We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

How on Earth Do SIM Cards and Cell Phones Work In Europe?

Toronto, Canada
2 posts
Save Topic
How on Earth Do SIM Cards and Cell Phones Work In Europe?

I will be traveling to France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Spain for a month and I can't seem to figure out how this SIM card business works. I'd like to be able to make a few (maybe 1 a day) local phonecalls while travelling, and would like to be able to text back to Canada very often (several times a day) perhaps using the WhatsApp application for blackberry. I use a blackberry bold and am from Canada and am confused about the following:

Should I buy an international SIM card here before I leave?

Where can I even buy one here??

What plans are offered for Europe and where can I find this information?

What is the most cost effective option for staying in touch with people in Canada while travelling?

Would really appreciate the help, my research has gotten me nowhere.

Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
183 posts
Save Reply
1. Re: How on Earth Do SIM Cards and Cell Phones Work In Europe?

Check out this thread: tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g187147-i14-k44229…

Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
183 posts
Save Reply
2. Re: How on Earth Do SIM Cards and Cell Phones Work In Europe?

http://www.lebara.fr/Pre-Pay-Cards

Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
7,678 posts
18 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: How on Earth Do SIM Cards and Cell Phones Work In Europe?

Is your BB unlocked? Is it quad band GSM? (if you don't know any decent phone shop can tell you) If it is suitable you can order a Lebara SIM as mentioned by Gluru above. If you fill in the form on the Lebara.fr site and add "Canada" into the line for 'state'... you'll get a SIM by mail in a week or 10 days.

Or stop in at a tabac in Paris for one. A report today said the person had picked one up at a Relay shop at CDG. Using a French SIM means paying more when in other countries but the EU has capped roaming rates at 45 euro cents a minute. Next year they are talking about eliminating roaming completely. So for your purposes you'd be fine with the one SIM rather than change it out for each country you plan to visit.

If your BB is locked to your provider check kijiji.ca etc for unlocking services or look for a cheap unlocked GSM phone.

San Diego...
Level Contributor
185 posts
20 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: How on Earth Do SIM Cards and Cell Phones Work In Europe?

One question. If you but a cheap unlocked phone, does it come with a phone number? I know this may sound dumb but I'm so untechie and trying to figure this all out is beyond me. Thanks for helping, someday I'll join this brave new world.

Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
7,678 posts
18 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: How on Earth Do SIM Cards and Cell Phones Work In Europe?

PSully,

No. The phone number is part of what the SIM card does.

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
25,272 posts
60 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: How on Earth Do SIM Cards and Cell Phones Work In Europe?

There may be some additional costs in using a card such as a Lebara across a number of countries, and it does not work in all countries (Italy is excluded for example)

Most SIMs are country specific. And SIMs bought in France speak to you in French if they leave a message. In my case, that I was out of credit, though I couldn't understand it.

If I am going to multiple countries I use a worldwide SIM. They are not the cheapest but they work for my needs. In my case I use Travelsim, but there are others such as Telestial. All require an unlocked, quad band phone which I think is not so common in America. Your phone provider can tell you and can also unlock your phone (if they are willing)

San Diego...
Level Contributor
185 posts
20 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: How on Earth Do SIM Cards and Cell Phones Work In Europe?

Parisamsterdam and Lynn,

Thank you so much. That answers lots of questions and will be a great help.

Toronto, Canada
2 posts
Save Reply
8. Re: How on Earth Do SIM Cards and Cell Phones Work In Europe?

Thanks for your help guys!

Toms River, New...
2 posts
Save Reply
9. Re: How on Earth Do SIM Cards and Cell Phones Work In Europe?

I know this post is a year old but I will be moving to France from the U.S. and am interested in how it went for you with the SIM cards? I currently have an iphone 4 (which has no SIM slot) so I know I need to buy atleast an iphone 4s with SIM slot that is unlocked. Is it best to buy this unlocked phone while in the US or when I arrive in France?

Paris, France
Level Contributor
16,766 posts
20 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: How on Earth Do SIM Cards and Cell Phones Work In Europe?

It will probably be cheaper to buy the phone in the US. Just make sure that it it is a quad band GSM as mentioned in post #3 above.