Stay connected while traveling: what eSIM to get for UK and Ireland?
Local telcos don't have PAYG eSIMs. Get a travel eSIM instead.
· 3 min read
Travel eSIMs offer flexibility and convenience to travelers internationally, allowing them to seamlessly stay connected as they move across borders. If you are planning a trip to Ireland and the UK, and are looking for options to help you stay connected, we've got you covered!
Network Providers in Ireland and the UK
The primary network providers in the UK are Vodafone, EE (Everything Everywhere), Three and O2. All four providers offer prepaid data SIM cards with pretty similar prices and volumes, and you can get their SIM cards either from one of their many shops in the city centre or from a newsstand or tobacco shop.
Some of these telcos - namely Three and Vodafone - also have a presence in Ireland. In addition to Three and Vodafone, Eir is also a major operator in Ireland.
Can you get a prepaid eSIM on Vodafone or Three?
With presence in both Ireland and the UK, perhaps your first thought would be to look for options provided by either Vodafone or Three.
Vodafone and Three both offer prepaid / pay-as-you-go SIM cards and data packs, where the data can be used in both the UK and Ireland.
Unfortunately, in both telcos, there is no eSIM support for pay-as-you-go plans.
Vodafone Travel Europe eSIM
Although there is no eSIM support for the pay-as-you-go plan, Vodafone offers a Travel Europe eSIM which includes coverage in both Ireland and the UK. You can simply purchase the travel Europe eSIM online via their web store, and the QR code will be emailed to you.
Prices range from 5GB for 12 EUR, valid for 10 days, to 20GB for 35 EUR, valid for 30 days.
Note that the travel Europe eSIM is data-only, meaning it does not come with calls, texts, or a local number.
What about the other telcos?
The situation is generally the same across all major telcos in the UK — eSIMs are not supported for pay-as-you-go plans.
While the major telcos all provide physical SIM cards for tourists, it is not quite possible for you to get a tourist eSIM directly from the telco.
An alternative: Nomad's travel eSIM for Europe
While you cannot get a prepaid eSIM directly from the local telcos, there are other options for you to get a prepaid eSIM for your travels.
For a cost-effective solution, you can get a Europe regional eSIM from Nomad, which includes coverage in both Ireland and the UK. While it is possible for you to get separate eSIMs for Ireland and the UK, getting a regional eSIM for Europe will be much more convenient, and is almost definitely going to be a cheaper alternative than getting two eSIMs.
Stay connected as you seamlessly travel between the UK and Ireland, as well as other countries in the EU. You will be automatically connected to the local providers of the various destinations as you travel across countries, all without having to change your eSIM.
Nomad's Europe eSIM works with the multiple providers in each country, so you can easily switch to your preferred network. In the UK, you can connect to Orange, Vodafone, or O2; and in Ireland, the Nomad eSIM works with Vodafone, Three, and EIR.
Get a Nomad regional eSIM for your next trip to the UK and Ireland
Nomad's regional eSIMs for Europe are at affordable rates from as low as USD1.80/GB. Nomad's eSIMs will automatically hook on to the network that provides the best signal strength, so you don't have to worry about the lack of coverage as you travel through the different countries!
It's easy to get a Nomad eSIM. Simply create an account on the Nomad Web Store or iOS/Android apps, find a plan that is suitable for your needs, and proceed with the check out! Upon successful purchase, you will receive an email that includes the installation and activation instructions for your plan.
Note that since you will need a stable internet connection to purchase and install your eSIM, it is advised to buy your eSIM before you fly, so that you don't have to worry about not getting connectivity at the airport after landing.