Fact sheet: Non-practising registration for nurses and midwives

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The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) undertakes functions as set by the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory (the National Law). The NMBA regulates the practice of nursing and midwifery in Australia, and one of its key roles is to protect the public. The NMBA does this by developing standards, codes and guidelines for nurses and midwives in which they are required to practice.

This fact sheet addresses common queries that you might have about the non-practising category of registration, eligibility and unsuitability, and what it means for nurses and midwives who choose this type of registration.

Categories of registration available to nurses and midwives who apply to the NMBA to be registered are outlined in the schedule of fees on the NMBA website. These registration categories include general registration, provisional registration, student registration and non-practising registration. 

Section 73 – Eligibility for non-practising registration

An individual is eligible for non-practising registration in a health profession if—

  1. the individual— 
    1. holds or has held general registration in the health profession under this Law; or
    2. holds or has held specialist registration in a recognised speciality in the health profession under this Law; or
    3. held registration in the health profession under a corresponding prior Act that was equivalent to general registration or specialist registration in the health profession under this Law;
  2. the individual is a suitable person to hold non-practising registration in the profession.

Section 74 – Unsuitability to hold non-practising registration

A National Board may decide an individual is not a suitable person to hold non-practising registration in a health profession if—

  1. having regard to the individual’s criminal history to the extent that is relevant to the individual’s practice of the profession, the individual is not, in the Board’s opinion, an appropriate person to hold registration in the profession or it is not in the public interest for the individual to hold registration in the profession; or
  2. in the Board’s opinion, the individual is for any other reason not a fit and proper person to hold non-practising registration in the profession.  

Section 75 – Registered health practitioner who holds non-practising registration must not practise the profession

  1. A registered health practitioner who holds non-practising registration in a health profession must not practise the profession.
  2. A contravention of subsection (1) by a registered health practitioner does not constitute an offence but may constitute behaviour for which health, conduct or performance action may be taken.

Section 76 – Period of non-practising registration

  1. The period of registration that is to apply to a health practitioner granted non-practising registration in a health profession is the period (the registration period), not more than 12 months, decided by the National Board established for the profession and published on the Board’s website.
  2. If the National Board decides to register a health practitioner in the health profession during a registration period, the registration—
    1. starts when the Board makes the decision; and
    2. expires at the end of the last day of the registration period.

Non-practising registration is a type of registration and is suitable for an individual who chooses to stop all nursing and/or midwifery practice activities but wishes – for personal rather than professional reasons – to retain a protected nursing and/or midwifery title. If you are practising in the profession you must be on the national register with a registration type other than ‘non-practising’.

Non-practising registration would apply to, say, a person who wishes to retain a protected nursing and/or midwifery title but:

  • has retired from nursing or midwifery practice
  • is experiencing an illness, or
  • is intending to take a long period of absence from the profession.

As a matter of professional etiquette, the NMBA expects the non-practising registrant to make it clear that they hold non-practising registration.

The registrant must annually renew their non-practising registration or will be removed from the national register of nurses or midwives.

While being registered as a non-practising registrant, there is no obligation under the National Law to meet the registration standard requirements of continuing professional development, professional indemnity insurance or recency of practice. Recency of practice and other standards must be met if seeking to become a practising registrant.

If you hold non-practising registration type and would like to become a practising registrant, you must lodge an application form for general registration and you must meet all the requirements of the NMBA’s mandatory registration standards. These include continuing professional development, disclosure of criminal history, professional indemnity insurance and recency of practice.

If you do not meet the recency of practice registration standard requirement, the NMBA’s information on Re-entry to practice applies.

Non-practising registration is a registration type. To hold this type of registration, an application has to be made and when approved, the practitioners name is published on the national register. If you are not registered as a nurse or midwife and wish to apply to have your name entered onto the non-practising register refer to the above section ‘What the National Law says about non-practising registration’.


Practice is any role, whether remunerated or not, in which the individual uses their skills and knowledge as a health practitioner in their profession. For the purposes of the Board’s standards, practice is not restricted to the provision of direct clinical care. It also includes using professional knowledge in a direct non-clinical relationship with clients, working in management, administration, education, research, advisory, regulatory or policy development roles, and any other roles that impact on safe, effective delivery of services in the profession.

Section 113 of the National Law lists the following nursing and midwifery titles that are protected:

  • nurse 
  • registered nurse 
  • nurse practitioner 
  • enrolled nurse 
  • midwife, and 
  • midwife practitioner.

While these titles are protected, the endorsements for ‘nurse practitioner’ and ‘midwife practitioner’ may only be used where a person is on the general register, i.e. not on the non-practising register.

A person on the non-practising register can use applicable protected titles of enrolled nurse, registered nurse and/or midwife as a matter of professional etiquette. However, the person must make clear that they are on the non-practising register.

A person who is not registered with the NMBA must not use any of the above protected titles. It is an offence for anyone either knowingly or recklessly to use any of the protected titles to make another person believe that they are registered under the National Law unless they are registered in the profession. However, they can use their academic qualification as a ‘postnominal’ title (e.g. Bachelor of Nursing placed after the name of a person to indicate their office or job position). Regardless of whether registration is practising or non-practising, academic postnominals describing a professional qualification must be carefully distinguished from professional registration.

For more information

Page reviewed 3/10/2018