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SIM card for Europe

ChrisG1

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
April 2024
Hi All. Looking for some advice on a suitable SIM card for travelling in EU and UK. Thinking of getting a Vodafone SIM on arrival in Spain. After completing the Camino will then spend a couple of months travelling in France and UK. Would mainly use SIM for data and occasional local calls. Would a Vodafone prepaid monthly plan work for me, renewed every 28 days?
 
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UK is usually not included with the EU sim plans, so you’ll have to pick up a different one there
 
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How easy is it to put more money on a pay-as-you-go card when you are not in the country where you bought it?

I ask since you can get a pay-as-you-go card in Portugal or France, and it continues to work in Spain... but if you want to add money on a card once in Spain? I don't think you can add money to a sim card from Vodafone (for example) that you bought in France/Portugal... at a Vodafone store in Spain. I might be wrong, but I don't think so.
 
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If you had been visiting the UK first then I would have suggested either Lycamobile or Lebara. Both virtual networks which offer EU roaming as part of their 30 day prepaid plans. I use Lycamobile and have had no problems with using it in Spain or France. If you do eventually need a UK-based SIM then they are easily bought from many corner shops and supermarkets and monthly plans start from around £5. Much more straightforward than in Spain as there is no need to register personal details with the network.
 
How easy is it to put more money on a pay-as-you-go card when you are not in the country where you bought it?

I ask since you can get a pay-as-you-go card in Portugal or France, and it continues to work in Spain... but if you want to add money on a card once in Spain? I don't think you can add money to a sim card from Vodafone (for example) that you bought in France/Portugal... at a Vodafone store in Spain. I might be wrong, but I don't think so.
It is as easy as being able to use the Internet.

It is correct that, for example, Vodafone Portugal is a separate company from Vodafone Spain and it isn't possible to top up for the other in each others stores but they both have excellent websites and both have the choice of English language and other languages.

As a result, if you have a credit card and an internet connection then you can top up your phone account.
 
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Would be nice to have a SIM that could be topped in Portugal and Spain. I can access Vodafone Portugal online to top from Spain?

Vodafone used to be 20gb for 20€, in October '23 was 25€ for 10gb. It's fine, could be a bit tight if wanting to do video calls etc.

I may walk this year with someone that has an iPhone 15 and dual eSIM as far as I know, Vodafone most likely will support. Not sure who else.
 
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What about the eSim cards? What is their range and is it easy to add money as needed?
As far as range? eSIM would be the same as a physical SIM card.

Adding money or data to a card would depend on the company.

I seem to remember trying to create the Vodafone Portugal account online and it might have been in Portuguese, it's been a while. I usually just use the SIM till it dies.

I think the best solution is just to buy two SIM cards if you think you're going to use more than 10gb. Hard to do with eSIM
 
What about the eSim cards? What is their range and is it easy to add money as needed?
I recently used Airalo for a UK and Ireland trip. I found the Airalo app easy to use to purchase one plan that could be used in both countries (one EU and one not). I bought the plan ahead of time but activated it only once there using the app. The app provided an easy way to recharge though I didn't need to do that as a lot of my data usage was done using wifi. I'm unsure as to whether their eSIM plans can also offer a phone number and voice minutes as I didn't need that so didn't seek out plans with it.

I collected some YouTube videos about Airalo and its app and posted them here:
 
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I recently used Airalo for a UK and Ireland trip. I found the Airalo app easy to use to purchase one plan that could be used in both countries (one EU and one not). I bought the plan ahead of time but activated it only once there using the app. The app provided an easy way to recharge though I didn't need to do that as a lot of my data usage was done using wifi. I'm unsure as to whether their eSIM plans can also offer a phone number and voice minutes as I didn't need that so didn't seek out plans with it.

I collected some YouTube videos about Airalo and its app and posted them here:
Airalo does not provide a phone number. It's data only. If one only uses data, Airalo is highly rated.
 
Depending on your carrier and cell phone plan, you may not need a local EU/UK phone number (Vodafone) nor extra data (Airalo). I bought both on a recent trip, learning belatedly mid-trip that my carrier (T-Mobile) and my cell phone plan (unlimited dafa) were all I needed. WhatsApp was useful, too.
 
My Portuguese SIM continued to work as normal in the UK even well after Brexit (Nov 2022), FWIW.

2023 say the implementation of roaming charges for a lot of carriers that allowed both UK and EU use. I believe they all now require either a daily fee or a monthly fee to utilize roaming outside of the sims usual area. These fees are about €2-3 daily, €10-15 monthly. If you haven’t used it recently, you may be in for a surprise
 
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Hi All. Looking for some advice on a suitable SIM card for travelling in EU and UK. Thinking of getting a Vodafone SIM on arrival in Spain. After completing the Camino will then spend a couple of months travelling in France and UK. Would mainly use SIM for data and occasional local calls. Would a Vodafone prepaid monthly plan work for me, renewed every 28 days?
Look at Airalo if your phone accommodates esims. You can buy very inexpensive plans for anywhere and everywhere and top up as needed, all directly to your phone. Many of our friends have used it and we just used it for a 3 month Eurail trip around the EU. it worked perfectly and if you buy a regional plan it switches automatically every time you change countries. We just bought a data plan and used Skype for the few phone calls we wanted to make and WhatsApp for text messages. Just something to look at. www.airalo.com. Cheers
 
It is as easy as being able to use the Internet.

It is correct that, for example, Vodafone Portugal is a separate company from Vodafone Spain and it isn't possible to top up for the other in each others stores but they both have excellent websites and both have the choice of English language and other languages.

As a result, if you have a credit card and an internet connection then you can top up your phone account.
The internet may work for a Spanish-bought Vodafone, but with Orange Mundo I have never been able to top up via internet, even with help from Parador and other hotel concierges, or convenience store/news stand top up experts. I have always had to go to an Orange store for this service. Orange had certain plans that would automatically roll over 20 Gigs of unused data after the first 28 day period, but not after the second. Some plans roll over, but not automatically. These Orange SIM cards worked for me in France and Portugal, and I was told by the sellers they would work in the majority of European countries. One wonders if it just depends on the phase of the moon and alignment of stars.
 
ChrisG1, as a fellow Aussie, I was in Europe for 10 weeks last year. I purchased three SIM cards from Simsdirect in Aust. They were shipped within 5 days express post. They are uk based and you get a uk number which works in 35 European countries. Worked well over many countries during our travel. Only issue was tech support was only in Aussie time which starts at midnight onwards. But they work well . I’m buying esims this year for April Nay. And loading them both on my phone before I go and getting rid of the trouble setting up etc while home. I’ll just turn on one at a time . They will automatically switch on when connected to the network .
Get back in touch if you want more info
 
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ChrisG1, as a fellow Aussie, I was in Europe for 10 weeks last year. I purchased three SIM cards from Simsdirect in Aust. They were shipped within 5 days express post. They are uk based and you get a uk number which works in 35 European countries. Worked well over many countries during our travel. Only issue was tech support was only in Aussie time which starts at midnight onwards. But they work well . I’m buying esims this year for April Nay. And loading them both on my phone before I go and getting rid of the trouble setting up etc while home. I’ll just turn on one at a time . They will automatically switch on when connected to the network .
Get back in touch if you want more info
Hi Stephen. Am also an Aussie spending 10 weeks in Spain walking the Frances April to June this year. Thinking to buy 2 esims too. What ones are you buying? Friends have recommended Simcorner.
 
I bought from Simify or formally SimsDirect. Pricing has gone up late last year but found they worked well over a multiple of networks. Never any outages over our travels. I didn’t use calls last time so this time data only and thinking esims would be easier
 
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Sins direct are Australian based
Thanks for the response. My understanding of simsdirect is that their sims last a month from a pre set date. They are supposed to activate when first turned on on that date. I have heard that activation isn't that straight forward and I don't want the hassle of contacting Australia to sort it out if that is the case. Seemed like a good option at first.
 
The date is changeable anytime . I put it out further and brought the date in when I needed it. Also the roaming aspect of the plan worked well as it picked up on the network in each town, not being restricted to only one. The support from Australia was a bit of a pain. I’m hoping the esim will work better with installation before I go and start when it connects to a valid network
 
I got a Vodafone SIM in Madrid and it worked fine while in Spain, but the second I went into France I lost my internet. I tried to resolve this problem but I could not find a Vodafone site that was in English, and the Vodafone shops I went to could not resolve the problem either. I can't tell you a better choice, but I would avoid Vodafone if you are crossing borders.
 
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I strongly suggest steering clear of Holafly! They engage in bait and switch games. I purchased an e-sim for both phone and data for 30 days. Had issues with the phone portion, and the rep offered to provide another e-sim at no additional charge. I specifically inquired whether services - phone and data - would remain the same and was assured they would. What they gave me was a data only e-sim. The lack phone access was particularly concerning as I needed to be able to reach elderly parents state-side if necessary. It took several days and many, many, emails before they provided a refund.
 
The internet may work for a Spanish-bought Vodafone, but with Orange Mundo I have never been able to top up via internet, even with help from Parador and other hotel concierges, or convenience store/news stand top up experts. I have always had to go to an Orange store for this service. Orange had certain plans that would automatically roll over 20 Gigs of unused data after the first 28 day period, but not after the second. Some plans roll over, but not automatically. These Orange SIM cards worked for me in France and Portugal, and I was told by the sellers they would work in the majority of European countries. One wonders if it just depends on the phase of the moon and alignment of stars.
Sounds like very good reasons to avoid ever using an Orange SIM card
 
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I think the best solution is just to buy two SIM cards if you think you're going to use more than 10gb. Hard to do with eSIM
I have certainly seen people doing this, generally they are people who struggle with technology.

It has its drawbacks, see below.

I travelled to Hong Kong (from Aotearoa New Zealand) for a friend's wedding. I travelled with an elderly friend who struggled with technology. She had a Smart Phone that only allowed for a single SIM card. When we got to Hong Kong I helped her buy a local SIM associated with a prepay account with a local telecom company.

On the second day in Hong Kong this lady tripped, landed on her face on concrete and broke her skull and facial bones.

Immediately after the accident I phoned my friend as his brother was a doctor and they were both from Hong Kong originally. I wanted advice from someone who knew about these matters about which hospital to get our friend to. Fortunately his brother called me straight back and together we organised an ambulance to take her to one of the top teaching hospitals in Hong Kong.

Once I knew that my friend was being safely taken care of in hospital I phoned her daughter back home in ANZ and gave her the local Hong Kong phone number of the SIM that she had bought the day before.

As you might expect, with an incident like this there were lots of calls both from the daughter to her mother and (more relevantly) from the mother to her daughter and to her other children.

As a result of all these calls she used up all the available international call minutes allowed for under her plan. Unbeknownst to me when this happened she asked a hospital visitor to go and buy her another SIM card associated with a plan with more international call minutes.

A couple of days later I received a very panicked call from her daughter asking me what was wrong with her mother because she had been trying to call her for days and could never get a call answered.

I told the daughter that her mother was fine and said that I would try and find out what the problem was.

I went to the hospital, talked with my friend and she said that she had no idea why the phone wasn't ringing any more. I checked the settings on her phone and couldn't find an issue and I was very puzzled. I then phoned her while in the same room and noted that her phone did not ring. I also noted that when I called her number I got a message saying that the phone was currently switched off or outside the coverage area.

Still puzzled, I then used her phone to call my number. This worked, even more puzzling until I noticed that the number that came up on my phone was not the number that we had all been calling.

I asked her if anything had changed on her phone (again) and this time she mentioned that she had run out of minutes and so had asked someone to buy her another SIM card 😞

I then explained to my friend that buying another SIM card was unnecessary and very confusing for anyone who had her old phone number because every SIM card is associated with a different phone number. I suggested to my friend that the next time that she ran out of minutes either to contact me or to recharge her existing phone.

That way she could continue to get calls on the phone number that everyone already knew.
 
2023 say the implementation of roaming charges for a lot of carriers that allowed both UK and EU use. I believe they all now require either a daily fee or a monthly fee to utilize roaming outside of the sims usual area. These fees are about €2-3 daily, €10-15 monthly. If you haven’t used it recently, you may be in for a surprise
I was able to use my Vodafone Spain SIM in the UK for data during August 2023.
 
I got a Vodafone SIM in Madrid and it worked fine while in Spain, but the second I went into France I lost my internet. I tried to resolve this problem but I could not find a Vodafone site that was in English, and the Vodafone shops I went to could not resolve the problem either. I can't tell you a better choice, but I would avoid Vodafone if you are crossing boarders.
My Spain Vodafone SIM card worked fine in France, Spain, Portugal and the UK.

I suspect that you had not set up your phone correctly.

Earlier in this thread In another recent thread I listed the three things that are required to enable data roaming across borders.

1 Purchase a plan that allows data roaming
2 Set up data roaming in your phone's settings for that SIM card
3 Be in a country where the telecommunications companies offer data services

There are a couple of other requirements that are more obscure but if you buy your plan from a major company such as Vodafone then they won't apply.

I suspect that you had not done step 2, above
 
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My Spain Vodafone SIM card worked fine in France, Spain, Portugal and the UK.

I suspect that you had not set up your phone correctly.

Earlier in this thread In another recent thread I listed the three things that are required to enable data roaming across borders.

1 Purchase a plan that allows data roaming
2 Set up data roaming in your phone's settings for that SIM card
3 Be in a country where the telecommunications companies offer data services

There are a couple of other requirements that are more obscure but if you buy your plan from a major company such as Vodafone then they won't apply.

I suspect that you had not done step 2, above
I have no doubt that what you say is true. However when I bought the SIM I told the person I bought it from, who spoke good English, that I would be crossing borders into France and they still sold me the wrong plan and did not set it up properly. When I went to a Vodafone store to correct this they were unable to do so. I have no doubt that the SIM card was capable of doing what I wanted. Sadly the support staff was not. I will still be avoiding Vodafone.
 
I think the best solution is just to buy two SIM cards if you think you're going to use more than 10gb. Hard to do with eSIM
As @Rick of Rick and Peg said above, it sounds like you can easily add more data if you use the Airalo app to purchase an eSIM. This video shows how

 
I have no doubt that what you say is true. However when I bought the SIM I told the person I bought it from, who spoke good English, that I would be crossing borders into France and they still sold me the wrong plan and did not set it up properly. When I went to a Vodafone store to correct this they were unable to do so. I have no doubt that the SIM card was capable of doing what I wanted. Sadly the support staff was not. I will still be avoiding Vodafone.
A man walks into a car hire in Madrid and asks for a car that will transport him to Santiago de Compostela. They check some documentation, sign a contract, he pays some money and they give him a key and point to a car in the yard.

The man uses the key to open the door and gets into the hire car.

He sits there waiting for it to take him to Santiago but nothing happens.

Three days later, he is tired of this and so he gets out of the car, walks back into the rental agency and asks for his money back.

The person behind the counter asks him why?

He says "I told you that I wanted a car to take me to Santiago de Compostela. I have been sitting in that car for three days now and it hasn't moved".

The person behind the counter says in reply "you do know that you need to drive it yourself, don't you?"
 
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A man walks into a car hire in Madrid and asks for a car that will transport him to Santiago de Compostela. They check some documentation, sign a contract, he pays some money and they give him a key and point to a car in the yard.

The man uses the key to open the door and gets into the hire car.

He sits there waiting for it to take him to Santiago but nothing happens.

Three days later, he is tired of this and so he gets out of the car, walks back into the rental agency and asks for his money back.

The person behind the counter asks him why?

He says "I told you that I wanted a car to take me to Santiago de Compostela. I have been sitting in that car for three days now and it hasn't moved".

The person behind the counter says in reply "you do know that you need to drive it yourself, don't you?"
To beat a dead horse, I would have gladly "figured it out myself" if Vodafone had provided me access to instructions in English.
 
OP: Does Vodafone even offer a monthly prepaid SIM? only thing I have seen are disposable SIMs, 10gb data then through away and buy a new one. Not too sure about UK, but my Vodafone SIM from Spain worked for data in France.

I keep my US T-Mobile on eSIM, and have one SIM slot for physical card. Looks like Airalo only offers eSIM so that doesn't work well for me. Hopefully I can find something a bit better than Vodafone this year.

Edit: my phone may support dual eSIM, if so Airalo may be the way to go.
 
What about the eSim cards? What is their range and is it easy to add money as needed?
I used esim from a UK company called Sparks. You can set it up in various ways. For me it worked best to initially buy a Spanish package and then a smaller one fits when I was in Portugal. But you can also get a European package … and more.

The ONLY issue is that it is data only, so had no p phone number attached. So for phone calls I was restricted to people/businesses on WhatsApp. I have since discovered an app called Viber that I will use next year (along with my sparks esim) that allows calling to all other phones fired something like 2cents per minute)
 
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Edit: my phone may support dual eSIM, if so Airalo may be the way to go.
Yes, it is technically possible to have an eSIM that can have more than one plan installed on it. So, for example, you could have a physical SIM with a Spanish plan, and have your home plan and another installed on the eSIM. I don't think all phones with eSIMs can do this. Also, I believe at this time you can only have phone and data assigned to one SIM or split the two between two SIMs (e.g., phone only can receive calls on the one number that you pick). You have to change settings to use eSIM2 in place of eSIM1.
 
The ONLY issue is that it is data only, so had no p phone number attached. So for phone calls I was restricted to people/businesses on WhatsApp. I have since discovered an app called Viber that I will use next year (along with my sparks esim) that allows calling to all other phones fired something like 2cents per minute)
There are eSIM providers that can give you a number and minutes in addition to data. They may give you a number in a country of their choosing though so the albergue you are calling may think you have an Austrian phone for example.

Viber's rates vary by country called and possibly by the type of service the called phone has. Most phones in Spain have cheap rates though.

I'm impressed with Viber's online documentation.
 
The ONLY issue is that it is data only, so had no p phone number attached. So for phone calls I was restricted to people/businesses on WhatsApp. I have since discovered an app called Viber that I will use next year (along with my sparks esim) that allows calling to all other phones fired something like 2cents per minute)
I have used Viber for years on Camino and also when I'm at home in the US if I need to call abroad. I buy $5 worth of Viber credits, and the last for several Caninos, since I don't need to make many calls to landlines.

 
Get a spanish phone number with Airalo. eSim, so no physical SIM card. Easy to use app to add more funds if needed.
How easy is it to put more money on a pay-as-you-go card when you are not in the country where you bought it?

I ask since you can get a pay-as-you-go card in Portugal or France, and it continues to work in Spain... but if you want to add money on a card once in Spain? I don't think you can add money to a sim card from Vodafone (for example) that you bought in France/Portugal... at a Vodafone store in Spain. I might be wrong, but I don't think so.
Hi, I use an Italian Vodafone sim card that I cannot reload in Vodafone shops in Germany (for example). However, this issue is circumvented by using the Vodafone.it website that has an option to easily reload my account. I suspect each country-specific website offers the same facility.
 
Google and Apple have removed the eSIM apps Airalo and Holafly from their app stores following orders from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to curb cyber fraud. The DoT has also instructed internet service providers and telecom companies to block the websites of these apps
 
Google and Apple have removed the eSIM apps Airalo and Holafly from their app stores following orders from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to curb cyber fraud. The DoT has also instructed internet service providers and telecom companies to block the websites of these apps
This applies to India only.

Screenshot_20240106_100748_Firefox.jpg
 
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Google and Apple have removed the eSIM apps Airalo and Holafly from their app stores ...
Apparently only India at the government's instruction. I'm seeing conflicting information about why; either really used for fraud or because they never got Indian approval to offer eSIMs in the first case.
 
See how this plays out, I didn't want to link to a web site.

I like having a local phone number, this has been helpful many times.
 
Hi All. Looking for some advice on a suitable SIM card for travelling in EU and UK. Thinking of getting a Vodafone SIM on arrival in Spain. After completing the Camino will then spend a couple of months travelling in France and UK. Would mainly use SIM for data and occasional local calls. Would a Vodafone prepaid monthly plan work for me, renewed every 28 days?
It did for me in Spain and France on my 2022 Camino. I did not travel to other countries, so I can't answer the UK question. I purchased my SIM at the Pomplona Vodaphone store and renewed it while in Leon. Very economical compared to the outrageous international charges my USA carrier VERZON was charging the first few days until I got to Pomplona.

Originally, I was going to purchase an ORANGE SIM card but the ORANGE store (across the street from Vodaphone) was out of the card I wanted. The folks at Vodaphone were very helpful to set it up, although I had to wait for the one assistant that spoke English. In Leon, none of them spoke enough English to communicate with me (I'm pathetic as Spanish), so we ended up doing the recharging transaction via Google Translate. It was cumbersome but got the job done.

Oh, FYI, Vodaphone got a little annoying sending me junk text messages trying to sell me stuff. I never did figure out how to opt out. I had to copy the test each time and translate it into English via Google Translate to figure out that it was a junk text that I could delete.
 
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Hi All. Looking for some advice on a suitable SIM card for travelling in EU and UK. Thinking of getting a Vodafone SIM on arrival in Spain. After completing the Camino will then spend a couple of months travelling in France and UK. Would mainly use SIM for data and occasional local calls. Would a Vodafone prepaid monthly plan work for me, renewed every 28 days?
I walked in Spain and Portugal last year. Got a Vodaphone 28day Sim card in Madrid. Later found could only ring Spanish Mobile Numbers ... and Romanian!.... could not call international or cross Europe!!!! Data great worked everywhere. So much for EU.
After 28days tried Orange SIM.... similar issues.
Orange shop told me to try a NON telco ..... Phone One Sim .... local calls in any European Country, just not cross EUROPE!
Luckily many people use WhatsApp, great for calling home e.g. to Oz.

I would use WhatsApp for calls or find a true Travel Sim.
 
OP: Does Vodafone even offer a monthly prepaid SIM? only thing I have seen are disposable SIMs, 10gb data then through away and buy a new one. Not too sure about UK, but my Vodafone SIM from Spain worked for data in France.

I keep my US T-Mobile on eSIM, and have one SIM slot for physical card. Looks like Airalo only offers eSIM so that doesn't work well for me. Hopefully I can find something a bit better than Vodafone this year.

Edit: my phone may support dual eSIM, if so Airalo may be the way to go.
From what I have seen, and confirmed by Vodafone, there is a 10gb rechargeable plan
 
I guess I'm kind of confused about the whole sim card topic. Having never traveled to Europe is it that my US carrier, which is Visible (Verizon), service will be too expensive? Issues with service? Other? And if I do purchase a sim or esim will my phone automatically revert back to my home carrier?
 
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I guess I'm kind of confused about the whole sim card topic. Having never traveled to Europe is it that my US carrier, which is Visible (Verizon), service will be too expensive? Issues with service? Other? And if I do purchase a sim or esim will my phone automatically revert back to my home carrier?
Also per my last response, when I purchase a spanish eSIM will that not allow me to call home in US?
 
Also per my last response, when I purchase a spanish eSIM will that not allow me to call home in US?
Rather than confusing you with generalities we can simplify things if we know a few things more about your phone situation.

1) If you bought your phone through some deal with Verizon they may have locked the phone to be able to use their network only. Is your phone locked? If it is then you need them to unlock the phone or you can't use anyone else's network.

2) What is the make and model of your phone? This lets us figure SIM and eSIM combination possiblities.
 
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Rather than confusing you with generalities we can simplify things if we know a few things more about your phone situation.

1) If you bought your phone through some deal with Verizon they may have locked the phone to be able to use their network only. Is your phone locked? If it is then you need them to unlock the phone or you can't use anyone else's network.

2) What is the make and model of your phone? This lets us figure SIM and eSIM combination possiblities.
IPhone12. I switched from Verizon and own the phone outright. I don’t believe it’s locked through current provider Visible.
 
Also per my last response, when I purchase a spanish eSIM will that not allow me to call home in US?
That would only be if you bought a data only SIM or a very cheap prepaid plan that didn't include international minutes.

Most prepaid plans from major network providers in Spain include international minutes. The plans on this page https://www.vodafone.es/c/particula...s/movil/prepago-y-recargas/prepaid-sim-cards/

Include 100GB data, unlimited local call minutes, roaming throughout Europe and 800 international minutes for €15, for example. Lasts 28 days and is renewable in 28 day chunks.

It is also possible to preorder your eSIM/SIM and have it delivered to your home so that you can configure your phone before you leave home.

Personally, I always buy my service from a major service provider rather than the tiny third party supplies that like to advertise to people who have little experience of international travel in Europe.
 
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The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
It did for me in Spain and France on my 2022 Camino. I did not travel to other countries, so I can't answer the UK question. I purchased my SIM at the Pomplona Vodaphone store and renewed it while in Leon. Very economical compared to the outrageous international charges my USA carrier VERZON was charging the first few days until I got to Pomplona.

Originally, I was going to purchase an ORANGE SIM card but the ORANGE store (across the street from Vodaphone) was out of the card I wanted. The folks at Vodaphone were very helpful to set it up, although I had to wait for the one assistant that spoke English. In Leon, none of them spoke enough English to communicate with me (I'm pathetic as Spanish), so we ended up doing the recharging transaction via Google Translate. It was cumbersome but got the job done.

Oh, FYI, Vodaphone got a little annoying sending me junk text messages trying to sell me stuff. I never did figure out how to opt out. I had to copy the test each time and translate it into English via Google Translate to figure out that it was a junk text that I could delete.
I got a Vodaphone sim at Madrid airport and I also got text messages trying to sell me stuff that I could not understand. But on the positive side when I had to recharge I just used that link to recharge my phone using my credit card, was very easy. It would show like 15 euro, 25 euro, or 40 euro and you just picked one and entered your credit card number. That was it, your recharged.
 
I had to recharge I just used that link to recharge my phone using my credit card, was very easy. It would show like 15 euro, 25 euro, or 40 euro and you just picked one and entered your credit card number. That was it, your recharged.
I figured there was a way of doing it via the hone but everything was in Spanish and I was hesitant to click on any type of agreement I don't understand. Perhaps there was an option to change the language to English but I never found it. At any rate I did manage to get the recharge done in the Leon store with the help of Google Translate.
 
My Spain Vodafone SIM card worked fine in France, Spain, Portugal and the UK.

I suspect that you had not set up your phone correctly.

Earlier in this thread In another recent thread I listed the three things that are required to enable data roaming across borders.

1 Purchase a plan that allows data roaming
2 Set up data roaming in your phone's settings for that SIM card
3 Be in a country where the telecommunications companies offer data services

There are a couple of other requirements that are more obscure but if you buy your plan from a major company such as Vodafone then they won't apply.

I suspect that you had not done step 2, above
From my research, it seems that I will need to buy a regional eSim and not one for a particular country. In walking the Camino, I will start in Portugal and end in Spain. Almost all the regional Europe plans cover all the countries in the EU. I am trying to figure out which one has the best customer service.
 
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From my research, it seems that I will need to buy a regional eSim and not one for a particular country. In walking the Camino, I will start in Portugal and end in Spain. Almost all the regional Europe plans cover all the countries in the EU. I am trying to figure out which one has the best customer service.
Your research is incomplete.

People in Europe travel extensively between countries in the EU. This is not a recent thing and it certainly didn't start when eSIMs were introduced.

Most plans purchased from the major telecommunications companies in any country in Europe will allow for the phone and data to work in other european countries because that is what customers demand.

You are, of course, free to use what ever service you choose and I choose to use services from a company that has its own network, has physical stores and real people to help when needed.

As I mentioned previously, my Vodafone Spain plan worked in Spain, France, Portugal and the UK. It would also have worked in other countries but I didn't travel outside of those four countries.
 
Most plans purchased from the major telecommunications companies in any country in Europe will allow for the phone and data to work in other european countries because that is what customers demand.
@DoughnutANZ might not have researched this completely either! The roaming provisions for in Europe are mandated by the EC, not by customer demand directly even if it were an influence. These arrangements have been in place for some time, but were updated recently to remove practices like data throttling. These arrangements were put in place before the UK left the EU, and it seems to me that UK providers still observe the same roaming arrangements now as they did before they left. I was able to roam in Spain and Portugal on a UK sim, and my wife was able to roam in the UK and Portugal on a Spanish sim when we were in Europe in 2023.

Will that change, and UK providers re-engineer their networks to remove them from this arrangement? I had expected that they might, but they haven't done so yet.
 
@DoughnutANZ might not have researched this completely either! The roaming provisions for in Europe are mandated by the EC, not by customer demand directly even if it were an influence. These arrangements have been in place for some time, but were updated recently to remove practices like data throttling. These arrangements were put in place before the UK left the EU, and it seems to me that UK providers still observe the same roaming arrangements now as they did before they left. I was able to roam in Spain and Portugal on a UK sim, and my wife was able to roam in the UK and Portugal on a Spanish sim when we were in Europe in 2023.

Will that change, and UK providers re-engineer their networks to remove them from this arrangement? I had expected that they might, but they haven't done so yet.
Doug, I purposely didn't mention the mandated requirements. My understanding, and this may be wrong (I am sure that @Kathar1na will jump in to support you), is that the mandates only apply to voice not data.

Customer pressure is just as effective, sometimes more, than mandates.
 
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From my research, it seems that I will need to buy a regional eSim and not one for a particular country. In walking the Camino, I will start in Portugal and end in Spain. Almost all the regional Europe plans cover all the countries in the EU. I am trying to figure out which one has the best customer service.
I am not sure what you mean by a 'regional plan'. I know that here in Australia the SIM providers advertise plans that cover Europe and the UK as well as other regions of the world. My wife and I both use these and have the SIM delivered to us before we leave home. But what you get is a SIM from a national provider, and that will roam across Europe. We no longer worry much about where the SIM comes from.
 
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Doug, I purposely didn't mention the mandated requirements. My understanding, and this may be wrong (I am sure that @Kathar1na will jump in to support you), is that the mandates only apply to voice not data.

Customer pressure is just as effective, sometimes more, than mandates.
That isn't true, the relevant EU regulation (here) applies to both voice and data.

ps I admire your faith in @Kathar1na's research skills, but I am happy to do my own research and not impose a burden on others for materiel that is readily available on the internet.
 
I am not sure what you mean by a 'regional plan'. I know that here in Australia the SIM providers advertise plans that cover Europe and the UK as well as other regions of the world. My wife and I both use these and have the SIM delivered to us before we leave home. But what you get is a SIM from a national provider, and that will roam across Europe. We no longer worry much about where the SIM comes from.
Dougfitz - I have been looking at many different eSIM websites for my upcoming Camino. They have plans for individual countries and then regional plans for Europe or Asia etc. the regional plans are more expensive. Based on what you are saying, I can buy an eSIM for Spain and it should also work in Portugal? Is that correct?
 
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Dougfitz - I have been looking at many different eSIM websites for my upcoming Camino. They have plans for individual countries and then regional plans for Europe or Asia etc. the regional plans are more expensive. Based on what you are saying, I can buy an eSIM for Spain and it should also work in Portugal? Is that correct?
I see airalo has individual countries are for regions like Europe or Asia. The regional are more expensive. i'am only going to be in Portugal for a couple days the rest in Spain. I'am going to Spain than Portugal than Spain again.
 
These arrangements were put in place before the UK left the EU, and it seems to me that UK providers still observe the same roaming arrangements now as they did before they left.
Not quite that clear cut. As far as I know all UK mobile operators allow EU roaming but the costs vary enormously. Some UK mobile companies now allow EU roaming as part of their standard contracts and pre-paid bundles. Others charge extra for service within the EU and the rates and conditions vary considerably. It makes choosing a network and calls/sms/data bundle a complicated business.
 
Dougfitz - I have been looking at many different eSIM websites for my upcoming Camino. They have plans for individual countries and then regional plans for Europe or Asia etc. the regional plans are more expensive. Based on what you are saying, I can buy an eSIM for Spain and it should also work in Portugal? Is that correct?
I would follow the providers advice. Do they say that the SIM will not work outside the country for which it is bought?
 
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Not quite that clear cut. As far as I know all UK mobile operators allow EU roaming but the costs vary enormously. Some UK mobile companies now allow EU roaming as part of their standard contracts and pre-paid bundles. Others charge extra for service within the EU and the rates and conditions vary considerably. It makes choosing a network and calls/sms/data bundle a complicated business.
Is that a response to leaving the EU? I understood that up to that point they were subject to the rules of EU Regulation 2015/2120 which required retail roaming surcharges to be abolished in the EU. I don't know what transition arrangements were proposed, but I have been expecting that there would be changes following Brexit.
 
Is that a response to leaving the EU?
Yes. EU roaming at no additional charge was obligatory for a while when the UK was part of the EU. Subject to some "fair use" limits on data when roaming. For a year or so after Brexit there was a transitional period when that remained in place. But at the end of the transitional period the UK networks were free to set their own policies and charges. The situation is now quite complex given the surprisingly large number of UK mobile networks and virtual operators which piggyback on the larger networks. My own choice here in the UK is a pre-paid SIM from Lycamobile which allows me to use the calls/sms/data bundle within the EU at no extra charge. Here in the UK Lycamobile operates on the EE network but while in Spain and France it switches between a range of providers.
 
I understood that up to that point they were subject to the rules of EU Regulation 2015/2120 which required retail roaming surcharges to be abolished in the EU. I don't know what transition arrangements were proposed, but I have been expecting that there would be changes following Brexit.
@dougfitz, I got curious - some of my close family members are effected by transition and post-Brexit legislation in the UK. There is an answer:
  • Roaming charges were abolished in the EU on 15 June 2017, but the legislation expired on 30 June 2022. [A] new regulation is valid until 2032.
Which means that the current EU roaming regulation does not apply to UK operators.

As an aside, forum members don't get an alert when their forum name is mentioned in a post. It used to be the case but it no longer is. So don't be surprised when there is no reaction. And anyway, as I understand it, some forum members are happy to do their own research for materiel that is readily available on the internet. I applaud that. 😇
 
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Yes. EU roaming at no additional charge was obligatory for a while when the UK was part of the EU. Subject to some "fair use" limits on data when roaming. For a year or so after Brexit there was a transitional period when that remained in place. But at the end of the transitional period the UK networks were free to set their own policies and charges. The situation is now quite complex given the surprisingly large number of UK mobile networks and virtual operators which piggyback on the larger networks. My own choice here in the UK is a pre-paid SIM from Lycamobile which allows me to use the calls/sms/data bundle within the EU at no extra charge. Here in the UK Lycamobile operates on the EE network but while in Spain and France it switches between a range of providers.

Indeed. As a UK resident I have a monthly O2 contract. They provide, in my view quite a good offer for travelling. I get ‘free’ (i.e within my UK allowance) roaming/data and text in countries that are EU members, but also for another 30 or so countries worldwide, mainly The Americas and Australia/New Zealand. So I have had roaming in USA and Colombia for the last 7 weeks at no extra charge. There is a a fair usage policy.

Outside of that, most countries, you can pay £6 a day, for unlimited use and there are a small number of countries fees for which no deal is in place so you pay the relevant charges!
 

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