Get Connected in Germany 

Find out Which German SIM Card Suits You Best

As an international student in a foreign country you certainly want to keep in touch with your friends and family back home, connect with new friends in Germany or share your experience online.

Having a German SIM card not only makes it easier for you to keep in touch with others but is also the significantly cheaper option compared to roaming with your home country SIM card. In addition, you often need a valid German mobile phone number if you want to open a current account or register at a gym. However, it is often difficult to choose the right SIM card as there are many different providers in Germany. Therefore, we listed some information below that might ease the struggle.

Mobile Contract or Prepaid SIM Card?

To enter the mobile world in Germany, you first must decide which type of mobile phone card you would prefer. You can either choose to buy a prepaid SIM card which must be topped up regularly, or you could sign a contract and pay a monthly fee according to the mobile package of your choice. Below are some important factors to consider before making your choice.

Mobile Contract Prepaid SIM Card
  • suitable for long-term stay (>1 year)
  • unlimited call, text & internet deal possible (flat rate)
  • long cancellation notice required
  • address registration required
  • bank account (IBAN) required
  • suitable for short-term stay
  • only pay for what you use
  • easy to cancel
  • no bank account (IBAN) required
  • billed per min or per text
  • address registration required*
* Address registration is mostly only required if you purchase your prepaid SIM card online; in case you purchase it at a physical store, a temporary address is likely eligible.

German Mobile Phone Market

The German mobile phone market is dominated by 3 main providers:



Telefonica | O2

Only the providers listed above have their own mobile network, the other providers operate based on the network of those listed companies. For example, providers such as T-Mobile, Congstar and 1&1 are using Telekom network while freenetmobile offers services in all three networks to different conditions.

In general, there are two different types of networks in Germany: D-network (mostly used by Telekom and Vodafone) and E-network (mostly used by O2). The D-network has a higher reach and better signal quality than the E-network due to lower signal transmit frequencies and more transmitting stations. However, E-network has the advantage of being able to support a lot more calls at the same time; thus, D-network is preferable for those who travel a lot or live at the countryside while E-network is preferable for those who live in crowded areas.

Recommendation on Mobile Contracts

You can choose between multiple mobile providers in Germany, which all have their advantages and disadvantages. Finding the provider that suits your needs best can, therefore, be very challenging. To help you make an informed decision, you can find offers for basic packages in our mobile comparison below that can help you get a first impression of the different alternatives. If you are interested in one of the providers shown below, simply click the “Learn More” button to get more information about the offers!


  • € 20.00 /Month

  • 5GB LTE

  • Flat rate internet, telephone and text message
  • No minimum contract period
  • € 30.00 initial fee


  •  € 19.95/ Month

  • 6GB LTE

  • Flat rate internet, telephone and text messages

  • 24-months contract

  • € 39.95 initial fee

freenet Mobile

  • € 9.99 /Month
  • 4GB LTE
  • Flat internet, telephone and text messages
  • 1 month contract
  • No initial fee


  • € 9.99 /Month
  • 3GB LTE
  • Flat rate internet, telephone and SMS
  • 24-month contract
  • € 29.90 initial fee

Prepaid Cards in Germany

If you are staying in Germany for less than a year, prepaid phone plans may be a better choice for you as you are not obliged to commit to a long-term contract. The two main ways of purchasing a prepaid SIM card are online or in physical stores (grocery stores, cell phone shops, petrol station, supermarket, etc.) It is normally not required to provide a bank account (IBAN) for purchasing a prepaid SIM card as you can conveniently top up your credit online or in physical stores. However, to purchase a prepaid SIM card online, you need a registered German mailing address (Meldebescheinigung/Anmeldung).  

Dedicated Mobile Contracts

For those who are staying in Germany for a longer-term (> 1 year), a mobile contract is recommended as some companies may offer bonus minutes, texts or data together with other discounts; making it cheaper on average than prepaid SIM cards if you are a frequent user. However, it is worth noting that mobile phone contracts in Germany normally last for a minimum of 24 months and often contain a clause allowing the contract to be renewed automatically if not cancelled at least 3 months before the expiration date is reached.

Activate Your SIM Card

Regardless of the option you choose in the end, when activating a SIM card, it is necessary that you go through an identification process. You can complete the identification process using your passport and German address* either online via video chat or at a German post office (Post-Ident).

* For prepaid SIM cards, hotel or hostel address is acceptable if it is purchased at a physical store.

Tips & Reminders

As most of the information regarding mobile contracts are written in German, we’d like you to be cautious about below limitations and hidden benefits that are easily overlooked:

  • Mobile contracts will be automatically renewed if not cancelled within the cancellation time frame (e.g. 3 months in advance for long-term contracts, 14 days in advance for monthly cancellable contracts)
  • Price changes/increases after 12 months are common
  • Some contracts contain upfront installation fees
  • Always keep an eye on promotional campaigns
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