How to get a Spanish SIM card?

How to get a Spanish SIM card?

2021-10-11 17:26:34

When moving to a new country, the mobile connection is the NO.1 important thing you need to know about the new country. In this article, we will talk about everything you need to know to get a Spanish SIM card.

1. Is it necessary to get a Spanish SIM card?

Like other European countries, Spain uses the GSM network connections for mobile communications. Therefore, if you come from a country with GSM mobile connections, you will have connections upon your arrival. Even if you come from a country with a CDMA network, you might still have connections. There are also many public Wi-Fi options available.

If you are from other EU countries, you might benefit from an EU-wide agreement on international roaming fees. Arrivals from EU countries can enjoy free roaming when spending time in Spain.

Therefore, a Spanish SIM card might not be necessary for everyone.

However, if you plan to stay for the long term or if you want to save roaming fees, you might need to get a Spanish SIM card.

2. How many types of SIM cards can I choose from?

In most mobile communication companies, you are provided two options to get a SIM card: prepaid (prepago) SIM card or mobile phone contract (contrato).

  • Prepaid SIM card:
    • A more flexible option and simpler option
    • Suitable for expats that do not want to commit to long-term contracts and only wants to make phone calls and goes online
    • Many are pay-as-you-go options: They usually contain a bundle of calls and internet data per month. You need to top up if you go beyond the limits.
  • Mobile phone contract:
    • A good option for expats that want to stay for longer-term because the contract lasts for 18-24 months.
    • Contact is usually cheaper than prepaid options, a good deal for those that use a lot of data
    • Good choice for you if you think about getting the latest smartphone: Many operators have offers of “mobile phone plus mobile phone contract”, which can help to finance the mobile phone you want
    • You might also get discount bundles including your mobile phone, home phone, home internet, and TV connections.

3. What are trustworthy mobile network companies?

Currently, in Spain, there are some traditional operators to choose from: Movistar, Orange, Vodafone, and MÁSMÓVIL/Yoigo.

According to Statcounter, Movistar is the leading telecommunication company with 30% of the market share. Other providers are also keeping up, such as Orange (25%) and Vodafone (23%). MÁSMÓVIL/Yoigo (14%). In addition, the rest of the pie is covered by smaller mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs).

It's hard to say which is the best provider because all the companies mentioned had the best offers for a certain group of people. It's better to keep up with the newest offers and compare before deciding.

4. How to get a SIM card?

After comparing the offers, it´s time to start with the steps of getting a SIM card.

  • If you want to get a prepaid SIM card:
    • Where: you can go to the nearest office
    • What documents: only your passport and sufficient money/bank account (visa). You don't need to have your NIE card ready, neither do you need a Spanish bank account at this point.
  • If you want to get a mobile phone contract: Since this is a long-term commitment, more documentation is necessary for the application.
    • Where: Online or in the nearest office. It’s recommended to call the office to confirm if they can help you with the mobile phone contract before.
    • What documents:
      • Proof of residence address: Empadronamiento
      • Spanish bank account details: Unlike the prepaid choice, the contract option charges the user each month a fixed amount automatically from their bank account. You can get to know more about how to open a bank account and online bank options.

5. Some tips about Spanish SIM card

  • Recharge tips for prepaid SIM card users: Unlike contract option users, users that have opted for prepaid options need to recharge their phone regularly and manually. If not, they will not have communication services and their number might be even disabled. You can go to the following places to recharge your phone:
    • The official website or app of your mobile operator: When you get your SIM card, you will s get a personal account to view and manage your consumption. You can recharge your Spanish phone number by accessing your account.
    • Local supermarket, electronic repair shops, and other unexpected shops: Yes! You can recharge your phone in some local supermarkets when you finish your purchase. Try asking them next time when you buy groceries.
    • Calling the operator: This is an old-school but still effective practice. Most operators facilitate a number for you to call every time you need to recharge.
  • Rent contract: Remember that before that there might be all-in-one discount bundles? Therefore, it’s important to confirm whether you need to contract a home Wi-Fi buy yourself. If that’s the case, you might save money by going for the all-in-one option.
  • Portability (Portabilidad): With Spanish mobile communication companies, you can enjoy the portability service, meaning that you can keep your number when switching to any of the other mobile phone companies. This right gives you high flexibility and the possibility to switch among the best rates and services without the annoyance of changing your number. You can simply contact your current company and the company that you are going to contract for more information.
  • TIE card with NIE number: For non-EU/EEA expats, this is a necessary document to get a mobile phone contract. To get a TIE card, you need to have medical insurance that fulfills all the requirements. Here in innoinsure, the official international office of Adeslas, we want to present to you our Expat insurance, the No.1 Spanish visa insurance trusted by over 100000 expats.


Spain: mobile phone operator market share 2019 | Statista. (2021). Retrieved 11 October 2021, from

Our contents will be updated according to the most recent legislation. Last update: 11/10/2021

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