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Can I use a French SIM card in a phone bought in the UK?

We look at how phones bought with a SIM card from a British operator can be used in France and the rest of Europe

We look at whether you can put a French SIM card into a phone bought in the UK Pic: A_B_C / Shutterstock

Reader Question: Will a SIM-only contract card or pay-as-you-go SIM card from Orange, SFR or any other French provider work in an unlocked UK iPhone?

If your phone is unlocked, it is possible to insert a different SIM card into it for use in France. 

France and the rest of Europe runs on the GSM network, and phones bought in the UK will automatically work there unless the device is locked or restricted to a certain country.

All you need to do if this is not the case is choose the plan which works best for you, sign up and insert the SIM card into your device.

What does it mean if the phone is locked?

You would only experience issues if your phone is locked, which means that it will only work with the provider from which you bought it. 

In this case, you would have to ask your operator to unlock it before using a different SIM card. 

You can work out if your phone is unlocked by inserting a different SIM card into it and seeing if the name of that provider comes up as the network in the corner of the screen. 

If you need to unlock the phone, you can call your operator, which will ask for your IMEI number. This is an identifier unique to your phone which in iPhones can be found in your Settings. 

You will need to click ‘General’ and ‘About’ and then you will see it towards the bottom of the screen. 

Android phones also have the IMEI number in their Settings, under the ‘About Device’ and then ‘Status’ section. 

No matter the type of phone you have, you can also go into your phone app and type in *#06#. The number will then flash up for you to note down.

The network can then begin unlocking your phone but it may not happen straight away and there could be an associated charge. You can check your operator’s rules with them in advance if you are unsure.

Related articles 

Can I use my French mobile in the UK without roaming fees?

Is it viable to still use my French mobile in the UK post-Brexit?

Three, Sky, Vodafone: How have you handled the return of roaming fees?

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