Most overseas trained doctors (OTDs) and Foreign Graduates of an Accredited Medical School (FGAMS) will only be able to obtain limited registration initially, and will need to undertake a period of supervised employment in an Area of Need.

Your residency status and where and when you obtained your primary medical degree will determine the pathways to registration and any restrictions on obtaining a Medicare Provider Number.

What’s an Area of Need?

Area of Need applies to both public and private sector positions. They’re determined by the State and Territory Governments and methods of defining them vary.

Contact the health department in the state or territory you’re interested in practising in to get more information about AON positions.

NSW Department of Health Area of Need program
Department of Health, Victoria
South Australian Institute of Medical Education and Training
Queensland Health AON
NT Department of Health and Community Services
WA Department of Health
TAS Department of Health and Human Services

Medicare provider number restriction

To treat private patients in Australia, you need to have a Medicare provider number. This number allows your patients to claim Medicare benefits for the services you provide.

Section 19AB of the Health Insurance Act (the Act) restricts OTDs and FGAMS from accessing Medicare benefits arrangements for a period of generally 10 years from the date of their first Australian medical registration. These restrictions are referred to as the ‘the10 year moratorium requirement’.


OTDs and FGAMS may obtain an exemption under section 19AB of the Act if they choose to practise within a District of Workforce Shortage (DWS) for their specialty. If an OTD or FGAMS holds a valid section 19AB exemption for a particular location, they can access Medicare benefits arrangements for professional services they provide at that location.

Medicare Australia is responsible for applying to the Department of Healthfor a section 19AB exemption on behalf of an OTD as part of the Medicare provider number application process. The Department has a statutory timeframe of 28 days to process applications for section 19AB exemptions.

Also, OTDs and FGAMS who are Australian permanent residents or citizens and those who have yet to gain fellowship of a specialist college or vocational recognition are subject to Section 19AA of the Act. This group of OTDs and FGAMS is required to work under Section 3GA programs.

Section 3GA of the Act allows medical practitioners undertaking postgraduate education or placements on approved workforce programs to provide professional services that attract Medicare benefits.

Exemptions for training programs, therefore, allow doctors to receive access to Medicare benefits while undertaking vocational training to receive a fellowship from one of the medical specialist colleges.

Medical practitioners are considered to have met the vocational recognition requirements of Section 19AA once they obtain a fellowship qualification within their speciality that is recognised within Australia.

District of workforce shortage factsheet
Medicare provider number application form
Medicare provider number legislation