Becoming a Registered Nurse in Australia

By NETA Dec 3, 2020


Becoming an Australian Registered Nurse could be a dream or a goal for many nurses who are registered in their country. Also, many international students coming to Australia to study Nursing is on the rise. They have some good reasons. Out of many reasons why you would want to become a Registered Nurse in Australia, some of them are Respect, employment opportunities, income, and work-life balance, visas, and residency pathways.

Respect given to Australian Nurses by the Australian Society and the government is really commendable.

Employment opportunities are very high in Australia for nurses of all levels and they earn well and also work-life balance is there.

Visa and residency pathway: Also once you get registration, you open many doors for different visas and permanent residency in Australia.

So to get registered in Australia, if you are a student, you need to join Australian University and do a Bachelor's degree in Nursing or some Masters Degree that leads to Registration. Note: Only very few Master's Degree lead to Registration. Or if you are already a registered nurse in your country then you have to go through a new model of assessment designed by Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA).

NMBA has designed a new model of assessment for Internationally Qualified Nurses which started in March 2020. The new model of assessment for IQNMs include:

  • the online Self-check for all IQNMs
  • an orientation program for all IQNMs who are advised to continue with the assessment process, and
  • an OBA(Outcome-Based Assessment) for some IQNMs.


If you are a registered Nurse in your country and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency also called AHPRA after assessing your qualifications, comes to a conclusion that your qualifications are substantially equivalent, based on similar competencies as an approved Australian qualification, you can apply for registration by paying the application and registration fees ($300 for application and $175 for your registration), given you meet mandatory Australian Nursing Standards. Some of which include your English requirements, Criminal History Checks, Recency of Practice, and other documents.  (Stream A candidate)

If you a registered Nurse in your country and the AHPRA after assessing your qualifications finds that your qualification is relevant but not substantially equivalent or based on similar competencies to an Australian approved qualification, then you have to go through an assessment called Outcome-Based Assessment or OBA and once you pass this assessment and meet all mandatory registration standards mentioned above, then you can apply for Registration by paying the application and registration fees. (AUD475 total) (Stream B candidate)

NOTE: This model of assessment was designed by NMBA (Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia) and has implemented since March 2020. This replaced the need for new referrals to bridging programs. Bridging program or IRON (Initial Registration for Overseas Nurses) was there before OBA. Nurses who got referrals from AHPRA can still continue to do the bridging program till 2021 if they find a seat for those program. Referral from AHPRA does not guarantee the seat for the program from the provider. These referred candidates can request a change to the OBA program. No more referrals are given for the bridging program. Outcome Based Assessment (OBA) is the path to be followed for registration now. Go to this link to learn more:')-,.,%24175%20AUD%20continues%20to%20apply.

If you a registered Nurse in your country and AHPRA finds your qualifications as not relevant or if it does not meet the required Assessment Criteria, then you will need to upgrade your qualification and apply for registration after meeting mandatory registration Standards. (Stream C candidate)

Note: For candidates falling under Stream C there are different courses offered by different education providers in Australia that will upgrade your qualifications. Just make sure to check if the program of study falls under the approved program from AHPRA.

So if you fall under Stream B, then you have to take the OBA.

OBA(Outcome-Based Assessment) is a two-stage assessment process. A multiple-choice question exam (MCQ) and an objective structured clinical exam. (OSCE). You have to pass the MCQ first to be able to do OSCE.


 NOTE: All internationally qualified nurses must do a self-check first. After Self-Check you will find out which stream you will be categorized into A,B or C. AHPRA does that after assessing your qualification. It will also let you know of the next steps you need to take.



Road Map to registration (in the order below):




For Self-check, you need to submit your qualification information. Then you will be advised by APHRA what assessment stages they need to go through to be eligible to apply for registration. As explained above, you will then find out which category or stream you fall under. Depending on what stream you fall under, you might be able to apply for registration after orientation, or you might have to go through Outcome-Based Assessment or even upgrade the qualification. 

Note:  Mandatory Registration Standards must be met by all candidates.

Using Self- Check is Free. After Self- Check if you are advised to go to the next assessment process, then you will need to pay a non-refundable fee of  $640 AUD.




All IQNMs who are advised to proceed in the IQNM assessment process will need to complete the orientation program in order to be registered in Australia. There are two parts to the orientation program.


Orientation Part 1 is an online learning course that can be completed from a candidate’s personal device, such as a computer or tablet. The course is an introduction to Australia and the Australian healthcare context, covering topics such as the roles and functions of nurses and midwives within the Australian healthcare setting.


All IQNM’s will need to provide evidence of meeting the NMBA mandatory registration standards.


Portfolio Stage


If you fall under Stream B candidate, then you will be asked to  complete  Portfolio stage.

In the portfolio stage, you need to upload your course certificate, academic transcript , evidence of name change (if there is) and ID documents. These documents have to be translated into English and certified if the qualification documents need further assessment. If AHPRA determines the documents and information provided matches the ones provided during Self- Check, then you are advised to take the Outcome Based Assessment (OBA)’s first exam MCQ.




Stage one (Multiple Choice Questions) MCQ is a cognitive assessment, which is a computer-based. 

The MCQ exam for RNs is the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) develops and delivers the NCLEX-RN through Pearson VUE test centers in most countries.


Cost and locations for the NCLEX-RN (MCQ) 


Cost for Nurses: $350 USD (200 USD for registration and 150 USD for booking)

Locations: Pearson VUE test centers located in most countries.


That means you can give the exam from your country if you have the authorized test center.

You have to be authorized by AHPRA before you take NCLEX-RN.


Objective structured clinical exam (OSCE)


The Objective Structured Clinical Exam (OSCE) is a clinical exam to assess whether candidates demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and competence of a graduate-level nurse or midwife from an Australian NMBA-approved program of study. IQNMs who have been referred to the OBA must pass the MCQ exam before they can attempt the OSCE. 

The OSCE is managed byAHPRA and is delivered at the Adelaide Health Simulation in Adelaide, South Australia.


Cost and location for OSCE:


The fee for sitting the OSCE is $4,000 AUD.

Location: Adelaide Health Simulation in Adelaide, South Australia.


OSCE preparatory courses are not provided by Adelaide Health Simulation, the NMBA or AHPRA.



(Nursing Education and Training Australia (NETA)  is a pioneering institution striving to be the preferred preparatory course provider for OBA providing quality education for both examinations: NCLEX and OSCE)




Once you successfully pass your OSCE, you  are eligible to apply for registration. You pay the application fee and registration fee and apply for registration, if you meet all the registrations standards. (Read below)

You do not need english tests to take OBA, you can do that after you pass  OBA.


             Registration Standards:

Criminal history registration Standard

English Language Skills registration Standard

Recency of Practice, Continuing Professional Development and Professional Indemnity

Go to this link to find more:


Documents to get ready with:

  • A Statement of Service from your employer(s) covering the past five years 
  • A signed and dated curriculum vitae that describes your full practice history and any training undertaken 
  • Proof that you meet the NMBA’s English language skills registration standard.
  • official documentation for all qualifications:
    • copy of course certificate awarded (e.g. degree) 
    • copy of the academic transcript   
  • Evidence of any change of name 
  • Proof of identity


Additional documents may be asked with relevance to your application.


Some documents will need to be directly sent to AHPRA from regulatory authorities such as

Certificate of Registration Status (CORS) or Certificate of Good Standing (COGS) from every jurisdiction outside of Australia in which you are currently, or have previously been, registered in during the past five years.

  • Evidence of sitting and passing a pre-registration examination from the country where you completed your nursing/midwifery qualification
  • Additional registration history 




Orientation Part 2


After you are registered, you have to then complete Orientation Part 2 which is online learning giving you in- depth orientation to health care context.