You’re hoping to go to Australia on a Working Holiday visa.

You’ve filled in and submitted the form. You’ve paid the fees. And now you’ve received an email from the Australian immigration service. You need to complete a medical examination as part of the application process.

Why? What do you need to do? & how long will it take for your visa to be granted once it’s done?

Well, I can tell you about my experience and this may shed some light for those looking to be enlightened. Of course, everyone’s experiences will differ, but this is mine. If you’d like to read about the process of actually applying for the visa, take a look here!

Why do some people have to do this?

My personal experience stems from my travels a few years earlier. I travelled to some countries which aren’t on Australia’s ‘low-risk’ list for Tuberculosis (TB). If you’ve spent 3 months or more in any of these countries in the last 5 years, the Australian immigration service will consider you to be someone who potentially has TB. The time spent there is counted by total time spent, for example, if you spend 1 month in one country and 2 months in another, this would count as 3 months.

List of countries with a low incidence of TB

As I spent 3+ months in Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines – which as you can see, are not on the list of countries with a low incidence of TB – the immigration service sent me a request to complete a medical examination. Frustratingly, when inputting the dates I entered and left each country, I realised that I’d spent 3 months and 1 day in these countries in total – 2 days less and I would have been free of these medical exams! Or more to the point, my bank balance would be a couple of hundred quid up now. Alas, this is not the case, and what will be, will be!

How is it arranged and where do you have to go?

The email advised that I was required to complete a medical examination and a chest x-ray, and that these would need to be completed within 28 days. They’d provided clear instructions on how to arrange these examinations, including a link to a website which listed their approved immigration panel physicians in the UK.

The approved physicians in the UK were based in London, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Plymouth, Maidenhead, and Cardiff. These are private clinics, not NHS, so the prices vary between each. I went onto the website for those most suitable for me to visit in terms of location, and compared prices. I decided in terms of both the costs of the medical exams themselves, and the travel to the clinic, going to London would be best.

To book the examination, you need to have your HAP ID ready. This is an identification number attached to your application, which you can find on emails from the Australian immigration service, and on your application online. You’ll be asked to provide this both for booking, and when you arrive for your appointment, and you may be told to take a printout of the email with this on.

What should I expect at the appointment?

We were told we must take printouts to our appointment, and as a millennial in 2022, that was harder work than you’d imagine. Signing up to the library was difficult enough as it required utilities bills as ID, and then once finally getting onto the computer to print, finding out they only accepted cash. Who carries £1.80 on them?! I don’t even carry a bank card on me – Apple Pay, always. So it was lots of back and forthing to and from home to the library, to a cashpoint, back to the library. Eventually it was done. And what happened? They didn’t even glance at it. Wouldn’t even take it from me to humour me. But better to have it than not, just in case. For the cost of the process, it’s not worth even attempting to take any shortcuts.

You absolutely must take your current, valid passport with you. You absolutely need to make sure you’ve got this with you when you go for your appointment. They’ll take this from you at reception when you arrive, and will give you a couple of forms to fill in. These will ask for your personal details, health questions, and you’ll be asked which countries you’ve visited in the past few years.

They advised us that we’d require a polio vaccination – I think because of our travels to high-risk countries – and they told us that we could either have it there for £40, or have it elsewhere. However, this would just slow down our application, so we decided to just pay the £40 to get our vaccinations there and then.

We also had to provide a urine sample (so make sure you need a wee!), and a photo – say cheese! Actually, don’t do that. I believe it’s meant to be a neutral expression, like a passport photo. So yeah, no cheese.

I was then called in by the doctor for my medical examination. It was mostly a question and answer session – any history of serious illnesses in the family? Heart problems, cancer? Do I have any health issues myself? From speaking to JJ, who had his medical examination with the same doctor 15 minutes or so after mine, it seems that some parts differed. He was asked if he had any addictions to drugs or alcohol – I wasn’t. I was asked to push/pull against the doctor’s arm to test my strength – he wasn’t. This was presumably due to my telling the doctor about my kEDS, as this something I’ve done for endless doctors who wanted to test my strength throughout my life.

I was also weighed, had my height measured, blood pressure checked, and a stethoscope check. I then went for my chest x-ray in the room next door, which just involved taking everything off my upper half and replacing it with a hospital gown. The x-ray – which was the bit to prove a lack of TB – just involved standing still and holding my breath for a few seconds. Simple.

How much did it cost?

The examinations were done and then we could go – after paying of course. It was £330 per person – £40 of that being for the polio vaccine. An eye-watering amount of money when you’re used to getting everything on the NHS, but totally worth it!

How long between the medical exam and the visa being granted?

The appointment was on the Friday afternoon, and on the Tuesday morning, JJ’s visa was granted. I was trying to convince myself I wasn’t worried, but a part of me was convinced that I was going to be rejected on the basis of being disabled. But lo and behold, after what felt like an age, 24 hours later, my visa was granted too! Happy tears were shed and I squealed excitedly. I’m going to Australia!!!

I hope you’ve found this useful – if you’ve got any questions which haven’t been answered here, just drop a comment below and I’ll answer if I can.

Happy travels!