Improved rules for prepaid mobiles | ACMA

Improved rules for prepaid mobiles

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has made a revised Telecommunications (Service Provider – Identity Checks for Prepaid Mobile Carriage Services) Determination to enable mobile providers to more efficiently meet the identity-checking requirements for prepaid mobile services.

Identity-checking requirements for customers of prepaid mobile services were first introduced in 1997 to allow law enforcement and national security agencies to obtain information about the identity of customers for their investigations.

Accurate information from customers of prepaid services can also assist timely responses by emergency service organisations—police, fire and ambulance services—to Triple Zero emergency calls from prepaid services.

The Determination includes new rules that:

  • make it simpler for mobile providers to supply prepaid mobile services for people in emergency situations where they can’t return home due to natural disasters or family violence
  • increase the range of credit cards that can be used for identity verification.

The Determination protects the privacy of individuals by requiring that mobile providers only obtain the minimum amount of information reasonably necessary to verify identity. The new Determination does not increase the amount of information consumers are required to provide to their mobile providers.

The new rules are effective immediately.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please see the backgrounder below or contact: Emma Rossi, Media Manager, (02) 9334 7719, 0434 652 063 or

Media release 15/2017 - 12 April


The ACMA has made the Telecommunications (Service Provider – Identity Checks for Prepaid Mobile Carriage Services) Determination 2017 (the Determination) under subsection 99(1) of the Telecommunications Act 1997. The Determination allows carriage service providers (CSPs) to verify a person’s identity information through a range a methods. These methods include confirming an existing post-paid account, using a government online verification service or sighting identification at a CSP shopfront.

The Determination has revoked and replaced the Telecommunications (Service Provider – Identity Checks for Prepaid Mobile Carriage Services) Determination 2013.

The ACMA released a draft Determination for consultation in November 2016 before finalising this instrument.

The new Determination follows an ACMA review of the regulatory arrangements and implements recommendations of the working group the ACMA established to assist with its review, which included government and industry representatives.

Prepaid mobile services

Prepaid mobile phone services enable users to pay in advance for the cost of their mobile phone calls. As credit is reduced, the user has the option of purchasing another prepaid service or recharging their existing prepaid service through the purchase of further credit.

The alternative to pre-payment is post-payment, which typically involves a fixed-term contract with bills being sent to the customer at regular intervals in the same way as for most fixed-line phones.

Credit cards

Under the 2013 Determination, a mobile provider could use a credit card issued by an authorised deposit-taking institution as a means of verifying a customer’s identity information. Credit cards made available to a person by a licensed credit provider can now also be used.

Telecommunications law

Part 14 of the Telecommunications Act requires carriers and to provide assistance to law enforcement and national security agencies. A vital part of each carrier or CSP’s preparations to assist law enforcement agencies is to maintain accurate records of their customers’ personal details.

Part 13 of the Telecommunications Act protects the confidentiality of personal information held by CSPs. The disclosure or use of such information is prohibited except in limited circumstances such as for purposes relating to the enforcement of criminal law.

Last updated: 07 November 2018