Australian Working Holiday Visa for Nurses – My Experience

Working Holiday Visa for Nurses, Working in Australia, Visa for Nurses, Working Holiday Visa, Nursing in Australia

Please note that there may be some affiliate links in this post! This means if you buy or book anything through these links then I may receive a very small commission at no extra cost to you! Disclosure: This is NOT immigration advice this is a personal experience. The advice listed in this blog is advice I would’ve found helpful when looking to nurse in Australia, it is simply my own personal tips and may not be the same for what you are looking to achieve. 

‘How are you nursing in Australia? Are you nursing in Australia? You must’ve taken a gap year to be in Australia right?’  These are a few of the many questions I’ve been asked so far here in Australia. When you move abroad if you’re like me, chatty and nosy, then you’ll be talking to and meeting so many new people! When people who don’t know me find out I’m a nurse the questions come flying in! What baffles me the most is how most people think I’ve taken a career break from my job to travel to the land down under. But that’s far from the case, like a lot of people, I’m here on a Working Holiday Visa which allows me to work and travel in Australia.

Working Holiday Visa for Nurses, Australian Working Holiday Visa, Nursing Working Holiday Visa, Nursing in Australia

‘I wish I could do that, I’m a nurse how are you doing it’ The most common questions I’ve been asked by other nurses wanting to make a move to Australia, or anywhere for that matter. So I’ve decided to start incorporating a little bit of nursing into this blog mainly covering how I’m able to travel and work as a nurse!

In this post, I’m covering everything you need to know about getting a Working Holiday Visa (WHV) for Nurses! Where the process is pretty much exactly the same as any other person applying for a WHV there are some differences. And I’ll warn you now these differences come with a price! 

Working as a Nurse in Australia

Okay, so one of the biggies is the question. Can I work in Australia if I’m a nurse? The answer will have you jumping for joy because it’s, of course, a big fat YES! Australia, much like the UK, is crying out for nurses and there is plenty of work for us down under! However, there are some things to consider when you’re looking into whether or not you can nurse in Australia. The main issue is that if you have a diploma you can no longer practice as a nurse in Australia. The only way you’ll be able to obtain your nursing registration in Australia is if you have a degree or have topped up your diploma to degree level. This requirement has only been changed in the last few years and catches a lot of nurses out!

Working Holiday Visa for Nurses, Working Holiday Visa, Nursing Working Holiday Visa, Nursing in Australia
Imagine finishing work and walking past the Harbour Bridge as part of your commute…

Getting Your Australian Registration

Do I need to get an Australia registration to practice? Yep, you sure do! Much like the UK Australia also have their own nursing register and you need to be on it to be able to work here as a nurse. When applying to work in Australia this will be your biggest task and bug bare as a nurse! The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) is the equivalent to the Nursing and Midwifery Council and these are the people who will decide whether or not to let you loose on the citizens of Australia. Now applying for this registration is time-consuming and expensive but I’ve written another post on AHPRA registration for overseas nurses here! Make sure you’re subscribed to my email list for other nursing tips!

Link to AHPRA – Bedtime reading – Make sure you read everything on this website before applying for your registration!

Working Holiday Visa for Nurses FACTS

Before you go head first into making your application I thought I’d clear up a few things that I wasn’t so clear on myself when I started looking into this process. So here are some WHV facts you’ll need to know before you get started!

  • How much does it cost? 257 GBP or 450 AUD
  • You will need a medical to nurse in Australia on a WHV
  • A medical will cost you anything from 300 – 600 GBP
  • If you wish to extend your visa to 2 years even as a nurse you must complete 88 Days of regional work
  • The current policy is that nursing in a regional area DOESN’T count towards the visa
  • The Australian Department of Immigration spot check people at the border to ensure they have $5000 AUD in their bank account. So be safe and make sure you’ve got it.
  • You must be 18-30 Years old
  • No dependants allowed on this visa ie. children or partners
  • The 6 months with one employer rule still applies to nurses so you can only work for 6 months at one hospital

The Working Holiday Visa Process

Working Holiday Visa for Nurses, Working Holiday Visa, Nursing in Australia, Australian Working Holiday Visa for Nurses
Or walking past the Opera House perhaps? I nearly cried when I saw this place!

Actually going through the process to obtain a working holiday visa is super easy! It’s literally a form on the Australian government website which you can find here! Simply follow the instructions and fill out the form. You’ll need your passport with you! Now you might be reading this thinking it’s pretty simple and why do you need this post? Well, you probably don’t but with whatever I do in life I love to see how people have gone about it before I do!

Most people applying for the WHV can fill out the form and forget about it but for us nurses the work isn’t over yet. On the form it will ask whether or not you intend to work in a health care setting obviously this answer will be yes. You will then be informed that you are required to attend a medical screening. Your visa will not be looked at until you have a medical.

Can I have the medical before applying for the visa? Nope. To go for a medical for the Australian Working Holiday Visa as a nurse you need to take a specific number with you when you go. When you book your medical you will be asked for the number stated on your application form (error can’t remember what the number is called but it’s pretty obvious). As far as medicals go they are quite easy but you must visit a specific immigration panel doctor. Meaning you can’t go to the GP for it and no you can’t get it on the NHS! Our medical cost us around 300-400 GBP here’s a list panel doctors in the UK where you can get a medical done:

  • Knightsbridge Doctors, London
  • Spire Little Aston Hospital, Sutton Coldfield
  • Medmigrations, Manchester
  • Bryden Medical, Glasgow
  • The Edinburgh Clinic, Edinburgh
  • Nuffield Health, Plymouth
  • The Bridge Clinic, Berkonshire
  • Spire Cardiff Hospital, Cardiff

You can take a look at this website which is updated by the Australian Government so you know you’re going to the right place.

‘Which way round should I apply, visa first or APRHA first?’

Another question I see asked a lot! Well, that totally depends on you and you’re situation. I did the visa first because when you get your letter in principal from APHRA you only have three months to enter the country. So I did the visa first so I knew I had it, once your working holiday visa is granted then you have one year to enter Australia. Working Holiday Visas usually come back within a couple of weeks if not sooner so you don’t often have that long to wait!

Once you’ve got your visa you are allowed to work and live in Australia for up to twelve months. If you wish to extend this then you must complete 88 days of regional work and, as I said above nursing doesn’t count, even if it’s in the middle of the outback! You can check the government website for what is classed as being suitable for your working holiday visa in the second year, they also have which postcodes you must and mustn’t work in.

Working Holiday Visa for Nurses, Nursing Visa, Australian Working Holiday Visa, Working Holiday Visa, Nurse in Australia
No matter where you nurse in Australia the beaches are never very far away…

Obviously, when you’ve applied for your visa you still have to a get job so your work isn’t quite over yet but trust me getting the visa and you’re Australian registration are the hard parts! Getting onto agencies over here is pretty easy and there is plenty to choose from! If an agency isn’t for you then I have known nurses who have landed six-month contracts with certain hospitals so it’s totally do-able!

I really hope this post has given you a slight insight into applying for a working holiday visa as a nurse! Even though it’s quite straightforward don’t let your non-nurse pals tell you it’s easy and inexpensive because for us guys it ain’t! The next nursing themed post I’m going to do is the AHPRA application process because I wish I had someone clearly tell me step by step what to do, which is exactly I’m going to do in my next post so keep your eyes peeled!

Top Tip: The Uniforms in Australia for agency nurses are mainly polo tops with no pockets! If you’re like me and from the UK then you’ll always have your pockets full! Nurses over here have bags that they put there stuff in a little like bum bags, you can take a look here!

Working Holiday Visa for Nurses
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Before you go don’t forget to think about your accommodation too! When you present to APHRA you’ll have to take proof of address here in Australia! You can use an Air BnB address or hostel! offer all hostels for some of the best prices!


Alicia is a travel obsessed Registered Nurse who is on a mission to help other unfulfilled nurses reconnect with their purpose, passion and joy for life. Alicia has suffered from countless bouts of burnout in her nursing career and now wants to help other nurses too. Alicia is a huge advocate for travel and travel makes up a huge part of her life and this blog! Join her on her adventures nursing around the world and helping others to live a happier more positive life.

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  1. Beth warwick
    30/03/2019 / 08:43

    Hello, I am a nurse also moving to Australia later in the year and have found this post so helpful when looking into my visa etc. My next step is to organise everything for AHPRA and was wondering if you still plan to do a post about it? Or if I could have an email address to message you about it for some advice?

    • 03/04/2019 / 17:09

      Hi Beth! Thank you so much for your comment! I’m glad you found the post helpful, I’m still planning on doing a post on AHPRA but it’s taking a lot longer than planned with some changes that they have made etc! But please send me an email [email protected] with any questions and I’d be really happy to help! You can also check out the blog highlands2hammocks – Gemma is a nurse from Scotland and has done a really helpful post on AHPRA too! Hope this helps & I look forward to hearing from you! Alicia

  2. 29/06/2019 / 20:24

    I’m not a nurse, but I’ve been trying to get my best friend to travel more and I think this would be perfect for her! Let’s hope she’s convinced lol! Just sent it to her on FB. Thank you for the information!

    • 01/07/2019 / 13:44

      I’m so glad you think it will help her! Here’s to hoping she takes the plunge and goes for it! You’re most welcome and send her my way if she needs any more information!

  3. Kier Gregory
    17/09/2019 / 10:05

    Hi, how easy is it to find a nursing job on a WHV as I have 6 months experience as a registered nurse. I don’t want to apply for all the musts to not get the job when I arrive? When I’m on holiday next month there would it be worth while going into places to speak with employers? Thank you for any help!

  4. Lauren
    29/01/2020 / 14:16

    Hi, I am 4 months into my first year WHV and am thinking of staying a second year. Is there ways around getting a second year without regional work. Ie skilled migrant visas or sponsorship? I haven’t done much research yet but I’ve seen/heard about these. Any help would be appreciated!

    • Alicia
      30/01/2020 / 10:47

      Hi Lauren!

      Hope you’re having an amazing time down under! Ah, the dreaded regional work. Unfortunately, there is no getting around it as far as I’m aware. Your only other option is to look into applying for sponsorship or PR. Hopefully one day they might acknowledge nursing as being good enough to stay for 2 years! Good Luck, Alicia.

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