UK SIM cards - Smartphones are invaluable when travelling, stay connected while in the UK
There are a other options for using your mobile (cell) phone here in the UK.
How do I know if my phone is unlocked?
It is more likely that your phone is UN-locked already than locked, unlocked phones are sometimes known as "SIM free", this will almost certainly be the case if you bought your phone brand new. Your phone may be "locked" to a particular network if it is part of the contract you have with that network, this is how you get an expensive phone for no upfront fee, the network recoup the cost of the phone over the period of the contract.
To find out if your phone is locked, refer to your contract or call the provider and ask, if it is, then request that it be unlocked, there may be a fee for this.
Where should I buy a SIM card in the UK?
Not at the airport! It might be convenient to do so, but you'll be paying about £10 for something that is widely available for about 99p or even less, possibly free as part of a PAYG bundle. There are many high street shops that will sell SIM cards including mobile phone shops, convenience stores and supermarkets.
What kind of deal will I get?
You won't be able to get a monthly contract
if you are not a UK resident, though Pay As You
Go will be more than enough for the
majority of people for a typical tourist visit.
Specify this is what you want the SIM card for
and then buy a data bundle that will include an
amount of phone minutes, a number of text
messages and an amount of data transfer. For
example, at the time of writing (April 2022) ,
these are typical deals are available on the UK
high street, the exact cost and allowances depend on
You will get a UK phone number with the SIM card which will begin 07, if someone outside of the UK wants to call this number, they need to replace 07 with 44, it may cost you to receive international calls, check when buying if this is important. Your purchased allowances will last for up to 30 days, if you use them up in this time, you will need to top-up again, if you don't use it all in the 30 days, you lose it and you will need to top-up to continue using the phone with that SIM card, so it's really more of a short-term contract than an actual PAYG.
To top-up, you will need to buy a card from a shop for the appropriate top-up amount of the network the SIM is on and use the code. Most networks won't allow the use of a non-UK registered credit or bank card to top up over the phone.
Will my phone work in the UK?
All iPhones and the great majority of Android smartphones will work worldwide and so will be fine with UK frequencies. You can check here, if you aren't sure of your phone name and model number, you should find it in "Settings / About phone" or similar.
Can I get a SIM card sent to me before I arrive in the UK?
Yes, there are options to do this, you can get one from Amazon.co.uk or giffgaff will send a free SIM card overseas which can then be topped up with their data packages.