Registration of mobile phone prepaid card

With the mandatory registration of prepaid cards (so-called prepaid SIM cards), which came into force on 1 January 2019, an ordinance (Identification Ordinance) was implemented in Austria as part of the Federal Government's security package. From now on, customers have to identify themselves personally with the respective mobile communications provider when purchasing a new prepaid SIM card, as has already been the case with contract rates.

Depending on the provider and the distribution channel different identification procedures are available. For shopping in a store or at a cash register the most common method will probably be to present a suitable photo ID. There are also appropriate procedures for orders on the Internet with which the purchase can be processed online. The concrete identification procedures will thus be similar to those already in use with traditional mobile phone tariffs.

Transition period until 1 September 2019

There was a transition period for existing prepaid card customers: Until 1 September 2019 it was still possible to use prepaid cards anonymously; after that, registration became necessary for the first top-up. However, existing balances can still be used up after 1 September 2019.

With this measure, the (former) Federal Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology (BMVIT) supported above all the important areas of crime prevention and crime investigation. After all, as experience shows, especially in the area of prepaid cards the given anonymity often enables criminality and crime. Without this protective anonymity, it would be much more difficult for terror preparations, drug and human trafficking, or organised crime in general, to remain undiscovered and undetected. Likewise, the missing obligation of registration often hinders successful searches and the complete investigation of crimes by the respective authorities. In other EU countries, such as Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium and Greece, the registration obligation for prepaid cards already applies.

For more information on the procedure for registering prepaid cards, please contact your mobile communications provider.

published at 25.11.2020, Kommunikation und Service (Abteilung Präs. 5)