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Is it free to iMessage internationally?

iMessage is free to use internationally!

· 3 min read

For iPhone users out there, iMessage is probably one of your most commonly used service to keep in touch with your friends and families. However, as you prepare to embark on a trip overseas, some users might wonder if you would still be able to use iMessage to keep in touch with your friends and family back home; and if it will come at a cost. Fear not! With a few simple steps and considerations, you can use iMessage to chat internationally without incurring additional charges. Let's delve into how to leverage iMessage for international communication without incurring additional charges.


iMessage: Two types of messages

Before we explore further about how you can continue using iMessage without incurring additional costs, let's first understand the different types of messages that are sent by iMessage.

If you have used iMessage, you are likely to have noticed that there are two distinct types of message bubbles on your iMessage: a green message bubble, and a blue message bubble. These different message bubbles represent different types of messages.

The blue message bubble is a message that is sent via the internet to other iMessage users; while the green message bubble is a message that is sent as a SMS.

In other words, to send a message with the blue message bubble, you will need a steady internet connection; and to send a message with the green message bubble, you will need a mobile plan that includes messages.

Can I continue to send iMessages for free iwhen traveling?

Now that we have an understanding of the different types of messages, we can take a look at what it means when you are overseas.

If we take a look at the pre-requisites to send your messages via iMessage, you will notice that you will either need a stable internet connection, or you need to have a mobile plan that allows you to send SMSes internationally.

That is to say that if you are able to connect to a local WiFi or if you have a mobile internet connection while overseas, you will be able to continue to send messages via the internet to other iMessage users (i.e. the blue chat bubble). Since these messages are sent via the internet, you will not incur any additional charges for each message sent. But remember, you will need an internet connection.

However, if you are sending messages to non-iMessage users (i.e. if your friend is an Android user), this will count as an overseas SMS, and additional charges may be incurred for each message that is sent. The additional charges incurred depends primarily on your phone plan.

Check your iMessage settings

Some people might have encountered issues using iMessage overseas, where their original phone numbers may have been updated to a new phone number due to the use of a local or travel SIM card (or eSIM). For these users, you might wonder if you will need to inform all of your friends and families about a change in number on iMessage.

The short answer is that you don't actually have to; and you don't actually have to change your iMessage number even if you used a new SIM card.

To ensure that you don't lose your messages and that your number doesn't get updated, check your iMessage settings:

  • Ensure that you have linked your Apple ID to your iMessage. Linking your Apple ID to your iMessage will ensure that you can always retrieve your account via your email in case you lose your number.
  • In your phone settings, check that iMessage has been toggled on, and that you have selected your Apple ID for your 'you can receive iMessages to and reply from' option. By selecting this option, messages are actually sent to your account that is associated with your email, and it is not dependent on your phone number at all.
  • Alternatively, if you have been receiving and sending messages on your primary number, you can check that your iMessage settings are still set as your primary number.

Stay connected with a Nomad travel eSIM

To continue using iMessage for free as you travel, you will need a good and stable internet connection.

There are various ways for you to stay connected while overseas, but one of the best ways is to get a travel eSIM from Nomad.

Nomad offers data plans in over 170 countries, and you can be sure to find one that is suitable for your travel needs. And if you will be traveling across multiple countries, there are also regional plans available so you can stay seamlessly connected as you hop between countries. Data plans are available from as low as $1.10/GB.

The networks that Nomad's eSIMs use for each plan are stated on the plan details on the web store and apps, so you can check which networks are supported before buying your plan. Data sharing and tethering is also supported on Nomad's eSIM plans.