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

Didn't get an alert

Hand holding a phone with an 'X' on it

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 phones 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

Hand holding a vibrating phone with three message notifications that read 'EMA'

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.

Alert message disappeared

Hand holding a phone with two ghosts on it

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

For Android phones

Each Android phone is different. But 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 Apple phones

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

Hand holding a phone with a notification that reads '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 phone manufacturers and mobile network operators to use the term Emergency Alert instead. But some phones will use the American standard and display Presidential Alert. This usually happens if: 

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


Cartoon figure of a person

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.

Alert sound

Loudspeaker icon

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.

Driving when you receive an alert

Car and a stop sign with an arrow pointing to it

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.

Coverage of Emergency Mobile Alert

Cell tower broadcasting a signal

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.

Wi-fi calling

Wi-fi icon

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

Landlines and satellite phones

Landline phone in front of a satellite

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

Starlink and satellite to mobile capability

Satellite connecting to Earth

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

Cost of Emergency Mobile Alert

Cash with an 'X' in front

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.

Emergency Mobile Alerts

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