The Guides to Social Policy Law is a collection of publications designed to assist decision makers administering social policy law. The information contained in this publication is intended only as a guide to relevant legislation/policy. The information is accurate as at the date listed at the bottom of the page, but may be subject to change. To discuss individual circumstances please contact Services Australia. Persons experiencing difficulty with identity confirmation & verification


This topic explains the requirements for persons who are experiencing difficulties with identity confirmation and covers:

  • persons unable to provide documentation
  • identity confirmation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and
  • identity review period.

Persons unable to provide documentation

If a person's circumstances prevent them from providing identity documentation, all efforts must be made to obtain satisfactory identity confirmation either:

  • before payment is approved, OR
  • at a later date, if the delegate is satisfied with their initial proof of identity.

The onus for establishing and confirming their identity is on the person. If a person experiences genuine difficulty providing identity confirmation documents, Centrelink can assist them to confirm their identity under alternative identity confirmation arrangements. These arrangements can be used for all people unable to provide evidence as to their identity, such as when the person:

  • has provided some documents which do not fully satisfy the identity confirmation requirements, OR
  • is unable to provide any identity documentation.

Explanation: Persons who require alternative identity confirmation may be asked questions that, because of their personal nature, are unlikely to be known to other people.

Information gathered from these questions must be verified and documented on the system. The delegate then uses this information when making the decision to grant or reject the claim.

This process may be used as a separate and alternative method to confirm a person's identity if circumstances prevent the person from providing identity documentation in the usual manner.

Example: The following persons may be unable to provide identity documentation:

  • persons having a personal crisis
  • persons experiencing domestic violence
  • victims of a natural disaster
  • persons with certain disabilities such as an intellectual disability or a psychological/psychiatric condition
  • recently released prisoners
  • persons experiencing substance addiction
  • persons whose birth is not registered
  • transients who have no access to previous documents, or
  • homeless persons.

Continuing efforts must still be made to obtain identity documents from the person to establish a confirmed identity.

For information on identity confirmation for persons born overseas see 2.2.2 Verifying personal details.

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

Policy reference: SS Guide General procedures for confirming & verifying identity

Identity confirmation for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are subject to the same identity confirmation requirements as other people. This may be difficult in some circumstances, particularly for older people who do not have a birth certificate and those living in remote communities. 'Confirmation of Identity - Verification for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People' form can be used in these instances. Ongoing effort should be made to establish a confirmed identity.

Explanation: This form is completed by an 'authorised referee', who can include:

  • council chairman
  • school principal
  • minister of religion
  • doctor
  • departmental officer, OR
  • well known officer of local welfare organisations.

Identity review period

If only minor reservations remain about a person's identity, a payment for 2 pay periods can be authorised while the remaining identity confirmation requirements are being satisfied.

Before authorising payment on this basis, the determining officer:

  • must have a reasonable belief that information to establish the person's identity will be made available during this period, and
  • must ensure that immediate action is taken to confirm the person's identity.

The person should be advised that if identity is not fully established and confirmed within 2 pay periods, then payment will be stopped.

Explanation: If at the end of the period, the recipient's identity is still in doubt, payments made via the system are automatically cancelled at 28 days.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 8 Principles of administration, section 80(1) Cancellation or suspension determination

Policy reference: SS Guide General procedures for confirming & verifying identity, 2.2.2 Verifying personal details

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