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Registered and Unregistered Providers: What You Need to Know

Updated: Apr 21, 2021

What’s the difference between registered and unregistered? Why would a service provider choose not to be registered with the NDIA? What does engaging an unregistered service provider mean for an NDIS participant?

One of the benefits of choosing to be Plan Managed or Self-Managed over Agency Managed (NDIA) is access to both registered and unregistered service providers. But for some, the word ‘unregistered’ can make them feel uneasy. This term is often misunderstood, and as a result some participants miss out on the opportunity to work with a vast number of professional service providers who can help them achieve their NDIS goals.

Physiotherapist assisting a man walk with parallel bars in a rehabilitation centre

Registered vs. unregistered

To put it simply, a registered service provider is someone who has registered their services and has been approved by the NDIS as a service provider. An unregistered service provider, has not completed this approval process but can still offer a valid service to participants.

Agency Managed participants, will only have access to registered providers. Those who are Plan Managed or Self-Managed will have access to both registered and unregistered. When starting your NDIS plan, think about what kind of services you would like to access and whether the best option for you is to be Agency, Plan Managed or Self-Managed.

One key difference is that only registered providers can claim their invoices directly with the NDIS, whereas an unregistered provider will send invoices to you or your Plan Manager for payment. Participants who are employing unregistered providers will need to manually claim funds back from the NDIS through their NDIS portal, or you can engage a Plan Manager to do this for you.

Why some service providers don’t register

The NDIS encourages service providers to register, but this process can take a lot of time, money and effort on behalf of the service provider. For this reason, there are many service providers who choose not to register with the NDIA. You might find that small businesses and sole traders often won’t register, and sometimes even larger businesses choose not to either. This effectively labels them as ‘unregistered service providers.’

It’s important to note that just because a service provider chooses to remain unregistered with the NDIS doesn’t mean you shouldn’t engage their services. Many unregistered service providers offer participants essential and highly skilled services, that can assist in them reaching their goals. Their services are still covered by the NDIS however funding for these services must fit within the price guide otherwise you will be required to fund any gap.

Is using an unregistered service provider risky?

There is minimal risk in engaging an unregistered service provider. Many of these service providers use their skills and dedication to improve the lives of people living with a disability. However, unlike NDIS registered providers, unregistered providers are not restricted, nor do they have to adhere to the same quality and safeguard requirements of the NDIS Commission. Which means, there are no audits done to show they are compliant with these requirements.

If you are wanting to engage an unregistered service provider, one of the best things to do is to speak with your Plan Manager or if you’re Self-Managed, you can request certificates and other proof of qualifications from your chosen unregistered service provider. The fee charges an unregistered provider may levy still needs to be seen as reasonable and at market price.

It is also advisable that when engaging an unregistered service provider that you enter into a Service Agreement with them in writing to ensure you know exactly what you are agreeing to upfront so that there is no misunderstanding between either party.

Why choose an unregistered service provider?

There are several reasons a participant might wish to engage an unregistered service provider instead of a registered one. These reasons may include:

  1. Access to a larger network of services to help fulfil your needs

  2. Before transitioning to the NDIS, you had already engaged a service provider who is unregistered and you’d like to continue with their services

  3. There might not be any appropriate registered service providers in your area

  4. You don’t feel the registered service provider options are a good fit for you regarding personality or particular needs

Whatever your reason for considering an unregistered service provider, if you are unsure you can discuss this with your Plan Manager, Support Coordinator, Local Area Coordinator or directly with the service provider you’d like to engage.

How to access unregistered service providers

When it comes to accessing unregistered service providers, you will either need to be Plan Managed or Self-Managed. If you are Agency Managed and wish to engage an unregistered service provider, speak with your LAC or NDIA representative about switching to Plan or Self-Management instead. You can choose to have your NDIS funding Plan Managed by requesting it under ‘Improved Life Choices’ during your planning meeting. This comes at no extra cost to you and is incorporated in your NDIS plan.

If you choose to be Plan Managed with First2Care, we can offer some guidance regarding registered and unregistered providers, as well as manage the claiming and processing of your invoice payments for all service providers, registered and unregistered, you engage. While we handle the administrative financial side of your plan, you can focus on your goals. You can easily track your invoices and spending in our online First2Care’s NDIS Plan Management platform.

Read more about the benefits of working with a Plan Manager. Alternatively, register today on our FREE NDIS Plan Management platform, so we can start helping you best manage your plan today.

Over to you

We hope this helps you understand the differences between registered and unregistered service providers, as well as the potential benefits of working with unregistered service providers. If you have had experience with using an unregistered service provider as either a Plan Managed or Self-Managed participant, let us know your experience in the comments below.

Service providers and young down syndrome boy in classroom learning


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