Medical Board of Australia - Information for practitioners

Information for practitioners

UPDATED 24 May 2022 — Information for practitioners about the pandemic response sub-register

Responding to COVID-19 remains an important focus for Australian Governments and the community. Registered health practitioners are playing a vital role in supporting the vaccination rollout and in providing healthcare across various settings.

Ahpra and the National Boards are supporting the COVID-19 response by helping provide a surge workforce when the healthcare system is experiencing changing demands due to outbreaks of COVID-19 variants. These practitioners are registered on the temporary pandemic response sub-register (the 2021 sub-register) and are included on the national Register of practitioners. 

Are you on the temporary 2021 sub-register?  

As of 6 April 2022, all practitioners with temporary registration to support the COVID-19 response are on the 2021 sub-register and their registration expires on 21 September 2022. This follows the closure of the 2020 sub-register on 5 April 2022.

Medical practitioners, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners who were on the 2020 sub-register have either:

  • opted in to extend their temporary registration (to join other practitioners on the 2021 sub-register), or
  • applied to transition to the main register for ongoing registration (to renew annually), or
  • allowed their registration to expire on 5 April 2022, or
  • been returned to non-practising registration.

If you are not on the Register of practitioners, you are no longer registered.

If you had temporary registration and have questions about your current registration status, please email pandemicregister@ahpra.gov.au.

All practitioners with temporary registration until 21 September 2022 are shown as having registration on the 2021 sub-register on the Register of practitioners.

On the 2021 sub-register are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners, dental practitioners, diagnostic radiographers, medical practitioners, midwives, nurses, occupational therapists, optometrists, pharmacists, physiotherapists, podiatrists and psychologists. They can practise to the full scope of their registration.

If you have applied to transition from the 2020 sub-register to the main register (Register of practitioners) you can keep practising from 6 April 2022, but your registration will continue to be limited to practice for the COVID-19 response until you are advised about the outcome of your application.

Once your registration on the main register has been confirmed and your details updated, you can practise to the full scope of your registration (subject to any notations). 

How to opt out and what to do if you don’t

Practitioners on the 2021 sub-register are not obliged to practise. They can opt out at any time by emailing pandemicregister@ahpra.gov.au and don’t need to explain why.

Practitioners who choose to stay on the pandemic response sub-register and go back to work, must comply with their profession’s Code of conduct, professional indemnity insurance requirements and work within the scope of their registration (subject to any notations). 

More information, including an infographic and up-to-date data about how many practitioners are on the 2021 sub-register, is on the pandemic response sub-register page.

We recognise health service needs may evolve as the COVID-19 pandemic continues and we will keep working with state and territory and Commonwealth governments to support the COVID-19 emergency response.

The professions on the 2021 sub-register are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners, dental practitioners, diagnostic radiographers, medical practitioners, midwives, nurses, occupational therapists, optometrists, pharmacists, physiotherapists, podiatrists and psychologists. They are registered until 21 September 2022 and can practise to the full scope of their registration (subject to notations).

If governments alert us to significant changes in need, we may add other practitioners to the 2021 sub-register in the future to help provide an additional surge health workforce.


It might not be too late, depending on your individual circumstances. Please email your questions about registration and closure of the 2020 sub-register to pandemicregister@ahpra.gov.au.

All medical practitioners, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners on the 2020 sub-register were contacted and asked to let us know before midnight on 5 April 2022 if they wanted to:

  • opt in so their registration was extended to expire at midnight on 21 September 2022 (no fees), or
  • formally apply for registration on the main register using a transition pathway (registration fee only).

Alternatively, practitioners could do nothing and allow their registration to expire.

Practitioners who had non-practising registration before being on the 2020 sub-register were returned to that registration type on the main register, unless they applied for general registration.


Medical practitioners, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners on the 2020 sub-register who did not apply to transition to the main register (Register of practitioners) before midnight on 5 April 2022 must make an application for registration using the standard process as required by their National Board. You must meet your National Board’s registration standards including criminal history, English language and recency of practice. Time spent practising while you were on the 2020 sub-register can count towards the recency of practice requirements.

Nurses and midwives on the 2020 sub-register who are granted registration on the main register using the transition pathway to apply will be registered until 31 May 2023. They will not need to renew registration in May 2022.

Medical practitioners and pharmacists will need to renew their registration in 2022 (by 30 September for medical practitioners and by 30 November for pharmacists to avoid paying a late fee).

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners will be registered until 30 November 2022 and will not need to pay a registration fee.

Practitioners on the 2021 sub-register are not limited in what they can do as part of a surge health workforce to support the COVID-19 response. They can work to the full scope of their registration (subject to any notations) and are: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners, dental practitioners, diagnostic radiographers, medical practitioners, midwives, nurses, occupational therapists, optometrists, pharmacists, physiotherapists, podiatrists and psychologists. They are registered until 21 September 2022.

No, there is no fee to be on the 2021 sub-register. If a practitioner who is on the sub-register is employed during the temporary period of registration, they still do not have to pay a fee.

Ahpra registers health practitioners so they can practise, but we do not have a role in employing practitioners. There are links to Commonwealth, state and territory health department websites on the COVID-19 health workforce webpage. A copy of the pandemic response sub-register has been provided to state and territory health departments to help their pandemic workforce planning.

Practitioners on the 2021 sub-register may be contacted directly by local health departments about employment opportunities. Practitioners on the 2021 sub-register can work to the full scope of their registration (subject to any notations).

The expectation is that if you are on the sub-register you are available to help. Employment may be subject to your vaccination status.

Practitioners who choose to stay on the pandemic response sub-register and go back to work, must comply with their profession’s professional indemnity insurance requirements, Code of conduct and work within their scope of practice. Medical practitioners and midwives who are on a sub-register should also refer to the FAQ about run-off indemnity cover.
Practitioners on the 2021 sub-register are expected to complete any training or education that’s required while employed to ensure their knowledge and skills are appropriate for the role. While compliance with the registration standard for continuing professional development (CPD) is required for continuing registration, there will be no checks for compliance with the standard when the sub-register is closed. If a practitioner on the sub-register chooses to apply for continuing registration on the main register, then CPD completed may be relevant but compliance with the registration standard will not be checked.

There is no obligation to practise outside of supporting the vaccination rollout if you do not want to. Supporting the COVID-19 vaccination rollout may include roles associated with but not limited to:

  • handling and storage activities
  • dosing and administering the vaccine/and or helping with this, and/or
  • safety and surveillance monitoring following vaccination.

Registered health practitioners who are authorised to administer COVID-19 vaccines will be required to complete additional training related to the handling and administration of the vaccines, including the Commonwealth Department of Health’s COVID-19 vaccination training program.

Ahpra and National Boards have also published some useful vaccination information for practitioners.

Practitioners on the 2021 sub-register may be contacted by health department representatives about opportunities to support the vaccination rollout or perform other duties such as relieving healthcare workers at vaccination centres so they can return to frontline care or backfilling workers in quarantine.

A number of healthcare and recruitment organisations are seeking staff to support the vaccination rollout. There are opportunities to support:

  • aged care and disability facilities
  • general practice led COVID clinics, and
  • large scale vaccination clinics run by state and territory health departments.

Information about current opportunities can be found at:

You can find general information on our vaccination information page.

Through the creation of the first pandemic response sub-register in 2020, special arrangements were put in place via regulation to enable run-off indemnity cover to be maintained for medical practitioners and midwives on the sub-register and working in private practice to help with the COVID-19 pandemic. The extension of this special arrangement is provided under the Medical Indemnity Rules 2000 and the Midwife Professional Indemnity (Commonwealth Contribution) Scheme Rules 2020 and only applies to medical practitioners and midwives.

These arrangements apply until 21 October 2022. Medical practitioners and midwives on the 2021 sub-register can work to the full scope of their registration (subject to any notations).


Yes, you can. There is no obligation to practise or stay on the sub-register. You can opt out up until 21 September 2022. Let us know if that is what you want to do by contacting us at pandemicregister@ahpra.gov.au.

No. We recognise health service needs may evolve as the COVID-19 pandemic continues and we will keep working with state and territory and Commonwealth governments to support the COVID-19 emergency response. This includes escalating applications for registration to the main Register of practitioners where there is workforce need due to demands created by the pandemic.

If you were not included on the 2021 sub-register established on 22 September 2021, you did not meet eligibility requirements.

The 12 professions on the 2021 sub-register are temporarily registered until 21 September 2022.

If governments alert us to significant changes in need, we may add other eligible practitioners to the 2021 sub-register in the future to help provide additional surge health workforce.

The first temporary pandemic response sub-register was established in April 2020 to help fast track the return to the workforce of experienced and qualified health practitioners in response to COVID-19.

Practitioners on the sub-register had temporary registration for up to 12 months. When it was time to close the 2020 sub-register, the need for specific professions to be on it had changed.

For diagnostic radiographers, physiotherapists and psychologists, the sub-register closed on 19 April 2021. For medical practitioners, nurses, midwives, pharmacists and Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners, the sub-register was extended for 12 months to 5 April 2022. This was called the 2020 sub-register and it closed on 5 April 2022.

Practitioners on the 2020 sub-register could, before the sub-register closed and their registration expired, choose to opt in to have their temporary registration extended to 21 September 2022.

Significant changes in health service needs resulted in the establishment of the 2021 sub-register on 22 September 2021. Twelves regulated health professions are on this sub-register which will close on 21 September 2022.

Practitioners who were on the 2020 sub-register and who chose to opt in to extend their temporary registration now have a registration expiry date aligned with the registration of all other practitioners on the 2021 sub-register.

From 6 April 2022, all practitioners on the pandemic response sub-register will have registration due to expire at midnight on 21 September 2022.


Psychologists, physiotherapists and diagnostic radiographers were automatically removed from the 2020 pandemic response sub-register when it closed for these professions on 19 April 2021. Practitioners who had non-practising registration before the pandemic were returned to non-practising registration on the Register of practitioners. Those who did not have non-practising registration had to apply for registration on the main register.

As of 20 April 2021, if you are not registered with the relevant National Board or did not make an application for registration on the main register that is yet to be decided, you cannot work in your profession (psychologists, physiotherapists or diagnostic radiographers).

The 2020 sub-register was extended for another 12 months in April 2021 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners, medical practitioners, nurses, midwives and pharmacists. The 2020 sub-register closed on 5 April 2022 and practitioners who had non-practising registration before the pandemic were returned to the main register with that registration type, unless they applied for general registration.

Other practitioners had to opt in to be on the 2021 sub-register or apply for transition to the main register.

A second temporary sub-register was established on 22 September 2021 for up to 12 months. Practitioners from across 12 regulated health professions are on the 2021 sub-register, including practitioners from the 2020 sub-register who opted in to extend their temporary registration.


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Page reviewed 28/06/2022