How To Purchase A SIM Card in Europe

Are you able to journey by Europe with out high-speed cell information in your smartphone? Most likely. However would you need to? Most likely not. However cell information could be very costly if you happen to use your house nation’s worldwide information plan. Fortunately, even guests have easy accessibility to Europe’s low cost information plans so you’ll be able to keep related very affordably. On this information, I’ll train you methods to purchase a SIM card in Europe so you may get low cost high-speed cell information whereas touring.

European SIM Card and Pay as you go Information Plan Fundamentals

Earlier than diving into how and the place to purchase SIM playing cards, I wished to provide some useful background data on cell information plans SIM card so you will 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 cell carriers from charging roaming charges inside the EU — which implies you should utilize a SIM card you got in France and use it in Italy with out paying any further charges. That is nice for vacationers as a result of you should utilize one plan all over the place.

  • For reference, listed below are the international locations/areas the place there is no such thing as a information 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 Telephone Wants To Be Unlocked

Some cell 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 if in case you have a plan that features a free cellphone with a multi-year contract. You’ll must contact your provider and have them “unlock” your cellphone so it’ll settle for a third-party SIM card.

Within the US, carriers are required to unlock telephones if the shopper requests it but it surely’s hardly ever unlocked by default. That mentioned, a couple of carriers nonetheless make clients soar by hoops to unlock their telephones so don’t put this off to the final minute or you would be out of luck.

A New SIM Card Provides You A New Telephone Quantity

Putting in a brand new SIM card offers you a brand new cellphone quantity so your previous quantity received’t work till you reinstall your unique SIM card. So, if folks want to succeed in you, you’ll want to inform folks your new European quantity.

Moreover, a number of web sites and apps use two-factor authentication that’s related to your cellphone quantity so that may not be an possibility with the brand new SIM put in. And if you happen to use Uber/Lyft, you’ll must replace your new cellphone quantity within the app while you set up your new SIM.

Why Is Cellular Information Low-cost In Europe?

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

Keep away from “World” SIM Playing cards

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

How A lot Cellular Information Do You Want?

So long as you’re not streaming music/movies or importing a ton of pictures, you most likely received’t use greater than 3-6GB of cell information every week. Should you’re spending lots of time on social media (notably Instagram and TikTok) then you definately would possibly use a bit extra however if you happen to’re simply doing regular net searching and utilizing Google Maps then you definately would possibly solely use 1-2GB every week.

How To Purchase A European SIM Card With A Excessive-Velocity Information Plan

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

  • Shopping for A SIM Card Earlier than Your Journey: This is a bit more costly but it surely’s rather more handy as a result of you may get every little thing 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 search out the place to purchase the SIM and there could possibly be points getting the service activated.

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


Most main European cell carriers have SIM playing cards with cell plans which might be geared in the direction of vacationers. These plans are bought by third-party resellers that may ship them to your house deal with. Essentially the most well-known approved SIM card reseller is

These SIM playing cards are barely costlier 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 if you happen to purchase forward vs ready to purchase in Europe — so within the grand scheme it’s not an enormous distinction. Nevertheless, if you happen to’re touring for a number of weeks then I recommend shopping for a SIM when you get to Europe because the saving turn 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 most effective pay as you go SIM playing cards that you would be able to 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 most effective all-around possibility for SIM playing cards that may be bought overseas as a result of it affords lots of information for an excellent worth — and it consists of lots of worldwide calls and textual content.

Moreover, Orange is among the largest cell firms 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 nice as a result of it offers you lots of cell information for a good worth however the one doable downside is the 14-day validity interval — which doesn’t matter in case your journey is lower than two weeks. That mentioned, you should buy an additional 10GB of credit score after the 2 weeks are up for round $25.

Should you want much less information and need to save a bit cash, try the $30 Orange Vacation information plan that provides you 15GB of knowledge 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 cellphone is eSIM appropriate). Take a look at the eSIM information plans at SimOptions to get the main points on each the Orange Vacation Europe eSIM and the Orange Vacation Zen eSIM plans.

Be taught extra about eSIM information plans and see in case your cellphone accepts eSIM playing cards in my Information to Pay as you go eSIM Information Plans in Europe.


Three UK is one other giant European cell provider and their PAYG AIO15 plan is an efficient worth for individuals who don’t want the 20GB provided 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 downside.

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

Be aware: has different playing cards on the market however these are the most effective choices/offers.

How To Purchase SIM Card With Excessive-Velocity Information in Europe

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

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

  • Service-Particular Storefronts: The most important cell carriers may have their very own retailers in most main cities that promote their SIM playing cards. Most workers 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-Get together Telephone Retailers: There are numerous cell phone retailers that promote a variety of cellphone plans from a number of firms. Workers would possibly be capable to supply some assist getting arrange however service most likely received’t be nearly as good as carrier-specific retailers.
  • Newsstands, Tobacco Retailers, Merchandising Machines, and so forth: You will discover SIM playing cards in a number of smaller retailers at airports, prepare stations, and randomly all through most cities however don’t anticipate any customer support.

How A lot Does It Value To Purchase A SIM Card with a Information Plan in Europe?

Cellular information plan costs in Europe differ extensively primarily based on the nation, plan choices, and varied offers occurring on the time—so it’s laborious to precisely predict how a lot you’ll pay. Nevertheless, listed below are some instance costs to provide you a greater concept of how a lot you’ll probably pay:

  • SFR (French) affords a €20($25) plan with 25 GB of cell information that’s good for 30 days or a €10 plan with 10 GB good for 8 days.
  • TIM (Italian) has a tourist-specific plan referred to as Tim Vacationer for €20 (+ €10 for the SIM) that included 15 GB of knowledge 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 knowledge in Spain/EU.

Be aware: Some, however not all, cell plans cost an activation price of €5-€10 — which is sort of costly if you happen to’re solely touring for every week or two.

How To Set up A SIM Card

Putting in a SIM card is easy and solely takes a minute — all you’ll want to do is take the previous SIM out and put the brand new one in. Most SIM Playing cards will include a bit device that may allow you to come out the SIM card holder however you should utilize a paper clip or thumbtack.

  • Putting in SIM Card In An iPhone: On an iPhone, the SIM card is situated in a bit slot on the facet of the cellphone. You pop it out with a SIM card device or a paperclip. Merely take the previous SIM out and put the brand new one in (put your previous SIM card in a secure place).
  • Putting in SIM Card In An Android Telephone: 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 secure place).

How To Activate Your European SIM Card

Instance of registering Orange SIM card

Activating your European SIM Card must be comparatively easy and easy however there generally is 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 folks have.

First, set up the brand new SIM card in your cellphone. In lots of instances, your cellphone 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. Should you purchased a SIM with no plan, then you definately’ll must comply with the directions on methods to add credit score to your plan.

In some instances, you could be requested to register your SIM — every nation has its personal legal guidelines. For instance, some would possibly ask for an area European deal with (simply use a legitimate native deal with like your lodge or rental house). Different international locations would possibly ask for a duplicate of your passport while you purchase it in individual otherwise you would possibly must ship in a scan of your passport (it’s at all times a good suggestion to e mail your self a scan/picture of your passport everytime you journey overseas).

Should you’re nonetheless working into hassle, you would possibly must tweak some settings in your cellphone to get the service working appropriately. The commonest technical situation is needing to activate Cellular Information or Cellular Information Roaming in your cellphone settings.

One other doable situation is needing to configure your Entry Level Title (APN) — that is normally computerized however generally you’ll want to configure it manually. Every provider may have its personal login data (test their web site or do a Google search) however right here is an instance for Orange:

  • Open your iPhone and click on on Settings > Cellular > Cellular Information Community (or Edge in early variations).
  • Fill within the fields as follows:
    • Entry Level Title (or APN): orange
    • Consumer title: orange
    • Password: orange

Most firms comply with an analogous person title/password format.

How To Prime Up Your SIM Card

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

Extra Ideas On Utilizing Your Cellular Telephone In Europe

Get A Moveable Battery Charger

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

How To Decrease Your Cellular Information Utilization

Information could be costly and it’s extraordinarily simple to unknowingly burn by lots of information as a result of many apps use information within the background. Fb, e mail, Instagram, Snapchat… these all always use information all through the day with out you understanding it. That’s it’s essential to know methods to restrict your information utilization.

Use Airplane Mode And Block Information to Particular Apps

I’ll put my cellphone in Airplane Mode as a result of that disables all information (however GPS nonetheless works in Airplane Mode). You can too go into the settings and disable information entry to every particular person app. I’ll go in and switch each off aside from issues like Google Maps or others that I’ll use extra ceaselessly — this fashion once I flip off Airplane Mode solely these apps that may use information. Then I’ll flip Airplane Mode again on once I’m accomplished.

Obtain Offline Maps

Google Maps permits you to obtain complete metropolis maps to allow them to be used offline. As an added bonus, GPS doesn’t use information so offline Google Maps works pretty effectively (however not all performance works). Right here is an efficient YouTube video that explains every little thing.

Make Calls Over WiFi

WhatsApp is a wonderful app at no cost calling and textual content messages — I’ve discovered that many Europeans completely use WhatsApp to speak (together with many Airbnb hosts).

Extra Europe Journey Recommendation From The Savvy Backpacker

No Humorous Enterprise

The Savvy Backpacker is reader-supported. Meaning while you purchase product/providers by hyperlinks on the location, I’ll earn an affiliate fee — it doesn’t price you something further and it helps assist the location.

Thanks For Studying! — James

Questions? Be taught extra about our Strict Promoting Coverage and How To Assist Us.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *