SIM card Belgium

Buying a SIM card in Belgium

In Get Connected by Patricia Rey Mallén2 Comments


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Belgium: country of beer, chocolate, the European Union, and one of the most original landmarks on the planet.

It is also one of the most (unfairly, in my opinion) underrated countries in Europe. Many travelers just pass through, reserving a mere half-day to visit Brussels, maybe check out Brugge, and move on.

Most people who do stay longer, though, end up pleasantly surprised. Belgium has a diverse population, a thriving arts scene, a phenomenal beer selection… and a very fast, reliable cellular network.


Note: Belgium is part of the European Union, which introduced new roaming regulations in June 2017. These “roam like at home” rules effectively ended roaming charges across much of Europe, meaning you’ll usually pay no more for calls, texts, and data in other EU countries than you would in the country of purchase.

There are some exceptions and limits, however. Double-check the details at time of purchase if you’re planning to use your SIM elsewhere in the region.


Companies


  • We recommend Proximus for most travelers
  • If you only need data, consider Orange’s Tempo Touch plan

Belgium’s telecom landscape is dominated by three companies: Proximus, Base and Orange. While you’ll get good service with all of them, Proximus currently boasts the highest LTE coverage, with over 80% of the country. The competitors cover less than two-thirds.

I opted for Proximus, a decision made easier by the fact it has a store in Midi station, conveniently located just by the exit of the Eurostar terminal.

If you mostly need data, though, I’d recommend you also take a look at Orange, which offers a data-heavy plan.

There are also a handful of resellers working in the country, running mostly on Base’s network and offering competitive voice and SMS packages. If you don’t need data, it may be worth checking them out.

Many can only be signed up with online, however, which as I later learned, make them a non-starter for foreigners.

How


Purchasing the SIM card was quick. I just popped into the Proximus store at the Midi train station, beside the Eurostar terminal exit, and asked one of the attendants for help.

They explained to me the couple of options I had for a prepaid card in flawless English, and set me up as soon as I made my choice.

They also registered me under their system, for which you need to show proof of ID. As an EU national, I showed my ID card. For anybody else, passports are a valid form of identification.

The ID-showing part is a new requirement. In the past, there was no need to show proof of ID to purchase a prepaid card. You could even do it online, with the SIM card arriving in the mail a few days later.

Things changed after the terrorist attacks of early 2016, however. Belgium changed the law, requiring all new SIM card buyers to register.

The documentation requirements to do this online are high, with new customers being asked to provide their e-identity number and Belgian bank account, among others.

Since only residents have these things, foreigners can no longer sign up for SIM cards online.



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Costs


Getting the SIM card set me back 10€, loaded with the same amount of credit. That 10€ didn’t go far, though — it gave 10 min of calls, 500 SMS and 100MB of data. The data was gone after a day of wandering.

As the starter pack noted, it’s worth it to top up with a bit more credit, as you get more bang for your buck: 15€ credit gives 20 min, 250MB and unlimited SMS, 25€ provides 50 min, 500MB and unlimited SMS.

Alternatively, Orange’s Tempo Touch gives 1GB for 15€, 1.5GB for 20€, and 3GB for 50€, along with unlimited SMS and 500MB for Facebook and Twitter. Keep in mind, though, that download speeds on Orange’s network are generally lower than with Proximus.

Although Orange offers another data-heavy plan, Tempo Giga, it’s not available to foreigners since it’s only available online.

Topping Up


Topping up is, as it’s usually the case in Europe, fairly simple. You can do easily it online, either through Proximus’ website or free app.

Alternatively, you can purchase a credit voucher at any of the authorized spots – which include supermarkets, convenience stores and gas stations around the country.

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Coverage and Data Speeds


Proximus understandably talks a lot about its 4G network, but unfortunately my phone doesn’t support the right frequencies to get LTE service in Europe.

That disappointment faded fast, though, when I realised just how fast the HSPA+ network was. At almost 30Mbps, it’s one of the fastest speeds I’ve ever seen.

That speed was pretty consistent throughout the country. Great stuff!

Proximus 3G speeds in Belgium

Proximus HSPA+ speeds in Belgium

Check out our guides to buying SIM cards in many other countries here.

About the Author

Patricia Rey Mallén

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A roaming writer and tech enthusiast, Patricia has been wandering the globe for 10-odd years. A passionate Apple lover, she is familiar with Genius bars from Sydney to Reykjavík to Mexico City. She only vaguely remembers life before the Internet, but will forever long for the days in which mobile phone batteries lasted for over a week.

Comments

  1. Plz I want to know if,a Ghanaian can use his or her sim for only browsing
    N whatsapp calls

  2. If your cell company from Ghana offers international roaming in Belgium then yes, you can use your SIM there, but it will probably be quite expensive. Check the pricing with them, but it’ll likely be much cheaper to buy a local SIM instead.

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