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Nursing in Australia in 3 steps

Nursing in Australia in 3 steps
Photo: Nursing in Australia
Nursing in Australia – in three steps

Do you want to move to Australia to work as a nurse?  This article is intended to provide you with an up to date explanation of the requirements and the steps you need to take.

Step 1 – Do your qualifications and experience meet the requirements of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia?

In order to be allowed to work as a nurse, and before you will be able be considered for a migration to Australia based on the fact that you are a nurse, you will need to meet the registration requirements of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).
There are five criteria that are used in assessing your application for registration:

Criterion 1 – Proof of identify

You will need to provide a range of 'proof of identity' documents including:

  • Biostatistical page(s) of your passport
  • Change of name documentation (marriage certificate, decree nisi, deed poll)
  • A passport-sized photo taken in the last six months

Criterion 2 – English language proficiency

You must demonstrate the required score in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), Occupational English Test (OET) for Nurses, Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic or Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) iBT.

You only need to pass one of these tests, not all of them. The results are only relevant for two years after examination.

IELTS You must achieve a minimum score of seven in each of the four components - listening, reading, writing and speaking. 

OET – You must achieve a minimum score of B in each of the four components – listening, reading, writing and speaking. 

PTE – You must achieve a minimum overall score of 65 AND a minimum score of 65 in each of the four communicative skills - listening, reading, writing and speaking. 

TOEFL iBT – You must achieve a minimum score of 94 AND the following minimum scores in each section of the test – 24 listening, 24 reading, 27 writing and 23 speaking.

Criterion 3 – Meet Australian nursing and midwifery education standards.

If you are qualified as a nurse in one of the following countries with a bachelor degree (at level 7) or a diploma (level 5)* as well as further education, and you are registered as a first level nurse in one of these countries you are likely to meet the equivalent qualification as a nurse qualified in Australia:

  • Canada
  • Hong Kong
  • Republic of Ireland
  • United Kingdom
  • New Zealand
  • United States of America

The NMBA has found that nursing qualifications in the following countries may meet the requirements of quality assurance and accreditation in Australia:

  • Belgium Flanders
  • Chile
  • Pakistan
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Singapore

*If you only have a diploma from one of the countries listed above you will require an assessment of your further education or experience to determine if you are deemed to be equivalent to a nurse qualified in Australia.

Nurses from countries not listed above will require individual assessment to determine whether their qualifications and experience will be recognised by the Board.

All applicants must provide graduation certificate and basic transcripts.

Criterion 4 – Professional practice

You must provide evidence of having practised as a nurse or midwife in the five years prior to submitting your application.

You will be required to submit professional references that must meet the following criteria:

  • Be on official letterhead
  • Be written by a direct supervisor who is a nurse or midwife
  • Be dated
  • Contain an official signature

Criterion 5 - Demonstrate that you are fit to practice in Australia

You must prove that there has been no previous proven disciplinary proceedings against you, that there are no restrictions on you arising from mental incapacity, that there are no restrictions on you arising from physical incapacity, that you have no criminal history which would preclude you from working as a nurse or midwife in Australia.

What do I do if I don’t meet AHPRA’s requirements?

If you don’t meet the requirements because your qualifications or experience are not recognised, you might want to consider pursuing a 'Training visa - subclass 407’ to allow you to undertake a bridging program to improve your skills.  More information is available via the following links:

Step 2 – Submit your application for registration with AHPRA

If you think you meet the criteria in step 1, then submit your application for registration to the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia. Click here to view and download the form.

Step 3 – Get a VISA

Once you are registered with AHPRA as a nurse you then need a VISA to be allowed to live and work in Australia.  There are a number of VISA’s available.

If you are able to secure sponsorship by an employer, one of the following VISA types will be appropriate:

If you are not sponsored by an employer, you can pursue a VISA under the General Skilled Migration (GSM) provisions of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. Click here for more VISA options under the GSM

If you want to come to Australia for a working holiday, and you are aged between 18 and 30, click here for details on Working Holiday Visa’s.


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