One of the first things to do when moving to Belgium is to arrange a Belgian SIM card. After all, you’ve got to stay connected, don’t you?
In this guide, we’ll set you up for your adventure in Belgium by getting into detail about:
In most cases, yes, you can use your SIM card in Belgium, but it’s not a long-term solution. Depending on where you come from and your mobile operator, different rates will apply.
If you have a SIM card from another EU country, you’ll enjoy roaming-free internet, and, if your plan allows, calling and SMS as well. But if your bundle is used up, your internet will slow down or charges will apply for browsing and calls and SMS.
If you’re travelling from a country outside of the EU, things get expensive. To use your foreign SIM card, you must enable roaming on your mobile phone. But without a proper international plan, the charges for calling, SMS and internet will be sky-high and the speed of the internet might be slow.
In other words, you can keep using your SIM card when you travel to Belgium for a holiday. In all other cases, especially if you plan to move to Belgium, you’ll benefit from buying a Belgian SIM card.
You can order your new Belgian SIM card online or buy it at any mobile phone store.
If you decide to get your SIM card from a store, you can usually choose a preferred phone number from the ones they have available. You can also buy a prepaid SIM at the airport, but it’s always more expensive.
When deciding to get a Belgian phone number, you need to figure out what’s best for your situation; a subscription or a prepaid SIM. Both have pros and cons to consider.
|Phone subscription||Prepaid SIM|
|Requires a Belgian bank account or IBAN||No bank details required in-store|
|Requires registration in the town hall||Only passport is required in-store|
|Automated payments||Top up your credit manually at authorised spots or online|
|Always connected||Risk running out of credit|
|Better deals for intensive usage||Pay for what you use|
|You commit to an 18-24 months contract||Cancel at any time|
If you call or surf the internet a lot and plan to stay in Belgium for longer than 2 years, you should definitely explore mobile subscription options. But you can only get a subscription once you register with the town hall.
To get a Belgian mobile contract, you’ll need:
On the other hand, getting a prepaid SIM is pretty easy and hassle-free. But you don’t always get the best offer and, once your bundle runs out, you need to top it up to stay connected.
We advise you to get a prepaid or “pay-as-you-go” SIM card if you’re in Belgium for a short period of time, such as for an internship or an exchange program.
There is a catch though! To activate your prepaid SIM card in Belgium, you’re legally required to register it. You can do that online by logging in with your Belgian eID and a card reader.
So, if you haven’t gotten your Belgian ID yet, you should opt for buying your SIM card at a Belgian mobile operator’s shop. They’ll scan your passport and register you in no time!
The quick answer is: Proximus, Mobile Vikings and Orange are the best mobile operators in Belgium and you wouldn’t go wrong with any of them. These Belgian phone companies have the highest levels of LTE coverage in the entire country. If you mostly use your phone for internet surfing, you should particularly look into Orange which offers lower data prices.
But if you want to find the best deal for your needs, it’s worth shopping around and comparing different providers through a website like Aanbieders. But make sure to check their individual websites for promotions too!
Your new Belgian SIM card will only work if your mobile phone is unlocked. If your phone is locked, which is quite common in the US, you can only use it on a specific carrier’s network. So if you’re moving to Belgium from America, you should double-check if your phone is unlocked.
Is your phone locked? No stress! Just contact your carrier to unlock it. Beware that your account must be in good standing and, depending on your provider’s policy, you may be charged a fee.
Before calling, write down the IMEI number of your phone which you can find in its settings or by typing *#06# on the keyboard.
Unlocking your phone can take between a few days and a month.”
So, we advise you to unlock your phone at least a few weeks before heading to Belgium.
Sometimes you can’t unlock your phone with your provider. For example, if it’s a second-hand phone or you’ve been using it for a shorter period than demanded by your carrier’s policy. In that case, you can try looking up online third-party unlocking services. But be careful, and choose trusted vendors like DoctorSIM, Express Unlocks or MobileUnlocked. It will usually cost you around €11.
Since Belgian mobile operators don’t lock phones, it’s hard to find a place to unlock your phone there. Your best shot would be trying some smaller repair shops. They might be able to unlock your phone by installing special software but it will cost you around €30.
Belgian mobile phone numbers have 10 digits. They start with a code of the mobile operator such as:
When calling from abroad, start with the Belgian country code “+32” and remove the “0.”
Now that you know how to arrange your Belgian SIM card and phone number, it’s time to get connected!
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