As an international student in Australia, you are required to have OSHC for the entire duration of your study in Australia. International students undertaking formal studies in Australia, and their dependents (for example, spouses and children under 18 years old), must obtain OSHC. It includes cover for visits to the doctor, some hospital treatment, ambulance cover and limited pharmaceuticals (medicines). OSHC insurers can provide a range of different OSHC products. These may range from a basic product which covers only the compulsory minimum services to comprehensive products which cover, in addition to the compulsory minimum services, extra services as specified under the particular policy. You can find more information, including a list of the providers and average costs. Remember, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship requires overseas students to maintain OSHC for the duration of time they are in Australia.

Your OSHC begins one week before your course starts. If you plan to arrive in Australia earlier, you need to contact your OSHC provider to adjust your cover. If you’re already in Australia, contact your OSHC provider with your passport and arrival stamp as soon as possible. When you arrive in Australia, you’ll need to arrange for your OSHC membership card to be posted to your residential address. You should receive your card within five business days. If you need to see a doctor before your membership card arrives, you can use your temporary card (attached in your email) from the OSHC provider to take with you to the doctor. Alternatively, you can pay for the consultation upfront and claim a refund later.


Your student visa will be valid for the same period as your OSHC policy to ensure that you have OSHC for the entire period you are overseas. To arrange your OSHC, you can either:

  • Ask your education provider to organise your health insurance cover on your behalf
  • Select an approved OSHC provider yourself and pay the insurance if your education provider cannot assist you
  • Study-Care can help to organise your OSHC properly for your visa application.

You must provide the office processing your visa with a receipt of payment of the OSHC fee or other evidence that you are covered by OSHC before your student visa can be granted.

Changes to your visa: Changing the length of your visa will affect your OSHC. If you finish your studies early and your visa is no longer valid, you can get a refund for the remainder of your OSHC cover. If you extend your visa, you’ll need to purchase additional cover. You can organise this by contacting your insurance provider. If you change your visa type during your studies, you’ll no longer be covered by OSHC and will need to find alternative types of coverage. Contact your insurance provider to apply for a refund of the unused OSHC coverage.

Along with your OSHC you might want to consider purchasing private health insurance to cover items that your OSHC does not cover. You can take out private health insurance to cover just you or your family as well. Benefits, membership costs and eligibility can vary greatly between funds and insurance policies, so when buying health insurance take care to ensure the cover you select is suitable for your needs.