Where to get a tourist (e)SIM card in Germany?
What to know about getting mobile data in Germany
· 5 min read
Exploring the picturesque landscapes, experiencing the rich culture, and indulging in the delightful cuisine of Germany is a dream come true for many travelers. Whether you're planning to visit the vibrant streets of Berlin, the historical treasures of Munich, or the enchanting forests of the Black Forest, staying connected is a must to make your journey memorable and hassle-free.
Where to buy tourist SIM cards in Germany?
It is likely that one of the first few options that come to mind when staying connected in Germany is to get a tourist SIM card when you arrive. There are multiple options for purchasing a SIM card upon your arrival in Germany.
Buy one at the airport
The most intuitive option that travelers are most familiar with is to buy one at the airport. Purchasing a SIM card at the airport is one of the first few things that most travelers do after clearing immigration. After all, you could get rather jittery to leave the airport without first making sure you can get connected.
Whether you're landing at Frankfurt Airport, Berlin Airport, or any other major German airport, there are stores that you can purchase tourist SIM cards from. However, it is important to note that the packages offered at the airport are often limited, and at significantly higher prices (for the same package).
To make an informed decision, it's a good idea to research prices in advance. This way, if you encounter a reasonably priced option at the airport, you'll recognize it as such. For reference, one of the most cost-effective solutions would be to get a prepaid plan from O2, where you can get 6GB of data at €9.99 per month.
Buy one in the city center
Instead of buying a SIM card at the airport, you will be able to find better deals if you were to purchase a SIM card in the city center. You can easily find SIM cards in phone stores (Telekom, Vodafone, O2), electronics shops (Mediamarkt), grocery stores (Lidl, Aldi), gas stations, and kiosks.
However, if you were to decide to purchase a SIM card only after you get into the city, it is important to note that you will likely be exploring the city without data - until you get your hands on a SIM card. So, it will be important for you to do your research in advance, so that you will know where to head to to pick up a SIM card. It is also recommended that you download your maps in advance so you can still navigate even when you are offline.
What documents do you need to get a SIM card in Germany?
To get a prepaid SIM card in Germany, you will need to prepare your identification documents. All purchase of SIM cards will require you to have an address and identification — not to worry if you're not an EU resident, your hotel address and passport would be sufficient for you to get a SIM card.
If you purchase a SIM card directly from the phone stores, in-person verification would be done at the point of purchase. However, if your SIM card was purchased from gas stations or grocery stores, you'll need to do an online verification before your SIM card will be activated. The websites for online verification vary depending on network provider, but most of the sites are only available in German.
How do I top-up my prepaid SIM card in Germany?
If you run out of data, there are a number of options for you to top-up your prepaid SIM card. Some providers allow you to top-up via their app or website, though the payment methods may be limited. Alternatively, you could purchase a top-up voucher from grocery stores, gas stations, and kiosks.
Get a travel SIM card before you arrive in Germany
Although you can easily pick up a SIM card upon arrival in Germany, you will likely need to do some substantial research to find the most cost-effective option. Unfortunately, the websites of the major telcos (Telekom, Vodafone, O2) are mostly in German, which could make your research much harder than it should be if you don't understand the language.
Instead, it is recommended that you purchase a SIM card before your arrival in Germany. There are many providers of international travel SIMs offering options where you can order a SIM card online before your trip. After completing your order online, the physical SIM card will be delivered to your address and you can just insert it into your device when traveling!
If you will be purchasing a travel SIM before your trip, make sure to purchase it in advance to ensure you can receive it before you fly; and don't forget to bring the SIM card along with you on your trip.
Can I top-up my travel SIM card?
Some travel SIM cards provide you with an option to top-up in case you run out of data. However, this varies from provider to provider, so it is best to check the T&Cs before you purchase your travel SIM.
Get a travel eSIM at your convenience
While getting a travel SIM card would be a good alternative to getting a prepaid SIM card upon arrival, having to fumble with a physical SIM card and ensuring you order it well in advance before your trip can be quite a hassle.
A much better alternative would be to get a travel eSIM. A travel eSIM works exactly like a travel SIM card, providing you with connectivity as you travel, but without the trouble that comes with a travel SIM card. With an eSIM, you do not need to worry about the SIM card not reaching you in time; nor do you have to worry about forgetting to bring the SIM card with you on your trip (or even losing it).
How to get a travel eSIM?
There are many providers of travel eSIMs today, and most of these providers allow you to easily make a purchase online — you don't have to worry about having to visit a physical shop to purchase an eSIM.
After you purchase an eSIM, you will receive instructions for installation and activation. The time from purchase to actually receiving the eSIM could differ slightly from provider to provider, so just make sure to double-check that you will be able to receive it before you fly.
What do you need to get a travel eSIM for Germany?
Unlike getting a prepaid SIM card in Germany, most travel eSIMs do not need you to provide any form of identity verifications. However, you need to make sure that you have an eSIM compatible device, and that your device is not carrier-locked.
Get a Nomad Travel eSIM for Germany
Nomad is a provider of international travel eSIMs, offering plans in over 165 countries, including Germany. Nomad offers a variety of data plans for Germany, with rates as low as $1.65/GB.
With Nomad, you will be able to easily purchase the eSIM from the Nomad web store, or iOS and Android apps, and you will receive the installation and activation instructions upon successful purchase. Do note that you will need to have a stable internet connection to purchase and install the eSIM. That also means that as long as you have a stable internet connection, it is even possible that you purchase your eSIM right before your flight departs! Do remember to install your eSIM before your flight though, as internet connection is required for the installation process.
If you will be traveling across multiple countries in Europe, Nomad also offers Europe regional plans. With a single eSIM, you can travel through 35 countries in the region!
Seamless purchase of add-ons
Nomad also makes it easy for you to purchase add-on plans, in the event where you run out of data or need additional days of validity. You don't have to worry about having to purchase a top-up code or coupon from physical stores — everything can be done in the comfort of your device.
Simply purchase an add-on on the app or Nomad web store before your plan expires, and the additional data will be added to your current eSIM!