Checklist for Employers: Employing an Overseas Trained Doctor (OTD)

A doctor wearing a white coat and holding a stethoscope behind their back

There are a number of steps that employers need to take before employing an overseas trained doctor (OTD). The process for employing an OTD may vary according to the location of the position available but in Australia the following typically applies:

  • Get sponsor approval from the Department of Immigration – If you are not already approved as a sponsor, contact the Department of Immigration to find out more about the requirements. There is often a long waiting period before approval is granted so it is advisable to continue with the next steps at the same time.


  • Consider an Area of Need declaration – Most OTDs are required to work in an Area of Need when they first come to Australia. Area of Need declarations allow employers to employ an OTD in areas where there are not enough medical practitioners to meet the needs of the community. Approval for this must be obtained by the employer and is determined by the relevant State or Territory Government.
  • Consider DWS status – The District of Workforce Shortage (DWS) scheme refers to a geographical area that has less access to medical services than the national average. You may also need DWS status if your practice is located in an area that has been identified as a DWS.
  • Use a medical recruitment agency – Approach a medical recruitment agency for suitable candidates. Agencies will typically also help you to navigate immigration and registration processes, some even assist with obtaining visas and helping OTDs to settle into Australia.
  • Make sure the candidate meets registration requirements – Be aware that when employing an OTD it is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that the applicant is likely to meet the registration requirements and is suitable for the position, this applies even if you use an agency.
  • Make sure they meet English language requirements – Once you have determined a suitable OTD for the role, assist them through the registration process. This includes meeting the English language requirements of the Australian Medical Council and obtaining registration through the Medical Board of Australia.
  • Make sure they have the right visa – You will also need to assist your OTD with obtaining the appropriate visa which may include undertaking police clearances and health checks. Detailed information on the types of visa available can be obtained via the Department of Immigration.
  • Make sure they have a Medicare Provider Number – Once your OTD has been granted a visa and registration, you must apply for a Medicare provider number on behalf of your OTD.
  • Check your medical indemnity insurance – You should also check with your medical indemnity insurer to determine what your liability is when employing an OTD and provide advice to them on appropriate medical indemnity cover where necessary.
  • Give your candidate the support they need – When considering employing an overseas trained doctor it is important they are given support which continues after the recruitment process.
  • Make sure your candidate settles – You can help your OTD settle in Australia through a cultural orientation and community welcome along with the usual workplace orientation and induction.
  • Encourage professional development training – Also make sure that you encourage your OTD to undertake ongoing professional training and development, and arrange a professional mentor.

If you’re an employer that requires further information or require further assistance, please feel free to reach out to us using our employer enquiry form.