Using your mobile overseas

Most phone companies allow you to use your mobile phone when travelling overseas. This service is known as ‘international roaming’.

Check if you have international roaming

Your mobile phone will not automatically work in every country. If you want to use your mobile phone while you’re away, you should check with your mobile phone provider that you will be able to use your mobile phone in your destination.

You may also need to contact your provider to activate international roaming before you leave.

Charges for using your mobile phone overseas

Using your mobile phone (or tablet) overseas will usually be more expensive than using it at home in Australia.

Here are some things to keep in mind if you plan to use your mobile overseas.

Before you leave Australia

Make sure you know:

  • what your provider is charging you to make and receive calls and messages and to use data
  • whether they have an international roaming package available.

Some mobile phone providers include international roaming allowances in postpaid mobile phone plans, but this is typically only for higher price plans.

Providers may also offer a travel pack to customers, which is usually a daily charge with a call, text and data inclusion. Customers may need to activate these travel packs prior to leaving Australia. You should contact your provider to understand what travel pack options you have.

International roaming notifications

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) administers the International Mobile Roaming Standard that requires mobile phone providers to give their customers more information about mobile roaming.

This includes a warning that the customer has activated international mobile roaming and that significantly higher charges may apply. It also provides an SMS notification to customers when they arrive at an overseas destination, outlining the maximum charge information for international roaming services in that country.

Minimising your bill

Here are some tips to try and keep your bill low while using your mobile phone or tablet overseas:

  • buy a local SIM card at your destination
  • buy a prepaid roaming SIM card before you go
  • use free Wi-Fi where possible — but remember to protect your mobile devices, as not all public networks are secure
  • turn off data roaming.

It can be far more cost effective to use a local SIM card while overseas. If you decide to use a local SIM card, contact your mobile phone provider before you leave Australia to make sure your phone is unlocked and that your phone will work with a different SIM card.

Tips for using your mobile phone overseas

The Australian Communication Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) and Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) have more tips for travellers who want to use their mobile phone overseas:

More information

Mobile phone services