Mobile Phones in Andalucia – Roaming
When you take your mobile to another country, this usually means that you no longer have coverage from your contracted service provider and need to connect via a local network that your home provider have a partner 'roaming' contract with.
If you have a mobile that you need to use in Spain, you should check with your service provider at home at least a week before you leave, to make sure you will be able to use your phone while in Spain. Some pay-as-you-go mobiles are ‘locked’, so roaming may not be possible.
Thanks to EU wide directive roaming within the EU member states is the same cost as making and receiving calls and using 'reasonable' data services in your home country. Remember however that calling out a local (to Spain) land-line or mobile is still expensive as it is billed as if you were in your home country.
Outside the EU roaming agreements between networks can result in expensive call rates, both for the caller and receiver of the call.
Since Brexit most UK operators are retaining EU roaming rates for existing customers. Check with your operator for the latest status.
Roaming with your non EU mobile phone in Spain means that:
- You will be charged for incoming calls.
- Charges for outgoing calls to Spanish numbers and you home country numbers will be more expensive than you are used to.
Before you travel with your non EU mobile phone:
- Check that roaming is active on your account.
- If so, then check with your home service provider on calling charges to expect in Spain. Ask about special packages.
- Tell friends, family, and colleagues that you will be in Spain.
- Remember to take your phone charger and a EU continental adaptor plug to recharge your phone.
While travelling in Spain with your non EU mobile phone:
- Contact by text message rather voicemail. It is also worth remembering that even though your leave a short voice message, you will be billed by the minute.
- Consider instructing your home provider to ban incoming calls or have calls diverted to a UK number.
- Consider turning off data services on your phone
- When phoning abroad from Spain, remember to dial 00 plus the international code for the country eg UK 44 then take off the first 0 of the national number.
Spanish SIM card
If you visit Andalucia frequently, then you could buy a Spanish mobile phone and a 'prepago' pre-paid SIM card for when you are in Spain. On a Spanish SIM card, you will be tied to that particular local national network. Calling abroad is still fairly expensive, but you are no longer charged for incoming calls as with non EU roaming.
There are also less expensive contract SIM cards with less expensive call rates but a monthly charge and a Spanish bank account is needed for the monthly direct debits.
Advantages of the SIM card
- The pre-paid SIM card will only cost 10 – 30 euros and will most likely include some credit. As soon as you use it, you do not pay to receive calls.You top up the card when the call balance is low.
- By using a Spanish SIM card in your phone, you immediately have a Spanish phone number for local contact (e.g. if you are house hunting, for example).
- If you later decide not to continue with the card you can use up the SIM card's credit and you have lost nothing.
- Later, if you decide to upgrade to a contract, you can transfer the number from the SIM card to a contract with the same or different operator. Keeping the same number is useful if you have already giving out the number to mainy contacts.