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German SIM cards

Hi all,
Just wanted to post to let you know that due to new regulations as of July 2017, getting a SIM card as a visitor to Germany has become quite difficult. I've heard some reports of people who have been able to work around it, but unlike most European countries, it's no longer a simple matter of walking into a provider's store, picking a prepaid card, and handing over your passport for registration. As of now, at least technically, they are required to verify your German address with an anmeldung, or registration document - something you register for if staying for three months or longer. No anmeldung, no verification, no service!

Word on the street is that O2 stores are less strict about this than Telekom, and that some of the Media Markt/Saturn shops (think Best Buy) will work from whatever address you provide without requiring the registration documents. But on the whole, it's quite challenging.

The good news is, after mid-June, an EU regulation requires that carriers in EU countries permit roaming - which in many cases they've done in a seamless way, so that you can cross from e.g. Austria into Germany with just a blip in service before you're back in business. Given that, my advice is to buy your SIM card elsewhere in the EU if you have an earlier stop, even if it's an airport layover, and keep it on hand when you get to Germany!

Hope this is of use to folk :)

Posted by
261 posts

Last December we had difficulty buying a SIM card in Heidelberg. TMobil would not sell us a sim card w/o a valid German address that was not a hotel. O2 could not verify their coverage in the Czech Republic or Hungary. We were able to get SIM cards for our phones from Vodafone. Hopefully the issue can be worked out since Germany is our first stop on most of our trips over to Europe.

Posted by
8 posts

Thank you for posting this new info! We're heading to Germany (and Austria, Switzerland) in a couple weeks and had been planning on buying a SIM card at our first German stop, Berlin. We have friends we're visiting who live there, so maybe we can use their address if one is required? We also have layover in Amsterdam before our arrival in Berlin, so I guess like you said, we could try to get one there first, if the German option is going to be a problem.

Scott

Posted by
7 posts

Scott- I would try the layover, as my understanding is that to purchase it in Germany you actually need an "anmeldung," basically a governmental registration document showing that you are renting the place you're renting. Although if you have friends who DO live there, they could likely purchase and activate the SIM card for you with their anmeldung. It's a bit headachey - but hope you'll update us all on how it works out!

Posted by
11173 posts

Thanks for this update. I was last there in 2012, and at that time in Berlin at the T-Mobile store, a passport and a local hotel address was sufficient. I would have assumed it was the same still - and would have run into trouble!

Posted by
8 posts

We're still trying to figure out our best option for when we're in Germany in less than a couple weeks. Might buy SIM card in Amsterdam during layover or might try in Berlin, where the fact that we have friends we're staying with, will maybe help us get a cheaper, better one in Germany successfully. But here is a helpful and current link that explains this complicated issue with German SIM cards and the new rules that began in July:

Wiki re: German SIM cards

Scott

Posted by
8 posts

Just got back from our trip to Germany. Did successfully get a German SIM card through Telekom (TMobile) but I think the only reason we were successful was because our Berlin friends bought the SIM card with us in the store and kind of bought it for us. Everything was put in their name using their registration documents. The staff was very helpful, and willing to work with us to a point, but I think without using our friends, we would have been out of luck. So my opinion is that it seems that the best way to deal with the new German regulations is try to get a SIM card outside of Germany if you are traveling in another country first.

Posted by
1 posts

Hello Rick,

I just came back from Berlin. When I got to Berlin Tegel airport 3 weeks ago, I had no problem getting a SIM card. Near the tourist information office, there an electronic store. I got in there asking them for a SIM card. The answer was; no problem. I had to provide my passport for identification, that's it. I got the Lebara SIM card, it worked perfectly.

Jeff