by Harith Wickramasingha

Mobile Plans for International Students in Australia

Choose the right mobile phone plan and save over $500 per year. This is a Guide to Mobile Plans for International Students in Australia.

What documents do I need to sign up?

As an international student, it’s important to note that not all mobile plan providers in Australia accept international sign-ups. The primary reason for this limitation is the requirement for a valid Australian ID, such as a driver’s license or Medicare card, during the registration process. However, a select few providers offer the flexibility for international students to sign up using their overseas passport.

  • To be at least 18 years old
  • A credit or debit card, bank account details, or a PayPal account to set up direct debit
  • One of the following IDs:
    1. Australian Driver’s Licence
    2. International Passport
    3. Australian Photo ID

What types of mobile plans can you get in Australia?

The three major mobile providers are Telstra, Optus and Vodafone.  Australia offers two main types of mobile plans—prepaid and postpaid—each catering to different preferences and needs.

Prepaid Mobile Plans

Prepaid mobile plans operate on a recharge or renewal basis, typically resetting every 28 or 30 days. With this option, you purchase a SIM card and pay at the beginning of each month to maintain your plan.

Postpaid Mobile Plans

Postpaid plans operate continuously, with payment typically due at the end of the month, although some providers may charge at the beginning.

Can I purchase a mobile plan if I’m still overseas and haven’t come to Australia yet?

Absolutely! Many mobile providers in Australia offer the convenience of allowing you to purchase a mobile plan even before arriving in the country. This is especially beneficial for international students who want to ensure seamless connectivity upon arrival. Here’s what you need to know:

1. Online Registration:

Most major mobile providers have user-friendly online platforms that allow you to sign up for a plan from anywhere in the world. You can visit their official websites and follow the registration process as long as you have the documents mentioned above.

2. Overseas Passport:

While some providers may require an Australian ID for verification, several understand the needs of international students. You can often sign up using your overseas passport as a valid form of identification.

3. Delivery Options:

Once you’ve selected your mobile plan and completed the registration process, you may have the option to have your SIM card mailed to your overseas address. Alternatively, you can pick it up at a designated location upon your arrival in Australia. Recently mobile providers give you the option to have a E-Sim which does not require a physical sim card. This allows you to have your mobile plan ready as soon as you land in Australia.

4. Activation Upon Arrival:

Your mobile plan may be activated upon your arrival in Australia. Some providers allow you to choose the activation date during the registration process, ensuring that your plan starts when you need it.

5. International Roaming:

Before arriving in Australia, you may have the option to use international roaming on your plan. Check with the provider for details on the costs and features associated with international roaming. Be aware, that international roaming can be very expensive. I’d highly recommend you not activate your sim card until you land in Australia to avoid any unnecessary charges.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to get a SIM card and activate a new mobile plan?

Your service should be activated in approximately 1 hour, but sometimes it can take longer, up to 4 hours in some circumstances and on rare occasions, 7-10 days.  If you’re having trouble, contact your mobile provider directly.

Can I use my existing mobile phone in Australia?

Australian phone networks work on GSM technology. This is the standard in most countries around the world, so your phone should work in significant parts of Europe, Asia, US, UK, and New Zealand. Other countries may have a mix of technologies, so you might have to do a bit of research to make sure there’s a provider who’ll support your device.

Ensure that your mobile phone is unlocked, meaning it is not restricted to or tied to a specific mobile provider. When a phone is unlocked, it can be used with SIM cards from different carriers, providing you with the flexibility to choose and switch between various mobile service providers. If your phone is locked to a specific carrier, you may encounter compatibility issues when trying to use a SIM card from a different network. To confirm if your phone is unlocked, you can contact your current mobile provider or check with the device manufacturer. Unlocking your phone broadens your options, allowing you to select a mobile plan that best suits your needs, irrespective of the service provider.

Do I need seperate mobile plans for different states in Australia?

No, you generally do not need separate mobile plans for different states in Australia. Mobile plans offered by major providers typically provide nationwide coverage, allowing you to use your plan seamlessly across different states and territories. Whether you’re in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, or any other part of Australia, your mobile plan should work without any additional charges or complications.

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