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Nina
San Diego

General Travel

How to go about setting up a phone in another country?

How do I go about setting up a phone in another country? Do I keep my current iPhone and cancel my plan and then once I'm over in Southeast Asia, get a Sim card? Or do I buy a whole new phone over there? Also, will the phone work in multiple countries if I'm traveling around? Thanks so much!!


8 Answers

top answer by
Christopher from Melbourne

Depends on your phone and the country in question.

In most cases, you keep your phone (it needs to be carrier unlocked) and you buy a SIM card in the new country.

If you don't know if your phone is unlocked, call your carrier and ask. Sometimes if it is locked, you can pay a fee to unlock it. Once unlocked, you can use it anywhere, assuming the phone is compatible with the country you're in. 


3 thanks


answered by
Yoana from Santa Ana

They sell temp phones with sim cards, but its a hassle.  I messed up in letting my carrier know that I was travelling and thus they changed my plan for one month to pick up any roaming/international charges. My bill was almost $400! I'm going to travel again next month. What I would do different is (I have iphone)  1. turn off cell phone data on iphone, 2. turn off roaming on iphone. 3. connect to only wifi to use internet/apps 4. download "WhatsApp" app, free texting international.


1 thanks


answered by
Carolann from Around The World

We unlocked a phone to use for data plans and phone numbers overseas and kept the other one but only use it when we have a WiFi connections.

You definitely need to make sure you have it unlocked, especially when using an iPhone as a few countries have told us they've had the most problems with people bringing in iPhones they thought were unlocked but were not.

You'll probably be able to eliminate this issue if you check with your service provider and get them to unlock it for you, if you need, rather than trying to do one of those online methods where you pay for an unlock code.

In most cases service is available for the phones we bring and you'll need to buy a new SIM card in each country and then set it up with a data plan - most places you go will have telecommunication centres that will help you with this process.

It would also be good to Google the best service providers in each country in case there is a difference (we learned the hard way in Malaysia) in quality of connection or coverage area. It'll also be a good way to understand how the different plans are set up - are top-ups required (these can be trickier in some places), can you get unlimited data per month for a good price, what are the different data plans, etc


1 thanks


answered by
Peter from Munich

you also could get a little wifi hotspot and put a sim card in from the country you are going too.

This allows you to have cheap data plans but you still can keep your number. This also works with locked phones, since you only have to connect to a wifi network and is also good if you have a laptop. It depends what you try to achieve...


1 thanks


answered by
John from Possumneck, Mississippi

In France, there are 19,000 wifi spots per 100,000 persons.  Compare to 3000 in the US.  Of course, you would not want to make financial instruction calls while using the Boul Mich Starbucks wifi.

I was able to get one month data roaming plan from ATT for $30 when I was in Jamaica last month.  




answered by
Dan from St Louis

This is a hard question. If your just going there on vacation then you need to measure if you need a phone while your there. If so you either need an unlocked cellphone. Most Sprint or Virgin ones can't be used like that. 

If you just need to make a few calls I would suggest downloading the GVphone app and getting a Googlevoice number. 

If your moving there just cancel your current plan and buy a new phone and service when you get there. 

If just visiting it can be cheapest to just buy a throw away phone and some minutes. 




answered by
Kinley Will from Thimphu

Hey there, as long a your current phone is not locked to be used with a particular SIM or in a particular country, you can buy a SIM locally in most south east Asian countries. 




answered by
Scott from San Francisco

If it were me, I'd get a cellphone with the best Global calling plan.  Other options include switching to T-Mobile who offers free international data, and with iPhone 6 they offer wifi calling, which means that you don't have to change your number, and can make calls anywhere in the world for free when you're on wifi.  Another option is to use an app like Viber, it's not bad but not perfect either.   






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