If you are an expat or planning to stay long term in Italy, one of the first things you need to do is to get a cell phone. Your cell/mobile phone makes it easy to navigate the world, even in an unfamiliar place, so it’s crucial to get it sorted out as soon as possible.
With your mobile phone in hand, you can quickly check Google Maps, make a call, book a train ticket, access your online banking, scroll through social media and much more.
Can You Use Your Current Phone In Italy?
It depends. If you are from Europe, most of the European service providers will have a plan that will cover Italy also (Some service providers might have roaming charges, while others might throttle your bandwidth or place usage limitations when you leave your primary service area).
To avoid all this, you can get a local SIM card. You can get these SIM cards from many places including the airport or the train station. You will need to show them your passport or other forms of ID to get a SIM card. You also need a Codice Fiscale. If you do not have one, most phone companies will create one for you.
To be able to use a SIM card, you phone has to be unlocked. Contact your service provider if your are unsure about whether your phone is unlocked or not.
My provider in the United States is T-Mobile. I have used my phone many times in Italy and other European countries. T-Mobile does not charge me anything when I use my phone in Europe for browsing, checking my email or WhatsApp. I turn off the texting feature unless I am connected to Wi-Fi. There is a catch. The speed with which you browse will be much slower and in places like rural Tuscany, it is almost unusable. I have used my T-Mobile phone in India also. Works the same way.
What You Need Before Applying For Cell Phone Service In Italy.
To get a cell phone service in Italy, you will need to show codice fiscale, valid ID and proof of address (I was asked for a proof of address although I have been told that this is not a mandatory requirement). You can either apply online, apply over the phone or visit one of the retail outlets. Visiting a retail outlet is my preferred method since my Italian is not that good (Phone customer service in English is very rare in Italy).
The Best Cell Phone Service Providers In Italy.
The best mobile phone service providers in Italy are TIM (Telecom Italia), Vodafone and WindTre. Iliad is also good. The plans and deals mentioned below will constantly keep changing. Please refer to the service provider website for up to date information.
TIM is the largest Italian telecommunication service provider in terms of subscribers and revenue. The TIM 5G Unlimited plan is one of the most extensive offers that’s available at the moment. The plan includes unlimited 5G as well as unlimited calls and unlimited SMS. This is the ideal plan if you use your phone a lot and make dozens of calls a day!
The plan also includes International Roaming, so you can use it throughout the European Union without paying any extra fees. You also have access to immediate customer service assistance if you have any problems or need some help making the most of your plan.
The plan costs 29.99 Euros per month and for new customers the first month online is free! You can find out more about this plan or browse other options on the TIM website.
Vodafone is a British multinational giant. The company operates networks in about 22 countries. A great mid-range offer from Vodafone is the 5G Infinite plan. The plan allows you to browse the internet and watch videos in HD on your phone. You get unlimited calls within the EU and up to 1000 minutes per month to non-EU countries which makes it a great option if you want to call friends or family back in the United States.
The current price of the Vodafone 5G Infinite plan has been slashed from 36.99 Euros right down to 24.99 Euros which makes this a hard package to beat! To find out more about this plan and others, you can check on the Vodafone website.
WindTre is an Italian telecommunications company that is relatively new to the market. But as a mobile service provider, it’s market share is almost as big as TIM and Vodaphone. I love their website. It is simple and clean and all their plans are clearly laid out.
WindTre has a nice range of plans available but the More Lite 5G plan stands out as one of the cheapest on the market! For just 12.99 Euros a month you can get 50 GB a month of data, unlimited minutes and up to 200 SMS per month. This plan would be ideal for an Expat who isn’t going to be using their phone a lot but still wants to be able to access the internet occasionally and make calls on the move.
To find out more about the More Lite 5G plan and the other options that are available you can check the WindTre website.
Mobile Phone Plans In Italy.
In Italy, you can either get a contract (abbonamento) or a SIM card (ricaricabile). A contract, or subscription, will usually be a fixed length of either 12 or 24 months. You can cancel your contract at any time but you will probably have to pay a fine. This is something you should check on before you purchase a new plan for your phone.
If you do get a SIM card then you can recharge the balance in most tobacconists, newsagents, grocery stores and many bars. This is quite convenient. But in the long run, you will end up paying a more for your calls and data than if you had gotten a contract.
Like in the United States, the major phone companies have all sorts of plans. I always chose one of the unlimited plans so that I do not have to constantly monitor my data usage. But these unlimited plans are the more expensive ones.
In my experience, I do not see a lot of difference in terms of coverage between TIM, Vodafone and WindTre. I would pick TIM if you are going to spend a lot of time in Italy. Vodafone is better if you travel a lot in Europe and the rest of the world.
The Italian mobile phone market is very competitive so you can get some amazing deals if you shop around. From basic monthly plans that cost just over 10 Euros per month up to huge packages that only cost around 30 Euros a month, you’ll certainly be able to find something that suits you perfectly!