

Learn more about the
Wise Multi-Currency account

Travel insurance for visitors to Australia - What is overseas cover

Travel insurance is an insurance policy organised by an insurance provider that can cover any unforeseen and necessary medical care and travel costs that arise when you are travelling to a country abroad. For visitors to Australia, overseas cover can be a huge help if an emergency does arise, especially if the visitor does not have free access to the Australian Medicare system.

What is Medicare in Australia and can you use it as a visitor

Medicare is Australia’s own universal healthcare scheme for Australian citizens, New Zealand citizens, and permanent residents.¹ Some overseas visitors may be able to access Medicare if there is a Reciprocal Healthcare Agreement in place with their home country and Australia.

Some countries that have this agreement in place are²:

  • Belgium
  • Finland
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Slovenia
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom

Everyone who is eligible under Medicare can access a range of public health and hospital services at lower or at no cost.¹ Those from countries outside this list can use the public or private health system that operates alongside the public system, but should know that the costs are much higher unless private health insurance is organised.³

Is it mandatory to have insurance coverage when you travel to Australia

For those coming to Australia on a non-working or tourist visa, it is not mandatory to take out insurance coverage. If you are moving to Australia either temporarily or long term to work or study, it is mandatory as part of the visa conditions to have adequate health insurance coverage.³

Regardless of whether your visa conditions require travel insurance or not, it is recommended by the Australian government to take out at least a basic cover as healthcare in Australia can be quite costly.³

Read more: Travel Insurance for non-permanent residents in Australia

Some benefits of having insurance when you visit Australia

You will find that having basic insurance will provide you with these benefits:

  • Peace of mind if you get sick or have an accident while in Australia
  • Lower to no out-of-pocket expenses for accessing certain healthcare services
  • Potential coverage for non-health related travel expenses
  • Access to customer support to ask questions or seek guidance⁴
  • Some providers have multi-lingual support⁴

What this means is that you’ll save yourself from the stress and expenses that are associated with health and travel emergencies when you’re in a foreign country.


What types of offers are available - what are your options

When it comes to choosing an insurance policy, your options will be based on your individual needs. This includes whether you want to buy travel insurance in your home country before you leave or after you arrive in Australia. We’ll go through some differences below.

International Insurance providers

You can choose to purchase international travel insurance from a provider in your country. In many cases, this type of insurance will cover both medical and travel related expenses when travelling in Australia.

International and Australian private health insurances for certain visa holders

For those moving to Australia either long or short term, that are not eligible to access Medicare, proving you have adequate private health insurance is a compulsory visa condition known as condition 8501.

Visa’s with this condition attached are required by The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) to provide either private health insurance by an Australian provider or an international provider.³

Travel insurance for travel to AU as a short term visitor

Visitors coming to Australia on a short term basis, and are not subject to visa condition 8501 are able to purchase Overseas Visitors Health Cover (OVHC) from an Australian provider either before or after they arrive. This insurance covers potential health related expenses only.³

From here, we’ll mainly focus on OVHC offered by Australian providers for short term visitors. We'll cover the main eligibility requirements, what to look for in a package, and where you can buy this type of insurance.

What are some conditions for getting insurance

To be eligible for OVHC insurance, you’ll need to meet any of the following conditions⁵:

  • Be a foreigner visiting Australia on a short term basis
  • Hold a valid short-term working or study visa
  • Be visiting Australia as a tourist or visiting family
  • Are not eligible to access Medicare

For those that come from a country with a Reciprocal Healthcare Agreement in place, it is still recommended that you take out OVHC.

What to look for in an Health insurance package for visitors to Australia

When shopping around for an OVHC package, there are a few things to look out for as the benefits, coverage and membership vary between providers. You should always check⁵:

  • The full price of coverage for your time in Australia
  • What and when an excess needs to be paid when making a claim
  • If there are any waiting periods to access care
  • Whether your family members are included in the coverage
  • To check if the policy covers pre-existing conditions
  • Check what exclusions or restrictions apply
  • If any extras are included
  • The type of customer support they have available

Each provider will have a range of tiers of cover available which will include or exclude different services. We’ll show you what we mean by this next.

What is usually included in most travel insurance packages

Choosing a provider is one of the hardest decisions when it comes to choosing a provider for OHVC policy. Below we’ll use the packages offered by Bupa, an international and Australian provider as an example of things included with this type of cover.

Bupa OVHC policy packages for a single person aged 34 in NSW*⁴

Type of package Standard Standard with extras Standard with Top extras
Price per week From $42.02 AUD From $46.42 AUD From $62.62 AUD
Excess payable on admission to hospital $250 $250 $250
Extras No extras 50% back on included extras dental, physio & osteopathy 60% back on all extras
Benefits Medium level hospital cover

Medium level Inpatient and outpatient care such as GP consultations, radiology and allied health

Outpatient pharmacy up to $300 limit

Medium level hospital cover

Medium level Inpatient and outpatient care such as GP consultations, radiology and allied health

Medium level hospital cover

Medium level Inpatient and outpatient care such as GP consultations, radiology and allied health

* Price indicative of 24 May 2023

If you are outside the above demographic, you’ll be able to request a quote from each provider. It is also important to always read the policy terms and conditions prior to purchasing any type of insurance. This includes the amounts you are covered up to and types of treatments you can access.

Where to buy insurance and can it be done when you’re already in Australia

We’ve already shown the available packages from Bupa, but you can also check out these other major OVHC insurance providers in Australia.

  • NIB
  • HBF
  • Allianz care
  • Medibank
  • Australian Unity

If you aren’t interested in using an Australian provider or it is not suitable for your needs, you should also check options in your home country.

Travel with Wise

With a Wise Account you can hold money in over 40 currencies and spend it in over 160 countries. Whenever you exchange currencies it’s done using the mid-market rate with a transparent conversion fee shown upfront.

To make everyday spending easier you can order a Wise Debit card for your Wise Account and generate virtual cards as needed. If you have the local currency in your Wise Account the Wise card will use it and charge no fees. If you don’t, it uses smart technology to auto-convert your money at the mid-market rate, for a conversion fee.

Join over 16 million customers currently using Wise. It’ll only take a few minutes to register and see what’s inside.

Register your Wise account
in minutes

Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing for the most up-to-date pricing and fee information.


  1. Australian Government Department of Health Medicare
  2. Services Australia Reciprocal Healthcare Agreements
  3. Department of Home Affairs visitor travel insurance
  4. Bupa OVHC insurance packages
  5. Australian Government Private health

Sources checked on: 24 May 2023

*Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

Money without borders

Find out more

Tips, news and updates for your location