Phone numbers are something most Australians use every day. There are rules about how phone numbers are given out and transferred, to make sure the numbering system works smoothly and efficiently.

The Numbering Plan

The rules for managing phone numbers are in the Telecommunications Numbering Plan 2015 (the Numbering Plan), which is administered by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

The Numbering Plan says which numbers are to be used for what.

Numbers indicate for example:

  • Where the service concerned is—calls to a fixed line relate to a geographic area. When people call from outside the area they may need to include a regional prefix , such as 02 for NSW and ACT and 07 for Queensland.
  • What the service concerned is—all mobile phone numbers in Australia start with 04 and have 10 digits in them.
  • How the service concerned is charged—a phone number starting with 1800 is a free call, and a number starting with 13 or 1300 is a local rate call - at least from a fixed line. The person or business who ‘owns’ the number pays the cost of some or all of the call. Calls from mobiles may be charged higher rates.
  • What the service concerned does—numbers staring with 1900 are premium mobile services such as news or other services.

Find out more at the ACMA Numbering Plan page.

Transferring telephone numbers

The Numbering Plan also lets people take their phone number with them when they change from one phone company to another.

This is called number portability.

The phone companies must let people take their numbers to a new phone company. People should check if the new phone company can take the number first. The ACMA's number portability page has more information.

Find out more:

The Integrated Public Number Database (IPND)

All Australian phone numbers in use are listed in the Integrated Public Number Database (IPND):

  • Telstra maintains the database.
  • There are strict controls on who can access the database and what the data can be used for.
  • The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has a compliance monitoring and enforcement role in relation to the IPND (see ACMA: Integrated Public Number Database (IPND) for more information).

The database is used by the emergency call service, the emergency alert system, and law enforcement and national security agencies. Other users include authorised phone directory services, taxi and home-delivery services, and researchers for electoral, health and government policy research.

The Communications Alliance has developed two codes of practice on IPND data that deal with how CSPs supply, receive and format customer data for the IPND. More information about industry codes is available at  Communications Alliance: Integrated Public Number Database (IPND).