Nahaufnahme auf einen Tisch im Freien mit einem Getränk darauf. Man sieht einen Arm einer Person, die ein Smartphone bedient. © Goethe-Institut

Making phone calls in Germany with a SIM card from another country often leads to problems. Many cards do not work in Germany, and making calls with foreign SIM cards is very expensive.

There are several ways to make calls from a mobile phone in Germany. Here is a list with information on various providers: Mobilfunkanbieter Übersicht

Mobile phone contract

One possible option is a mobile phone contract. This, however, requires a German bank account and an identity document. In this way, service providers check whether a customer can really pay his bills. Caution: Do not sign a contract you do not understand. Instead, ask someone to help you with the translation. A mobile phone contract is usually valid for one to two years. Often it is not possible to cancel the contract before then. The bill must usually be paid at the end of the month during the contract period. Please note! If you are planning to switch to another service provider once the contract expires, you need to cancel the contract in due time. This must be done at least three months before the end of the contract, otherwise the contract could automatically be renewed again for a period of one to two years. 

Ein Mann lehnt an einem Laternenpfahl und telefoniert mit seinem Handy. © Goethe-Institut

Prepaid-SIM card

Another option is to buy a prepaid SIM card. These cards are available for a small amount of money at most supermarkets, petrol stations or kiosks. This again requires signing a contract. However, you only need to provide your address to have the card activated.

Did you buy the prepaid SIM card directly in the shop of a mobile service provider? Then it is also possible to activate the card directly in the shop. Here you will also receive assistance. Did you buy the prepaid SIM card in, for example, a supermarket? Then the card must be activated by phone.

Once the prepaid SIM card has been activated, you need to add credit. The credit is used to pay for calls, SMS and internet surfing. If you need more credit, you can buy a top-up card. Top-up cards can be purchased at the same shops that sell SIM cards, for example supermarkets, petrol stations or kiosks. There is a long number on the top-up card. To add credit, enter this number into the mobile phone.

Do you want to make an international call from Germany? In this case, expect to pay a transfer fee of 15 cents, even for short calls. Calls to Syria, Eritrea and the Balkan states are particularly expensive. Here is a list of international call rates from various providers: 

Finanztip: Billig ins Ausland telefonieren

Sometimes it is also possible to buy certain additional tariffs where you receive a certain amount of free minutes for international calls.

In einem Geschäft hängen viele verschiedene SIM-Karten von verschiedenen Anbietern auf einer Verkaufsstange. © Goethe-Institut

Mobile data

A smartphone with a prepaid SIM card can also be used to surf the Internet. This, however, quickly uses up credit. For this reason, it is cheaper to buy a suitable data bundle. This allows you to use mobile internet for a certain period of time at a fixed price or buy a certain amount of data volume. 

Ein Mann sitzt vor einem Café und nutzt sein Smartphone. © Goethe-Institut


If you want to surf the internet for free, you can use WLAN networks. Many cafés, libraries and other public buildings offer free WLAN. Would you like to find free WLAN networks in your area? The website "Hotsplots" will help you find a nearby public internet access point.

Réseaux WiFi publics en Allemagne

Video International Sign


Further questions? Write us via the contact form. We will forward your questions anonymously to the advisors of the youth migration services.

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