International Roaming: What You Need To Know

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If you're taking your mobile overseas and want to use international roaming, read the important info below and watch this Optus Gurus video for some handy things to know when you arrive overseas. This article has information on:

What is international roaming?

International roaming allows you to use your Optus Mobile Number and Optus SIM card to make / receive calls, send / receive messages, access email & mobile internet and check your voicemail in over 180 countries across the world.

Where can I use roaming?

To find out where you can use international roaming, see this page.

Do I need international roaming?

Take a look at these 3 scenarios to see which one suits...

"I'm in Australia and want to contact someone in another country"
You do not need international roaming to call overseas from Australia, you just need to make sure that international call barring is not active on your service.

"I'm (going) overseas and want to use my Optus SIM card / Optus Phone number and be billed by Optus"
You will need international roaming activated on your service and removal of international call restrictions for this scenario.

"I'm (going) overseas and want to use a Non-Optus SIM card with my phone/device"
You do not need us to activate international roaming in this situation, but you do need to check if your device is locked to the Optus Network. If it is, you'll need to request a network unlock so that it works with another provider's SIM Card/Network. See our network unlocking article for details.

What do I need to know before using international roaming?

If you choose to use your mobile phone or mobile broadband overseas there are some really important things that you need to know. To help you out, we've put together these key points to keep in mind. We also recommend checking out the related articles linked below

  • All call, messaging and mobile data (eg. social media) usage while roaming is excluded from your plan and optional add-ons. (eg. mobile internet packs).
  • Consider purchasing an Optus Travel Pack. In selected destinations they provide greater flexibility and control as well as even better value when using your Mobile Phone, Tablet or Mobile Broadband overseas. Check them out at these links: Post-Paid Travel Packs & Pre-Paid Travel Data Packs
  • Charges apply for making and receiving calls when roaming overseas. Rates and charges are available from this article.
  • Call diversions to an Australian number or a number in the local zone country are not included in your travel pack & will be charged at the standard International call rates for that destination
  • You're responsible for all charges incurred while overseas, just like you are at home
  • Roaming charges can sometimes take a couple of months to appear on your Optus bill
  • Network quality, coverage and capability varies greatly from country to country. eg. Some networks overseas don't have 3G/4G functionality. See what's available, country by country, here.
  • You should check your mobile device's compatibility with the overseas networks / mobile  frequencies that you intend to use. Most modern devices can use multiple frequencies, but we recommend that you double check compatibility. Here's an example of some of the differences that can exist with network frequencies:

Optus uses: 
2G Network: 900 / 1800 MHz
3G Network: 900  / 2100 MHz
4G Network: 700 / 1800 / 2100 / 2300 / 2600 MHz

Some operators in the USA  (for example) use:
850 / 1900 / 1700 MHz for 2G / 3G / 4G

Tips to keep your international roaming costs down

Get your device ready to roam

  • Switch on unconditional call diversions to stop calls routing to you overseas before they go to voicemail or another phone
  • Secure your device with a PIN / strong password
  • Don't forget to check if an Optus Travel Pack is available with your service type and destination. Travel Packs offer even simpler rates, greater flexibility and of course, better value than standard roaming charges
  • Use your screen/keypad lock to avoid unintended or unauthorised calls/messages
  • Consider switching off all access to cellular data / data roaming while overseas
  • Switch off any 'Push' or 'Pull' settings to prevent automatic retrieval of email
  • Switch off subscriptions to podcasts, internet radio and any other streaming media/apps
  • Remove any apps you won't use overseas to prevent unnecessary updates
  • Change your address book's phone numbers into international format
  • Check out the location of nearby Wi-Fi hotspots at your destination(s)
  • Download offline maps of your destination(s) before you leave
  • Consider adding a third party authority to your Optus account(s), so they can make enquiries on your behalf
  • Read over the companion links in the next section of this article

Stay informed and in control

  • Get to know our simplified roaming rates and zones
  • Use secure Wi-Fi to access the internet on your travels (where you can)
  • Take note of any roaming usage alert messages that we send to you
  • Get the latest version of  the My Optus app before you go and use it or My Account over Wi-Fi to keep a tab on your usage, balance and bills when overseas.

If you need help with these suggestions, we've got animated instructions at mobile device help or you can go to your device's online support site.

Find out more...

Click to watch the video