Nursing in Australia is one of the most rewarding things I’ve done in my career to date. If you’ve been following my adventures for a while then you’ll know that I’ve been working as an agency nurse in Australia for the last year. When it comes to nursing I have to say that this has been my most requested post ever! I wrote a post on obtaining your Working Holiday Visa in Australia as a Nurse from the UK which you can take a look at here. The road to obtaining AHPRA registration for overseas nurses can be daunting and time-consuming but in the end, it’s 100% worth it.
To work as a nurse in Australia as well as visa you also need AHPRA registration. AHPRA stands for, Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (APHRA) which is basically the equivalent to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) in the UK. In this post, I’m going to talk about my own personal experience on gaining my registration and some of my personal tips for applying for and gaining AHPRA registration for Overseas Nurses.
Disclosure: This is not application advice or immigration advice. This is my personal experience on gaining my registration as a nurse in Australia. This information was correct at my time of application and may differ from the current requirements.
Is it worth getting APHRA Registration for Overseas Nurses on a Working Holiday Visa (WHV)?
Before getting into the nitty-gritty talk of the actual application I wanted to briefly share my experience of working as a nurse in Australia, on a WHV. The short answer to the question posed above is yes, one million times over, yes! I understand that it can be time-consuming and sometimes damn right hard work to obtain APHRA registration for overseas nurses. But I assure you it will be totally worth the hard slog in the end. In Australia, on a working holiday visa, you are able to work for up to one whole year. The only restriction is that you can only work with one employer for six months. Therefore doing the work to get AHPRA registration to be able to work for a whole year is a small price to pay.
If I hadn’t of been nursing in Australia then our experience in this inspiring country would have been very different. As well as improved working conditions, better patient to staff ratios and all-around better work-life balance compared to the UK, the pay rates for nurses in Australia in excellent!
As an RN 4, a registered nurse with 4 years experience, working three 12 hour shifts I can make up to $1800 AUD a week! That’s the equivalent of 980 GBP a week! And yes, life here in Australia is more expensive like rent and food but its nothing compared to wages out here. If I hadn’t been nursing then we wouldn’t have been fortunate enough to go on some of the most amazing trips during our time here because we couldn’t have afforded it! I dread to think how much money you would have to save to travel to Australia with no work for a year!
Do I need to Apply for my Working Holiday Visa or AHPRA registration first?
The order doesn’t matter too much but no visa equals no work. A work permit is required in Australia and if you don’t have the right to work then there is no point applying for something work-related. Apply for the working holiday visa first and then AHPRA registration, just my opinion. Once you’re granted a working holiday visa for Australia you have one year to enter the country so you have plenty of time. That doesn’t mean you can’t have everything for AHPRA registration ready to be sent off just make sure you have the right to work in Australia before physically sending off the application.
How Far in Advance Do I need to apply for AHPRA Registration for Overseas Nurses?
This question I can’t answer. The processing time for all registrations is completely different all year round. To some extent, the time of year will matter but nobody really knows. One month AHPRA may be inundated with applications and the next month they may receive hardly any, all affecting the time on processing your application. One thing I will say is that, like anything in life, your application for AHPRA registration as an overseas nurse will come back a lot quicker if you fill out every correctly and send off all the information correct, the first time around.
On the internet and within Facebook groups there is a lot of negativity towards AHPRA and the application process. It can be a nightmare, timely and costly to obtain AHPRA registration for overseas nurses. But you have to follow their process otherwise it isn’t possible. So don’t try and cut corners by not sending off bits of information and if you don’t know something or are confused regarding the application then ask someone for help. When I was applying for my AHPRA registration I was already registered with the nursing agency Healthcare Australia (which I did before anything else) and I cannot express enough how much support their UK office gave me whilst I was filling out this application.
I literally sent my answers for each question in an email to my recruitment adviser (she probably wanted to kill me!) to make sure I was filling out each step correctly. There are so many people out there who want us to succeed so make sure you utilise services out there. Healthcare Australia was also able to advise me on when I should send my application off as they are somewhat aware of current processing times.
Top Tip: Renewal of Registration for AHPRA Registration for Overseas Nurses.
Before you apply for your registration/decide what time of year to arrive in Australia keep in mind the renewal regulations for AHPRA registration for overseas nurses. In the UK registration is renewed every year depending on the month of qualification. For example, I qualified as a nurse in September so I renew my registration every September. In Australia, it’s a little different. Everybody renews their registration on the 31st of May. So no matter when you are accepted onto the register you will have to renew by May the 31st. This basically means paying your renewal fee of $170 so you can remain registered by AHPRA in Australia. Even if your registration is accepted in April you will still need to reregister in May. Just food for thought.
My Tips for Filling out the AHPRA Registration for Overseas Nurses Application Form
For the remainder of this post, I’m going to give my top tips for filling out the dreaded application form. I’m not going to break it down question by question but I am going to share the tips that were given to me that I found helpful at the time of application. This information was true and correct at the time that I published this post and that information may change at any point.
This is the most important tip that should be taken away from this post. If you think you can wake up one morning, book a flight for next week and be nursing in Australia the week after then you are under a crazy illusion! AHPRA registration for overseas nurses takes time and preparation. I was preparing for my application months prior to sending it off.
From gathering documents, getting things certified, contacting university etc, it takes time to get the ball rolling. It also depends on outside organisations like the NMC. So please give yourself plenty of time when applying for registration in Australia. If I can say one thing about AHPRA it’s they are very thorough, and so they should be, but this leaves no room for error. Rushing the application and making a simple error will requiring having to resend the whole thing off delaying the application even longer. Be smart and prepare in advance.
Use the form as Bedtime Reading
This first tip may sound a little silly but trust me you’re going to want to take it. Download the application form which is the Application for General Registration as an Enrolled nurse, Registered nurse or Midwife (for internationally qualified nurses and midwives) – AGOS-40 form found on the AHPRA website at this link.
Print off two (or three) copies of the form and read it over and over again. On one of the rough copies make notes as you go. I basically began filling out the questions and when I came across one that I didn’t understand or needed clarification on I highlighted it and took it back to the recruitment office at Healthcare Australia for some guidance. By taking the time to read the application form properly will give you a good chance of not making mistakes when you come to fill it out for real.
Read Pages 14 & 15!
When you first look at the application form go right to the end and read pages 14 and 15. Page 14 is a checklist of all the documents you need to attach to the form and page 15 gives definitions of certain aspects of the form. Page 15 gives you the details for parts like what’s required on your Statement of Service, CV and literally every other part of the application. I think because this part is at the end of the application people often miss it but it is so important! It will make your life filling out this application a lot easier! We are always told to ‘read the fine print’ and how many of actually do it? Well, in this case, I urge you to read all of the fine print.
Gather all of Your Documents
As well as the application AHPRA requires a lot of other documents to accept someone onto the nursing register. So make sure you get these documents organised and collected in advance. The extra documents you need for the application at this present time are:
Proof of Identity – Copies
Certified Copies of Academic Qualifications – Copies of Nursing Qualification Certificate
Statement of Service from Employers from the last 5 years – Page 15 gives tells you what is to be included on the Statement of Service
CV – Use the AHPRA CV format giving on the AHPRA website. The CV must be the original copy photocopies are not accepted by AHPRA.
ICHC Criminal History Check Reference Page – You will need a criminal history check by an ICHC approved vendor. Fit2Work is approved and recognised by AHPRA costing 96 GBP and takes a few weeks.
Certificate of Good Standing/Certificate of Registration from the NMC – 34 GBP you apply online at this website and the NMC must send directly to AHPRA.
University Transcripts – My university sent these directly to AHPRA.
Gather all of these documents in advance so that everything is certified and ready to be sent off by the time you are ready to send the application to AHPRA.
The 3 Month Rule/Statutory Declaration Check
The NMC Certificate of Good Standing and Fit2Work results are only valid for three months so I did these things last. If you arrive in Australia after this time then you need to fill out a statutory declaration check in Australia. You can download and print these forms from the AHPRA website here and get it signed by a Justice of the Peace or Notary of the Public in Australia. This service is FREE in Australia (amazing) so just type into google for your nearest one. You can usually find someone in a shopping centre or library where they do signings.
Documents that need certifying are any documents that are copied and any document that doesn’t have the original ink pen signature. AHPRA require documents to be signed by a Justice of the Peace or Notary of the Public. Where you live will depend on who you go to and how much it costs. Mine cost 70 GBP to certify all documents in 2018.
Sending the Application
Once you’ve got the application filled out, all of your documents attached and certified you can send the application. All international applications are processed in Sydney so just send it straight to the Sydney office. AHPRA won’t tell you when they have received your application but the fee will be taken from your bank. Once they take the money you know they have received the application. Make sure you send the application tracked so you can keep an eye on it!
Extension from AHPRA
Depending on the volume of applications AHPRA has to process they might ask for an extension. Basically, this means giving them more time to process your application. It is annoying. But you have to accept the extension or they can withdraw your application. Mine got asked to be extended and then came back approved just days later.
Presenting in Person
When applying for AHPRA registration for overseas nurses we need to present in person to the AHPRA office on arrival to Australia. No appointment is required. Just turn up with your ID documents to be checked and statutory declarations if relevant.
AHPRA also require proof of when you entered the country. I kept my boarding pass from the plane and this was sufficient. They also need proof of address in Australia which can be an Air BnB or even Hostel. What I did was make sure I had an Australian bank account before arriving. Upon arrival, I went to the bank and put my Air BnB address. The bank then generated a bank statement with the address on which was sufficient for AHPRA. You can change the address at any time when you get a more permanent address.
Hopefully, once you present in person your registration will get approved quickly! Mine only took a few days. I really hope this post has given you some confidence when it comes to applying for AHPRA registration as an overseas nurse. It can be daunting and scary but the hassle is totally worth it in the end and it’s really not that bad! If you utilise a support network, ask questions and prepare well in advance you should be okay! All in all my application only took 2 months from being sent off to me receiving my approval in principle. Try not to listen too much to the negativity online and just focus on your own journey! Nursing in Australia is highly rewarding and an experience you’ll treasure forever!
If you’d like any more information on the AHPRA application form in a little more detail or my experience of nursing in Australia then you can always email me at [email protected] and I’d be glad to help out!
Best of Luck!
Good Luck on your journey down under! My nursing journey will next be taking me to New Zealand, I can’t believe this will be the 3rd country I’ve worked in as a nurse! If you told me when I qualified that this is where life would take me I would of laughed in your face!
I’ve left some links that I think you will find useful below!
AHPRA Website: https://www.ahpra.gov.au/
Apply for a Working Holiday Visa: https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/getting-a-visa/visa-listing/work-holiday-417/first-working-holiday-417
Nursing and Midwifery Council Certificate of Good Standing: https://www.nmc.org.uk/registration/working-outside-the-uk/working-outside-the-eu/
For more information on applying for a Working holiday Visa as a Nurse from the UK check out my other post here! There are a few changes when applying for a WHV compared to someone who isn’t a nurse.
Disclosure: This is not application advice this is my personal experience on gaining my registration as a nurse in Australia. This information was correct at my time of application and may differ from the current requirements. I take no responsibility for your application.