Mobile phone plans

Depending on where you come from and how much time you’ll be spending in the Netherlands, you may want to consider getting a Dutch SIM card. Ultimately, this depends on you, but we’ll highlight some things you should take into account when deciding whether or not to do so.

Do I need a Dutch mobile number for my stay in the Netherlands?

Whether you can keep your current mobile plan without any issues, or should switch to a Dutch one, highly depends on where your current mobile plan is from.

Your current SIM is from an EU country

If your current SIM card is from an EU country, then you’re in luck! EU law says that:

When you travel outside your home country to another EU country, you don’t have to pay any additional charges to use your mobile phone. This is known as “roaming” or “roam like at home”. Your calls (to mobile and fixed phones), text messages (SMS) and data services are charged at domestic rates, i.e. the same price as calls, texts and data within your home country.

The same rule also applies to any calls or text messages you receive while you’re abroad – you aren’t charged extra to receive calls or texts while roaming, even if the person calling you is using a different service provider.

However, be aware that some mobile phone companies will only allow you a set amount of data per month for free in other EU countries. You can check with your provider what this amount is. If you use more data than the provided amount, you may have to pay outrageous roaming costs so make sure to stay within the roaming limit.

This means that you’ll be fine with your EU SIM; however, bear in mind that some processes in the Netherlands (e.g. opening a Dutch bank account or some DigiD identification methods) may require a Dutch mobile number. So, even if you’re able to call, text and roam like at home, you may still be more limited than if you took out a Dutch plan. Realistically, though, many international EU students opt to keep the SIM card from their home country and face no problems.

You don’t have an EU-country SIM

If you don’t have an EU SIM, it is probably best that you do take out a Dutch mobile plan, as you’ll be incredibly limited with what you can do on your foreign SIM (assuming you don’t wish to pay outrageous roaming costs, of course). In this case, we’ll go through your options below.

Getting a Dutch mobile plan

We’ll go through the main options below – ultimately, which plan and carrier you choose depends on your needs!

What kind of plan is best?

The kind of subscription you choose will largely depend on what you need – how much data do you use? How much data do you want (if any)? Do you already have a phone?

When you figure out what you want, consider the following options:

  • Subscription with a data and calling plan, as well as a mobile phone

You can choose to pay (partly) up-front or in monthly installments; however, you’re usually stuck with a one/two-year contract, and you will need a Dutch bank account for this option.

  • SIM-only subscription with data and calling plan, but no mobile phone

This is a more flexible option, as you can pay per month and you have many options to combine different amounts of calling minutes/SMS and data. However, you will need a phone without a SIM-lock. You also need a Dutch bank account for this option.

  • Pre-paid plan

You pay up-front for what you choose with this option, which can get expensive if you use a lot of data; however, you don’t need a Dutch bank account for a pre-paid plan.

What are my options for mobile phone providers?

The main mobile phone providers in the Netherlands are:

  • KPN
  • Vodafone
  • T-Mobile
  • Tele2
  • Expat Mobile
  • Youfone
  • Simpel
  • Lebara

KPN, Vodafone and T-Mobile are the three biggest Dutch providers; however, you should first compare the options offered by each if you really want to make sure you’re getting what you need.

Some useful comparison websites (in Dutch) are:

How do I actually get it?

Depending on the plan and provider you choose, you may be able to take out a subscription online, without even needing to go to a shop. However, the best source of information for this is the website of the provider you choose, as it varies depending on them!

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