COVIDSafe app help

This page provides help and support for the COVIDSafe app

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COVIDSafe app help

For troubleshooting and answers to your questions about the COVIDSafe app, you can use our online help any time or call our helpline.

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Overview of COVIDSafe

What is the COVIDSafe app?

COVIDSafe was developed by the Australian Government to help keep the community safe from coronavirus (COVID-19). Together, let’s help stop the spread and keep ourselves and each other healthy.

COVIDSafe uses Bluetooth® technology on your mobile phone to look for other devices with COVIDSafe installed.

Your device will take note of contact you’ve had with other users by securely logging their reference code. If you or someone you’ve been in contact with is diagnosed with coronavirus, the close contact information securely stored in your phone can be uploaded and used — with your consent — by state or territory health officials to quickly trace people who’ve been exposed to the virus.

Why does Australia need COVIDSafe?

The app will help keep you, your family and your community safe from further spread of coronavirus through early notification of possible exposure.

COVIDSafe is one of the tools we'll use to help protect the health of the community by quickly alerting people who may be at risk of having contact with the virus.

Use of COVIDSafe will allow us to lift restrictions earlier than would otherwise be possible.

What will COVIDSafe do?

The COVIDSafe app will allow state and territory health officials to contact you if you have been in contact with someone with COVID-19 (coronavirus). They tell you:

  • what to look out for
  • whether you need to quarantine
  • how, when and where to get tested
  • how you can protect yourself and your family and friends

If you become infected with coronavirus, the app will assist state and territory health officials to notify people with whom you have had close contact and advise them about self-quarantine and getting tested.

This will speed up current manual processes and make it quicker to stop the spread of the virus, particularly if restrictions are eased.

The app operates on a person’s phone as they go about their day.

It securely logs the encrypted reference codes of devices of other people who are using the app who have been in close proximity to you.

The close contact information can only be accessed by relevant health officials if there has been a positive case to help alert those who may need to be tested.

The app will never track your location.

Why should I use the COVIDSafe app?

Receiving early notification that you may have been exposed to coronavirus means you can be tested or go into quarantine to protect your health and the health of others.

Without the assistance of technology, finding people who may have been exposed to the virus relies on people being able to recall who they have been around and knowing the details of every individual they have been in close contact with. In many cases, we don’t know the names and contact details of those we’ve been in close contact with (for example, at the supermarket or on the train).

The COVIDSafe app uses technology to make this process faster and more accurate.

The COVIDSafe app has been developed to ensure your information and privacy is strictly protected.

How many people does the Government want to download COVIDSafe?

COVIDSafe helps find close contacts of COVID-19 cases. The app helps state and territory health officials to quickly contact people who may have been exposed to COVID-19.

COVIDSafe speeds up the current manual process of finding people who have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19. The app is useful at any level of uptake and the Department of Health has no set target.

The more Australians connect to the COVIDSafe app, the quicker we can find the virus and prevent the spread. The usefulness of the app increases with greater uptake.

Can I link to or embed COVIDSafe campaign materials on my website?

Yes, you can use COVIDSafe campaign materials on your website as long as you do not make any changes to the materials. If you have questions about these resources, please contact CoronaComms [at] health.gov.au.

You cannot use the Commonwealth coat of arms on your site without written permission.

Is COVIDSafe available in other languages?

Information about COVIDSafe has been translated into 63 languages:

The fact sheet includes information on how COVIDSafe works and what data it collects.

An editorial about the app has been translated into 63 languages and is appearing in a range of publications in different languages. The National Coronavirus Helpline is able to answer questions on the app, including troubleshooting during installation, through the translating and interpreting service.

The app itself is not available in other languages. However user involvement is limited to:

  • installation
  • registration
  • agreeing to the information in their phone being used by state and territory health officials if they are diagnosed with COVID-19

Given this, our efforts have been focused on ensuring everyone in the community can access the information they need to make an informed decision about whether to download the app.

How the app works

How does COVIDSafe work?

Users can voluntarily download the app from the Apple App Store or Google Play. The user registers to use the app by entering a name, age range, mobile number and postcode and will receive a confirmation text message to complete the installation of the app. Based on this information, an encrypted reference code is generated for the app on that phone.

COVIDSafe uses Bluetooth® to look for other devices that have the app installed. It takes a note of a contact when it occurs, through a digital handshake. It securely logs the other user’s encrypted reference code and the date, time and proximity of the contact on the user’s phone, and notes the phone model. This information is then securely encrypted and stored on the phone.

Your location is not recorded. The app will check for new connections every minute so it can record the total duration of any contact.

The app uses a rolling 21-day window to allow for the maximum 14-day incubation period of the coronavirus, and the time taken to confirm a positive test result. The rolling 21-day window allows the app to continuously note only those user contacts that occur during the coronavirus incubation window. Contacts that occurred outside of the 21-day window are automatically deleted from the user’s phone.

The encrypted close contact information on your phone is not accessible by anyone, including you. If you are diagnosed with the virus, you will be asked to consent to upload your close contact information to a highly secure information storage system. The uploaded information enables state or territory health officials to contact the user and close contacts to provide advice on actions they should take to manage their health.

This cycle continues if a user of the app who was a close contact subsequently tests positive.

Who can use COVIDSafe?

COVIDSafe can be downloaded and used by anyone who has an Australian mobile number and a Bluetooth®-equipped Android or iOS smartphone. You need to be connected to Wi-Fi or mobile data to download the app, but Wi-Fi is not needed for the app to work.

Check the minimum requirements for COVIDSafe to work.

Is there a risk that people may report false positives?

Information COVIDSafe collects is uploaded to the highly secure information storage system and will only be accessed by state and territory health officials once a user has a positive diagnosis. This positive diagnosis must be verified by state or territory health officials.

What consequences are there if a person using the app tests positive for COVID-19 but then refuses to provide consent to upload their data?

As is currently the case, people that test positive for COVID-19 will be required by state or territory health officials to provide their contact information.

The app is a more efficient and faster way of doing that, and can provide additional information of contacts that they may not know, such as the person standing next to them at the supermarket.

Whether or not they use the app information, they will still have to go through the current process of recalling all their recent contacts and providing that to their state or territory health officials. The app adds to this process and makes it quicker.

Technical aspects

COVIDSafe will perform digital handshakes with other COVIDSafe apps in Bluetooth® range.

COVIDSafe records Bluetooth® signal strength to allow approximation of distance.

COVIDSafe will poll every minute for new connections and to record the duration of existing connections.

This digital handshake information, which does not include any identifiable data, is all recorded on the phone. It is uploaded to the highly secure information storage system a user is diagnosed with coronavirus and gives their consent.

A filtering process on the highly secure information storage system separates information that meets the close contact requirements and makes it available to the relevant state and territory health officials.

Can you tell me precisely, in technical terms, what data elements will be shared, with whom, how often, and for what purposes?

The COVIDSafe source code can be accessed through GitHub. Before you access the source code, please read the terms and conditions.

Users can voluntarily download the app from the Apple App Store or Google Play. The user registers to use the app by entering a name, age range, mobile number and postcode and will receive a confirmation SMS text message to complete the installation of the app. On the basis of this information, an encrypted reference code is generated for the app on that phone.

COVIDSafe uses Bluetooth® to look for other devices that have the app installed. It takes a note of a contact when it occurs, by securely logging the other user’s encrypted reference code. The date, time and proximity of the contact are generated on the user’s phone and also noted. Your location is not recorded.

This information is securely encrypted and stored on the phone.

The app uses a rolling 21-day window to allow for the maximum 14-day incubation period of the coronavirus, and the time taken to confirm a positive test result. The rolling 21-day window allows the app to continuously note only those user contacts that occur during the coronavirus incubation window. Contacts that occurred outside of the 21-day window are automatically deleted from the user’s phone.

Close contact information on your phone is not accessible by anyone, including you. If you are diagnosed with the virus, you will be asked to consent to upload your close contact information to a highly secure information storage system. The uploaded information enables state or territory health officials to contact the user and close contacts to provide advice on actions they should take to manage their health.

Will my Bluetooth® handshake pick up contacts through walls?

The Bluetooth® handshake cannot tell if there was a wall between people during their 15 minutes of contact. Your app could note contacts through a wall. It will depend on the strength of the Bluetooth® signal.

If this happens and one of the contacts is identified as having coronavirus, state and territory health officials will talk to the people to work out if this was a legitimate contact or not.

Does COVIDSafe send me notifications or SMS text messages?

SMS messages from the Australian Government reminding you to download COVIDSafe come from your mobile provider. The Australian Government works with telecommunication providers to send these messages out to the Australian public only when it is absolutely necessary. You cannot opt out of these messages.

COVIDSafe only sends SMS messages to give you your verification PIN during registration or if you are consenting to upload information to the national information storage system.

COVIDSafe will never send you an SMS about usage of the app, for example 'COVIDSafe has detected that you are 20km from your nominated home address'. It will never ask you to call a phone number.

How frequently will the app send me SMS notifications?

You can now choose whether to receive the push notification reminding users to keep COVIDSafe running.

What happens if I am diagnosed with COVID-19?

If you test positive for coronavirus, a state or territory health official in your state or territory will contact you. You will be asked to voluntarily upload your close contact information to the secure server. The health official will give you a PIN for this upload.

This will help state or territory officials identify people who may have had close contact with you. Uploading your information is a crucial part of alerting others who may be at risk and could save lives.

For information on what happens if one of your close contacts tests positive, see How will I know if a close contact develops COVID-19?

I am Deaf, how will officials contact me if they need to?

State and territory health officials carry out contact tracing. COVIDSafe does not replace their usual contact tracing processes. It supports them.

Please contact the health department in your state or territory for information about their contact tracing processes, including how they support the Deaf community and people with differing communication needs. 

The Australian Government website www.australia.gov.au has links to COVID-19 advice for all of the states and territories.

Close contacts

Who is a 'close contact' for notification purposes?

State and territory public health officials will have the contact information for other users who have been within approximately 1.5 metres of the infected user for 15 minutes or more.

How does the app know a 'close contact' has occurred?

When 2 (or more) app users come into close proximity their phones exchange Bluetooth® signals and make a series of ‘digital handshakes’.

The app notes the encrypted information held on your phone (reference code, date, time and proximity of 2 users) through the strength of the Bluetooth® signals. This allows the approximate distance between the users and the duration the contact occurred to be determined once the data is uploaded to the highly secure information storage system.

The proximity for a close contact is approximately 1.5 metres, for a period of 15 minutes or more.

To be effective, COVIDSafe should be active on your phone whenever you are coming into contact with people.

How does COVIDSafe measure distance and duration of contact?

COVIDSafe uses Bluetooth® received signal strength indicator (RSSI) values to measure the signal strength between devices. Calibrated RSSI values are used to estimate the approximate distance between users during an encounter.

COVIDSafe estimates the approximate duration of an encounter between two users to determine whether a user has had probable exposure to coronavirus.

How will I know if a close contact develops COVID-19?

COVIDSafe uses Bluetooth® to look for other phones that also have COVIDSafe installed. When it finds another user’s phone, a ‘digital handshake’ occurs, which notes the date and time, distance and duration of the contact. COVIDSafe does not collect location data. State and Territory health officials will use the contacts and data COVIDSafe captures to support their usual contact tracing.

Health officials will call people to let them or their parent/guardian know they may have been exposed to COVID-19. Health officials may discuss the suspected day and time of exposure with the contact, as per their usual processes. Health officials will not name the person who was infected.

If I receive a close contact notification, will I be told who the contact was?

No. This will operate in the same way as existing contact processes run by state or territory health officials.

A phone call will be made to users who have had close contact with another user once that user is diagnosed with coronavirus. This phone call will be made by a state or territory health official.

Close contact information is only available to state or territory health officials once a user is confirmed as coronavirus positive, and the user consents to securely upload the information stored on their phone.

These calls will only be made for close contacts that have occurred within the 21 days before the information is uploaded. This early notification allows users to quickly self-isolate and seek medical attention.

Why does the app only notify close contacts in the past 21 days?

The average incubation period for someone who contracts COVID-19 is typically 5 to 6 days. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) currently estimate that the incubation period can be up to 14 days.

The app uses a rolling 21-day window to allow for the maximum 14-day incubation period, and the time taken to confirm a positive test result.

The rolling 21-day window allows the app to continuously monitor only those user contacts that occur during the coronavirus incubation window.

Contacts that occurred outside of the 21-day window are automatically deleted from the user’s phone.

What happens if I come in close contact with someone diagnosed with coronavirus?

If a person tests positive to coronavirus and they are a COVIDSafe user, and your device noted that you were in close proximity to them recently, you may be contacted on the mobile number you registered with COVIDSafe, alerting you to the potential exposure.

If you believe you have come into contact with a person who has tested positive but you haven't been contacted, the recommendation is to self-isolate, monitor your own health, and take care.

Find out if you need to get tested by using the coronavirus (COVID-19) symptom checker.

Follow the guidelines on isolation.

Why is the use of COVIDSafe important?

Receiving early notification that you may have been exposed to coronavirus means you can:

  • be tested quickly
  • go into isolation or quarantine if needed
  • protect your health and the health of others

Without COVIDSafe, finding people who may have been exposed to the virus relies on people’s memories. You need to recall who you have been around and the details of every person you have been in close contact with. In many cases, you won't know the names and contact details of everyone you've been in close contact with (for example, on public transport).

The app uses technology to make this process faster and more accurate. It was developed to ensure your information and privacy is strictly protected.

Privacy

How is my privacy going to be protected?

The Minister for Health has issued a Determination under the Biosecurity Act to protect people’s privacy and restrict access to app data to state and territory health authorities for contact tracing.

It will be a criminal offence to use any app data in any other way.

Other agencies, including law enforcement, will not be able to access the information unless investigating misuse of that information itself. Parliament has passed these provisions.

The app also has a range of privacy and security safeguards built in, including no collection of geolocation data and secure encryption.

An independently developed Privacy Impact Assessment detailing the app’s compliance with the Privacy Act and Australian Privacy Principles is publicly available.

Why does the app ask for my mobile phone number, name and postcode?

COVIDSafe needs a mobile number to activate an account and to allow health officials to contact you if they need to.

If you are diagnosed as positive for coronavirus and you are a registered COVIDSafe user, a state or territory health official will contact you to ask you to upload your information. This is voluntary.

The name you registered with will be used during the call to verify you are the owner of the mobile number. You do not need to give your real name if you prefer not to.

The postcode you enter upon registration will be used to ensure the health official is from your state or territory.

What information does COVIDSafe capture?

The app only uses the information that’s needed to alert close contacts and allow health officials to make contact with them.

This information is only the encrypted reference code, date, time, duration and proximity of contacts.

At registration, the user provides their name, phone number and postcode, and selects their age range, which generates an encrypted code.

All further information about contacts collected by the app is encrypted and stored within the app on the phone.

Users cannot access contact information stored on their phone.

If you delete the app, this will also delete all the app information from your phone.

No-one can access the contact information on your phone, unless you are diagnosed with coronavirus and you consent to upload the contact information to a highly secure information storage system.

What information is being collected and what is not being collected?

Information collected includes:

  • registration information — name, mobile number, age range and post code
  • close contact information — encrypted reference code, date and time, proximity and duration of contact
  • app logs — app performance, troubleshooting and error data

COVIDSafe does not collect information on your location or your movements.

Can a user or health official view the information stored on the phone including the contact log?

No. All information that is stored on the phone is digitally encrypted and cannot be accessed or viewed by any users or health officials.

Contact information older than 21 days on your phone is automatically deleted.

Can the app be used to track a user or contact?

No. It does not record an individual’s location or movements. The app only records that a contact occurred to allow health officials to contact those users to enable them to quickly self-quarantine and/or seek medical attention.

The app cannot be used to enforce quarantine or isolation restrictions or any other laws.

Commonwealth and state/territory law enforcement agencies will not be allowed to access any information from the app, unless investigating misuse of that information itself.

Can COVIDSafe track the location of all devices installed with COVIDSafe?

No. COVIDSafe only collects information about interactions with other COVIDSafe users. COVIDSafe does not collect or use physical location data (for example, GPS, Wi-Fi fingerprinting and cell ID). It only notes proximity to another COVIDSafe user via Bluetooth®.

How will the information be stored?

The name, verified mobile number, age range and postcode you registered are encrypted on the highly secure information storage system hosted in Australia.

The storage system is geo-locked, meaning the information cannot be taken out of Australia.

The information is provided an encrypted hash code, which is the only data shared as part of the Bluetooth ‘digital handshake’.

The digital handshakes collected by the COVIDSafe app are stored locally on the user’s phone. This information is encrypted on your phone and cannot be accessed or viewed by anyone, including you.

Contact information only leaves the user's phone if the user is diagnosed as having coronavirus and consents to the data upload.

Contacts that are older than 21 days are automatically deleted from the phone.

The information is uploaded to a highly secure information storage system. Only authorised state and territory health officials will have access to the contact information. State and territory health officials will only have access to view the contact information collected by people from their state or territory diagnosed with COVID-19.

In accessing and using the uploaded data, health officials will be required to comply with the Australian Privacy Principles and all applicable data protection and information security obligations. It will only be able to be used for alerting individuals if they have come into contact with a person who has contracted coronavirus.

Do I have to use the COVIDSafe app?

No. Its use is entirely voluntary, but using it will help save lives.

For the app to work, it must be running in the background on your phone. Other apps can be used at the same time.

You can delete the app from your phone at any time. This will delete all the app information from your phone.

At the end of the Australian pandemic, users will be prompted to delete the app from their phone. This will delete all app information on a person’s phone. The information contained on the highly secure information storage system will also be destroyed at the end of the pandemic.

COVIDSafe does not replace existing processes conducted by state and territory public health authorities. It supports them. State and territory public health authorities will continue to ask people who are diagnosed with COVID-19 about their close contacts, even if they do not use COVIDSafe. 

You can contact the health department in your state or territory for information about their existing processes. The Australian Government website www.australia.gov.au has links to COVID-19 advice for all states and territories.

If I receive a close contact notification, will I be told who the contact was?

No. This will operate in the same way as existing contact processes run by state and territory health officials.

A phone call will be made to users who have had close contact with another user once that user is independently confirmed as having COVID-19. This phone call will be made by state or territory health officials.

Close contact information is only available to state and territory health officials once a user is confirmed as coronavirus positive, and the user securely uploads the information stored on their phone.

These calls will only be made to close contacts that have occurred in the 21 days before the information has been uploaded. This early notification allows users to quickly self-quarantine and seek medical attention.

What protections are in place for children using the app?

Children can download and use the COVIDSafe app. While, thankfully, children seem to be less affected by COVID-19, tragically there have been cases overseas of young people dying from the virus.

The Government expects parents and guardians will provide the same care and guidance to their children with respect to the COVIDSafe app as they do when their children download any other app that collects personal information. It will be important, for example, for parents to talk to their children about the app and how it works.

When a child downloads the app they will be prompted to confirm they have the consent of their parent or guardian before they proceed.

If a child tests positive to COVID-19 and is running the app on their device, the relevant state or territory health authority will seek the consent of the child’s parent or guardian before uploading their information to the secure information storage system.

If a child is contacted by the relevant state or territory health authority because they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, the health official will ask to speak to the child’s parent, guardian or another responsible adult before providing the necessary information and advice.

Will legislation be required for the app to operate, or for individuals’ privacy to be protected?

No. Use of the app is voluntary.

Collection and use of information from the app is consent based and consistent with the Privacy Act and Australian Privacy Principles.

To further strengthen the app’s privacy arrangements the Health Minister made a Determination under the Biosecurity Act to protect people’s privacy and restrict access to app data to state and territory health authorities for solely for the purpose of finding potential close contacts of someone diagnosed with COVID-19.

Under that Determination, it will be a criminal offence to use any app data in any other way. It will also be a criminal offence for someone to be refused to enter a premises, participate in an event or receive a service for failing to use the app.

Parliament has passed these provisions.

What is the relationship between Amazon Web Services and the Australian Government?

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has a contract with the Australian Government to provide a secure protected-level cloud service for the storage of encrypted information. Information is uploaded to this storage system once a COVIDSafe user has tested positive for COVID-19 and agreed to the information from the app on their phone being used.

Under the contract, AWS has no access to the encrypted information from COVIDSafe.

Why did the Australian Government choose Amazon Web Services?

The Australian Government’s Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) had existing contracts with Amazon Web Services (AWS). The DTA made the COVIDSafe contract as a Statement of Work under the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Whole of Government Arrangement – Standing Offer.

The Commonwealth Procurement Rules allow a limited tender when there is:

  • genuine urgency (rule 10.3.b)
  • continuation of an existing agreement (rule 10.3.e)

The Statement of Work (ID number E104752985) requires AWS to provide:

  • Activity 1 — AWS Platform Design and Build
  • Activity 2 — AWS Mobile Web App Build
  • Activity 3 — AWS Admin App Build
  • Activity 4 — AWS Project Control

Using AWS provided the DTA with hosting, development, and operational support services for COVIDSafe and the National Data Store. Splitting work packages into parts would have introduced more risk and complexity to the COVIDSafe system.

A change in supplier arrangements would have had risks the DTA could not accept:

  • the app may not have been delivered on time
  • the cost would likely be higher, as the work already done by AWS may not have been transferrable to another supplier

The contract between the Commonwealth and AWS specifies:

  • the National COVIDSafe data storage system must use protected certified cloud services
  • data held in the National COVIDSafe data storage system must be located in Australia

While AWS host the data storage system, they do not have access to the national COVIDSafe data store.

Could Amazon Web Services (AWS) send information from the COVIDSafe app overseas?

No. The determination made by the Minister for Health under the Biosecurity Act explicitly states COVIDSafe app information must be stored in Australia.

It is a criminal offence to transfer COVIDSafe app information to any country other than Australia or to use the information for any purpose other than finding close contacts of someone diagnosed with COVID-19.

The Australian Government already uses AWS for many other purposes and requires them to keep Australian data in Australia.

Where can I find the relevant privacy policies?

You can find the COVIDSafe privacy policy on our website:

You can find the Department of Health’s general privacy policy on our site as a downloadable document.

Technical support

How do I set up COVIDSafe?

  1. Download the COVIDSafe app.
  2. Register using a name, mobile phone number, age range and postcode.
  3. Turn on Bluetooth®.
  4. Check that COVIDSafe is active when you are out or are likely to come into contact with others.

If you test positive for coronavirus, you can consent for your close contact information to be used by state or territory health officials to contact people who may have been exposed. If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus by someone you’ve been in close contact with, state or territory health officials will be able to contact you quickly so you can get the support you need.

What are the minimum requirements for phones to use COVIDSafe?

The minimum requirements for COVIDSafe to work are:

  • Android – Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) or higher
  • iOS – iOS 10 or higher

Other mobile operating systems are not currently supported.

COVIDSafe works on as broad a range of handsets as possible. However, there are limits as to how far back a new app build can go for reasons such as security and Bluetooth® capability. We recommend that you upgrade your phone’s operating system. If you have any issues, your mobile manufacturer or provider may be able to provide support.

Is the app available only from Australian stores?

We developed the app to help Australians stop the spread of coronavirus. To download it and install it, you need both an:

  • Australian app account
  • Australian mobile number

We are aware this impacts some Australians and we are exploring options to make sure as many Australians as possible can download and use COVIDSafe.

What if I am having issues with downloading COVIDSafe from Apple App Store or Google Play Store?

For Android, you cannot download COVIDSafe if your Google Play account is set to an overseas location. Please refer to Google Play guidelines if the Play Store won’t open, load or download apps.

You may be able to create a new Google Play account with a different email address. Please refer to Google’s support documentation to decide if this is right for you.

For iOS, if your Apple account is set to an overseas location, you will not be able to find COVIDSafe from the Apple App Store.

The app was developed to help Australians stop the spread of coronavirus. To download it, you need an Australian app account and Australian mobile number to download and install the app. We are aware this impacts some Australians and we are exploring options to make sure as many Australians as possible can download and use COVIDSafe.

Why am I having trouble downloading COVIDSafe in my rural area?

Some Australians in rural areas are experiencing difficulties downloading and installing the app due to network coverage issues. We advise these people to register on the app over the mobile network the next time they are in a coverage area. This might be when they travel into town to purchase groceries or supplies.

We have identified a potential solution and are working with the carrier to implement it. The change will be included in a future update.

Why do I get ‘invalid phone number’ when I try to register?

There are several reasons you may get this message when you try to register. The troubleshooting tips below can resolve most issues:

  • the app will not work on a land line telephone, only on a mobile
  • check the number you entered is correct — you can only use Australian mobile phone numbers that start with ‘04’ and contain 10 digits (for example, 0400 000 000)
  • go to the previous screen and check you have answered all questions correctly — make sure you don’t use numbers or symbols like '?' or '.'
  • try entering your mobile number with and without the leading zero — the app sometimes needs a different format
  • try turning off the Wi-Fi on your phone for the registration process and using mobile data instead
  • go back to the app and tap the ‘Resend PIN’ link — your PIN may have expired.

Why am I having issues verifying my mobile phone number or receiving my PIN?

If COVIDSafe does not verify your mobile phone number, or you do not receive your PIN within a few minutes after you register:

  • switch off the Wi-Fi
  • use your mobile phone’s internet when entering your phone number

If that does not work:

  • Check the number you entered is correct. You can only use Australian mobile phone numbers that start with ‘04’ and are 10 digits long. For example, 0412345678’.
  • Go back to the previous screen to check if you have answered all questions correctly, including name (no numbers or symbols like '?' or '.'), age range and postcode.
  • Your PIN may have expired. Go back to the app and tap the 'Resend PIN' link.

If you are using an Android phone, check that the SMS is not being captured and blocked by any security software.

If you have received a PIN and you are not in the process of registering for COVIDSafe, please ignore the message. This is a known issue and the development team is working on it.

Can I use the app on an older device?

For Android, you need Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) or higher. We are collating the full list of Android devices the app will work with.

For iOS, you need iOS 10 or higher. You will need an iPhone 5S model phone or higher.

We do not currently support other mobile operating systems.

COVIDSafe works on as broad a range of handsets as possible. However, there are limits as to how far back a new app build can go for reasons such as security and Bluetooth capability.

Why doesn’t the app work for me?

If you have checked everything and the app still doesn’t work, you may need to update the operating system on your phone.

Uninstall the app and follow your normal phone procedure to check for updates and install. Once complete, revisit the app store and reinstall the app.

What is the ‘Upload my information’ button on the homepage of the app screen?

You only need to press the ‘Upload my information’ button at the bottom of the screen in your COVIDSafe app, if you have tested positive for coronavirus.

You will not be able to upload your information unless a state or territory health official contacts you. They will give you the PIN you need to upload your information and help you with the process.

You do not need to upload your information if you come into close contact with someone diagnosed with coronavirus.

The ‘Upload my information’ section only applies to you if you have been asked to complete it by a state or territory health official.

Can I say no to uploading my COVIDSafe information if contacted by state or territory health officials?

Yes. You always have the choice about whether to share your information if you are identified as a confirmed case. But remember that uploading your information could help save lives and keep others in the community safe.

The app is community-driven. When app users who develop COVID-19 submit their app information, it helps protect others in the community who have also been exposed.

How do I ensure that COVIDSafe is working correctly?

Android users: COVIDSafe works best when it is running, which means you can use your phone as normal without having to open or check COVIDSafe.

iOS users: Keep COVIDSafe running when you're out and about, especially in meetings and public places.

How do I know if COVIDSafe is active?

Your COVIDSafe app screen should show 'COVIDSafe is active'.

If it says 'COVIDSafe is not active', you'll need to make changes to some items under 'Check your permissions'.

You may have noticed that if the COVIDSafe application has been closed for 24 hours, you will receive a notification. This notification is now optional on both Android and iOS devices.

How do I update my registration information?

To change your registration information (phone number, name or postcode), you can uninstall COVIDSafe and download it again. Read more on what happens when you uninstall the app.

What do I do if the app asks me to register again?

If you have registered successfully once, you should not need to register again.

If COVIDSafe is asking you to register again, select the back button (top left) and it should return to the 'COVIDSafe is active' screen.

Why does COVIDSafe need location permission on Android and not on iOS?

Android/Google requires all apps that request access to Bluetooth® to also obtain location permission. As a result, COVIDSafe on Android asks for location permissions because they are needed for Bluetooth® permissions.

COVIDSafe does not store or use location data on Android.

For more information, read the Android developer guide.

Does the app meet accessibility requirements?

It is important that as many Australians as possible can download and use COVIDSafe.

The latest release improves accessibility in several ways:

  • includes VoiceOver functionality
  • improved recognition of buttons, headings and checkboxes
  • improved contrast between the text and background, making it easier for people to read

When developing the app, we considered the needs of people:

  • with visual impairments or hearing difficulties
  • who are culturally and linguistically diverse

We tested the app to make sure it:

  • meets colour contrast standards
  • has the best text size
  • has alt text for images

We wrote in plain English to make the content as easy as possible to understand.

We want to make the app as accessible as possible. We have begun an accessibility audit to identify any accessibility issues with the app. This will be followed by an independent Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) accessibility review.

If you have experienced an accessibility issue with the app, please contact support [at] covidsafe.gov.au or use the ‘Report an Issue’ functionality within the app. We are actively monitoring feedback channels for accessibility issues so we can resolve them as quickly as possible.

How can I request access to the COVIDSafe source code?

The source code for the COVIDSafe application is now available. Any member of the public can view the source code, which is hosted on a GitHub repository.

The Australian Government Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) welcomes people to review the source code and give them feedback about possible issues.

The DTA may not be able to reply to every person who provides feedback. However, all they review and act on feedback according to its impact on app security and usability.

In some instances, the DTA may contact you to better understand the issues you raised.

The DTA is working with international partners as countries around the world develop tracing technology for coronavirus.

The latest app release includes improvements from the open source code of the Singaporean TraceTogether app:

  • further strengthening of security for Android users
  • improvements to Bluetooth functionality identified by the UK tracing app source code

You can access the COVIDSafe source code through GitHub. Before you access the source code, please read the terms and conditions.

How secure is the COVIDSafe app?

Protecting the privacy of Australians downloading and using COVIDSafe is a top priority.

Before we launched COVIDSafe, government security agencies, academics and industry specialists reviewed the source code.

We will continue to work with government security agencies, tech experts and the community to maintain and strengthen COVIDSafe’s already strong security.

How can I check if the latest version of the app is installed?

Most issues on the app are resolved by updating to the latest version.

You can choose to automatically update COVIDSafe when a new version is available by checking your app store settings:

  • Andoid users: open Google Play Store and go to 'Settings', then select 'Auto-update apps'
  • iOS users: go to 'Settings', select 'iTunes & App Store' then enable 'App Updates’

This will mean all apps on your phone will update automatically.

When will you release the next version of COVIDSafe? 

We are already working on the next update to the COVIDSafe application. We expect this to go live by the end of May.  

How are Telstra customers in remote locations affected?

We are aware of an issue for Telstra customers who are outside Telstra’s mobile coverage footprint and typically depend on WiFi calling (Voice over Long Term Evolution) to make calls, and send and receive data texts.

Telstra’s network does not currently have the capability to convert a standard SMS text into a data text. If you are affected, you won’t be able to receive the 6 digit pin you need to register with the COVIDSafe app. Telstra expect this to be fixed by the end of May.

Can you provide statistics based on geo-coding information?

We cannot report registrations or usage by state or territory or by regional or metropolitan areas.

Is the app compatible with Apple Watch?

The app is not currently compatible with Apple Watch. COVIDSafe currently works with iPhones and iPads running version 10 or above of iOS.

Is the app compatible with medical devices?

We are aware the COVIDSafe app may disrupt other Bluetooth devices. We have designed the app to eliminate common disruption issues. However, if you find the COVIDSafe app is interfering with your medical device, please do not keep using the COVIDSafe app. Management of your ongoing chronic health condition is more important.

If you have experienced this issue, we please contact support [at] covidsafe.gov.au or use the ‘Report an Issue’ functionality within the app. We are actively monitoring feedback channels for these types of compatibility issues so we can resolve them as quickly as possible.

When will the Apple-Google API technology be available?

We are working with Apple and Google as they develop technology that could enhance COVIDSafe. We do not have a release date yet.

Battery life and mobile data

How long should I keep COVIDSafe running for?

To be effective, you should keep COVIDSafe running as you go about your daily business and come into contact with people.

Keep the app running by switching Bluetooth® on. For Android, you must disable battery optimisation for COVIDSafe.

You can disable COVIDSafe's functionality any time by turning the app's Bluetooth® permission off or deleting the app.

Will keeping COVIDSafe running all the time drain my battery quickly?

Before releasing the COVIDSafe app, we ran tests on battery consumption. We found that battery use is only slightly greater with the app running, even on devices that are already Bluetooth-enabled.

We are working with Apple and Google on opportunities to enhance COVIDSafe’s performance.

Do I have to disable Battery optimisation for Android?

Yes. COVIDSafe will not work if battery optimisation is enabled. From the app, under ‘Check your Permissions’, select ‘Battery optimisation’ then disable battery optimisation for COVIDSafe.

For Android devices, you can change battery optimisation settings for specific apps, including COVIDSafe. Please check with your phone manufacturer or provider for information on how to switch off battery optimisation for specific apps.

How much mobile and Wi-Fi data does COVIDSafe consume?

The app uses less than 1MB of data per day. It does not need to be connected continuously to the Internet to work, but it does need to connect occasionally to retrieve new temporary IDs from the server. This helps to protect your privacy and to collect anonymised analytics data.

Bluetooth® settings

How do I switch Bluetooth® on?

You need to make sure Bluetooth® is switched on to make COVIDSafe work.

In COVIDSafe, scroll down until you see Bluetooth® settings under 'App permission status'. Switch on Bluetooth®.

If your Bluetooth® is on and the app is running you will see ‘COVIDSafe is active’ on your app screen.

Do I need to keep my phone's Bluetooth® turned on all the time?

Yes. COVIDSafe won’t work if Bluetooth® is turned off. You need to make sure you have Bluetooth® on when you leave your home or have other people in your home.

Will COVIDSafe be affected if I use other Bluetooth® devices with my phone (for example, Bluetooth® headphones, Bluetooth® sync with fitness watches)?

We are aware that the way the COVIDSafe app operates may disrupt other Bluetooth® devices.

 If you find that the COVIDSafe app is interfering with your medical device, please stop using COVIDSafe.

Management of your ongoing chronic health condition should take priority. If you have experienced this issue, contact support [at] covidsafe.gov.au or use the ‘Report an Issue’ function within the app.

We are actively monitoring feedback channels for these types of compatibility issues so that we can solve them as quickly as possible.

You cannot currently use COVIDSafe on a smartwatch and other wearable technology.

What do I do if I receive a 'Bluetooth Pairing Request' message?

COVIDSafe will never request to pair with your mobile device.

If you receive a notification saying 'Bluetooth Pairing Request' from COVIDSafe, select 'Cancel' immediately. This is a scam.

Should I change my Bluetooth device name?

When Bluetooth® is enabled, other devices around you will be able to see your device name. We recommend you update your Bluetooth® settings and use a device name that does not include your personal details. For example, 'Android device' instead of your own name.

You can change your device's Bluetooth® name from your phone's settings.

Removing COVIDSafe

If I have tested positive, recovered and completed isolation, should I still use COVIDSafe?

We encourage everyone living in Australia to use COVIDSafe regardless of their location or health status.

How do I uninstall COVIDSafe?

To uninstall the app from your device, simply delete the app like you normally would and all locally-stored information in the app will also be deleted.

How do I delete all my COVIDSafe information?

COVIDSafe holds your information in 3 locations:

  • Highly secure storage system. This holds your registration information (name, age range, phone number and postcode) as an encrypted reference code. The storage system only holds close contact information if you or one of your contacts is diagnosed with COVID-19 and consents to upload your information.
  • Your phone. Your phone holds ‘digital handshake’ information about your close contacts over the last 21 days. This records their encrypted reference code, date, time, and how close they were to you.
  • Other users’ phones. Other phones with COVIDSafe installed hold your ‘digital handshake’ if you have been in close contact with them. COVIDSafe holds the handshake for 21 days after you came in contact and then automatically deletes it. If you delete your registration information within this 21-day period, health officials cannot contact you if a close contact tests positive for COVID-19.

Nobody can access any of this information unless you or one of your contacts tests positive for COVID-19 and completes voluntary upload of information to the storage system. The contact mapping process happens in the storage system. Health officials use this information to let close contacts know they may have been exposed.

If you delete the app from your phone, your registration information remains in the storage system. This is so that health officials can contact you if one of your close contacts tests positive for COVID-19.

The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) will automatically delete your registration information from the storage system at the end of the pandemic. If you would like to delete it before then, you must submit a registration information deletion request form.

To delete all your COVIDSafe information:

  • Delete the app from your phone. This deletes all the close contact information stored on your phone.
  • Submit a registration information deletion request form. Note: if you do this, health officials will not be able to contact you if one of your close contacts tests positive for COVID-19.

What happens if I delete COVIDSafe or switch devices?

When the app is deleted, all locally stored information in the app will be deleted. You'll no longer be able to share stored information if you are contacted by a state or territory health official during the process. If you want to use COVIDSafe again, you'll need to reinstall and set up the app again.

If you delete the app, state or territory health officials may not be able to effectively track the virus.

If you change your device and keep your mobile number, you can download COVIDSafe on your new device and re-register with the same mobile number. The information on your previous device will be deleted after 21 days.

How COVIDSafe relates to other coronavirus apps

Who built COVIDSafe?

The app is an Australian Government initiative. Contact us if you need assistance: support [at] covidsafe.gov.au

How does this new app relate to the Australian Government Coronavirus app and WhatsApp service?

COVIDSafe is a separate, new app. Its sole purpose is to improve the ability of health officials to quickly alert and contain virus outbreaks in the community.

The Australian Government Coronavirus Australia app and WhatsApp service are information services. They were developed to ensure the community has access to timely and accurate information about coronavirus. 

How does the COVIDSafe app relate to other contact apps that have been released?

This app is the only contact app that has been developed by the Australian Government Department of Health to ensure your data and privacy are protected.

Other contact apps do not have the support of the Australian Government.

COVIDSafe and the law

Can I be told I have to download the app?

It is against the law to require another person to download, or operate, the COVIDSafe app.

Downloading the COVIDSafe app is completely voluntary and cannot be forced upon anyone in any way. The Privacy Amendment (Public Health Contact Information) Act 2020 provides for this. The Department of Health and the Prime Minister have also publicly stated this.

For this reason, nobody can give incentives for others to download COVIDSafe. They can only recommend and encourage it. The COVIDSafe privacy policy states “No user should feel pressured to install or continue to use COVIDSafe, or to agree to upload contact data to the data store”.

In particular, a person (including a business or company) cannot:

  • refuse entry into, or continue, a contract or arrangement with another person (including a contract of employment) if they don’t have the app
  • disadvantage an employee if they don’t have the app
  • refuse to allow another person to enter premises accessible to the public or that the other person has a right to enter if they don’t have the app
  • refuse to allow another person to participate in an activity if they don’t have the app
  • refuse to receive goods or services or insist on providing less money for the goods or services if someone doesn’t have the app
  • refuse to provide goods or services or insist on receiving more money for the goods or services if someone doesn’t have the app

For example, your employer must not require the download or use of the COVIDSafe app as part of your employment, or disadvantage you if you refuse to download the app. An operator of a business open to the public must not refuse entry to you just because you have not downloaded or used the app.

What’s the penalty for trying to force someone to download the app?

Contravening section 94H of the Privacy Act 1988 is a criminal offence punishable by a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment, or a fine.

What should I do if I’m told I have to download the app?

The COVIDSafe app enables faster and more comprehensive contact tracing for people exposed to coronavirus (COVID-19) and all Australians are encouraged to download it to help protect themselves, their family and community.

However it is voluntary and you cannot be told it is compulsory – regardless of your decision.

If your employer or service provider purports to require you to download, or use, the COVIDSafe app you can:

  1. Explain to the person who is telling you to download or use the app that:
    • downloading or using the app is voluntary
    • the Privacy Act 1988 prohibits anyone making another person download or use the app, and
    • in some circumstances this could amount to a criminal offence
  2. Contact the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080.
  3. If an offence under the Privacy Act 1988 has been committed, you can contact local state and territory police, or report a crime to the Australian Federal Police.

Disclaimer: The information contained within is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity.

Last updated: 
26 May 2020