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Health & Character Requirements

Health (Te Ora’anga Tangata)

The health requirements for the Cook Islands are set by Te Marae Ora (Ministry of Health). All persons intending to undertake employment, voluntary work or study in the Cook Islands are required to undertake a full health examination at their own cost in their country of residence. This requirement applies to family members of the person sponsored to work or study in the Cook Islands.

Cook Islands health requirements are designed to:
• minimise public health and safety risks to the Cook Islands community;
• contain public expenditure on health and community services; and
• maintain access of Cook Islands residents to health and community services.

Please click here for the Immigration medical clearance checklist. 

Strict health standards

Applicants (and or their dependent family members) must meet strict health standards designed to protect Cook Islands from high health risks and costs, and overuse of scarce health resources such as medical evacuations for treatment in New Zealand.

Children

All applicants including children and newborn babies are required to undergo a medical examination and have a medical certificate submitted as part of the application process.
• Children under 11 are not required to undergo a chest X-ray.
• Children under 15 are not usually required to undergo the standard blood tests.
• Children under 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian for the medical examination.

Applicant’s responsibilities

• The applicant or their sponsor must pay for the examination, the chest X-ray, laboratory tests, and any specialist reports which are required.
• The applicant must tell the truth. Any false statement on the medical form may result in the application being declined; any permit issued being cancelled and the applicant being required to leave Cook Islands.

Health examination

From 1 July 2009, applicants are required to undertake an examination by a doctor approved by Te Marae Ora. Usually, a chest x-ray, medical examination, some laboratory or specialist tests and referral to Te Marae Ora for final decision will be required. This can be a lengthy process and the costs will be the applicant’s or sponsor’s responsibility. All members of the applicants immediate family and other dependants travelling with or joining the applicant must meet the standards for an application to remain in the Cook Islands may be approved. For Immigration purposes, a health clearance report issued by Te Marae Ora is deemed valid for 6 months only.

Forms for the medical examination, together with directions to listed doctors and radiographers, are available on this website. Please click here. If pregnant, an applicant is advised not to be x-rayed until after the birth of the baby, meaning that an entry permit application for long term stay may not be finished until then. Alternatively, although not preferred by Te Marae Ora, an applicant may care to discuss with their radiologist the use of a lead shielded x-ray.

Health conditions of concern

In view of the World Health Organisation’s declaration of a global epidemic of tuberculosis, particular care is taken to screen for this disease including stringent treatment recommendations where signs of earlier infection, however small or old, are apparent.

The Cook Islands have a low rate of tuberculosis and maintain one of the strictest regimes for screening and treatment. Detection of the disease may lead to an automatic rejection of an application for an entry permit.

Other health conditions of concern are those where a person is assessed by Te Marae Ora as requiring treatment, support or assistance which is considered to be in short supply, or which cost a significant amount. This may differ from treatment in an applicant’s country.

The information, including the results of any tests for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), will be used to assess an applicant (and their family’s health) for an entry permit to the Cook Islands. A positive HIV or other test result may lead to an entry permit being denied.

Doctors

Doctors may charge in accordance with their usual practice. They may recommend that the applicant undertake other treatment or specialist consultations. This may be in the applicant’s own interest because listed doctors know what is required for the assessment of the examination results in the Cook Islands. From 1 July 2009, only listed doctors can complete the examination form in English. 

Basis for decision

A decision is made on, first, any detection of tuberculosis, however old or small, and then, of medical conditions which are likely to result in significant health treatment and community service costs in the Cook Islands, or which may use treatment or services in short supply. When Te Marae Ora is of the opinion that an applicant’s costs are beyond these and, are therefore, significant by Cook Islands standards this leads to denial of an entry permit. The cost assessment takes no regard of whether a person has or intends to take private health insurance or make other financial or nursing arrangements to lessen the claim on public funds.

Panel of Doctors

From 1 July 2009, Te Marae Ora will only accept medical examinations undertaken by a Panel of Doctors currently listed on the Immigration New Zealand’s website at http://www.immigration.govt.nz/migrant/stream/live/dependentchild/LinkAdministration/ToolboxLinks/PanelDoctors.htm?level=1  

Character

To enter the Cook Islands, applicants must be of good character.

In order for the Cook Islands Government to determine whether you are of good character, you may be asked to provide police certificates for each country you have resided in for 12 months or more over the last 5 years, including the Cook Islands. For Immigration purposes, a character report is deemed valid for 6 months.

Failure to submit a required police certificate may result in the refusal of an application for an entry permit to stay in the Cook Islands.