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How To Purchase A SIM Card in Europe

Are you able to journey by way of Europe with out high-speed cellular knowledge in your smartphone? In all probability. However would you need to? In all probability not. However cellular knowledge will be very costly for those who use your property nation’s worldwide knowledge plan. Fortunately, even guests have quick access to Europe’s low cost knowledge plans so you’ll be able to keep related very affordably. On this information, I’ll train you learn how to purchase a SIM card in Europe so you may get low cost high-speed cellular knowledge whereas touring.

European SIM Card and Pay as you go Knowledge Plan Fundamentals

Earlier than diving into how and the place to purchase SIM playing cards, I needed to present some useful background information on cellular knowledge plans SIM card so you may have a greater concept of how issues work in Europe.

European Union Broad Protection

A regulation was just lately handed within the EU which banned cellular carriers from charging roaming charges inside the EU — which implies you need to use a SIM card you purchased in France and use it in Italy with out paying any additional charges. That is nice for vacationers as a result of you need to use one plan all over the place.

  • For reference, listed below are the international locations/areas the place there isn’t a knowledge roaming: Andorra, Azores, Aland islands, Austria, Balearic Islands, Belgium, Canary Islands, Cyprus, Corfu, Crete, the Cyclades, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Faeroe Islands, Finland, France mainland, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guernsey, Hungary, Eire, Iceland, Italy, Jersey, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg. Madeira, Malta. Isle of Man, Norway, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Rhodes, Romania, Spain, United Kingdom, San Marino, Sardinia, Sicily, Slovakia, Switzerland, Sweden, Vatican

Your Cellphone Wants To Be Unlocked

Some cellular carriers (primarily within the US, Australia, and New Zealand) “lock” their telephones so that they’ll solely work on that provider’s community — this sometimes applies you probably have a plan that features a free telephone with a multi-year contract. You’ll have to contact your provider and have them “unlock” your telephone so it would settle for a third-party SIM card.

Within the US, carriers are required to unlock telephones if the client requests it nevertheless it’s hardly ever unlocked by default. That stated, a number of carriers nonetheless make clients leap by way of hoops to unlock their telephones so don’t put this off to the final minute or you could possibly be out of luck.

A New SIM Card Provides You A New Cellphone Quantity

Putting in a brand new SIM card offers you a brand new telephone quantity so your previous quantity gained’t work till you reinstall your authentic SIM card. So, if individuals want to succeed in you, you’ll want to inform individuals your new European quantity.

Moreover, plenty of web sites and apps use two-factor authentication that’s related to your telephone quantity so that may now not be an choice with the brand new SIM put in. And for those who use Uber/Lyft, you’ll have to replace your new telephone quantity within the app whenever you set up your new SIM.

Why Is Cell Knowledge Low cost In Europe?

Europe’s shopper safety legal guidelines imply corporations should battle for patrons and this retains costs low. Many guests are shocked that they’ll get 20GB of pay as you go high-speed knowledge for €20/month.

Keep away from “International” SIM Playing cards

There are a number of corporations that promote “world” SIM playing cards that declare to work in most international locations on this planet. Keep away from these because the service is mostly horrible and a few merely don’t work. So stick with SIM playing cards which can be particularly for Europe.

How A lot Cell Knowledge Do You Want?

So long as you’re not streaming music/movies or importing a ton of images, you most likely gained’t use greater than 3-6GB of cellular knowledge per week. In the event you’re spending loads of time on social media (notably Instagram and TikTok) then you definately would possibly use a bit extra however for those who’re simply doing regular net looking and utilizing Google Maps then you definately would possibly solely use 1-2GB per week.

How To Purchase A European SIM Card With A Excessive-Pace Knowledge Plan

Okay, let’s dive into the totally different choices you may have for purchasing a European SIM card. You basically have two choices:

  • Shopping for A SIM Card Earlier than Your Journey: This is a bit more costly nevertheless it’s way more handy as a result of you may get every part prepared earlier than arriving.
  • Shopping for A SIM Card As soon as You Arrive In Europe: This may be cheaper however you’ll want to seek out the place to purchase the SIM and there may very well be points getting the service activated.

How To Purchase A Pay as you go SIM Card Earlier than You Journey


Most main European cellular carriers have SIM playing cards with cellular plans which can be geared in the direction of vacationers. These plans are offered by way of third-party resellers that may ship them to your property deal with. Probably the most well-known licensed SIM card reseller is

These SIM playing cards are barely dearer than shopping for them in Europe however you get the comfort of not having to trace down a SIM when you get to Europe.

For reference, you’ll most likely spend an additional $15-$25 over the course of a two-week journey for those who purchase forward vs ready to purchase in Europe — so within the grand scheme it’s not an enormous distinction. Nevertheless, for those who’re touring for a number of weeks then I recommend shopping for a SIM when you get to Europe because the saving change into extra substantial.

The Greatest Pay as you go European SIM Playing cards

Out there by way of

Right here’s an inventory of the very best pay as you go SIM playing cards you could purchase earlier than arriving in Europe.

Orange Vacation Europe Pay as you go SIM Card

The Orange Vacation Europe Pay as you go SIM Card might be the very best all-around choice for SIM playing cards that may be bought overseas as a result of it affords loads of knowledge for a great worth — and it contains loads of worldwide calls and textual content.

Moreover, Orange is without doubt one of the largest cellular corporations in Europe and so they have nice protection all through most of Europe (which isn’t at all times the case with smaller European carriers).

Plan Specs:

  • PRICE: $50
  • DATA: 30GB
  • CALLS: Unlimted in Europe and 1200 minutes worldwide
  • TEXT: Unlimted in Europe and 1000 worldwide

The Orange Vacation Europe plan is sweet as a result of it offers you loads of cellular knowledge for a good worth however the one potential disadvantage is the 14-day validity interval — which doesn’t matter in case your journey is lower than two weeks. That stated, you should buy an additional 10GB of credit score after the 2 weeks are up for round $25.

In the event you want much less knowledge and need to save just a little cash, try the $30 Orange Vacation knowledge plan that provides you 15GB of information for 14 days.

Replace: The Orange Vacation plans are additionally out there as an eSIM—which implies you don’t have to attend for supply or pay for transport (assuming your telephone is eSIM appropriate). Take a look at the eSIM knowledge plans at SimOptions to get the small print on each the Orange Vacation Europe eSIM and the Orange Vacation Zen eSIM plans.

Study extra about eSIM knowledge plans and see in case your telephone accepts eSIM playing cards in my Information to Pay as you go eSIM Knowledge Plans in Europe.


Three UK is one other massive European cellular provider and their PAYG AIO15 plan is an effective worth for individuals who don’t want the 20GB supplied by the Orange Vacation Europe plan. I like how the plan has a validity interval of 30 days so it’s good for longer journeys.

Plan Specs:

  • PRICE: $30
  • DATA: 10GB
  • CALLS: Unlimted in Europe
  • TEXT: Unlimted in Europe

Bouygues Telecom Trip Pay as you go Plan

The Bouygues Telecom Trip Pay as you go Plan is similar to the Orange Vacation Zen however the Bouygues plan have to be activated in France — in order that’s an enormous disadvantage.

  • PRICE: $50
  • DATA: 20GB
  • CALLS: Unlimted in Europe
  • TEXT: Unlimted in Europe
  • Have to be activated in France however can be utilized wherever within the EU.

Word: has different playing cards on the market however these are the very best choices/offers.

How To Purchase SIM Card With Excessive-Pace Knowledge in Europe

Buying a SIM card in Europe is a reasonably simple and simple course of since they’re offered just about all over the place — together with newsstands, airports, merchandising machines, grocery shops, cell phone outlets, and extra.

Listed here are a number of of the preferred locations you’ll discover SIM playing cards:

  • Service-Particular Storefronts: The most important cellular carriers could have their very own outlets in most main cities that promote their SIM playing cards. Most staff ought to converse some English however they set up SIM playing cards all day so that they’ll be capable to set you up with out a lot communication wanted.
  • Third-Occasion Cellphone Retailers: There are numerous cell phone outlets that promote a variety of telephone plans from a number of corporations. Staff would possibly be capable to supply some assist getting arrange however service most likely gained’t be nearly as good as carrier-specific outlets.
  • Newsstands, Tobacco Retailers, Merchandising Machines, and many others: You will discover SIM playing cards in a number of smaller outlets at airports, prepare stations, and randomly all through most cities however don’t anticipate any customer support.

How A lot Does It Price To Purchase A SIM Card with a Knowledge Plan in Europe?

Cell knowledge plan costs in Europe differ broadly based mostly on the nation, plan choices, and varied offers happening on the time—so it’s exhausting to precisely predict how a lot you’ll pay. Nevertheless, listed below are some instance costs to present you a greater concept of how a lot you’ll probably pay:

  • SFR (French) affords a €20($25) plan with 25 GB of cellular knowledge that’s good for 30 days or a €10 plan with 10 GB good for 8 days.
  • TIM (Italian) has a tourist-specific plan known as Tim Vacationer for €20 (+ €10 for the SIM) that included 15 GB of information in Italy and as much as 6 GB within the EU for 30 days.
  • Vodafone (Italian) has its Dolce Vita vacationers plan for €25($30)/month which incorporates 30 GB in Italy (15 GB within the EU).
  • Orange Holidays Spain (Spain) Orange’s Holidays Spain is their vacationer plan that’s €20($25)/month for 30 GB of information in Spain/EU.

Word: Some, however not all, cellular plans cost an activation price of €5-€10 — which is form of costly for those who’re solely touring for per week or two.

How To Set up A SIM Card

Putting in a SIM card is easy and solely takes a minute — all you must do is take the previous SIM out and put the brand new one in. Most SIM Playing cards will include just a little instrument that may assist you come out the SIM card holder however you need to use a paper clip or thumbtack.

  • Putting in SIM Card In An iPhone: On an iPhone, the SIM card is situated in just a little slot on the aspect of the telephone. You pop it out with a SIM card instrument or a paperclip. Merely take the previous SIM out and put the brand new one in (put your previous SIM card in a protected place).
  • Putting in SIM Card In An Android Cellphone: Android telephones sometimes have the SIM card situated the place the battery is situated or in a slot just like the iPhone. Merely take the previous SIM card out and put the brand new one in (put your previous SIM card in a protected place).

How To Activate Your European SIM Card

Instance of registering Orange SIM card

Activating your European SIM Card ought to be comparatively easy and easy however there is usually a few quirks right here and there. On this part, I’ll cowl the overall activation course of and attempt to deal with frequent points individuals have.

First, set up the brand new SIM card in your telephone. In lots of circumstances, your telephone will routinely acknowledge the brand new SIM card and the service will merely begin working (it’d take a couple of minutes for the service to attach).

For pay as you go plans, your service will begin as quickly as you put in the cardboard. In the event you purchased a SIM with no plan, then you definately’ll have to observe the directions on learn how to add credit score to your plan.

In some circumstances, it’s possible you’ll be requested to register your SIM — every nation has its personal legal guidelines. For instance, some would possibly ask for a neighborhood European deal with (simply use a sound native deal with like your resort or rental condo). Different international locations would possibly ask for a replica of your passport whenever you purchase it in particular person otherwise you would possibly have to ship in a scan of your passport (it’s at all times a good suggestion to e mail your self a scan/photograph of your passport everytime you journey overseas).

In the event you’re nonetheless operating into bother, you would possibly have to tweak some settings in your telephone to get the service working appropriately. The most typical technical situation is needing to activate Cell Knowledge or Cell Knowledge Roaming in your telephone settings.

One other potential situation is needing to configure your Entry Level Identify (APN) — that is normally computerized however typically you must configure it manually. Every provider could have its personal login information (verify their web site or do a Google search) however right here is an instance for Orange:

  • Open your iPhone and click on on Settings > Cell > Cell Knowledge Community (or Edge in early variations).
  • Fill within the fields as follows:
    • Entry Level Identify (or APN): orange
    • Consumer identify: orange
    • Password: orange

Most corporations observe an analogous consumer identify/password format.

How To Prime Up Your SIM Card

When you run out of credit score you’ll have to “high up” your SIM card so as to add extra credit score to your account. Most corporations allow you to high up by way of their web site or you should buy credit score at newsstands, grocery shops, and many others. Usually you’re given a code that you simply enter into your telephone and that’s how the credit score is added.

Extra Ideas On Utilizing Your Cell Cellphone In Europe

Get A Moveable Battery Charger

Touring along with your telephone will rapidly drain your batters so I extremely suggest a conveyable battery. I exploit Anker PowerCore 10000 as a result of it’s tiny and inexpensive however there are a number of choices.

How To Decrease Your Cell Knowledge Utilization

Knowledge will be costly and it’s extraordinarily simple to unknowingly burn by way of loads of knowledge as a result of many apps use knowledge within the background. Fb, e mail, Instagram, Snapchat… these all always use knowledge all through the day with out you realizing it. That’s it’s necessary to know learn how to restrict your knowledge utilization.

Use Airplane Mode And Block Knowledge to Particular Apps

I’ll put my telephone in Airplane Mode as a result of that disables all knowledge (however GPS nonetheless works in Airplane Mode). You may as well go into the settings and disable knowledge entry to every particular person app. I’ll go in and switch each off apart from issues like Google Maps or others that I’ll use extra steadily — this manner after I flip off Airplane Mode solely these apps that may use knowledge. Then I’ll flip Airplane Mode again on after I’m completed.

Obtain Offline Maps

Google Maps allows you to obtain whole metropolis maps to allow them to be used offline. As an added bonus, GPS doesn’t use knowledge so offline Google Maps works pretty properly (however not all performance works). Right here is an effective YouTube video that explains every part.

Make Calls Over WiFi

WhatsApp is a wonderful app without spending a dime calling and textual content messages — I’ve discovered that many Europeans solely use WhatsApp to speak (together with many Airbnb hosts).

Extra Europe Journey Recommendation From The Savvy Backpacker

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The Savvy Backpacker is reader-supported. Which means whenever you purchase product/companies by way of hyperlinks on the positioning, I could earn an affiliate fee — it doesn’t price you something additional and it helps assist the positioning.

Thanks For Studying! — James

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