Internationally qualified nurses and midwives (IQNMs) - applying for registration in Australia
Get the latest requirements and steps internationally qualified nurses and midwives need to take to apply for registration in Australia.
Are you an internationally qualified nurse or midwife? If you wish to work in Australia, you will need to be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) and apply for a visa issued by the Australian government.
These two application processes are completely different. It’s important to know that a successful registration doesn’t guarantee you’ll be granted a visa.
Review the following information before you begin your registration application process. Registration with the NMBA enables you to practise your profession anywhere in Australia.
What are the qualification assessment criteria and registration requirements?
NMBA’s qualification assessment criteria
The NMBA moved to a new assessment model from March 2020. It includes:
- an online Self-check
- an orientation program for all who are advised to continue with the assessment process, and
- an outcome-based assessment for those who have obtained a qualification that is relevant but not completely equivalent or based on similar competencies to an Australian approved qualification
Self-check – meeting the registration requirements
The assessment of qualifications are against the three criteria below. You must provide evidence that you meet each of the criteria.
Criterion 1: Qualification recognised for registration
Criterion 2: Quality assurance and accreditation
Criterion 3: Academic level of qualification
You’re required to submit your qualification information at Self-check to be assigned to one of three streams - A, B, C or advised if Ahpra needs to assess your qualification and assign you to a stream.
Each stream have different steps (assessment stages) to complete before being eligible to apply for registration. Those who are assigned to Stream A and Stream B and choose to proceed in the assessment process will be considered to be ‘candidates’. The three different streams are:
Candidates who hold a qualification that is significantly equivalent to an Australian approved qualification and satisfy the compulsory registration standards. You’ll be eligible to apply for registration following completion of Orientation Part 1.
Candidates who hold a qualification that is relevant but not significantly equivalent to an Australian approved qualification and satisfy the compulsory registration standards. You'll need to pay the assessment fee and complete Orientation Part 1 before completing the Portfolio stage
Applicants who hold a qualification that is not significantly equivalent to an Australian approved qualification and satisfy the compulsory registration standards. It's recommended that you end your participation in the assessment proccess and upgrade your qualification if you wish to continue.
Applicants with qualifications requiring assessment
If your qualification is not available to select from the drop-down options in Self-check you will need to pay the assessment fee, complete the Orientation Part 1 before completing the Portfolio stage. Once successful, Aphra will then assess your qualification.
Once Aphra completes the assessment of your qualification, you will be advised to either:
- continue in the assessment process as a Stream A candidate or a Stream B candidate or
- end your participation in the assessment proccess and upgrade your qualification if you wish to continue
Consider single or multiple qualifications
AQF 7 qualification and meets criteria 1 & 2
AQF 5 qualification and meets criteria 1 & 2
AQF 6 qualification solely in mental health/paediatric/disability nursing and meets criteria 1 & 2
(Register with conditions for supervised practice)
AQF 6 qualification and meets all criteria except criterion 3
AQF 4 qualification and meets all criteria except criterion 3
AQF 7 qualification and meets criteria 1 & 3
AQF 5 qualification and meets criteria 1 & 3
AQF 5 qualification or lower
Less than AQF 4 qualification or unassessable
RN: Registered Nurse; MW: Midwife; EN: Enrolled Nurse; AOF: Australian Qualifications Framework
Take note that the Self-Check only identifies the required assessment stages. Completing the assessment stages following Self-checks doesn't ensure that your application for registration will be successful.
A non-refundable assessment fee for assessment and orientation is AUD $640 and Orientation Part 1, must be completed by all in the following groups to proceed in the assessment process.
- Applicants in Stream A
- Applicants in Stream B
- Applicants who require their qualifications to be assessed
Who should complete the Self-check?
It can only be completed by internationally qualified nurses or midwives. It cannot be completed by third party or agent on your behalf.
Who should not complete the Self-check?
- third parties or agents
- individuals who have completed an NMBA approved nursing and/or midwifery qualification in Australia
- nurses or midwives who currently registered as a nurse or midwife in New Zealand
- read all infomation on the NMBA's website about the assessment process
- understand the Registration standards before beginning the Self-check
- ensure all details you provide is correct
- complete Self-check only for your primary profession i.e. nursing or midwifery
- if you only got one level of nursing in the country you gained your primary qualification, select 'Registered nurse' when selecting your division on the Self-check
- have proof of all your qualifications
- completing the process does not guarantee registration
The following are the NMBA’s registration standards for those requesting initial registration:
You can find more details on the registration standards available in FAQ and fact sheets on the NMBA website.
If you’re given the green light to proceed in the assessment process, you’ll need to complete the orientation program in order to be registered in Australia. The Orientation program has been designed in two parts:
Upon completing the orientation program, the NMBA requests that you explore and participate in the workplace induction provided by employers.
Aphra checks the information provided by candidates during the Self-check at the Portfolio stage. This is when candidates must provide additional personal and contact information in addition to your identification and qualification documentation.
What is the outcomes-based assessment (OBA)?
The OBA is a two-stage assessment process. You must pass stage one before moving to stage two.
Stage one - MCQ
Stage two - OSCE
It’s a cognitive assessment that is a computer-based, multiple-choice question (MCQ) exam. It assesses your professional knowledge.
It’s a behavioural assessment that is an objective structured clinical examination (OSCE). The objective of the OSCE is to assess that you have the knowledge, skills and competence of a graduate level nurse or midwife from an Australian NMBA-approved program of study
Multiple-choice question (MCQ) exam
If you intend to register in Australia as a registered nurse (RN), Enrolled nurse (EN), or midwife, take note that there are separate exams for each role:
- The RN MCQ exam is the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) develops and offers the NCLEX-RN through Pearson VUE test centres in most countries.
- The midwifery MCQ exam is developed by the NMBA in conjunction with the Midwifery Council of New Zealand and offered through Aspeq test centres in most countries
- EN MCQ exam details will be published soon
Who is the OBA for?
It’s for those who want to register in Australia and hold a qualification that is relevant but not significantly equivalent to an Australian approved qualification and satisfies the compulsory registration standards.
Transition to the OBA
From 1 October 2019
From 1 March 2020
If you have posted an application to Ahpra for registration (AGOS-40) on or before 21 February 2020 and hold relevant but not substantially equivalent qualifications and meet the mandatory registration standards, you will have the choice to be referred to a bridging program or to the OBA, irrespective of when the outcome of their application is decided.
If you receive a referral to the OBA, you can start immediately and must pass each assessment stage before moving on to the next.
If I have a referral to the OBA, when will I be able to start the process?
You’ll be able to start the OBA process immediately if you have a referral
How long will it take to complete the OBA?
The time required will depend on how much time you need to complete all OBA assessments. You must pass stage one of the OBA assessment before commencing the next.
If I already have a referral to a bridging course but prefer to do the OBA instead, may I request for a change?
Yes, you may. Those who have a current referral to a bridging program have been able to contact Ahpra since 1 October 2019 to request a referral to the OBA instead. Contact the Registration Officer named in the referral letter to organise this.
If I have started my bridging course, may I switch to do the OBA instead?
If you have commenced your bridging course, you should complete the program.
What fees are you expected to pay?
- Self-check is free of charge
- There's a non-refundable assessment fee of AUD $640 for those who are eligible to proceed in assessment process.
- Specific OBA fees are listed below (see "How much does it cost to take the OBA?")
- If you are eligible for registration and satisfy the compulsory registration standards, you will need to pay a registration fee and application fee to be registered. The application fee is AUD $300 and registration fee is AUD $175 will apply.
How much does it cost to take the OBA?
The OBA is a two-stage assessment process – multiple choice question (MCQ) and objective structured clinical examination (OSCE)
The MCQ is a computer-based exam and will be offered at test centres in most countries. You will need to sit for separate exams if you want to register as a registered nurse, enrolled nurse or midwife.
Exam fee for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) is USD $200, plus an international scheduling fee of USD $150
The exam fee is NZD $165, including a possible fee for overseas venues
Information will be available soon
Fees for the MCQ exams are arranged by the providers. Payment is made directly to them.
Locations for the MCQ exam
NCLEX-RN is developed by The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) and administered through Pearson VUE test centres.
MCQ exams are organised by the NMBA and delivered through Aspeq test centres
Information will be available soon
What is the cost and locations for the OSCE exams?
You must pass the MCQ exam before you take the OSCE exam. It's managed by AHPRA and presented at Adelaide Health Simulation in Adelaide, South Australia. The fee to take the OSCE is AUD $4,000.
Are there any official preparatory courses avaialble for the OSCE?
No, OSCE preparatory courses are not provided by Adelaide Health Simulation, the NMBA or Ahpra.
How long are the bridging programs expected to continue?
The bridging program is expected to stay into 2021 for all who have a referral to bridging.
Are you ready to begin your Self-check?
Ensure you have gone through the checklist before you begin. Click here to complete the Self-check.
What is the recommended pathway to employment in Australia for internationally qualified nurses and midwives?
If you’re interested to register and need some guidance, don’t hesitate to call IDP on 1800 664 700 .