Mobile Options in Germany for Expats

Discover the best mobile options in Germany for expats, ensuring you stay connected effortlessly. Are you an expat living in Germany, or planning to move there soon? One of the essential services you’ll need to set up is a mobile phone plan. Germany offers a range of mobile options, and as an expat, it’s important to choose the right plan to stay connected with ease. In this guide, we’ll explore the various mobile phone plans, providers, and tips for expats in Germany.

A mobile phone in Germany
Mobile Options in Germany for Expats

Understanding the Mobile Landscape in Germany

As with most countries in the world, expats in Germany who want to communicate with friends and family have the choice between taking out a contract (Handyvertrag) or simply purchasing a prepaid SIM card. Many mobile operators now also offer flexible, pay-as-you-go plans, where customers who regularly top up their prepaid SIM cards receive free texts, calls, and data.

Popular Mobile Providers in Germany

Germany boasts a highly developed mobile telecommunications network, offering excellent coverage and high-speed data services. Some of the major mobile providers in the country include:

  1. Deutsche Telekom (T-Mobile): As one of the largest telecom companies in Germany, Deutsche Telekom provides reliable coverage and a wide range of mobile plans for expats to choose from.
  2. Vodafone: Vodafone is another major player, known for its competitive pricing and international roaming options, making it a popular choice among expats.
  3. O2: O2 offers various budget-friendly plans and is known for its straightforward contracts and transparent pricing.
  4. MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators): In addition to the major carriers, Germany has several MVNOs like Aldi Talk, Lycamobile, and Congstar, which often provide cost-effective options tailored to specific needs.
  5. Lebara: Lebara offers international options and can be an excellent choice for expats who want to stay connected with their home countries.
  6. Blau: Blau is another provider offering prepaid and contract options, catering to different needs.
  7. 1&1: 1&1 offers a variety of packages, including options that combine mobile phones with internet or fixed phone lines.
  8. is known for its flexible prepaid plans and competitive rates.

Key Considerations for Expats

When selecting a mobile plan in Germany, consider the following factors:

  1. Coverage: Ensure that your chosen provider offers good coverage in your area, especially if you’ll be living in a rural or less densely populated region.
  2. Data and Calling Needs: Assess your data usage and calling requirements. Some plans may offer unlimited data, while others may have data caps but include attractive extras like international calling options.
  3. Contract Length: Decide whether you prefer a short-term or long-term contract. Many providers offer flexible month-to-month plans that can be more suitable for expats.
  4. International Roaming: If you plan to travel frequently or make international calls, look for providers that offer international roaming options at reasonable rates.
  5. Language Support: Ensure that the provider offers customer support in English or your preferred language for ease of communication.

Mobile Phone Contracts in Germany

It is worth noting that mobile phone contracts in Germany, in contrast to many other EU countries, tend to be relatively inflexible. They are normally for a minimum of 24 months and often contain a clause that allows them to be renewed automatically as soon as the original contract expires. If you wish to cancel your contract early, you will be charged a hefty fee.

As of 2021, however, customers can no longer be locked into lengthy contracts after their original contract is renewed. This means that if you fail to cancel your contract within the minimum notice period (which is usually three months), you will be put on a one-month rolling contract that can be cancelled with one month’s notice.

Many mobile phone providers also offer discounted prices for contract packages that combine mobile phones with internet or fixed phone lines.

A mobile in Germany standing for Mobile Options in Germany for Expats
Mobile Options in Germany for Expats

Should I take out a contract or buy a prepaid SIM?

This depends on how long you will be staying in Germany. Once taken out, phone contracts are relatively uncomplicated and offer peace of mind – you don’t have to worry about topping up, for instance.

However, if you are at all unsure about how long you will stay in Germany (as many expats are) it might be wise to get a prepaid SIM card to avoid additional expenses in the future. The major advantage of prepaid SIMs is flexibility: you are not tied to a contract and are free to leave whenever you wish. It can also work out cheaper, as many phone companies will provide you with a SIM for free and, as mentioned above, reward regular top-ups with bonus minutes, texts or data.

Getting a German SIM card

Since 2017, anyone wishing to take out a phone contract or purchase a prepaid SIM card in Germany has to provide a valid ID and proof of address. This is the result of the German government attempting to crack down on anonymous communication between criminals. In order to get a German mobile phone number, therefore, you will need:

  • Valid ID, such as a passport (not a driving licence)
  • Registration certificate (Anmeldebescheinigung)

Roaming in the EU

The good news is that, as of 2017, if you have a German mobile phone you can also use your minutes, texts and data anywhere in the EU without incurring additional roaming charges.

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In conclusion, Germany offers a diverse range of mobile telephony options for expats, catering to different needs and budgets. By understanding your requirements and considering the factors mentioned in this guide, you can make an informed decision that keeps you connected without breaking the bank.

You have just explored the top-notch mobile options in Germany for expats, simplifying your communication needs while living abroad. Remember that the key to a successful mobile experience in Germany is finding a plan that aligns with your specific needs as an expatriate. Stay connected, explore your new home, and make the most of your time in Germany with the right mobile phone plan.