Getting a Sim Card – How hard can it be???

Now I travel a wee bit and I’ve lived in a few countries. It’s never been much of an issue getting a pre-paid sim card. Once you have one you just ‘chuck’ it into your phone and off you go, you can text, you can make calls locally and internationally and best of all you have WiFi…1 GB being well and truly enough if you have access to home and work WiFi

In fact it was so easy in the UK, I had my own phone, it was unlocked so going pre-pay was a straight forward and logical process…for more than 2 years. No contract and pay as you go. Generally it cost me no more than £10 per month

Surely Spain operates the same…it’s OK I’ve done the research and I know I can’t get a Sim Card without a passport…crazy but true…not sure of the thinking behind that, but roll with it.

You go with who you know – right?

So Vodafone is world wide, I figure ‘easy’ I’ll go to Vodafone and it’ll be a simply process and I’ll have a Spanish Sim and Mobile Number in no time.


I call into a Vodafone mobile store near the metro stop ‘Urquinaona’. I’m prepared to give Spanish a go, but he speaks English. No they don’t have sim cards here, you have to go to the main office which is on ‘xxx’ I haven’t a clue the name of the street he’s just given me, but I leave anyway and search for it on my mobile…I’m still on my UK number.

The main Vodafone Office is on Avinguda del Portal de l’Angel. At the door you are greeted by a person who can speak several languages. You type your first name into a machine and you are given a number. You proceed upstairs and wait, and wait, and wait until eventually your turn arrives [I might add I did visit the store twice and each time I arrived behind a party of 3 persons each wanting a sim for their respective mobiles]

You are shown in your language a list of options I went for the €10 plan with 1 GB as I figured that it’s got to be the equivalent of the UK deal I had and said yes to that. You hand over your passport, your details are typed into a computer and you are sent away with a sim card. Fantastic!

Well here’s the thing you have the 1GB of data, you can send a text and you can make a call BUT only within Spain!

Now I have parents where my only source of contact is via text, phone call or letter. No they do not have email and no they do not have phones with apps like Messenger, Viber or WhatsApp. Philip lso wants to keep his UK number for work purposes and I find that I can neither ring or text him in the conventional way. The only thing I can do is phone Nina my local friend who is of the same ilk as my parents…in no time my minutes ar e gone and I can’t even use my phone for a local call.

Back to Vodafone I go…NO you cannot get a pre-pay plan for overseas calls or texts…next!

I thought well I’ll show you, I read on-line that I can go to the store El Corte Ingles and they have a mobile phone department and I’ll get it sorted there.

Movistar is crammed full of people, Vodafone is empty but I’ve had enough of them and then there’s Orange…I’ll try them. No they do not offer overseas calls or texts on their pre-pay plans…Movistar is still full so I figure I’ll try Vodafone…YES… there is a plan that includes overseas calls, I can change it right now, it is €15. HORRAY…I’ll take it…oh wait I have no cash, I’ll come back tomorrow. I do go back and I take the plan.

I get home, I send a text to my parents…”this is my new number etc. etc…” it doesn’t send. I text Philip, it doesn’t send. I ring Philip, it rings, he’s in the same room, we don’t talk. I use the sim for 3 days and my minutes are gone! How so, who can tell?


Stick with your UK Pre-Pay on roaming

Perhaps there’s something I don’t know. Perhaps I gave up too soon, but…

I have completely given up on pre-pay in this country. It is a JOKE. It is cheaper and less hassle for me to continue using my UK Prepay Mobile number on roaming and make one local phone call a day to Nina. 

Of course I will need a Spanish phone number eventually, but I will do that as part of a package with the home ADSL or Fiber. I’ll keep you posted.

“I think I’ll follow my heart, it’s a very good place to start”



  1. Wow, what a story, Stephen!
    It certainly tests your patience, doesn’t it!?
    Well, at least you have an apartment, which looks lovely on the photo!
    I look forward to more of your latest news!


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