All UK mobile networks need to provide roaming in Europe at no extra cost from June 2017. Compare the fair usage policies & the availability of 4G roaming.

From the 15th June 2017, it’s all change with regards to using your smartphone in Europe. Changes to EU law mean all UK mobile networks now need to provide roaming in Europe at no extra cost. Customers with a UK bundle allowance can use this when they’re travelling abroad, and customers on Pay As You Go can benefit from their normal Pay As You Go rates.

The legislation is known as “Roam Like at Home” and has been implemented in a slightly different way across UK mobile networks. In this article, we’ll compare the “Roam Like at Home” offering on UK mobile networks including the download speeds available and any fair usage limits that apply. We’ll also look at the availability of roaming in certain countries that are sometimes excluded from the offer (namely Switzerland, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Jersey and Monaco).

Overview of EU Roaming Offers

As part of the EU’s digital single market initiative, all UK mobile networks need to provide roaming at no extra cost for customers travelling in Europe. The new law, which takes effect from the 15th June 2017, allows customers to take their normal UK allowances abroad with them (or if you’re a Pay As You Go customer, you should only pay your normal UK rates).

In practice, there are a few key differences in how “Roam Like at Home” has been implemented on different mobile networks. The following table highlights some of the key differences so you can make an informed choice when choosing a mobile network for European roaming.

  • 4G Roaming. Only four UK mobile networks currently provide access to 4G international roaming. They are BT Mobile, EE, Plusnet Mobile and Vodafone. On other mobile networks, international roaming will typically be limited to 2G and 3G.
  • EU Data Limit (Fair Usage). Typically, you should be able to use the entirety of your bundle allowances when travelling abroad in the EU. However, a fair usage policy applies on certain mobile networks after which you’ll need to pay a surcharge for any additional data usage abroad.
  • EU Time Limit (Fair Usage). Most mobile networks also impose a limit on how much time you’re able to spend abroad. Typically, you’ll need to spend at least half of your time in the UK. This is normally measured over a rolling 4-month period. If you spend more than half of your time abroad, you may need to pay a surcharge for further usage.
  • Countries. There are five European countries that are sometimes excluded from ‘Roam Like at Home’ offers. They are Switzerland, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Jersey and Monaco. Technically, the five countries are outside the EU so there is no legal requirement for mobile networks to include them in their offers. For simplicity, most mobile networks do include them in the offer but there are a couple of exceptions so it’s worth keeping an eye out for this.
Mobile Network 4G Roaming EU Data Limit* EU Time Limit CH, GG, IM, JE, MC**
ASDA Mobile No 50% of time over 4 months
BT Mobile 15GB 50% of time over 4 months
EE 15GB Normally resident in UK
FreedomPop No roaming service is available on FreedomPop.
giffgaff 20GB Normally resident in UK
iD Mobile Varies 50% of time over 4 months , except Switzerland
Lebara Mobile 2.5GB 50% of allowance over 4 months
Lycamobile Bundles not available for use in the EU.
O2 No (PAYM)
60 days over 4 months
Plusnet Mobile 15GB 50% of time over 4 months
Sky Mobile No TBC
Tesco Mobile 12GB 60 days over 4 months
Three 12GB (PAYM)
60 days over 120 days , except Monaco
Virgin Mobile See notes 50% of time over 4 months
Vodafone No 2 months over 4 months

* This fair usage limit only applies in certain circumstances (e.g. if your UK data allowance is larger than this fair usage policy). Most people should be able to use the entirety of their UK data allowance when abroad.
** Switzerland (CH), Guernsey (GG), Isle of Man (IM), Jersey (JE), Monaco (MC).
† Requires a ‘Roam Like at Home’ enabled tariff. Some Plusnet Mobile tariffs are marked as UK-only and will not provide you with access to roaming in the EU.

The following countries will always be included in free European roaming offers: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Italy (includes Sardinia and Sicily), Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal (includes Azores and Madeira), Republic of Ireland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain (includes Canary Islands and Balearic Islands) and Sweden.

Meanwhile, the following countries are only included on certain mobile networks: Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Jersey, Monaco and Switzerland (see the table above for more information).

In-Depth: EU Roaming By Network

In the following section, we’ll discuss the European roaming offer on each UK mobile network in more detail.

ASDA Mobile

From the 15th June 2017, customers on ASDA Mobile will be able to use their phone in Europe at no extra cost. This includes ASDA’s 30-day bundles and also their standard Pay As You Go rates of 8p/minute, 4p/text and 5p/MB.

Customers spending the majority of their time abroad over a 4-month period may have their roaming restricted on their account. There are no additional limits or fair usage policies on how much data you can use when you’re abroad.

Source: ASDA Mobile FAQs – Roaming Rates
Tariff Information: ASDA Mobile Website

BT Mobile

On BT Mobile, the Roam Like Home offer allows you to use your smartphone abroad in 47 destinations at no extra cost. As BT Mobile is now essentially the same company as EE, customers of BT Mobile can leverage EE’s international roaming relationships. This includes the use of 4G roaming on compatible mobile networks abroad.

According to BT, the Roam Like Home offer is not designed for customers living abroad:

Roam like at home is only available if you live or are usually based in the UK and you mainly use your BT Mobile in the UK. If we think that over a period of at least 4 months, you’ve been living or mainly using your BT Mobile in a Roam like at Home country, we may ask you to explain the reasons for this and you might need to pay a surcharge.

Customers with a data allowance of 20GB or more will see their data usage capped at 15GB per month in the EU. Typically, BT Mobile doesn’t offer more than a 15GB data allowance anyway so this restriction shouldn’t affect the majority of users.

Source: BT Mobile – Roam Like Home
Tariff Information: BT Mobile Website


EE offers European roaming at no additional charge for all customers on Pay Monthly and Pay As You Go. Customers with a 4GEE Max tariff will also be able to use their handset abroad in Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and the USA.

For customers with a UK data allowance of more than 15GB, data usage in the EU will be capped at 15GB per month. EE says the offer is available to all customers providing they are “normally resident in the UK”.

4G roaming is available on compatible mobile networks abroad.

Customers on Orange and T-Mobile will also benefit from European roaming under the same conditions as customers on EE.

Source: EE – Travelling Abroad
Tariff Information: EE Website


Unfortunately, FreedomPop does not offer international roaming on their normal UK SIM card. The only way to use FreedomPop’s service when travelling abroad is by purchasing a FreedomPop WhatsApp SIM card. For more information, please see our in-depth review of FreedomPop.

Source: FreedomPop Help – Roaming FAQs
Tariff Information: FreedomPop Website


giffgaff offers a Roam Like At Home service allowing you to use your goodybag abroad in most European countries (excluding Switzerland, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Jersey and Monaco). You’ll get 2G and 3G coverage abroad, as giffgaff doesn’t yet offer international roaming on 4G.

According to giffgaff, users should be eligible for free EU roaming providing they “typically reside in the UK” and visit the EU “from time to time”:

“Inclusive roaming is created for giffgaff members who typically reside in the UK, and is ideal for short trips to other places in the EU.

The vast majority of our members will be eligible without needing to do anything different, but if you don’t meet the necessary criteria, or go against our fair usage guidelines, then inclusive roaming may be switched off. You’ll still be able to use your phone in the EU if you have credit, but you’ll be charged 3.2p/minute, 1p/text, 0.47p/MB. If you have a goodybag but no credit, you’ll not be able to use our service in the EU.”

For customers who have the £25 goodybag with Always-On data, a usage allowance of 20GB applies in the EU. For any further usage beyond 20GB, an additional charge of 0.47p/MB will apply.

Source: giffgaff Website – Roaming charges
Tariff Information: giffgaff Website

iD Mobile

iD Mobile now offers free international roaming in Europe for all of their customers (excluding in Switzerland). They have a fair usage policy in place for the offer, which requires you to spend the majority of your time in the UK:

Our fair usage policy has been designed to prevent misuse of our inclusive EU roaming feature, such as someone permanently roaming and not living in the UK.

We understand that sometimes you’ll want to roam for a few weeks at a time. That’s absolutely fine. But if you roam more than you use your phone at home (we mean in the UK) over a 4-month period, we might think you’re permanently roaming.

If you spend more time abroad than in the UK, you may be asked to provide proof “that you have strong ties to the UK”. If you don’t, iD Mobile may apply a surcharge of 3.2p/minute, 1p/text and 0.76p/MB.

Customers with a large data allowance may be affected by iD Mobile’s open data policy. This is a threshold for how much data you’re able to use in the EU:

Monthly Plan Cost EU Roaming Data Threshold
£8/month 2.05GB
£9/month 2.30GB
£10/month 2.56GB
£12/month 3.07GB
£12.50/month 3.20GB
£15/month 3.84GB
£20/month 5.12GB
£25/month 6.40GB
£30/month 7.68GB
£32/month 8.19GB
£35/month 8.96GB

Prior to June 15th 2017, free European roaming was only available to customers on iD Mobile with a TakeAway price plan.

Source: iD Mobile – EU Roaming Fair Usage & Open Data Policy
Tariff Information:
iD Mobile Website

Lebara Mobile

Customers on Lebara Mobile can use their phone at no extra charge in most European countries (this excludes Switzerland, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Jersey and Monaco). This is subject to a fair usage policy of 2.5GB per month and also you using more than 50% of your allowance in the UK over a 4-month period:

When using a Lebara bundle while roaming in the EU (Zone 1 and Zone 1 – EEA, below), we may apply a Fair Usage Policy in order to prevent any abusive roaming situation:

  1. Mobile Data – You may use you mobile data in the EU up to 2.5GB during the validity period of your bundle. After this threshold you will be charged £0,007/MB in Zone 1 and £0.006/MB in Zone 1 EEA until the renewal of your bundle.
  2. Continuous roaming – If we notice that you are using your bundle while roaming and that you are using more than 50% of your allowance in visited countries out of a four months observation window you will be charged.

Source: Lebara Mobile – International Call Rates
Tariff Information:
Lebara Mobile Website


According to the Lycamobile website, roaming in the EU will be charged at normal UK domestic rates from the 15th June 2017. Rather alarmingly, it’s implied that you won’t be able to use your bundle allowances when travelling abroad:

Prepaid bundles
Please note that you will no longer be able to use bundle allowances while roaming.

We are currently unsure whether this is permitted by EU roaming legislation as this specifically states: “communications (phone calls, SMS, data) made from another EU country will be covered in your national bundle”. Therefore, we currently await further clarification on Lycamobile’s EU roaming policy.

Source: Lycamobile UK – EU Roaming
Tariff Information: Lycamobile Website


O2 is offering roaming in Europe at no extra charge for all customers on O2 Pay Monthly and O2 Pay As You Go. Customers will have access to 2G and 3G when abroad, as O2 doesn’t currently offer any 4G international roaming.

According to the fair usage policy published on O2’s website, you mustn’t use your service in the EU for more than 60 days in any four month period. If a large volume of your allowance is used abroad in a EU country, this may also be deemed to be “an unfair use of the service”:

What to avoid: Using our services for the first time outside of the UK, using a large volume of your allowance (be that text, calls or data) in our Europe Zone (excluding the UK), or using our services outside of our Europe Zone (excluding the UK) for prolonged periods which don’t follow reasonable consumer holiday and travel patterns and behaviour. If you use our services outside the UK in our Europe Zone for 60 or more days in any four month period this is likely to be deemed to be an unfair use of our services.”

For customers on O2 Pay Monthly, there is no explicit limit on how much data you can use when abroad. For customers on O2 Pay As You Go with a £30 Big Bundle, a limit of 10GB per month will apply. Any further usage beyond the 10GB will be charged at 0.597p/MB.

Source: O2 Help and Support – Roaming in Europe
Tariff Information: O2 Website

Plusnet Mobile

Plusnet Mobile is offering ‘Roam Like at Home’ for customers with a compatible plan on their mobile network. Customers with an enabled plan can use their data allowance at no extra charge in 40 European destinations and will also have access to 4G in countries where EE has a 4G roaming relationship.

When ordering a price plan from Plusnet Mobile, it’s important to keep an eye out for discounted ‘UK Only’ plans. Typically, their £5/month tariff is marked as ‘UK Only’ and will not provide you with access to any roaming when abroad.

For customers who do have access to roaming when abroad, a surcharge might be payable if you mainly use your smartphone abroad over a period of four months:

“Roam Like at Home is only available if you live or are usually based in the UK and you mainly use your mobile in the UK. If we think that over a period of at least four months, you’ve been living and mainly using your mobile in a Roam Like at Home destination, we may ask you to explain the reasons for this and you might need to pay a surcharge.”

Nominally, for customers who have a UK data allowance of more than 20GB per month, there is also a 15GB fair usage policy for ‘Roam Like at Home’ countries. However, as Plusnet Mobile has never sold a tariff with more than 20GB of data so this doesn’t apply in practice to any customers at present.

Source: Plusnet Mobile – Roam Like at Home with Plusnet Mobile
Tariff Information: Plusnet Mobile Website

Sky Mobile

Customers of Sky Mobile can take advantage of the Roaming Passport feature which allows you to “roam in more than 30 EU and EEA destinations at no extra cost”. Notably, the Roaming Passport offer does not cover usage in Switzerland, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Jersey or Monaco. Customers will have access to 2G and 3G coverage when travelling abroad.

Sky has not set a fair usage policy on roaming so customers can use the entirety of their allowances when abroad.

Source: Sky Mobile Help – Roaming Passport
Tariff Information: Sky Mobile Website

Tesco Mobile

Tesco Mobile offers the Home From Home feature for customers on both Pay Monthly and Pay As You Go. The feature gives you inclusive roaming in “48 destinations across Europe” with the ability to access 2G and 3G coverage when abroad.

The Home From Home feature has a fair usage policy of 12GB per month, after which customers will need to pay a small additional charge. Usage is also only for customers “normally resident in the UK” and is for no more than 60 days in any four month period:

“HFH [Home From Home] Usage shall be limited to periodic travelling and is only available for customers who are normally resident in the UK.
HFH Usage:
(i) for prolonged periods which don’t follow reasonable consumer holiday and travel patterns,
(ii) in amounts that exceed other non-HFH Usage or
(ii) for the first time in a HFH Destination would not be expected when periodically travelling.
HFH Usage in any four month period for 60 or more days is conclusive of non-periodic travelling. You will be normally resident in the UK if you live, work or study in the UK and you may be asked for proof of this status.”

Source: Tesco Mobile – Home From Home
Tariff Information: Tesco Mobile Website


For customers travelling abroad to another European country (excluding Monaco), Three offers Feel At Home in Europe. This allows you to use your smartphone abroad at no extra cost and is available to all customers on their network (including Advanced Pay Monthly plans, Essential Pay Monthly plans and Pay As You Go).

For customers on an Advanced Pay Monthly plan or on Pay As You Go, the additional ‘Feel At Home Around The World’ offer is also available. This gives you roaming at no extra cost in selected countries outside the EU (Australia, Brazil, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Israel, Macau, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Sri Lanka, US Virgin Islands and USA).

For Pay Monthly customers on the Feel At Home In Europe offer, Three has a fair usage policy of 12GB per month. This applies to all customers with an all-you-can-eat data plan. Further usage beyond the 12GB limit will be charged at 0.73p/MB. On Pay As You Go, a monthly usage limit of 9GB applies instead.

There is also a requirement for you to spend the majority of your time in the UK, which is measured over a rolling period of 120 days:

“In order to help us to detect possible abuse of Feel At Home in Europe, we may monitor your usage and presence. We’ll look at the balance of your roaming and domestic (UK) activity over 120 days: if you spend a majority of your time abroad and consume more abroad than at home over the 120 days, we have the right to add a small surcharge to your usage. This surcharge will be capped at a maximum of 0.73p/MB; 3p/min; and 0.9p/SMS. Don’t worry – we’ll send you an alert 2 weeks before the surcharge is applied, giving you an opportunity to modify your roaming behaviour to avoid this surcharge.”

Three offers 3G roaming to customers who are travelling abroad. 4G roaming is not currently available to customers on Three.

Source: Three – Feel At Home
Tariff Information: Three Website

Virgin Mobile

Virgin Mobile offers a Roam Like Home service which gives you international roaming in the EU at no extra charge. Notably, the offer does not cover usage in Switzerland, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Jersey or Monaco. Roaming is also restricted to 2G and 3G.

Virgin’s restrictions on Roam Like Home usage are listed in their terms and conditions. Broadly speaking, you’ll need to be spending more time in the UK than abroad in other European countries. Your usage in the UK should also exceed your usage in Europe:

2.1.1. In any rolling 4 month period, you must use more data, SMS and calls in the UK than the EU – we call this “prevailing domestic consumption”; or
2.1.2. In any rolling 4 month period, you must spend more days in the UK than the EU – we call this “prevailing domestic presence” (we count each day you connect to our network in the UK as a day in the UK).

As well as this, there is also a fair usage limit on data consumption in Europe. This is set to the minimum amount permitted by EU law:

5.1.1. Pay monthly customers: twice your monthly airtime cost (before VAT) divided by the current EU data wholesale capped rate.
5.1.2. Pay As You Go customers: data up to the amount that can be purchased at the current EU data wholesale capped rate with the credit you have on your account at the point of roaming.
5.2. You can see the surcharge rates and the latest EU data wholesale capped rate in our Tariff Table.

At the time of writing, the EU data wholesale capped rate is £7.80/GB (this is calculated by taking €7.70 and converting it into pounds sterling using the exchange rate on the 1st May, and then adding 20% VAT). Therefore, customers on a £20 Pay Monthly plan will have an EU fair usage limit of about 5.1GB. You should check with Virgin Mobile Customer Services to find out the exact limit for your plan.

Source: Virgin Mobile – Use Your Mobile Abroad
Tariff Information: Virgin Mobile Website


Vodafone offers a service called Global Roaming to their customers, allowing them to use their allowances abroad in other EU countries (Vodafone refers to this as their “Roam-free” zone). You’ll get 4G coverage in countries where Vodafone has the relevant roaming relationships and it will be “full speed roaming with no restrictions” according to Vodafone.

Vodafone’s fair usage policy is you can only spend up to 2 months abroad in any 4-month period:

We’ll send you a text requesting you moderate your usage in our Roam-free destinations if you use them for a total of 2 months or more during any 4-month period. If your usage in any of our Roam-free destinations continues to exceed this allowance after a 2-week period from which you first received this text, we may charge you for further use or bar your roaming services. We’ll always let you know before we do this.

There are no additional restrictions on how much data you can use when abroad.

Source: Vodafone Global Roaming
Tariff Information: Vodafone Website

More Information

For more information, please refer to your mobile network’s website. You can also see the FAQs published by the European Commission.

Your Comments 233 so far

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 233 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  • Is the information in this article kept updated? I’m looking for an up to date comparison of fair usage policies in Europe, some of which have changed recently. For example Vodafone have changed their policies recently and now also have different policies for new customers after 24 Feb 21, and existing customers keep the old policy. Fantastic website by the way, so useful!

    • Hi there,
      Thanks for your comment. Sadly, it’s a little bit out of date… sorry! I’ve been meaning to update this page, but I’ve put it on hold for the time being as there isn’t a huge amount of travelling happening at the moment and I don’t believe there have been a huge number of post-Brexit changes yet. If you’re looking for an unlimited data plan, the information on this page should be correct.
      Do you have any information on the changes that Vodafone have made to their fair usage policy? I’m not aware of those changes but would definitely be interested to see what Vodafone have changed!

  • Hi Ken
    thank for this. My UK phone/SIM has stopped working in Italy and I’m here for another week. I’m thinking of buying a new phone, but I’m wondering if my UK SIM will work – ie will it initially connect properly to set itself up?

    • Hi Tim,
      Many thanks for your comment. Yes, a UK SIM should work fine in a smartphone purchased in Italy, providing that handset is unlocked for use on any network.

  • Hi ken, sky states no fair use time limit. I’m struggling to find an honest clear answer. If I go to the EU for 12 months without returning to the UK at all, my plan will work the whole time?

    • Hi there,
      Your phone will continue to work the whole time whilst you’re out there. However, Sky are within their rights to apply a surcharge to your account if you spend more than half of your time outside the UK. I’m not sure whether they actually exercise this right – certainly, they don’t mention it on their website and I’ve not actually tried it myself!

  • Hi Ken,

    Myself and my partner are going on a long-term trip across Europe, without plans to return to our home country, the UK. We are trying to figure out the best way to use our phone and data, but most UK contracts have restrictions on EU roaming (like you said, having to spend more of your allowance in your home country, which of course we won’t be able to). Is there anything you can recommend for a large amount of data that can be used for long term travel within the EU?


    • Hi Sarah,
      Thanks for your comment. To start with, I’d probably just take your UK SIM card out there and continue to use that. Although there are some fair usage policies for using your phone in Europe, they should only kick in after around 2 months and thereafter, you’ll simply be surcharged for your data usage in Europe (with no surcharges for calling and texting). In two months time, you might have a better idea of where you plan to end up staying, in which case, it may then make sense to pick up a local SIM card from that country.
      Hope this helps!

  • Mike Dalgleish said:

    Ken, Since EU mobile data roaming within the home bundle has become standard across all networks, there are a lot of posts in the various user forums about miserable performance on data throughput when roaming. (Test my comment by goggling “giffgaff [or Vodafone etc] throttling eu”.) The legislators apparently did not realise that users want the level of service they get at home carried over to roaming in the EU. My experience recently in Greece with 3, Vodafone and Giffgaff is that they are all throttling down to 1-3 mbps. You still have to buy a local SIM to get decent data rates. In my case I saw 20 mbps on a local SIM using the same network (WIND) and even on the same cell. This whole area deserves your attention and through you we might see better competition between UK suppliers rather than an implicit monopoly centred on poor data rates. The real bad faith act is that all mobile operators are purposely denying users good service, even when plenty of bandwidth is available. And they are all denying it! Hope you can consider this area. Its ripe for you! Best wishes, Mike

    • Hi Mike,
      Many thanks for your continued support of the website! Hope this is OK with you, but I’ve just moved your comment to my article about European roaming as I felt it better fitted in there & more people were likely to see it. Appreciate you sharing the information about your experiences using a handset abroad roaming on Vodafone & giffgaff.
      I agree: this is definitely a really important area with very little information available about it on the internet. Unfortunately, it’s a difficult topic to cover as it really depends on so many things including your home mobile network, the country you’re visiting and the roaming partner network (the amount of throttling sometimes varying according to all three factors). I’ll definitely have a think about how we can improve visibility in this area but my initial thoughts are it would be great to have some kind of crowdsourced tool where people can share/rate their experiences roaming on different mobile networks and in different countries abroad.

  • Hi Ken,
    I will be travelling to Denmark, Sweden and Norway next month. I have a pay as you go O2 SIM card in my phone. Will that work in the above mentioned countries? Thanks

    • Hi Helga,
      Yes – the great news is your O2 Pay & Go SIM card is enabled automatically for international roaming. As of June 2017, you’ll be able to use your phone at no extra charge across Europe (including in Denmark, Sweden and Norway).

  • Khalid Alturbag said:

    Hi Ken, I’ll be traveling to Europe starting from Amsterdam-Prague-Vienna-Budapest-Paris from Sep 1st to 22nd. What is the best sim I should get? Please note that I’m a heavy data user and barely texts or call. Thanks for your help 🙂

    • Hi Khalid,
      Many thanks for your comment. You should buy a pre-paid SIM card from the first destination in which you arrive in Europe (so the Netherlands, assuming you’re going to Amsterdam first). That SIM card can be used across Europe at no additional cost – I suggest consulting a local website for the Dutch market to the find the best value deal! 🙂
      Hope this helps,

  • Hi Ken. Thank you for this page. I will be on a tour starting with UK for 3 days and then to Europe (Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Austria and France) for 14 days. The recommendation would be Three’s “All-in-one” in this case? Cheers!

  • Hi Ken, I am in UK at the moment and will be travelling around eight European countries in September. What do you think will be the suitable option for me regarding the cheapest sim card I could have. Please let me know, thanks mate.

  • For info, I switched to ASDA mobile less than four weeks ago, went to Switzerland and was positively surprised to get 4G service over there (and in the French network when getting too close to the border). So ASDA seems to offer 4G Roaming as well.

    • Hi Tim,
      This is a fantastic insight – thanks so much for sharing! I’ve just updated the article to reflect the fact that ASDA Mobile also offers roaming on 4G.
      Thanks again!

  • Paul Olson said:

    Hi Ken, I will riding my bike from Amsterdam to Florence from mid August till September, total of 24 days. Since I wont be staying very long in any country except Italy the longest which would be the best plan fro me? Will this be easy to but in Amsterdam?

    Thanks for your help

    • Hi Paul,
      Many thanks for your comment. The good news is that all EU mobile networks now need to provide free EU roaming at no additional cost. Therefore, if you’re living in the EU, you can just use a SIM card from your home country. Otherwise, you can buy a SIM card in the first country you arrive in which should then work across the whole of Europe.
      Hope this helps and the best of luck with your bike ride!

  • Jim McNamara said:

    Hi Keith, I’m planning a trip to the UK (1st stop), France, Spain, and Italy in mid-September. I hope to be able to swap the nano sim from my iphone SE (A1662) to enable phone and sms (possibly very limited data, also) throughout these destinations. Will Three’s “all in one” plan work for me during my 30 trip?
    Also, is there any way to get the sim card ahead of time (so as to have a number), and activate on arrival @ Heathrow?
    Thanks for your help.

    • Hi Jim,
      Many thanks for your comment. Three’s “All in One” plan will certainly work for you. Unfortunately, there’s no official way to get the SIM card sent out to you abroad, but it’s fairly easy to pick one up in almost any supermarket or mobile phone shop when you arrive in the UK. You can also order a SIM card in advance to be sent to your UK address (I’d avoid buying the SIM card at Heathrow if possible, as you’ll need to pay an extortionate amount for it).

      • Thanks Ken.
        Your info is very helpful. Just curious… how is Three’s network in the EU countries I’ll be visiting? Are there any additional charges (ie for roaming) when used in those countries?
        Thanks again.

        • Hi Jim,
          Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. You can roam at no extra charge in other EU countries, but data speeds aren’t quite as good as they are in the UK (for instance, you’re limited only to 3G speeds). If it’s helpful, you can read a bit more about this in my article on the Feel At Home offer.
          Hope this helps,

  • I’m a lycamobile customer and their current stance is illegal. Vectone are doing the same too. The irony is up until a month a go they had one of the best roaming offers. I have the feeling this regulation is going to hit mnvos hard and some are going to need to be really pushed. Smaller operators like delight mobile are just ignoring it completely, like it hasn’t happened. I called delight and they said data in UK will cost 1p MB and it France it will be 9p MB . who will clamp down on these practices.

  • Frank Sturzaker said:

    Hi Ken,

    Again, an excellent article. I asked a question a few weeks ago about what you thought might happen with PAYG EU Roaming and this morning (15th June) tested my EE PAYG SIM card (here in France) regarding the charges.

    I don’t have any add-ons etc., just a PAYG credit balance. A 20 second call cost me 30p whereas last week the same cost about 3 or 4 p.

    Yes, you can absolutely roam at the same rates as at home – and these rates for SOME UK mobile providers on PAYG are eye wateringly expensive. I haven’t checked Vodafone yet but GOSH – the changes from a capped rate of 3-4p per minute back up to 30p per minute.

    This is definitely something that people should bear in mind / check before they race off to Europe!

    • Hi Frank,
      Yes, there’s certainly been a lot of flux in the market over the past week. Unfortunately, for some people, the changes are disadvantageous (though obviously it gives them a chance to recoup some of the revenue they lose from customers who now get free RLAH roaming). On the above, switching to something like ASDA Mobile or 1pMobile could be a worthwhile consideration. On the latter, for instance, you can call & text throughout Europe for 1p/minute and 1p/text (though there is a minimum top-up of £10 every 120 days).
      Thanks again for sharing your insights and do please let me know if you discover anything else of interest in this area!

      • Frank Sturzaker replied:

        Ken – absolutely a lot of flux!!

        I am only checking rates because I have a couple of elderly PAYG SIM cards that I use periodically when in the EU doing a bit of travelling.

        I thought EE’s rate of 30p per minute (UK and EU) was big – but Vodafone now charge 55p per minute (UK and EU) for PAYG (see link which before 15th June was 4p per minute in EU.

        I don’t think I will be topping up either of these SIM cards in future.

        Again, I was interested in knowing for my own purposes but ANYONE on PAYG only rates (no special bundles or add ons) should think hard about swapping to one of the others like Three whose 3/2/1 rates are amongst the lowest anywhere.


  • Thank you very much Ken for all the helpful information! I will be visiting Europe this summer from US and I will start with London. According to your information, I can buy any prepaid SIM card, top it up and I’ll be ready to go for the rest of my trip and the best plan the moment is the Three’s All in one 20 that offers 12GB?
    Does the prepaid SIM card work on unlocked devices? and is the Three’s All in one 20 plan available for tourists as well or just EU citizens?
    Please let me know, thank you very much!!

  • Hey Ken,

    I’ll be visiting UK and Amsterdam for a month, mainly in UK and was wondering if the Three £20 deal is a wise option? Is that considered a local SIM card or is that a prepaid sim?

    Or is there a better deal for me as I’m a data-heavy person. I’m looking to purchase the SIM card only when I reach to avoid delays in delivery.

    Sorry as I’m a bit confused with the deals and plans there and I hope you can help.

    Thank you!

    • Hi Adriana,
      Yes – I think Three’s All in One 20 is a fine choice, particularly if you’re a heavy data user in the UK & with some usage abroad in the EU. This is a pre-paid SIM card so no need to provide any ID or to undergo anything like a credit check. You just need to walk into a store in the UK and you can get the SIM card in person when you’re there.
      Hope this helps!

  • Hi Ken

    I currently spend 3 weeks abroad (out of UK) 1 week back in the UK every month, for work reasons. I have been using THREE Feel at home which allows me to call back into the UK according to my minutes and data allowance at no extra cost. It does not include calling other Non UK numbers from abroad.
    I recently received a notification from THREE saying that they would analyse accounts for abuse of this concession by verifying if over a 120 day period the phone is used more from abroad or from at home. If the use is more from abroad they will be adding a surcharge fee of 3 pence per minute to all calls made.
    Can you tell me if this is legal under the new directive?

    • Hi Keith,
      Many thanks for your comment. There’s more information here about the new EU roaming legislation but unfortunately, yes, this is permitted under the new EU directive. This allows for a surcharge to be applied when there isn’t “prevailing domestic consumption” over a period of 4 months or more (your usage in the UK should exceed your usage in the EU). Also, mobile networks can apply “prevailing domestic presence” (you’ll need to spend the majority of your days in the UK, as measured over a 4-month period).
      For some people, this is obviously a big step back compared to what was previously possible on the Feel At Home service. There are some other EU networks that don’t apply the restriction so strenuously. Otherwise, I think the EU would probably suggest you get a local SIM card from the country you spend most of your time in (which of course, you can now use in the UK at no extra charge).
      Hope this helps,

    • Thank you, I will get a local Sim and use that in the U.K. For outgoing calls. Would an incoming call to my UK number register as non U.K. Use? I ask because of course my nearest and dearest currently benefit when calling a UK number as opposed to a EU number which would not be the case if I adopted a foreign SIM
      Thank you for your excellent work

      • Hi Keith,
        Thanks for this! To be honest, I’m not sure exactly how they measure this. I suspect that it won’t actually affect anyone until the middle of October at the earliest (seeing as the rules only come into force tomorrow), so unfortunately I think it might be a matter of “wait and see”. Sorry I’m not able to shed any more light on this – hopefully, things will become a bit clearer in time (and of course, do please share anything you learn as I’d like to maintain this as a resource for other people asking the same questions as yourself).
        Thanks again!

  • Hi Ken,

    Many thanks for a fantastic article and compiling all the information together.

    I’m on Three and what will be interesting is whether Three throttle data on certain services – cos at the moment for “Feel At Home” I can’t stream music or radio when in Spain cos they throttle. I’m going this weekend so will report back.

    • Hi Simon,
      Yes – please do keep me updated and let me know what you find! I think Three now really need to up their game in this area as everyone else is also offering a ‘Roam Like At Home’ service. Hopefully, this means they’ll improve the data speeds on Feel At Home in Europe (I’d also love them to add 4G and to remove the restrictions on tethering).

  • Hi Ken,

    For a continent which aspires to have a digital single market the new EU roaming regulations are a farce (cf Australia or USA where one sim card will cover you wherever you go.) My point is proved simply by the need for your good self to examine each UK provider in detail rather than to be able to tell us in one sentence that we can take any UK plan to any EU country with no restrictions at all – which is what we have long been promised.

    For the thousands of us who winter in Spain the new EU regulations are a very retrograde step. Last winter our ‘home’ number with O2 gave us calls within Europe at 4p/min and texts at 2p with incoming texts and calls free. This winter we will pay more and may be cut off after 60 days so we will have to take several sim cards and keep changing our ‘home’ number.

    For local calls and data we have switched from using Mundo (main advantage a 12-month validity period, main disadvantage the excessive call establishment fee of 30c) to Digi Mobil. They use the Movistar network.

    Currently, Digi Mobil have a 12c call establishment fee for all calls and rates of 2c/min to Spanish and UK landlines and other Digi users, 5c/min to other Spanish mobiles and 6c/min to UK mobiles.
    Texts are 5c in Spain and 9c to UK.
    30 day data packages start at 5E for 2GB, combo packages start at 5E for 1GB plus 100 mins (inc to UK) plus 2000 mins to other Digi users.

    You have to top up every 6 months to keep your number active but you can do this at They accept UK Mastercard or Visa debit or credit cards.
    You can also set up a Mi Cuenta account (they send a validation code (‘codigo’) to your Digi phone to enter on the website) Mi Cuenta allows control of your data packages (start/stop, buy extra, check useage) or you can use the ussd system free from your Smartphone. Checking call credit is also free, other networks may charge for this. Their website also tells you how to manually set your APN settings on your phone to be able to use data services. It also features their Digi magazine with details of all their offers.

    A useful website for comparing Digi with other Spanish operators is

    Hope this was useful and thanks, Ken, for the good work you are doing.

    Regards, Chris

  • According to the new rules to be established in EU from 15 June, all EU mobile operators are obliged to abolish roaming charges. So you should buy a local German SIM card with good options. If you agree on 3G network (the speed is up to 7,2 Mbit/s), there is a good data plan offered by Lebara mobile: 10 GB for 29,99 EUR with duration of 30 days . If you prefer high speed internet connection, I advise you to buy a prepaid tariff CallYa Smartphone Special for 9,99 EUR by operator Vodafone Germany. It includes 1 GB of data , 200 min calls valid for 28 days. For more data you can purchase a data pack, for example 2GB for 19,99 EUR for 28 days, or 4GB for 29,99 for the same period.

    The good news is that a new service Savvy.One has just appeared to make it easier for a traveler to buy a local SIM card. It is done in the form of a chatbot that after a short and plain conversation, makes a search in a large database of mobile operators’ products and finds the best plan that most meets your demands. They give much info about the tariff found and they cover 170 countries and 500 local operators as it claimed on their website

  • Hi Ken,
    We will be traveling from the US to Europe, after June 15th 2017 to
    Germany, Switzerland, Italy, UK, Netherlands and Denmark (whew!).
    We can pay 10 dollars a day! with our ATT plan (ouch) or we could buy a local CIM card when we land. Given the relative short duration between locations 3-7 days, is there an EU CIM Card you would recommend or an approach when we land in Germany first?
    Thank you

    • Hi Will,
      Many thanks for your comment. I’d certainly recommend getting a local SIM card when you arrive in the EU (typically in the first country you arrive in, so that would be Germany for you). Unfortunately, I have very little knowledge about the mobile networks and offers in Germany so you’d probably be best off consulting a German website!

  • I am working abroad from June till October this year. I am looking for an eu sim card that I can have a monthly plan on with so many minutes texts and data to contact the the UK aswell as msg in the country I am working in. What is the best thing to do?

    • Hi Stacey,
      Many thanks for your comment. The good news is from the 15th June 2017, all UK mobile networks will need to allow you to use your allowances abroad in the EU at no extra cost. The short answer, therefore, is pretty much any mobile network will do! However, I’d keep a close eye on roaming restrictions closer to that date (for instance, Three will currently restrict roaming on your account if you spend more than 2 complete months abroad in a given year).
      Many mobile networks already offer some good deals with EU roaming (for instance, EE gives you free EU roaming on all but their cheapest ‘Essential’ price plans).
      Hope this helps,

  • Hi Ken,

    I’m from the UK and have a contract here, but in July 2017, I’ll be visiting several EU countries (Germany, Italy, Spain etc.) with a couple of friends. As this is after the changes to European roaming in June, would I need to get any UK pay as you go sim, or could I just use my contract at no extra cost?


    • Hi Joe,
      Many thanks for your comment. Assuming you’re planning to travel after the 15th June 2017, then yes, you can just use your existing contract at no extra cost inside the EU. There wouldn’t really be very much benefit of getting a Pay As You Go SIM card to travel in the EU after that date.
      Hope this helps!

  • I would be coming from the US to the UK, with a GSM phone (an LG v20). Are you able to offer any advise about getting a SIM card either before I leave or when I arrive to Gatwick? And then one that could work in Spain?

    Thank you!

    • Hi Samazama,
      Thanks for your comment. If you’re travelling before the 15th June 2017, I’d say the best value choice would probably be to get a SIM card from Three. If you’re travelling after the 15th June, you’ll likely to be covered by the new EU legislation that applies to all mobile networks.
      With regards to actually buying the SIM card, I’d strongly recommend doing this when you arrive in town. You can pick up a SIM card from almost any supermarket or mobile phone store, and the upfront cost for this SIM card should normally be minimal (no more than £1, plus your initial top-up). If you like, you can also buy a SIM card at the airport but you’re likely to be paying over the roof for this (normally, you’ll pay about £10 for the SIM card and there won’t be any credit on it).
      Hope this helps,

  • Hi Ken,

    I’m from the US and have what should be an unlocked iPhone. I’m traveling through Italy, Greece, France, Spain, and the Netherlands this summer and pretty much care most about a data plan. I want to be able to send WhatsApp messages from anywhere. What would you suggest?

    Thank you!

    • Hi Cassie,
      Thanks for your comment. I presume you’ll be travelling after the 15th June 2017? If so, you should be able to pick up any Pay As You Go SIM card upon arrival in the EU. This is because roaming charges inside the EU are due to be scrapped. Expect to pay about €10 to €15 for a SIM card with one months usage.
      Hope this helps,

  • Hi Ken,

    Thank you for providing such helpful information to help people get the best smartphone service possible. I hope you can help my case too. I am from US and doing river cruise in April, first we will fly to Munich airport, then be picked by cruise people to the port. We will travel thru Czech Republic, Austria, slovakia, and Hungary. I need to keep connected to internet while I am on shore excursions and the extended stay in Budapest. What type of sim would you suggest? The only chance for me to get the pre-paid sim or so is at Munich airport. Otherwise, I need to have it delivered to US before I depart. Your advice and input will be appreciated. Thank you in advance.

    • Hi MJ,
      Thanks for your comment. Your best bet would be to pick up a SIM card in your country of arrival (therefore, as you say, picking up a SIM card from Munich airport).
      Unfortunately, I can’t advise you on the best German SIM card as I only know about SIM cards in the UK (probably best to check on some German websites or forums). There should certainly be a couple of German SIM cards that will give you good value usage across the EU, particularly with the recent changes to EU roaming legislation.

      • Thank you so much for the response. I will then do the search for German sim cards good for EU use.
        Again, many thanks for your time and advice.

  • Hi Ken

    I’m from South Africa and will be traveling to Italy and Europe for 3 weeks in October 2017.

    Will it be at all possible to get a friend to purchase a UK SIM on my behalf and bring to SA, which I can use for WhatsApp, facebook and maps on my SA mobile whilst travelling? Which Unfortunately I won’t be visiting the UK at all. Which most reasonable option would you recommend?


    • Hi Celia,
      Thanks for your comment. Yes: of course, your friend can certainly purchase a UK SIM card for you (however, I also recommend they top it up in cash before leaving the UK, as not all UK mobile networks will accept an international credit card).
      Saying that, if you’re planning to travel in October 2017, you should probably be fine just waiting and then getting an Italian SIM card upon arrival. From June 2017, all EU mobile networks will need to offer roaming across the European Union at no extra charge. Therefore, you could use an Italian SIM card in any European country.
      Hope this helps,

      • Hi Ken

        Thanks for the info, it certainly is very helpful. The option of waiting until we get to Italy sounds like the way to go.

        Have a great day.

        Kind regards,

  • Hi,

    I am planning to try following a recommendation of my friend, they have a Europe wide 12gb data sim card for about 50 bucks. Did anybody else try this sim card?


  • Hi Ken,
    Later this year (May/June) we’re intending to do a “roadtrip” beginning with a ferry from UK to Holland.
    All being well the intention is to take a couple of days travelling through Germany before arriving in Italy! After a week or so in Italy we may travel into Spain for a few days before returning to Italy for a while and then reversing our route back to Holland and UK.
    The plan is to take a Dual SIM phone with my usual SIM and a European SIM, which leads me to the question — which SIM is the best for my purpose?

    Best regards,

  • Chris Wrigley said:

    Very helpful..we all have different needs and perceptions, having lived here in france for last 4 years I find French telecom suppliers are equally tricky to deal with as anywhere else. with this in mind folk need to understand what they are contracting into before signing up as they are vindictive and tedious when it comes to escaping their clutches… stick to prepaid for short term use.
    As an old git (read simpleton) wanting to take long motorhome trips into europe it looks like a mobile mifi (with provision for antenna) with data only sim is best option for me having had good results previously.
    Question is why is it so expensive to buy data? half of which one doesn’t want i.e advertising, spam, etc.

  • Samuel Holden said:

    Good afternoon

    Thank you for this article is has been a great help.

    I am looking to purchase a sim card for a trip to Zagreb and Budapest later this month.

    I am looking at the Three deal for £10, do I have to pay extra for the add on as when I go to purchase it does not state that I have the add on?

    Also I will not be calling any european numbers, but I may call my girlfriend who will be with me, if we have to split up or get separated. Will I have to pay extra for this? It will be a UK phone number but she will be in Europe. Please advise

    Many thanks

    • Hi Samuel,
      Thanks for your comment and sorry for the delay in replying. To benefit from the Feel At Home offer, you need to convert your £10 of credit into an ‘All in One 10’ bundle. This will allow you to use the allowances abroad in Croatia and Hungary through the Feel At Home offer at no additional charge.
      With regards to calling your girlfriend’s UK-based phone number: yes, you’ll be able to do this at no additional charge. Your 100 minutes can be used for calling a UK-based phone number (it doesn’t matter that the other person is also abroad with you).
      Hope this helps!

      • thank you for your help.
        I will take advantage of this offer then as it seems the best value for money.
        Thanks for the advice it is much appreciated

  • Chris Robinson said:

    Next year (2017) I plan to spend 3 months in France, I still have a French mobile which was with Orange until I relocated to the UK in 2015, my current UK provider is EE. For my trip to France would I be better off purchasing a French SIM only card and using my French phone or getting some sort of EU option from EE. Most of my calls will be France to France, Internet access not an issue as I can check my e-mails via wi-fi and my laptop.

    Forgot to add, current EE contract is on another, UK phone.

    • Hi Chris,
      Thanks for your comment. When in 2017 are you planning to travel to France? From the 15th June 2017, roaming charges will be scrapped entirely within the EU (so you can use your EE handset in France at no extra charge). Even without this, roaming rates are generally quite reasonable (about 4p/minute) so you can probably get away with using your UK SIM card if you just want to make a couple of phone calls. Otherwise, your best option might be to get a SIM card from France with inclusive minutes, texts and data (this will probably cost you about €10/month).

  • Hi mate,

    Coming from Australia & will be travelling to the UK (at the start) then off on a tour throughout central Europe (30 days) & then back to the UK for another 10 days, calls & sms aren’t a huge concern, just more of a data plan that may be suitable, & I have heard wifi has a good coverage in the EU so it doesn’t have to be a huge data plan?


    • Hi Simon,
      Thanks for your comment. You’re right in saying that wi-fi coverage is often fairly decent in city centre areas. However, it can often be difficult to access (e.g. it may not be free, or it may require you to log in with a password). It’s very rare to actually find free open wi-fi that you can use straight away! And of course, if you’re going on a tour, the places you visit could be more remote and may lack wi-fi altogether.
      Given this, I’d definitely recommend getting a SIM card from your trip if possible. The SIM card mentioned above from Three UK could be good for your usage (£10 for 1GB of data or £20 for 12GB of data). It will work anywhere in Europe as part of the Feel At Home offer.
      Hope this helps,

        • How did this work out for you? I will be coming from the States to Italy (Milan) then on to France. Can the the 3 sim card feel at home offer be found at European airports or is this something i must order online? Trip departure is in 1 week. Looking for data plan to use in Italy and France for 10 days.

          Thanks for the help, in advance.

  • Hi Ken

    Thanks for the info.

    If I’m travelling to- the following countries, should I just get the SIM cards (data only) locally?

    – Germany
    – Czech Republic
    – Poland
    – Austria
    – Slovakia
    – Slovenia
    – Hungary
    – Croatia
    – Bosnia

    Thanks for your help!

      • Hi Ken
        So with the three package
        It only includes data, when in the selected countries, but calls and texts only to the UK?
        Any suggestions If I would like the option to call within these EU countries?

        • Hi Gaby,
          That’s right: phone calls and text messages are only included to UK-based numbers (so anything with +44 is fine, including other people in your party also with a Feel At Home SIM). If you’d like to call other EU countries, they’ll charge you 3.9p/minute and 1.6p/text. You can add some extra credit to your SIM card to cover this usage (e.g. you could top-up £15 for a £10 bundle and £5 of credit).
          Hope this helps,

  • Good collection of info.
    I wanted to add some input regarding local SIM cards. It is true that you will need to provide your details such as an ID card and sign a contract if you buy a local SIM card. However, you can buy prepaid SIM cards for which you will not need any documents, you can buy it at pretty much any major shopping mall, kiosk or service provider shop, outlet. It will be valid for one month and if you plan on staying longer, you can just top it up with whatever amount you want to and it will be valid for another month again. In most cases it will cost less than 10 EUR as well. For example, prepaid SIM card in Lithuania would cost 2,29 EUR, for which you would het 1GB 4G internet, 250mins and 6000 SMS and if that’s not enough you can buy additional plans for a few EUR If you are in Estonia, you can buy a card for 1 EUR, that will give you 200 MB of mobile data and then buy additional 1GB for 2 EUR – . You can also choose plans for 3 or 8 EUR that include calls and SMS.

    • Hi Dan,
      Thanks for the info about prepaid SIM cards in Lithuania and Estonia. I do believe the ID requirements for a PAYG SIM card differ by country. Some countries require ID due to their national security laws, whereas others (including the UK) allow you to get a PAYG SIM card with no ID at all 🙂

  • Hi Ken,
    I ‘ll be visiting to UK and Austria next month. I intend to buy the prepaid sim card which i can use during my stay in both country and the prepaid sim card should be able to be activated as wifi hotspot so i can share the Wifi with my other devices. If i use Three’s all in one, how long it will take for the sim card to be used after i have purchased and registered on line.

    Thanks for any help.


    • Hi Mahadi,
      Thanks for your comment. Three’s All in One SIM card will be activated as soon as you switch it on (no need to wait before you can start using the SIM card). One thing worth noting, however, is you can’t use personal hotspot on Three’s Pay As You Go SIM cards (take a look at this article for more information).
      Hope this helps,

  • Great source of info Ken, I too use 3 mobile for many years and it was great when they introduced the “Feel at Home” feature again.
    I’ve got a 3 MiFi device to keep the laptop happy and have just got a great SIM from them that I hope to use next week its the “Broadband – Pay As You Go + 12”
    I can get 12 months worth or 12Gb broadband which ever end soonest … for £30
    This is perfect for the odd ski trip and holiday as long as I go to favoured destinations.
    Thanks 3 mobile and thanks Ken !

  • isaac needham said:

    Hi all, i have an Austrian girlfriend and she is in need of a new phone, he prices in Austria are much dearer so my idea is to buy her a phone in England (unlocked)
    would she then be able to use the phone with Austrian networks in Austria?

    any help is greatly appreciated

    • Hi Isaac,
      Yes – this shouldn’t be a problem but providing your handset is unlocked for use on any network. I’d also advise you to read this article if you’re planning to buy an iPhone.
      Hope this helps,

  • I travel to the northern French coast opposite Hastings for a few days every month. I have been using a Three Huawei wifi dongle which gave excellent internet and fairly good English tv channels (occasional modest buffering) via the net. Recently however this has changed. Although I get 5 bar signal strength the Three icon displays ‘Limited’ and the internet has become very intermittent and the tv impossible to connect. Three say this maybe due to the French supplier limiting streaming. Additionally there is no service whilst on the ferry from Dover to Calais. I have been told attaching an external aerial to the dongle won’t improve the situation in France and the best solution is to get an Orange sim card in France. Can I just switch the card in the Three dongle or is there a better solution?

  • Hi Ken,
    I am travelling to Denmark, Sweden, Norway, so my best plan should be 20pounds Three bundle. How will it be charged on voice calling back to UK or receiving from UK?

    • Hi Andy,
      Great news: you can use your inclusive minutes to call a UK number when you’re abroad and using the Feel At Home offer (so there’s no charge providing you stay within the 300 minutes included in your plan). It will also be free to receive incoming phone calls. For more information, see my full review of the Feel At Home offer.
      Hope this helps,

  • Ken,

    Your information is very helpful, and I am getting some picture about what to do with phones. I am visiting UK, France, and the Netherlands. 3’s Feel At Home is perfect except it doesn’t cover Dutch.

    So, here’s what I am thinking. While I am in the UK using 3, can I buy an O2 Pay As You Go sim with O2 Travel? Since I am visiting Dutch for only 2 days, 3.98 pounds seems too cheap.

    Thanks in advance

    • Hi Jin,
      Unfortunately you’ll need to make a minimum top-up of £10 on an O2 Pay As You Go SIM card. For this reason, getting a SIM card from O2 might not be the cheapest way of using your phone in the Netherlands. Instead, I’d probably suggest adding a bit of extra credit on to your SIM card from Three. You’ll be able to use it in the Netherlands at EU roaming rates of 3.9p/minute, 1.6p/text and 3.9p/MB. You can top up on Three with £5 of extra credit which should probably cover most of your usage.
      Hope this helps,

  • Hi Ken!
    I’m travelling from Canada to the UK and then Zakinthos (Greece) for 2 weeks. To be honest all I really want is a good data plan to track my jogging and of course Facebook LOL. I have an old Blackberry from the UK that used to be on Virgin Mobile and I have an Apple 5S from Canada. Can you recommend a good plan for basically just a little bit of texting and a lot of data (1G or more) as the free Wi-Fi is sparse on the island.

    Thank you!

    • Hi Rosslynn,
      As you’re travelling this summer and as you’re going to a country that isn’t a part of Three’s Feel At Home offer, it might be worth having a look at the Tesco Mobile ‘Home from Home’ deal. You can pick up one of their Pay As you Go data bundles (e.g. 1GB for £7.50) which you’ll be able to use in Greece at no extra charge.
      Hope this helps,

  • Hi Ken,

    This may be too little too late, but I just came across your blog posts while searching for the best EU phone deals. I like the versatility of ‘Three’ and would like to purchase that nano SIM for my iPhone 5.

    I live in Canada and will be visiting Europe w/ my wife for July. We’ll be visiting 3 countries on “Three”‘s Int’l list.

    I love their plan, but can’t seem to find an outlet to purchase one (Amazon doesn’t feel reliable – but maybe I’m wrong).

    Please advise on purchasing such a SIM in the quickest way possible.

    • Hi Jason,
      Thanks for your comment. Will you be visiting the UK on your trip in to Europe? If so, you can pick up a SIM card from Three at any of UK retail stores. If you aren’t planning to visit the UK first in your trip, you might be better off choosing a mobile network in the first country you visit.

  • Hi Ken, great write up. My daughter is going to Malta for a week, she’ll only need a sim for a few texts and a call or two. Would a £10 payg from O2 be the best bet? I’m with O2 and my wife is with Virgin mobile.

    • Hi Joe,
      Thanks for your comment. The O2 SIM card is good for using data abroad (e.g. if she wants to use data on her smartphone). However, if she’s only going to make a couple of short phone calls, standard roaming costs might be cheaper (there are networks charging just 4.3p/minute and 1.7p/text in Europe).
      Hope this helps,

      • Thanks Ken. She’s 9 years old and doesn’t have a sim just the phone so it was just a one week ‘fix’. Think I’ll go with the O2 payg sim – thanks again, Joe

  • Hi Ken,
    Thanks for all your info.
    I have just been using a “3” SIM on our multi-country 6 week trip. Using the £20 12Gb/300min plan turned out perfect: we used nearly 2Gb and the included minutes allowed me to call home free and make intl calls to other countries going through my (UK) Skype-in number as the roaming data speed where we were typically staying and/or my not-the-youngest S3 phone was too slow to use Skype direct from the phone.
    In Austria (not on “3”) we picked up an excellent local sim at a discount store: €7 for tons of data. And Austria being Austria: no no ID or details required.

    • Hi Rob.

      I’m on the Three Pay-As-You-Go plan in the UK and am travelling to Austria, and trying to decide if I should get a local SIM there or stick with Three. Could you please share where you got your Austrian SIM and what it was called? And how much data did you get?

      I’ll need loads of data (GPS, emails, social network), at least 400 texts, and the ability to make calls for cheap.


      • Hi Bella,
        It was a ‘Hot’ sim. Don’t recall the exact name of the supermarket chain but it looked a lot like the local version of a Lidl.
        3’s at-home is not in Austria, so using that you’d be paying big roaming charges.
        Cheers, Rob

        • Thanks, Rob. But 3’s Feel at Home does cover Austria, so why do you think I’d be responsible for roaming charges? I’ll keep the Hot sim in mind for when I’m in Austria next month. Thanks again!

      • Oh yeah: it was i believe 4Gb of data, but you can get even more. It was certainly (by far) the lowest cost/Gb i ever had!
        And it will tether so you can use as hotspot.
        Good luck (I am travelling again and wont respond further).

  • I live in the United States and will be traveling in the UK, France, Netherlands, and Denmark this summer. I was all set to purchase an O2 Pay as you Go International SIM, then add the O2 Travel Bolt on, but I called an O2 retail store to confirm that this would work. My understanding from the store clerk is that the O2 Travel Bolt on is NOT available for Pay as you Go SIMs. Has anyone actually combined these two offers successfully?

    — Tim

    • Hi Tim,
      Thanks for your comment. O2 Travel is available for Pay As You Go SIM cards. However, you’ll get just 100MB of data each day (on Pay Monthly the offer is different and you get 120 minutes, 120 texts and unlimited data). I’m not aware of any reason why you can’t combine it with specific Pay As You Go tariffs (e.g. with the International SIM card).

  • Hi Ken,
    I live in US and will travel to Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, and maybe Switzerland for 17 days starting July 4th, 2016. My US carrier charges $40 for 100 mb of data, 100 voice/text for 30 days. However, we will need more than 100 mb of date for these 17 days.
    I read your article which is very helpful. I was wondering whehter Tesco Mobile: Home from Home is the best plan for us. Do I first need to get a UK phone number? If this is not the best plan, which is the best one for us?
    Thanks for the advise.

    • Hi Livia,
      Thanks for your comment. Are you going to be visiting the UK as the first country on your trip? If so, the Tesco Mobile Home from Home offer could possibly be a good choice for you. If you aren’t planning to visit the UK first, you may need to pick up a SIM card in the first country you’re visiting.

  • Mike Williams said:

    Am in Canada and wil be visiting Norway and Denmark. Wondering if I can purchase a SIM card for “3” in Amsterdam(my phone is unlocked).
    I have spend some time searching on the “3” website…but have a bit of a language issue. It looks like they may have pulled out of Denmark?

    • Hi Mike,
      Thanks for your comment. Three does have a network in Denmark – you can see their website here. It’s worth noting however that 3 Denmark is a totally different network to 3 UK. While they have a similar 3LikeHome offer, it’s a totally different to the Feel At Home offer from 3 UK! Unfortunately the 3 Denmark website seems to only be in Danish so I couldn’t tell you very much about it myself!

      • Thanks…I ordered a “3” SIM card from Amazon in the US. I will let you know how it worked out.
        Says I can add data etc on line…25 pds for 7 GB…so I assume it is thru the UK.

    • Hi there,
      Thanks for the heads up about this! As background for anyone choosing to look in to this option, MTX Connect is a Luxembourg-based operator. They charge €3.50 plus VAT per day for up to 150MB of data (this is about £3.20/day for UK residents including VAT based on the exchange rate today).

  • David Astley said:

    Hi Ken, I am on BT plan at present, but am getting a 3Three one month PAYG Sim card for a two week holiday in Spain.
    I will use the 3Three mobile number for the trip as it is only going to be temporary. Can I set my BT number to forward calla to the 3Three number so I don’t miss any calls? I gave an iPhone 6+ (unlocked).

    • Hi David,
      Thanks for your comment. Yes: you should be able to set up call forwarding from BT Mobile to Three. Bear in mind however, you’ll pay for the portion of the call going from BT Mobile to Three. There should be no additional charges if you have a sufficient number of minutes on your BT Mobile account and providing you’re leaving your BT Mobile at home in the UK or switched off. If you switch on your BT Mobile abroad or if you run out of minutes to cover the forwarding, then there may be additional charges incurred.
      Hope this helps,

      • David Astley replied:

        Thanks for the reply Ken. Great site for mobile phone knowledge. I always check here first before changing networks. Keep up the good work.

  • I am traveling to Great Britain from the U.S..I have an unlocked iPhone 6. What is the best and cheapest way for me to call home and make calls while in England? I will need a lot of minutes.

  • Hi Ken!

    Thanks so much for this very clear info you have put together for the public’s benefit!

    We arrived in the UK a few days ago and bought Lebara at Heathrow at an info desk. The person was very helpful and friendly and did everything to have our phones ready for use in the UK.

    We have the £10/30 days plan of 500 UK mins, 500 intl mins and 1GB data. However we paid £35 for this, incl the sim card.

    Were we done in? Or is that Heathrow’s surcharge?

    I’ve read on tripadvisor people complaining that if you empty your Lebara bundle before the 30 days are up, you cannot buy a new bundle and are then charged at the PAYG rate. Is this true for all providers and their bundles?


    • Hi Cornelia,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, yes, SIM cards are incredibly overpriced at Heathrow. Typically, SIM cards can actually be obtained for free – you should only need to pay for the value of the top-up. I know this advice comes a bit too late for you, but for this reason I typically recommend getting your SIM card in town (you can go to pretty much any phone shop or supermarket to get a free SIM card).
      With regards to Lebara, unfortunately I don’t think they allow you to renew your bundle early. giffgaff is one mobile network that allows you to renew early (not too sure about the policy on other networks).

  • Dear Ken,
    this is a great website of yours. I like the clear and well structured information it provides. Well done!
    However, here is a question where I was not able to find releated information.
    Is there a mobile UK phone provider that lets me use my phone anywhere in the world at competitive rates and without having to worry about roaming rates, incoming calls from abroad etc. and, preferably, for multiple users (i.e. my family of four)?
    I hear that several providers in the US offer these kind of deals.
    Please advise.

    • Hi Rainer,
      Thank you for the kind words about the website! I do believe some US networks have some good deals on roaming but unfortunately, we don’t have that much here in the UK. There are a couple of good offers however e.g. Three’s Feel At Home gives you free roaming in 18 countries (including all of the top destinations for UK tourists). Vodafone also has a good flat-rate deal in the form of EuroTraveller and WorldTraveller (gives you fixed price roaming in 99 countries).

  • Mark Henare said:

    Hi Ken,
    I will be travelling through Amsterdam, Germany and Austria over a three week period. I simply cannot find a Pay-as-you-Go sim card that covers all three countries. I would use some data, and calls/texts to local friends and travelling companions. Any ideas? Using a sim card in UK at the moment and it’s great (unlimited data etc). Cheers, Mark

    • Hi Mark,
      Thanks for your comment. Everything is due to change on the 30th April this year as EU roaming charges will be capped once again. If you’re planning to travel after that date, I would probably wait around to see the deals available at that point. If you’re planning to travel some time this month, you’re probably best off using O2 Travel (this gives you 50MB of data for £1.99/day).

  • Hi Ken
    This is excellent stuff. Just so I’m fully in the know, Three’s All in One 10 sim can be purchased at a Three store in England …when I get there? In other words, I dont have to order it online, right ? Thanks!

    • Hi David,
      That’s right 🙂 You can also pick up a SIM card when you arrive in the UK at a Three retail store. Alternatively, you might be able to get a SIM card from nearby supermarkets, etc.

  • Hi Ken,
    I am currently on a monthly contract with EE. Next month I’m spending 3 days in Vienna & was wondering if I need the three £10 sim or whether I’m ok using my contract with EE. I won’t be making loads of calls or texts particularly but would like to access the Internet during the day and don’t have wifi in my hotel room.
    Many thanks for your time & advice

    • Hi Letty,
      Thanks for your comment. A £10 SIM card from Three could certainly suit your usage well in Austria However, you could also consider just using your normal EE SIM card. They’ll charge you £3/day for 50MB of data (so just £9 for the 3-day trip). This is slightly cheaper than using the deal from Three but you’ll need to take a bit of care to stay within the 50MB limit! Also, you won’t get calls and texts included unless you’re on a 4GEE Extra plan from EE.
      Hope this helps,

  • Hi, I am travelling frequently throughout the EU for work. I currently use 3 feel at home. The problem is most of the time it’s almost unusable. It does not allow tethering, it does not allow streaming, and to top it all I am risk of having the service switched off. I want a PAYG sim that provides 4G, that allows tethering and streaming. I don’t care about cheap, I want something reliable and good. Can you suggest anything?

    • If this helps I’m mostly in Belgium, France and Italy. I was planning to to use the sim mainly for data, not to worried about calls and text. I will probably insert the sim into a mobile mifi unit.

  • Hi Ken, great article and very informative. My wife and I live in England and will shortly be moving to Fuerteventura for a 6 month period. I have requested an All-In-One SIM card from Three for myself. My wife is German and requires a product in order to call landline numbers in Germany. A bit of a long shot but could you recommend any?

    • Hi Duncan,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be able to advise you on all the ins-and-out of Spanish SIM cards (unfortunately, I don’t have this level of knowledge!). I do have a short article here about SIM cards in Spain, but it’s mainly catered towards short-term visitors from the UK who are travelling to Spain. I suggest checking out some of the options there in a bit more detail? Alternatively, you might have better luck on an expat forum.
      Finally, as an aside, it’s worth pointing out the All-in-One SIM card will only work in a Feel At Home country for up to 2 months per year. This might cause you a few problems on a 6-month stay, so you may also need to check out one of the local Spanish networks.
      Hope this helps,

  • Hi Ken,
    I am going to work in Austria for 3 months – can you suggest any particular sim that will be best for me – considering I’d like a lot of DATA. I have looked at the 3 SIM.
    Have you looked at the Lebra Flexi Europe SIM?
    Allows for a lot of data at a fixed price.

    • Hi Chloe,
      Thanks for your comment and sorry for the delay in replying.
      If you’re spending 3 months in Austria, you’re probably best off getting a SIM card locally from the mobile networks there (with Three, you could use your phone in Austria at no extra charge but you’d only be able to do this for up to 2 months per year). With regards to the Lebara offer you shared, it looks like the allowances there are only for when you’re in the UK (i.e. it’s for calling a European number whilst you’re in the UK).

  • I live in Canada and will be travelling to England, France and Italy in May and June 2016 what is the best option for data plan, phone and texting. I have an unlocked smart phone.

    • Hi Ruby,
      Thanks for your comment. As you’re planning to travel to the UK, France and Italy, I would probably recommend a Pay As You Go SIM card from Three. With this, you’ll be able to use their Feel At Home offer (this allows you to use your phone in France & Italy at no extra charge).
      Hope this helps!

  • Hi Ken, Ive just checked out these sims and frankly I think you are over
    optimistic. They all require monthly contracts. 3 state that ts only intended for calls back to UK.
    The best Ive found is at 34euros, “orange holiday”.
    Best, Greg

  • Hi Ken,

    I have had a quick look at your links, (thank you) and I am hoping you can answer me before I have to study it all (I know very lazy) I will be travelling with my Hubby and 2 teenage sons. We will have 3 unlocked phones that we are bringing with us from OZ. We will be in the UK for 10 days then going on a 14 day tour of Europe, counties we will visit will be Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovinia, Slovakia, France, Switzerland and Italy, Hungary. then back to UK for 3 days, I am not so worried about Data in UK which I know I can buy easily, more for Europe on the coach tours, especially for the teenage boys to keep them from Whinging they are bored for 14 days. I know they should appreciate their surroundings, (we are talking about teenagers) so I need to have a decent amount of data for them. the 3 network does not seem to cover all the countries, and Vodaphone only gives you 100mb if I have understood this correctly. I am hoping you can tell me what our best option is so that I can enjoy my holiday….lol A big Thank you in advance if you or anyone else has any advice (other than leaving the teenagers at home…).

    P.S. we are stopping in Kuala Lumper for 2 days on way over, can you buy iphone 6s cheaper there??

    • Hi Vicky,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, the European market is still incredibly fragmented with regards to the networks & the roaming deals available. As you say, it’s fairly easy when you’re only visiting one country, but it’s much more complicated when you’re visiting 12! Unfortunately, there isn’t really a best deal that covers all of the countries so you either need to mix-and-match or you need to choose a specific deal and accept paying a bit more (e.g. £1.99/day for 50MB on O2 or £3/day for 100MB on Vodafone).

  • Ken- great review. Sounds like Three will be best for our trip to USA then UK, France and Italy. We are based in NZ. Can we buy the Three SIM here or even order it to be sent here before we leave then inserted as we leave Auckland?
    Cheers Andy

    • Hi Andy,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, the Three SIM card is only available in the UK (you can pick it up from a Three retail store or you can order it online to a UK address via their website). I believe some retailers on eBay may send it out of the UK (though I haven’t tested or verified any of these).

  • Hi Ken,

    I am going to be out in the UK at least for the week and then head over to Italy, Slovenia, Germany, Finland, and Spain to visit friends. Everything is up in the air about how long I will be over there, so when I was in Italy I had a top-of-min plan and going through each of these I need to figure out ideally which one I need.

    I would like a UK number. But, I need a SIM card that will not charge me extra for the service, so I was looking at plans and got confused. I won’t need to use the phone to call much since I use Whatsapp to stay in touch with friends overseas, but, I will need service for data.

    Any good suggestions? My coworkers daughter lived out in the UK and was using Virgin, which looks promising, then my friend in Madrid is using Vonafone, and then I will probably staying in Italy for a while because I have a free place to stay and WIFI. So I need to figure out which one, I know that Three is in Italy, so I just need to figure out which company would be the best for my needs.

    Thank you.

    • Hi Beth,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, there isn’t a single deal for pan-European usage: this is because the European mobile market is incredibly fragmented on a country-by-country basis.
      If you want to use a UK-based SIM card, Three will probably be the best for Italy, Finland and Spain. With the Feel At Home offer, you can use your phone at no extra charge in these countries. On Pay As You Go, you’ll need to buy an All-in-One bundle to take advantage of the offer. For Slovenia and Germany, you’ll be better off on O2 Pay As You Go. Here, it’ll be £1.99/day for 50MB of data when travelling in those countries.
      Hope this helps,

  • Hi Ken
    I live in Australia and will be travelling with my husband in London, Paris and Italy for one month in total. We have a phone each. Collectively, we will need the internet and also need to call Australia and NZ (probably 1 or 2 x 10 minute calls per week).

    Are there any European SIMS that offer both? Alernatively, we could load one phone with a SIM with a reasonable amount of data (the Three PAYG 1G date looks good), and load the other phone with a SIM with overseas calling capacity.

    Can you let me know what you would recommend? Also, can we grab the SIMS fairly easily (i.e. local store, airport)?

    Thanks Ken

    • Hi Leigh,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, this is a fairly complex question – you’re travelling to multiple European countries and you’re also wanting to make international phone calls. For someone typically visiting the UK, France and Italy, I’d probably recommend the SIM card from Three (you can use the Feel At Home offer with an All in One bundle so your allowances work in all three countries). The downside is it’s pretty expensive to call Australia & NZ from the UK – the standard rate is 56.2p/minute. The table here shows you can get much lower rates when calling Australia & New Zealand from other UK networks. A further complication is if you’re calling Australia & New Zealand whilst in France & Italy. Unfortunately, I’m not totally sure how much this costs (I suspect the pricing might be fairly complex!). To avoid doing this, consider using a voice-over-IP app such as Skype – that way you only need to compare the rates for using data.

  • Ken,
    Exactly the info I needed. Travelling UK, Portugal and Spain so looks like I am after the O2 sim. I assume I can buy one locally when I arrive in London?
    Thanks so much for sorting through the morass on our behalf.

  • Hi Ken, being a little bit of a novice, I found your article very easy to read, thank you. I wonder if you can advise me the best way forward please. My husband and his pensioner brother and sister are off to tour Holland, Germany, Austria, Belgium and possibly Switzerland. My hubby is on Vodafone payg and I’m aware that he can use his big value bundle for calling and texting but as they are going for 35 days, I have no desire to pay over £100 for mobile data! Obviously he will use WiFi when he can but when they want to use satnav on his phone for travelling or there is no WiFi, what do you suggest, please? What about a Vodacom prepaid sim?

    • Hi Sarah,
      Thanks for your comment. The best thing to do would probably be to get an offline navigation app such as HERE Maps (available for iPhone, Android and Windows Phone). It allows you to save the maps to your phone so reduces the need to regularly connect to the internet.
      In terms of other advice, I’d also consider a £10 Pay As You Go SIM card from Three. With Feel At Home, you can use the allowances at no extra charge in Austria and Switzerland. As it’s £10 for 30 days of usage, it will probably work out cheaper than £3/day. For the other three countries, O2 charges only £1.99/day (saving you £1/day compared to the deal from Vodafone)/

  • Hello Ken,

    thank you for this really helpful topic. My husband and I, are going on a trip in south of France within 3 weeks. We found a french company named My Webspot which provides mobile hotspot for rental. they have an offer at 7.5€/day for 1Gb per day in 4G. We saw they also have a European plan, as we may go to italy after that. Seems to be easy because they also provide the device. What do you think?

    • Hi Catherine,
      Thanks for your comment. Afraid I haven’t heard of the ‘My Webspot’ service so I wouldn’t be able to give any feedback on the offer. My only comment is €7.50/day seems extortionately expensive – I believe that works out at €157.50 for 3 weeks usage? As a maximum, you shouldn’t really be paying more than €25/month for a hotspot service.

  • Hi Ken,

    My wife is heading over to the UK from Australia next month. She is looking for a carrier that she can use in her iPad (just for data only) when she is away from hotel WiFi connections. She is visiting England, France, Italy, Denmark & Ireland. Is there anything that services all these countries without having to swap out SIM’s over the trip. Thanks in advance.

  • Hi

    My daughter is going on a 9 month internship in Italy, any suggestions on which network would be best for her to sign up to so she can text/ call the uk ?

    • Hi Chris,
      The best thing for her to do would almost certainly be to get a SIM card from the local Italian networks. I’m afraid I can’t advise however on the local Italian networks (probably best to research this on some websites in Italy!).

  • O2 does not limit you to 50MB on their European (1.99 / day) tariff. It’s not capped at all but they say it may be ‘managed’

    • Hi Steve,
      Thanks for this! You’re totally right: O2 Travel for Pay Monthly customers has no limit on how much you can download every day. For O2 Pay As You Go customers, there’s a download limit of 50MB/day (see the O2 website for more information). In the article above, I’ve focussed on Pay As You Go SIM cards, hence the mention of 50MB/day limit. For existing Pay Monthly customers on O2, the 50MB limit doesn’t apply.
      Thanks again for heads up about this!

  • Have you seen the Sainsburys Mobile rates? 8p per minute, 4p per text and 5p per MB in Europe on their PAYG. Same rate as at home. Has anyone used this?

  • Hi

    My Parents live in France and they want to keep there Uk mobile number for Friends and family to keep in touch.

    They also want to use there mobile to check emails and update there Facebook ect when out and about so need a good amount of data to do this.

    Will the 3 mobile SIM you suggest work for them living in France or is there a limit on how long you can use their plan for abroad?

    • Hi Richard,
      Thanks for your comment. For more information on the Feel At Home offer, take a look at my full review of the tariff. To summarise, the Three SIM card isn’t really designed for people living abroad. If you spend 3 or more months exclusively abroad during a given year, they’ll terminate the international roaming service on your account.
      Hope this helps,

  • My family is travelling from the UK to Spain where I live. I want a SIM for them which enables them to call the UK if they wish to but more importantly to call to me locally in Spain. I presume the SIMS you have recommended would enable them to call local numbers in Spain at a minimal cost? It would be nice if I didn´t have to call an international number whilst they are here. Do the SIM cards recommended have a UK number? Will I have to pay the cost of an international call to communicate with them?

    Would a Spanish SIM be better for them?

    Many thanks,


    • Hi Emma,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, the SIM cards listed on this page all come with a UK-based phone number. Hence, you would need to pay international calling rates to call them on the SIM card. You’re probably best off buying a Spanish SIM card for your family. This will normally include local calls within Spain and you’ll be able to call them at domestic rates. For more information, see my guide to visitor SIM cards in Spain.
      Hope this helps,

  • Hi Ken
    I am travelling to the UK in September for a couple of weeks and then on to Russia for a month or so. It is my intention to buy a UK SIM on arrival in the UK but want to know if it is the best option to use the same UK SIM in Russia …. or is it better to buy another SIM on arrival in Moscow?
    I will need one SIM for my mobile phone (Samsung) and one for my iPad Air. In Russia the main use will be data and Wi-Fi on the iPad as I will not have much requirement for phone calls. UK will be a mixture of everything.
    Any suggestions?



    • Hi Mike,
      Thanks for your comment. At present, I’m not aware of any UK networks offering a good deal for roaming in Russia (partly this is because Russia is outside the EU so roaming charges there tend to be much more expensive). For this reason, you’re probably best off getting separate SIM cards in the UK and Russia. For the best Pay As You Go deals when visiting the UK, take a look at my article here. For the best deals when visiting Russia, you’ll need to check separately on other websites. I’d also recommend checking the requirements to be able to obtain a SIM card in Russia (some countries will require you to provide proof of ID).
      Hope this helps,

  • Hi Ken,

    I am planning to go on a round trip in Europe and therefore I am comparing international SIM cards. Your article is very usefull, nevertheless, I found some other offers and I would like to hear your opinion about them:
    The first SIM I found is Cerafon. They offer a unitary tariff in Europe at 9,9 Cent/Min. However, I cannot find many information about this enterprise, they seem to be new. Another offer I found at Ortel. They are extremely cheap for calling landlines (3 ct), but on mobile networks (19 ct) they are more expensive than Cerafon. The weekly internet plan is better than Cerafon, on the other hand, the monthly plan of Cerafon is better than Ortel.

    At the moment I am not sure how long I will travel through Europe, it could be 4-6 weeks. Can you give me a recommendation, which tariff is more conforming to my needs? Possibly there are some “traps” that I did not see.
    In general, maybe it is an idea to add these two offers to your website, because at first sight, they seem quite good. 😉

    Thank you,


    • Hi Leandro,
      Thanks for your comment. I assume both Cerafon and Ortel are German-based networks? I must admit I haven’t heard of them myself (but it’s mainly because the article here is written for a UK audience). Much appreciate the heads up about these two deals!

  • Taarik Dookie said:

    Hi Ken.
    Extremely useful article. My problem is last the time I bought a UK prepaid sim, I had to buy vouchers from 3 which was very inconvenient since they don’t allow non-UK credit cards to top up online.
    I’m doing a UK, France, Italy and Greece trip over a month but as I will in the UK first, it’ll be easiest to guy a sim there. I’m only in transit through Gatwick then off to Edin, so I would need to order the SIM online or get in either Gatwick or Edin airports.

  • Hi Ken,

    I have an unlocked iPhone 5 that I plan to take with us on our trip to London and Ireland. We will be in London first, then in Ireland. From your article, I assume that I can buy the 15-pound Three sim upon arrival in London and that it will work immediately in London (there for 1 week) and throughout our travel to Ireland (there for another week). The Three website also states that the 15-pound sim includes 300 minutes calltime, 3000 text messages and “all-you-can-eat” data good for 30 days. This is so much cheaper than anything I could get in the States, so I want to make sure I understand it correctly.

    Many thanks!


    • Hi there fellow Ken,
      You’re right: the £15 SIM card will give you 300 minutes, 3000 texts and all-you-can-eat data (a 25GB limit applies in Ireland). Do be aware: the minutes and texts can only be used for calling a UK number. If you’re planning to call or text a phone number in the Republic of Ireland (+353), it’s 18.8p/minute and 5.9p/text. For this reason, you might need to top up a little extra in case you’re planning to call an Irish number.
      Mobile telephony is certainly much cheaper here in the UK than over in the US!

      • Thanks for the quick confirmation! BTW, we’re planning to have our kids use the unlocked iphone with the Three SIM, while my wife and I will be using my iphone 6 with an ATT international plan. So the kids will be calling/texting a US phone number with the Three SIM. Does that work? Will it also be 18.8p/minute and 5.9p/text?


        • Hi there,
          The costs of calling the US are a little bit complicated!
          In the UK, it’ll cost 3p/minute and 25.2p/text to a US phone number. To get this rate, you must use the 424 override prefix (e.g. dial 424001 followed by the US number). If you don’t do this, it’s a rather eye-watering 56.2p/minute! Click the Pay As You Go tab from the link I’ve provided for more information.
          From the Republic of Ireland, it’ll cost 18.8p/minute and 5.9p/text to a US phone number. In the Republic of Ireland, you shouldn’t use the 424 prefix: just dial the US number as normal (+1 followed by the US number).
          Of course, you may also need to pay AT&T to receive your international phone calls.
          Hope this helps!

  • Hello Ken

    Everytime I travel I go through this nightmare of purchasing new pre paid sims and switching over. I’m coming from Australia (for 4 weeks) and first European stopover is Amsterdam, then Belgium, Southern France and ending up in UK. If i’ve read your post correctly you recommend 02 – I really don’t want to switch sims between countries – I was going to go for a Lebara – don’t need much talk time (mainly to confirm hotels, taxis and incoming calls) do need sms and some data when no wifi around to look at maps whilst walking.

    I’m iphone6 (nano). International data roaming pack from my Australian telco supplier (on my number) would be $300 for the month – convenient but excessive charge!

    Your recommendation would be?

    • Hi Laura,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, the recommendations I’ve listed in this article are for people in the UK travelling abroad to a European country. For this reason, you’ll need to be in the UK to get any of the SIM cards. My recommendation for you is to check the SIM cards in your country of arrival (the Netherlands, in your case). Some of them might have cut-price deals for using your phone elsewhere in Europe.

  • Hi Ken
    Are you able to use the 3 feel at home Sim in a tablet rather than a smartphone and just use the data component. I note that you cannot tether devices with it if I put it in the phone and try to hotspot my ipad.
    Also if I get the fifteen pound top up will the cost of calls to countries other than the uk just come off of that money.
    I am travelling from Australia but will only go to the UK at the end of my trip. What is the best way to get the sim and activate it. I do have contacts in the uk who could receive it and post it to me if required.

    • Hi Susan,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, as you say, the Feel At Home offer doesn’t allow you to tether when abroad. For this reason, you won’t be able to use the wi-fi hotspot feature on your handset. If you do want to use Feel At Home on your iPad, you can get one of their mobile broadband SIM cards (your iPad needs to be 3G/4G compatible). Like the SIM cards for your smartphone, mobile broadband SIM cards can also be used with the Feel At Home offer. At present, Three has a choice of 3 deals on Pay As You Go: 1GB for £10.49, 3GB for £20.49 or 12GB for £70.49.
      With regards to activation, I recommend having a read of the comments on this page. The SIM card from Three is mainly designed for UK residents travelling abroad. For this reason, it should be activated and used in the UK first. If you are able to get your contacts to do this for you, that would certainly lead to a much smoother experience.

  • Hi,

    I am wondering what type of SIM Card pay as you go can I buy in Europe for the following countries ( Greece, Serbia, Hungary. Austria, Czech, Italy, Croatia)? I need voice, data and text ( to use only in case of emergency).


    • Hi GM,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, there aren’t any special deals in particular for those countries (the EU mobile market is incredibly fragmented. The good news is any SIM card from an EU mobile network will give you fairly rates (the maximum costs are shown in this table). From the UK networks, O2 is a pretty good choice: it’s £1.99/day for 50MB of internet anywhere in Europe.

  • We are two pensioner technophobes and travelling from Spain to England with just a very basic mobile which does nothing except send and receive calls. We only need it for business transactions whilst there and to be able to give the caller a contact number.
    Is it easy to buy an ordinary new SIM and where would we get one for a Nokia phone when we arrive- do they sell them at Gatwick airport?
    We only need it for 5 days- can you buy one cheaper for a shorter time?

    • Hi David,
      Thanks for your comment. It sounds like the cheapest thing to do would probably be to use your Spanish SIM card whilst in the UK. As per EU legislation, the maximum price when using your Spanish SIM card here in the UK will be €0.19/minute for outgoing calls and €0.05/minute for incoming calls. This excludes tax on the transaction so you might need to add 21% IVA to the prices if necessary.
      The main downside of using a Spanish SIM card is anyone calling you will need to call the Spanish number (potentially expensive depending on their plan in the UK). For this reason, you could consider getting a UK SIM card so you’ll have a +44 phone number. I’m not sure whether Gatwick has anywhere to buy a SIM card (if it does: the chances are the SIM card will be overpriced as it’s actually free in any mobile network store). I recommend having a look at the articles here and here if you choose to get a UK SIM card.
      Hope this helps and enjoy your trip to the UK!

  • Hi Ken,

    My husband and I are travelling Europe for 4 months and are looking to use both the 3 network and the O2. My dad is in London at the moment and we are thinking of asking him to buy the sim cards for us. Do you know if they are automatically activated once he purchases them, or do they get activated once they are put into the phone?

    Also we have a couple of weeks where we will be without service, are there top-ups we can purchase in the different countries with 3 or O2?

    Thanks for all the helpful tips.


    • Hi Michelle,
      Thanks for your comment. I’m not 100% sure the answer to your question (when the SIM card is actually activated by the network). Saying that, as your Dad is currently in the UK, I’d strongly suggest sticking the SIM card into a smartphone to make sure its activated. He could also buy a top-up when he’s there (just be sure not to add a bundle and the credit will last indefinitely providing you use the SIM card at least once every six months). With regards to topping up, your best bet is probably to do this online or over the phone. For topping it, you can dial 4444 on O2. For Three, you can go to your My3 account.

  • I am a UK resident going on holiday to Spain, France, Italy, Croatia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Germany and then Holland in the summer (backpacking). I want to be able to phone back home if necessary. Is there any specific plan or company you would recommend?

    • Hi Brad,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to your question. Three will almost certainly be cheapest for Spain, France and Italy (particularly so if you’re looking to browse the internet). For Croatia, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Germany, O2 will probably be cheaper if you use more than 10MB of data per day (you get 50MB for £1.99/day whereas Three will charge you 19.8p/MB). For calling home, the rates on O2 are similar to Three (approx 18.8p/minute).

  • Hi Ken!

    I am a foreigner going on a two-week holiday in Europe. Will be arriving in Heathrow and staying in London for a couple of days before heading to France, Switzerland and Italy. Going by your guide, the best deal appears to be the 10/15 pounds plan with Three. The only concern I have is whether I will be allowed to use roaming on a newly purchased prepaid SIM card given that I am not a UK resident? I suppose I will have to provide my passport at a Three store in order to obtain a prepaid SIM card? Apart from that, there appears to be this caution floating around on various online forums stating that Three will only allow roaming 30 days after registration? Does this apply to the purchase of a prepaid SIM card with the 10/15 pounds plan?


    • Hi Jack,
      Thanks for your comment & hope you’re looking forward to your trip to Europe! To answer your questions in order:
      1.You can roam immediately on a Pay As You Go SIM card from Three. You can see this on Three’s help page: “If you’re on Pay As You Go your phone will already be set up to use abroad”.
      2. The 30-day requirement you read about on the internet only applied to Pay Monthly SIM cards in the past (it never applied to Pay As You Go SIM cards and no longer applies to Pay Monthly SIMs). The reason for this 30-day restriction was to reduce fraud – Pay Monthly SIM cards are a post-paid product. So to confirm: you can roam immediately on your SIM card with Feel At Home.
      3. There’s no need to provide a passport or ID when getting your SIM card.

      Hope this helps!


  • Hi Ken,

    Thanks for this detailed article.
    I am visiting Paris (France), Bruges (Belgium) and Luxembourg (Luxembourg) for 9 days. What do you recommend here since I am not visiting or starting with UK at all?
    I need data access primarily for exploring and directions as I am driving around these three countries – starting from Paris and ending in Paris.

    Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Rhem,
      Thanks for your comment. You’re probably best off choosing a Pay As You Go mobile network in France. Unfortunately, I don’t know much about the deals currently available in France. For this reason, I wouldn’t be able to advise or suggest a network.

  • Hi, Ken,

    Thank you very much for Your very comprehensive article. I’m interested in Data only SIM card to use it in several European countries, EU members and not, and not to buy a new card each time in every country. May you suggest me some offers covering my request ?

    Thank You a lot

    • Hi Theo,
      Which country will you be visiting first on your trip in to Europe? The deals listed on this page require you to get your SIM card from the UK (hence, they’re only really suitable if you visit the UK first or near the start of your trip). For a data-only SIM card, I recommend Three’s £10.49 deal with 1GB of data. You can use it in most European countries as part of the Feel At Home offer. If you’re using the SIM card in a smartphone, the deals listed above will probably offer you better value.

      • Hi, Ken,

        and thank You again for Your kind reply. I’m not UK resident. I really don’t know what countries will I visit, but I think these be an old Europe’s. Recently I visited Iceland and bought there data SIM of 5 GB for only 14 Euros, and I’m looking for something in this course, for my next trip. As I said, I’m looking for something universal and covering as many countries as it possible. I use card in MI-FI device.

        Thank You a lot

        • Hi Theo,
          Thanks for getting back to me. Unfortunately, the telecoms market is still incredibly fragmented here in Europe. As such, every country has its own mobile networks and the deals available will differ in each country. Recently, it’s become a bit easier to buy a SIM card that gives you reasonably good rates when travelling to other EU countries. However, you’ll really need to check the deals available in the country you’re visiting first (or the country in which you intend to buy your SIM card).

  • I am coming on a 15 day holiday to UK and Europe, covering nearly nine European countries. The tour is organised by THOMAS COOK and is called EUROPEAN EXTRAVAGENCA. IN India, I use I phone, Apple, which has a internet. Please advise what SIM Should I buy in London, the port of entry, for my entire tour. I am interested to be in touch ,via email,with my office in a Delhi,India. Cheapest option, please? And from where willi get that SIM.

    Thanking you,

    • Hi there,
      Depending on the countries you’re visiting in your trip, I would either recommend the SIM cards from Three or O2. On Three, it would be £10 for 500MB of data to use in the UK and 10 other European countries (includes France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland and others). For countries outside of the offer, O2 Travel will offer better value (£2/day for 50MB of data in any EU country). You might find it necessary to combine the two SIM cards depending on the countries you’re planning to visit.
      Hope this helps,

  • Hi Ken – I’ll be in Europe for 24 days (one week Italy, one week Germany, one week France, and 3 days Czech Rep. I have a Huawei e5787 Mi-Fi. Am I better off getting local sims or paying for a roaming one.

    • Hi Joe,
      It depends very much on how much data you need in each country… the good news is that EU data roaming is capped at €0.20/MB + VAT on all European SIM cards (this is OK for moderate to light usage but it’s still €200 per gigabyte of data). If you need to use a fair amount of data, a local SIM card probably gives better value (this is unless you’re able to find a SIM card with fairly cheap roaming).

  • Paul Connelly said:

    Hi Ken
    We’re coming over from Australia for 12mths+ and travelling quite extensively thru’ the UK, West & Eastern Europe, including Croatia & Turkey.
    The recommended SIM deals (calls & data) you mention are restricted to just a handful of countries… is there any other option available that covers all “European” countries, incl the UK?

    • Hi Paul,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, at the moment, there aren’t many deals available for long-term travel in the EU (the only deals available are really for short-term trips abroad to another country). For UK residents, the £1.99 deal from O2 is fairly decent as it covers all countries through the EU (unfortunately, it doesn’t cover Turkey as they aren’t a part of the EU). If you’re willing to look at networks from across all the EU countries, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll find an even better deal (unfortunately, I’m unable to advise as my knowledge extends only to networks in the UK!).

  • Hi Ken, just to advise you that after being with three network for years and spending a lot of time in France and Spain, they have suspended my roaming service. Yes their feel at home deal is good, but last week whilst in France I received a text from them saying that I have used this service for more than 3 months in the year and my service will be suspended. Indeed it was and is still suspended which is very a annoying as I have about £50 credit which I cannot use! They say that the service will be reinstated when back in the UK.
    I do not make many calls or use a lot of data, it is mainly for my friends in UK to contact me. Can you suggest another operator?…. bearing in mind that that there is often little or no reception out of the towns abroad. Often no 2G or texts, so its a waste of money paying for something you cannot use.
    Regards, Paul.

    • Hi Paul,
      Thanks for your comment. I’m sorry to hear that Three have disabled your international roaming for using the Feel At Home offer abroad for more than 3 months. It is a big problem for many people especially as Three doesn’t even allow you to pay their old rates to keep the SIM card active abroad (it would make more sense for them to simply turn off the Feel At Home offer than to turn off roaming entirely). If it helps at all, you’re not the only one to experience this problem: see the comments on my Feel At Home blog post for other reader’s stories of this happening to them too.
      In regards to a best value deal in France/Spain, I’m afraid I don’t know enough to recommend any specific network. What I would suggest is perhaps buying a UK-based Skype Online Number. That way, you’d be able to receive calls on a UK geographical number even when travelling abroad in another country (you’ll need a 3G/4G data plan and the Skype application to receive those incoming calls).

  • Hi Ken

    I have been asked to find a good spanish sim for my employer who lives in Spain but comes back to the UK and Germany every month.

    He’s looking for a Spanish payg sim that offers very cheap calls to UK and also if possible the ability to call Germany and a good amount of data (1GB plus). Can you help? I have been on every website possible and because I’m in the UK i’m finding it really hard to find him the best deal.


    • Hi Kirsty,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, I’m not an expert on the Spanish mobile market (you’d probably be better off consulting a Spanish website). A reader of this website did recommend the Orange Spain Go Europe deal. I’m not sure whether it meets your exact requirements and how it compares to other tariffs available – that said it’s probably still worth having a look!

  • Marcus Murata said:

    Hi Ken
    Nice service you are providing to help people get the best smartphone service possible. I have a question i’m from Brazil and i’m traveling to europe in march. I have an unlocked iPhone 6. I will arrive in sweden and the i will go to belgium and finish my trip in netherlands. I most interested on data service. Which provider sim card i should buy? And which plan i should get? Thank you for your help

    • Hi Marcus,
      Thanks for your comment. Because of EU roaming legislation, anyone with a European SIM card gets access to capped rates when using their phone in another European country (there’s a maximum charge of €0.19/minute, €0.06/text and €0.20/MB for accessing the internet). This will probably be cheaper than roaming on your Brazilian SIM card.
      Upon your arrival in Europe, you might want to pick up a local Pay As You Go SIM card (for you, take a look and see whether any Swedish network offers a particularly good deal when roaming in Europe). The plans I’ve reviewed and suggested on this page are from networks in the UK (so they’re only useful if you visit the UK during your trip).
      Hope this helps,

  • Terry Ann Crofts said:

    We are going to Lanzarote in January for a week and have a HUAWEI E5330 3G SIM Free Mobile WiFi (unlocked). What would be the best way to get online – not sure whether some of the deals mentioned on here cover the Canary Islands but don’t really want the hassle of buying a SIM card from a phone shop over there!!

    • Hi Terry,
      Thanks for your comment and apologies for the delay in getting back to you. For mobile broadband in a different country, your best bet would normally be to buy a SIM card locally in the country you’re visiting. It would be possible to roam on some UK SIM cards but this is likely to be incredibly expensive (around 19.8p/MB when travelling in Europe). Three’s Feel At Home is a good choice when visiting several countries but unfortunately Lanzarote & Spain aren’t currently included in the Feel At Home offer.

  • Trevor Harris said:

    WARNING about Spanish Go Europe deal.

    I am now in Slovenia SMS and internet works OK. But I can only call Spain and Slovenia on voice. I called customer support and they said that the 1euro for 60 mins only applies to to Spain and the country you are in. You need to get camel roaming activation for standard rate calls. I think you have to go to to an orange shop in Spain for this. Of course you might be able to use Skype but I have not tested this.

  • Hi Ken

    I am an eBay reseller of Vodafone and all other UK sim cards. You mention under the Vodafone section above:
    You can choose any tariff as long as your airtime credit doesn’t convert automatically into a 30-day bundle. Apart from Freedom Freebees, any of the tariffs offered by Vodafone will be fine for this purpose.How do you distinguish which type of vouchers do not automatically convert to Freedom Freebees 30 day bundles ?

    We top up for customers once they confirm safe receipt of their Vodafone SIM cards, every time we apply the top up using a voucher, it converts to the Freedom Freebee without exception. Vodafone have decided to do this as a default for new SIMs, starting from around the beginning of August 2014. Today their customer services have confirmed this is the case.

    And the worst thing is that, the automated system (dialling 03333 048 048) on topping up does not warn you. Our overseas customers order their SIM cards weeks early, so by the time they arrive to the UK the 30 days bundle would have expired ? Now we are left with no choice but to ask each customer when is their arrival date and top up their SIMs one or two days prior. Vodafone are entirely to blame for this mess ? They call it Freedom Freebee- Where is the freedom to choose ??? Come on Vodafone get your acts together !


    • Hi Steve,
      Thanks for your comment. I believe Freedom Freebee is now the default tariff on Vodafone SIM cards. However, customers choosing another tariff shouldn’t have their credit turned in to a Freedom Freebee (e.g. if you’re on the Freebee Minutes, Freebee Texts, Freebee Data or Freebee International Minutes tariff). Have you tried this using one of the free SIM cards available via Vodafone’s free SIM website?
      Many thanks,

  • Trevor Harris said:

    Hi Ken

    Feel at home now covers 16 countries. Now includes France, Switzerland, Israel, Switzerland, Finland and Norway.

    The EE deal now starts at £3 for 50 MB per 24 hours.

    • Hi Trevor,
      Thanks for the heads up! Earlier in this article, I refer to the 9 EU countries as the topic of this article is specifically on travelling to Europe. You’re totally right in saying the Feel At Home offer is actually available in 16 countries across the world.
      Also, thanks for the heads up about the £1/day deal being scrapped by EE (a real disappointment to me personally!). I’ll update the article with the new details soon.
      Thanks so much again!

      • be careful with the 3 deal feel at home. I’m visiting Menorca and whilst I can access the internet I can’t do any streaming. Can’t use internet radio or download podcasts etc. it’s not 3’s fault but restrictions made by Movistar and Orange 3’s partners.

  • Trevor Harris said:


    Just discovered I have just topped up my Spanish mundo card while in the UK. If you pay in euros there is no transaction fee for spain but beware of any foreign transaction fees charged by your credit card. I used a credit card that has no foreign transaction fees. Cannot use it to topup UK sims. Many topup services don’t accept foreign credit card but this one does.

    Ken what about an article on internet topups.

    • Hi Trevor,
      This is a really fantastic find (particularly the bit around I wasn’t aware of this as a potential way to top-up an Spanish SIM card – your suggested solution is really fantastic for anyone who visits Europe on a regular basis. I’ll be sure to try it out the next time I go on holiday!

    • Hi Trevor,
      Thanks for this – €1/day for 100MB anywhere in Europe (exc. Spain) looks like a pretty good deal to me! It could definitely be an option for our UK-based readers though has a couple of downsides e.g. it’s a little complex to obtain the SIM card itself, it may be harder to top-up the SIM card with extra PAYG credit and the new SIM card will have a Spanish phone number beginning in +34 (it’s more expensive if your friends wanted to call you on the number).
      Aside from that, it looks really good – thanks a lot for sharing the info!

    • Thank you for this information regarding this Orange option – I will be testing this sim out with the Go Europe deal but sounds like it could be a life saver and even better now with the online top-up. Cheers

        • kimberly replied:

          I know this was from two years ago, but I just got back from Spain and Italy after having bought a sim Go Europe in Madeira – it worked great. I went into a store and showed my passport, they sold me a 22 euro card that came preloaded and I used to reload. It worked in Italy, there was no Orange network to log onto, but I called customer service (they have english speakers standing by) and they told me the three networks to associate with, WIND and TIM and Vodafone. It worked quite well, and I loved it. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

  • Do you have info about travel to non European locations such as south America, New Zealand? Thanks for any help and your info on EU is extremely helpful. Thx

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