International Mobile Coverage and Roaming - Frequently Asked Questions

What is international roaming?

International roaming refers to the ability to use your mobile service while overseas. Depending on the type of roaming available and the destination to which you are travelling, you may be able to use your existing mobile number and mobile phone to make and receive calls, send and receive SMS, and even receive facsimiles. All of this can occur while being billed by your usual Australian mobile carrier (or service provider).

How does international roaming work?

When roaming internationally, you are using the network of a mobile phone carrier in your destination country with whom your Australian mobile carrier has a ‘roaming agreement’. A roaming agreement is a commercial agreement between your Australian mobile service provider and a roaming partner mobile carrier that allows you to access the network of the roaming partner mobile service provider.

Can I use international roaming?

If you wish to use your phone overseas, you need to check whether your handset will be technically effective in the destination country. If not, it may be possible to arrange with your carrier to hire an appropriate handset in Australia or at your destination, or to upgrade your existing phone. You also need to check whether roaming services are available in your destination country.

You should consult your mobile carrier’s website, or ring their customer care line, to find the answers to these questions.

If international roaming is available where I’m going, how do I activate it?

Procedures for accessing international roaming vary depending on the type of roaming available where you are going. They also vary from carrier-to-carrier. The simple message is, talk to your carrier at least a few working days before you go to find out how it will work for you.

Roaming does not require you to change anything on your phone (assuming that it is a type that will be technically effective in the destination country). Be aware, however, that you may still need to go through preliminary steps to have this service activated by your Australian carrier before you are able to roam internationally. This will depend on a number of factors such as the type of plan you are on. Again, ensure you talk to your carrier about how to gain access at least a few working days before you leave Australia.

What does it cost and how does it work?

As you’d expect, there is a fee associated with the convenience of being able to be contacted so conveniently while overseas. Fees and charges for international roaming vary from carrier to carrier, and from country to country. Talk to your carrier (or visit their website) to find out about the costs – and about possible ways to minimise them – you may find that some products or services suit you and your budget better than others.

Receiving calls while overseas

If you have activated international roaming, contacting you on your mobile while you’re overseas is as easy as contacting you on your mobile when you’re at home. Your mobile phone number does not change. No international prefix is required from Australian callers, but callers from anywhere else in the world (including from your destination country) would need to use the Australian prefix (+61) then your mobile number without the first zero to contact you. For example, if your mobile number is 0414 xxx xxx, then to dial you while roaming, you would need to dial +61 414 xxx xxx.

Note that when travelling you may pay for receiving, as well as for making calls. This includes calls to voicemail. Ensure you are familiar with all the costs before heading overseas.

Making calls while overseas

Procedures and costs for making calls from your mobile while overseas vary from carrier to carrier and from country to country. Talk to your carrier before leaving Australia about how to make calls while overseas, and about the costs.


As well as voice calls, you can continue to use SMS and MMS while travelling. You may find this an economical and convenient way to communicate – especially in some time zones. Receiving SMS and MMS is free, but charges for sending messages may be slightly higher than you pay at home. Again, ensure you are familiar with the costs before you depart.

Further information

For more information, contact your carrier, or consult their websites at:

Hutchison 3 Australia

Optus – and search for ‘roaming’.


Vodafone  and search for ’roaming’. Or call 1555.

Disclaimer: These tips are intended to assist potential users of the services described with general information that is usually relevant to those services from a consumer perspective. Specific circumstances may affect any information provided above. Users should also note that the nature and features of the services described above may change, and while AMTA endeavours to keep up with changing circumstances, it cannot guarantee that the information provided above will be current or will correctly describe the relevant service at a particular point in time.