Find answers to common questions and troubleshooting problems with Emergency Mobile Alert.

Didn’t receive an Emergency Mobile Alert

There are many reasons you may not receive an Emergency Mobile Alert message. We encourage everyone to rely on lots of different ways to stay informed.

Check your phone is Emergency Mobile Alert capable. It may tell you in your phone’s settings. We expect most phones purchased after 2017 to receive Emergency Mobile Alerts.

Your phone also needs to have cell reception and up-to-date software. You don’t have to download an app or subscribe to a service.

Other possible reasons for not receiving the alert may include your phone being:

  • off,
  • in flight mode, or
  • out of cellular coverage.

Received an alert multiple times

If your phone moved from a 3G to a 4G network during the time of the broadcast, you will have received an alert from both networks. The same thing would have happened if you turned flight mode on and off. Or turned your phone off and back on during the broadcast period.

Some phones have an optional alert reminder feature turned on. This can cause the phone to alarm repeatedly during the broadcast. If your phone has an alert reminder, you can find it in your phone settings. The settings might be called Wireless Alerts, Broadcast Alerts or Emergency Alerts settings.

Alert message disappeared

If you received an Emergency Mobile Alert, it might still be able to find it on your phone.

For Android phones, emergency alerts are generally found in your 'Messages' app.

For example:

  1. Go to Messages app.
  2. Find the menu (...) and select 'settings'.
  3. Select 'Emergency alert history'.

For iPhone users, the alert will be in your notifications. Access your notifications by swiping down from the top of your screen. If you delete your notifications, you will also delete the alert.

Presidential Alert

The Emergency Mobile Alert system uses an international standard. The broadcast channel we use is often called Presidential Alert overseas.

We have worked with the phone manufacturers and New Zealand mobile network operators to use the term Emergency Alert instead. But some phones will use the American standard and will display Presidential Alert. This usually happens if:

  • you bought your phone before 2017,
  • you bought your phone overseas, or
  • your phone was parallel imported.

Accessibility and sound

The accessibility of Emergency Mobile Alerts depends on the make and model of your mobile phone. If you have a hearing aid, the alert can be set up to go through your hearing aid. If your phone has flash notifications, these should work for Emergency Mobile Alerts.

The sound used for Emergency Mobile Alert is based on an international standard. While it can be frightening or annoying, it was chosen to get your attention as it is unpleasant to the human ear.

Whether your mobile phone makes a sound for an alert message depends on the make and model of your phone. Some phone manufacturers do not let emergency alerts override silent mode.

Coverage of Emergency Mobile Alert

Emergency Mobile Alert should work in areas with cell reception. About 97% of populated areas get cell reception. Mobile service providers work to improve mobile coverage all the time.

Emergency Mobile Alert uses cell reception and is not broadcast to phones connected to using Wi-fi calling.

Emergency Mobile Alert uses the New Zealand mobile networks. Alerts can only be broadcast to mobile phones capable of receiving them.

You can only receive an Emergency Mobile Alert if you have mobile signal. Currently Starlink can only provide an internet connection, not a signal. We understand Starlink are working on satellite to mobile capability. We are aware of another satellite provide (Lynk World) that is already providing this.

Driving when you receive an alert

If you are driving, you should pull over and check the message as soon as it is safe to do so. If you have a passenger, ask them to read the alert immediately. Do not attempt to read the alert while driving.

Cost of Emergency Mobile Alert

Receiving Emergency Mobile Alerts is free. There is no cost to you. You don’t have to download an app or subscribe to a service.

Ko e laini matutaki ki Fafo
Civil Defence logo

Find your local Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Group.

Ko e Tau Talahauaga
Emergency Mobile Alert logo

Download this factsheet in English explaining the Emergency Mobile Alert system.

Ko e Tau Talahauaga
Emergency Mobile Alert logo

Download this factsheet in Te Reo Māori explaining the Emergency Mobile Alert system.

Emergency Mobile Alerts

Emergency Mobile Alerts keep people safe. Alerts are broadcast to all capable phones from targeted cell towers.