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Using your mobile phone abroad  

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Mobile telephones are among the top five most popular travelling items taken overseas and are a good way of staying in touch with your family and friends back home.The network service that allows you to use your UK mobile telephone abroad is called 'international roaming'. Use the following tips to be prepared for your trip.

Before you go remember to:
* contact your UK mobile network provider to ensure your mobile phone is enabled for international roaming, do this well in advance of your departure date, as it can take up to 14 days, and you can't do it from overseas
* check that your existing handset will work in the country you are travelling to; this may not be the case, particularly outside Europe
* check with your UK network provider how much it costs for international roaming services as charges can be very different to calls in the UK - also, confirm the current charges just before you leave as they can change at short notice (although other charges are more stable)

If you intend to use your mobile frequently while abroad

Consider the following options:

* some mobile services offer international traveller services giving cheaper calls abroad in return for a monthly fee - check with your network provider what the costs are and how long you would be committed to paying for the service
* it is usually cheaper to use an alternative 'SIM' card in your phone; a SIM card is a small card that lets the phone work on a particular mobile network, it can easily be swapped around in your phone
* SIM cards for foreign networks can be bought abroad eg at international airports and holiday destinations or, for some European countries, from some UK retailers
* find out if the alternative SIM cards will expire after a fixed time
* you should be able to rent a mobile telephone handset for the duration of your stay from most mobile telephone companies in the country you are visiting
* if you are particularly concerned about coverage or call quality you may be able to select a particular network for international roaming - ask your network provider whether it offers a choice of networks and how you can change between them
* if you are using your own network provider's pre-paid mobile international roaming service, make sure you know how to use your credit card to top up your calling credit before you leave, or take extra vouchers, as they may be hard to obtain abroad
* ask your network provider what you have to dial to use international roaming, this may not be as simple as just using the 0044 international prefix for the UK
* pre-programme into your mobile the telephone number of the nearest British Embassy, High Commission or Consulate in the country you are visiting, do the same with the telephone number of your hotel and tour representative
* take an electrical adaptor for the charger plug, to keep your mobile telephone fully charged while you are abroad

Mobile phone security

Make a note of your mobile's serial number (also known as the IMEI number), your mobile telephone number and the telephone number of your operator's customer services (including UK dialing code). Keep them with you in a safe place, separate from your mobile.

If your phone is stolen you will be able to contact the network operator in the UK and request that they block your phone and/or SIM card. You may need to provide additional information in order to get the phone blocked, such as a password. Contact your operator for details of how they deal with stolen phones before you leave to ensure that you take sufficient information abroad to enable you to block the phone if it is stolen.


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