The United Kingdom is a very competitive market and has several telephone network operators which offer various types of telephone services to suit your needs. It is well worth shopping around and reviewing all offers, to get the best deal for you.
Mobile phone use is much more popular than landline or payphone in the United Kingdom, thanks to very competitive rates and hassle-free subscriptions. The country has many mobile network operators offering a wide range of competitive services and lucrative prices, so it is worth doing your research.
The easiest way to get a UK mobile number as an expat is to buy a pay-as-you-go SIM. Many expats do this when they first move to the country because you do not need proof of address or a UK bank account. UK Sim card offers have dramatically improved in the last few years and can include a lot of calls, SMS and internet for an affordable fee. You can buy a SIM card from any phone shop or online and can pay in cash or with an international bank card.
To sign up for a contract phone, you must have a UK address and bank account and proof that you have lived in the UK for three years. You can sign up for a contract online or at a phone shop. Many UK citizens sign a contract with a phone and pay off the phone as part their monthly payments.
Read the entire contract and ensure you are aware of how long you need to stay in the contract, this can sometimes be up to 24 months.
If you already have a phone and come from a European country, a UK SIM should work directly. Ensure your phone is unlocked before travelling, you can do this by contacting your current phone company. If you cannot unlock your phone, you can purchase a mobile in UK, prices range from £20-£300.
It can be more complicated for an expatriate to obtain a land line, whenever you do purchase a landline your residence permit could be requested.
Most buildings will already have a line installed. If your apartment or home is part of a new build, for example, you may require a line to be installed. British Telecom (B.T) will come and install a line for you at a fee. Any phone company can check if you have a line, and send B.T to install it. But you do not need to choose B.T as your line operator if you have found a better deal.
Good to know:
Phone companies often want you to sign up for a complete package and offer very competitive packages, which include: Landline, Wifi, T.V, international calls, and mobile contracts. It is therefore well worth considering a package that best suits your needs.
You can also find public telephones in almost all streets across the country. They require prepaid cards, which you can purchase from most corner shops and all phone shops as well as order online. You can also find coin phones, although rarer.
To make calls abroad, dial "00" followed by your country code and the full phone number without the initial "0".
If you are spending only a few days in the country, you can simply activate international roaming on your mobile phone, check call rates and internet charge before doing so.
The UK also has many free public and private Wi-Fi spots, including parks, libraries, tourist spots, cafes, and workspaces that you can go to in the first few days in order to contact friends and family.