What is 10 year moratorium scaling?

We offer incentives for international medical graduates to work in the areas where doctors are needed most.

You are an international medical graduate if you:

  • got your degree outside of Australia or New Zealand
  • enrolled in a degree in Australia or New Zealand as a temporary resident

International medical graduates are subject to Medicare billing restrictions under section 19AB of the Health Insurance Act 1973 (the Act).

Under 19AB, international medical graduates must work in a priority area for a minimum of 10 years from medical registration to access Medicare benefits.

You must work in a Distribution Priority Area (DPA) if you're a GP or a District of Workforce Shortage (DWS) if you're a non-GP specialist.

Moratorium scaling allows you to reduce the 10 year period of working in an area classified as DPA.

How does it work?

Moratorium scaling allows you to reduce the amount of time you must work in an area classified as DPA or DWS to provide services under the Medicare Benefits Schedule.

Working in eligible locations grants you ‘scaling credits’. The more credits you have, the sooner you can work in any location across Australia you want, provided you also satisfy section 19AA of the Act.

The more remote a location is, the more scaling credits you will get for working there. This directs the workforce to the areas that need it the most.

The moratorium is always 10 years, minimum. However, once you have enough scaling credits, you will have a class exemption for the remainder of your moratorium.

You can then apply to practise in an area that is not classified as DPA or DWS.

Who is eligible for moratorium scaling?

You can scale the moratorium if all of the following apply:

  • you are an international medical graduate working in an eligible regional or remote area under 19AB
  • you are claiming Medicare Benefits Schedule items for services as part of your employment
  • your monthly billing threshold is $5,000

Medicare automatically applies scaling credits once you have submitted your Medicare billing data and you have reached the threshold.

If you have worked in multiple areas in a month, your credit will be based on the area where you billed the most, as long as you reached the threshold.

Participants on the 5 Year Overseas Trained Doctor Scheme are not eligible to receive scaling credits.

Which locations are eligible for scaling?

Scaling locations are based on the Australian Statistical Geographical Classification - Remoteness Area system.

You can check the classification of a location on the Health Workforce Locator.

Table of scaling credits

This table shows how many scaling credits apply to each Remoteness Area (RA), and how long working in those areas can potentially reduce the time you work in an area classified as DPA under the moratorium.


RA Category

Monthly scaling benefit (where billing threshold is met)

Potential reduction of DPA period under the moratorium

RA 1

Major cities


Not reduced

RA 2

Inner regional

3.37 days

9 years

RA 3

Outer regional

13 days

7 years

RA 4


20.3 days

6 years

RA 5

Very remote

30.4 days

5 years

How can I check my scaling credits?

Through your Health Professional Online Services account, you can:

  • check your current scaling credits
  • view the date you are eligible for the class exemption from 19AB
  • check the end date of your moratorium

Help and contact

Contact us to request written confirmation of the end date of your moratorium.

Contact Services Australia for help with moratorium scaling.

Last updated: 
24 February 2020