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19AB affects every Overseas Trained Doctor, so what is it and why is it the solution to Section 19AB restrictions?

We talk and write about 19AB every day at Alecto Australia as it is such a big part of a lot of GPs work life. However as much as we talk about this, there are many people who are confused about why 19AB exists. It all comes down to Section 19 which basically says that no Overseas Trained Doctor can bill Medicare in Australia for the first ten years from their date of registration with AHPRA.

However, 19AB is actually the solution to Section 19 for GPs.

Section 19AB was written to allow Overseas Trained Doctors to gain an exemption from Section 19. There are multiple exemptions which are available under this such as:

  • DWS exemption – Allows you to work in any location which is classified as a District of Workforce Shortage, which can be areas that are only 15 minutes from the CBD. The DWS map can be found at
  • After Hours – You are able to get an After Hours exemption which allows you to work at any clinic during the after hours and all day on weekends
  • 6 Month locum exemptions – This allows you to work at a location for a 6 month period. However, you can only do one 6 month locum exemption for each location. You cannot go back unless you get a different exemption
  • Spousal exemption – If you have a partner who is a skilled migrant or medical practitioner, you may be able to get a spousal exemption which allows you to work in the same suburb as your partner even if it is not DWS
  • Replacement DWS exemption – If a GP leaves a practice and is currently on a DWS exemption, you can take over this exemption even if the area is no longer DWS

Top tips

  • Always check you are eligible for an exemption before applying, Medicare will get annoyed if they receive multiple incorrect applications
  • NEVER get PR or Citizenship before you get your Fellowship! Otherwise, you will be restricted by section 19AA which makes it incredibly difficult for you to get a job. We can not express enough how important this is.


At Alecto we focus on solutions, if you ever need assistance with exemptions or registration, please contact our Registration Manager, Megan, on [email protected]