At this point we have been full time travellers for 9 months and I’ll admit, I’m so ready to nurse again and top up the travel fund! Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved every second of our travelling but the time has come for me to intertwine the two, starting in Melbourne, Australia. I hope that if you are applying to work as a nurse in Australia with AHPRA that you find this blog useful and you will soon be joining me down under, nursing in paradise.
*Please note that this is my experience with AHPRA. This information was up to date at the time I applied, however please do your own research as well to make sure the requirements haven’t changed.*
What is AHPRA?
For the last 6 months, in-between travelling, I have been tearing my hair out over applying for AHPRA, which stands for Australian Health Practitioner Registration Agency. AHPRA control nursing and midwifery registration for Australia and determine overseas nurses suitability for registration. To work as a nurse in Australia we need to ensure we are registered to work there, the same as we are registered with the NMC (Nursing and Midwifery Council) in the UK.
This was a much longer and difficult process than I imagined, however I finally got the guts to say goodbye (or good-riddance..) and post it off to the Australian offices mid-July, with plans to be in Australia by the start of December.
Whilst travelling Europe in August, I was contacted for more information. This was not the easiest task for me to complete as it was regarding my university transcripts and the university had just closed for summer. You are given 90 days from when your application is received to hand over any further requested information.
When to Apply
The process applying for AHPRA and waiting for confirmation on your registration can be a lengthy one, so I would advise you to start early. I started to gather the information I required for AHPRA in January 2018, after doing my research into it. I was ready to send this away to AHPRA in July and my registration was confirmed on 23rd December 2018. It’s hard to put a time on it as everyone will be different, however from my experience I would aim to send the application away 5-6 months before you plan to arrive in the country.
For some it may take longer and others it may be quicker. My advice to you would be to make every effort to ensure that what you send to AHPRA has got everything that they need the first time. It is common for AHPRA to get back to you requiring further information and this can make the process very time-consuming.
You can find out more information on the AHPRA website, here.
Where to Begin
To start, I liked the Australian nursing agency page on Facebook and from there, contacted their office. Here I spoke to an Australian nurse, who is based in the UK office to help with the registration process. Another agency that would be worth contacting is HCA, as they also have a base in the UK. If you live near London you can make an appointment to chat about your application face to face. They will discuss whether or not you’re eligible to apply, and get you started with all the information you will require.
There are many nursing agencies in Australia, so if you have found one that you prefer it would do no harm to contact them. You can then ask if there is anyone that can assist you.
This, in long is ‘Application for General Registration for Internationally Qualified Nurses and Midwives.’ You will be required to complete this form and send it to AHPRA along with the evidence requested. You can find this form on the AHPRA website here. You must print this off and fill it in, as currently UK residents cannot complete it online.
Your residential address can be your U.K. address, as you will be able to change this once your in Australia.
The next step is gathering your additional documentation to send with your application. This is a list of what I required, you may be the same.
- A photocopy of your Passport
- A photocopy of your Driving License
- you can read more about proof of identity here.
Statement of Employment
- Statement of employment from your nursing jobs
- Make sure that this also has a written signature on it and is on headed paper
- References aren’t required for AHPRA, your employer will contact them when the time comes for you to start working.
- Use the template for statement of employment found on the AHPRA website, here
Proof of English Language
- A letter from your school stating that you were taught in English
- You will need to have 5 consecutive years of education taught in English
- Your university degree will count for 3 years, which is proven by your transcripts
- After that you will need a letter from your college or sixth forum to state that you were taught in English for the years you attended
- Unfortunately, a certificate does not suffice as two years’ worth of evidence, it must be a letter
- University Transcripts from your nursing course
- This should include the number of clinical hours you completed and if you completed a medication management component
- These can be sent directly from the university to AHPRA and they will be kept until the remainder of your application arrives
- If you wish to send them together with your application then you will need to have them certified. This cost me £10
- AHPRA have requirements that must be included in your CV
- Include all skills and write whether you are competent in the skill or whether you observed the skill
- You can find these on the template, here
- Make sure you sign and date the document and declare that it is true
Make sure you take a photocopy of this, as AHPRA will not send you anything back. I completed a further diploma after my nursing degree so I also sent a photocopy of this certificate.
Leave the following documents until last as they will expire after 3 months of completing.
- This will cost £96
- Once you have completed your FIT2WORK international criminal history check you will be given a reference number so that outside authorities (in this case AHPRA) can look at the report.
- You can apply for this here.
NMC Certificate of Good Standing
- This will cost £34
- It will be sent directly from the NMC to AHPRA once you have completed it
- You can apply for this here.
A requirement from AHPRA is that some of your documents are signed by an authorised person, if they are not an original. I paid £100 for all of my documents to be signed by a Notary of Public, however depending where you go will depend what you are charged. Since completing my application I have found out that your local court can do this for free. You might want to check that out first. The following documents will need to be certified:
- Drivers licence
- Bank statement
- Bank card
- University Transcripts
- Proof of English letter from school
- Degree certificate
In order to complete this, each page of the documentation needs to be
- Date of certification
- Contact phone number
- Profession/position number (if relevant)
- Stamp or seal of the Authorised Officer (if relevant)
- Each page should read; “I have sighted the original document and certify this to be a true copy of the original”
It may also be worth asking the authorised person to give you their card to send. This would mean if AHPRA required to contact them then they could.
You will need to have certified copies of all of the above documents and AHPRA will not send anything back to you by post. This includes passport, degree, transcripts and other forms of ID. You can read more about who can certify you documents and how it should be done, here.
I would recommend that you send your application tracked, so that you know when it has arrived in Australia. I sent mine tracked with Parcel Force to Melbourne as I was planning to move there, however my application ended up being dealt with in Perth. This isn’t a problem, you can still present in person at the city you arrive in. The postage to Australia from Scotland cost me £47.50.
Applications made between April 1st and May 31st will give you registration until 31st of May the following year.
You have 90 days from when you send your application (this can be extended in certain circumstances) for this to be completed. I was given an extension due to AHPRA requiring further information from my university.
Working Holiday Visa
Alongside applying for AHPRA you should be applying for your visa. In my case, I was applying for the Working Holiday Visa (WHV) as at the time, I was not planning a permanent move. If you are planning a permanent move you should also look into the ANMAC (Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council) requirements, which you will also need to complete alongside AHPRA.
You can apply for your WHV online at the Department of Immigration website found here Homeaffairs.gov.au . This cost me £261.
As a nurse, you will most likely be asked to attend a medical costing £384. For me, this included a chest x-ray, bloods and an overall health check with the Doctor. When your results are received by the department of immigration, they will confirm or decline your visa.
Another thing to think about, is whether you want to continue your UK registration whilst you are in Australia. You can hold dual registration with no issues, if you continue the payments to the NMC. If you need to revalidate whilst you are in Australia, you can show your AHPRA registration as proof.
Arriving in Australia
When you arrive in Australia you will be required to gather some more information before you start working. These are listed below.
Presenting in Person
As part of the AHPRA identity check, it is a requirement that you go in to the nearest AHPRA office and present in person. You will get an email to notify you when it is time to do this. There is a 3 month window to present, so ideally you will want to be already in the country or heading there in that time. You won’t need to arrange an appointment to do this, just go in and state that you are there for an identity check and they will do it there and then. Documents to bring with you for this are;
- Australian Visa
- Evidence of arrival in Australia – boarding pass or itinerary
- Evidence of current Australian address (I used tax file number)
Statuary Declaration Check
Due to the length of time it took for my application to reach this stage, I was required to do a statuary declaration check for my International Criminal History Check and Certificate of Good Standing to confirm there have been no changes. This will be stated in your email whether or not you will be required to do this. I did this in a Pharmacy in Melbourne and it cost $2.50 per check.
Working with Children’s Check
It is a requirement if you want to work with children, that you apply for a working with children’s check. You can complete this form online and then have your identity checked in the post office. You can read more about this and apply here.
Tax File Number
This can be completed online when you arrive in the country. It is pretty straight forward to do and worth doing early. It can be used as a proof of address when you receive your confirmation in the post. You can apply online here.
The universal health system in Australia, funding Australian citizens healthcare, is called Medicare. This also provides funding for partner countries, the UK being one of these. You will be required to fill out a form online. Following this, your ID will be checked at a Medicare centre and print out of your card will be given to you. Request for this to be stamped if you require it for ID. The Medicare card can be used as ID when it arrives in the post. The ID you are required to show will be stated on the form. You can apply online here.
I hope that you found this blog useful. It’s a lengthy process but it is definitely worth it. If you have any other questions, please feel free to leave a comment and I will try my best to answer it. Remember to do some of your own research as well. This information was based on my experience at the time and things may have changed. I wouldn’t want you application time to be any longer than it needs to be.
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