General procedures for confirming & verifying identity


This topic covers:

  • principles of identity
  • identity confirmation requirements for claimants
  • identity authentication
  • identity confirmation requirements at reviews
  • identity confirmation requirements for partners
  • identity confirmation requirements for children
  • identity confirmation for victims of major or widespread disasters (1.1.M.20, 1.1.P.60)
  • identity confirmation for reclaims, abridged claims, transfers and when claiming an additional payment

Principles of identity

The requirement for identity confirmation and verification is based on SS(Admin)Act section 8, which states that abuses of the social security system are to be minimised. The identity confirmation model was introduced by Centrelink in May 2015 and is based on the minimum identity proofing requirements as outlined in the National Identity Proofing Guidelines (NIPG). The model requires a person to prove their identity when making a new claim and/or confirming their identity for the first time. Verification of the presented documents occurs by verifying the validity of the document with the issuing authority using the Document Verification Service (DVS) or by other means where necessary. The Commonwealth NIPG were used to develop the process for confirming identity.

The identity confirmation model is based on 4 objectives when verifying a person's identity.

Objective Details
Confirm the uniqueness of the identity This objective aims to establish that the identity is unique and includes checks that the person is the sole claimant of the identity.
Confirm that the claimed identity is legitimate

Under this objective, evidence of the commencement of the identity in Australia should be provided, either through:

  • birth in Australia, or
  • for persons born overseas, commencement of the identity in Australia in the form of an immigration record or document.

Satisfying this objective also includes checks on the identity against records of death.

Confirm the operation of the identity over time

This objective aims to establish the use of an identity in interaction with Government and the community over time.

  • The locational aspect of identity supports the other principles by establishing that the person was contactable at a particular address, allowing further verification to take place.
  • The historical aspect of identity provides a history of the use of the identity and establishes a number of points where the identity can be validated through other data sources.

To confirm the operation of the identity, a person needs to present one primary and one secondary identity document from the approved list.

Confirm the linkage between the identity and the person claiming the identity

This objective seeks to link the identity with the person and to ensure that the person using the identity has a legitimate right to do so. Confirmation of the linkage can be done in one of the following ways:

  • manual-visual comparison of a person's face against a photograph on a primary, verifiable piece of evidence
  • knowledge based authentication of randomised questions derived from multiple authoritative sources.

The confirmation of identity also includes a check that the identity is not used fraudulently.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 8 Principles of administration

Policy reference: National Identity Proofing Guidelines

Identity confirmation requirements for claimants

To receive a social security pension, benefit or allowance, LIC or CSHC, a claimant must provide original identity documents considered by Centrelink sufficient to confirm their identity. For documents verifiable through the DVS, a certified copy of a document may be accepted. Photographic documents presented as a linkage between the person and the identity should always be original.

To confirm their identity, claimants need to provide 1 document from each of the following 3 categories, 1 of which should be a photographic identity document used to link the person to the claimed identity:

  • 1 Commencement of Identity document
  • 1 Primary Use in Community document, and
  • 1 Secondary Use in Community document.

For identity to be confirmed, the main aspects of identity such as name, middle name, surname and date of birth must be taken from an authoritative source and verified. Documents presented need to be verified with the issuing authority, either directly or through the DVS. A list of acceptable documents is available from the Centrelink website.

If the documents provided are current and valid, but in different names, a change of name document also needs to be provided. For claimants in circumstances where this might not be possible, alternative proof of change of name may be accepted. This would normally take the form of an Australian Births, Deaths and Marriages Registry issued certificate noting name change (or overseas equivalent) document.

In very limited circumstances, where a document cannot be verified, including through the DVS and the claimant is unable to attend a Centrelink CSC or Centrelink agent to present an original document, Centrelink may accept certified copies of identity documents. These must be certified by a person listed within the Statutory Declarations Regulations 2018.

These limited circumstances may apply where the claimant resides in rural or remote areas, or if the claimant has difficulty in attending the CSC due to a medical condition such as decreased mobility, hospitalisation or institutional care.

For these cases:

  • the claimant must be contacted and advised that the certified documents need to be provided to Centrelink within a reasonable time period, normally 4 weeks, and
  • in accepting the documents, the customer service adviser should be satisfied that the documents provided are true copies.

Identity authentication

Once a person's identity is confirmed to the required standard, they may only need to authenticate their identity by establishing ownership of the identity when making future claims for payments or programs, or when notifying a change to their circumstances. This will be done by presenting an original photographic identity document that links them to the identity or by answering a series of knowledge based verification questions.

Identity confirmation requirements at reviews

Identity must be confirmed at major entitlement reviews. Where a recipient's identity has already been confirmed under the identity confirmation model outlined above, they will only need to authenticate their identity at review.

Identity confirmation requirements for partners

To receive a social security pension, benefit or allowance, claimants must also provide the full name, address, DOB, TFN and income and asset details of their non-claimant partner.

Identity confirmation is not required for a non-claimant partner EXCEPT where the claimant has claimed PPP, or LIC or PBBP.

Explanation: As the partner is entitled to receive benefits from the partner's claim, or in the case of PBBP the person receives payment based on their deceased partner's accrued bonus, their identity must be verified to the same level as the claimant for PPP and HCC.

For all other payments and benefits each person must claim in their own right. When this occurs their identity will be verified.

Partner details are not required for claimants of a foster child HCC.

Identity confirmation requirements for children

For identity confirmation for children refer to the FA Guide.

For identity confirmation for foster children refer to the SS Guide.

Policy reference: SS Guide Foster child HCC

FA Guide Verification of child's name & date of birth

Identity confirmation requirements for victims of major or widespread disasters

Normal pre-grant identity confirmation processes do NOT apply to victims of major or widespread disasters or of SSAct Part 2.23B major disasters. Where social welfare payments have been granted during an emergency without the sufficient identity documents, the identity must be confirmed and verified once the emergency period is over, or within 12 weeks of receipt of grant with an extension of up to a further 12 weeks granted under extreme circumstances.

Explanation: Victims of major or widespread disasters or of Part 2.23B major disasters who are not already social security payment recipients may find it difficult to satisfy normal identity confirmation requirements.

Identity confirmation requirements for reclaims, abridged claims, transfers & when claiming an additional payment

Once a person's identity has been confirmed under the identity confirmation model, they will only need to authenticate their identity to claim other payments, programs or services. This will be done by presenting an original photographic identity document that links them to the identity or by answering a series of knowledge based verification questions.

If identity for a payment is required and the claimant/recipient cannot authenticate their identity, then the full identity confirmation process will need to be completed. If the recipient's identity has not previously been confirmed under the identity confirmation model and they are attempting to reclaim, complete an abridged claim or transferring to another payment, they will need to confirm their identity in full. In addition, if a recipient transfers to or claims another payment that requires additional verification, e.g. age requirements, normal verification procedures for these details will apply.

Explanation: For claimants/recipients experiencing difficulty with identity confirmation, see

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 8 Principles of administration

Policy reference: SS Guide 2.2.2 Verifying personal details, Persons experiencing difficulty with identity confirmation & verification

Last reviewed: 12 August 2019