Best eSIM For Germany | A Complete Guide To Buying eSIM Data Plans in Germany

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Before traveling to Germany you’ll want to buy a German eSIM mobile data plan so you don’t find yourself without reliable data during your trip. To help make things easier, I’ve created this guide to the best eSIM data plans for Germany—including where to find the cheapest prepaid data plan and a few quirks you might experience when trying to buy your data plan in Germany.

Important Information About German eSIM Data Plans

Before we start, I want to cover a few quirks about getting mobile data in Germany—especially as a visitor. If you want to learn more about eSIM data plans in general then check out my Guide To Using eSIM Data Plans in Europe

Many German Carriers Don’t Offer Prepaid eSIM Plans

As of now, the only major mobile carrier in Germany that offers a prepaid eSIM plan is Telekom Germany (T-Mobile)—even they require you to jump through a few hoops so it’s not super convenient for short-term visitors.

Other carriers offer eSIM options to non-prepaid customers (i.e. users who have a long-term contract) but these plans typically must be paid via direct debit from a German bank account (which isn’t possible for most visitors).

However, there are budget carriers that rent space on the major carriers’ networks and offer prepaid eSIM plans (we’ll cover all these later in the article).

eSIM/SIM Registration Is Required

All eSIM or SIM cards purchased in Germany must be registered before the service can be activated—which means you’ll need to submit your passport. Additionally, you might also be required to submit an address as well (just use your hotel/hostel/Airbnb address).

If you buy your eSIM/SIM at a shop they’ll make a copy of your passport or if you buy online you’ll need to upload a clear photo of your passport.

This typically isn’t much of an issue but some shops aren’t used to dealing with non-German customers so there might be a few hiccups.

Registration/activation is often immediate but sometimes it can take up to 24 hours.

The benefit of using the Orange Holiday Europe eSIM is that you don’t need to provide this information.

You Don’t Need To Buy A “German” eSIM Plan

As of 2017, the EU passed a “roam like home” policy that bans mobile carriers from charging mobile roaming fees for any EU member country. In short, any eSIM data plan bought in the EU can be used in any other EU country without extra fees or restrictions. This is great for travelers because you can use one plan everywhere. However, some plans might limit the number of texts or mobile minutes if you’re out of the plan’s home country.

  • Here are the countries/areas where there is no data roaming: Andorra, Azores, Aland islands, Austria, Balearic Islands, Belgium, Canary Islands, Cyprus, Corfu, Crete, the Cyclades, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Faeroe Islands, Finland, France mainland, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guernsey, Hungary, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Jersey, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg. Madeira, Malta. Isle of Man, Norway, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Rhodes, Romania, Spain, United Kingdom, San Marino, Sardinia, Sicily, Slovakia, Sweden, Vatican
    • Note: Some plans don’t work in Switzerland since they’re not in the EU but many still have service agreements.

How Much Mobile Data Do You Need?

As long as you’re not streaming music/videos or uploading a ton of photos, you probably won’t use more than 3GB-6GB of mobile data a week. In fact, the average American smartphone owner uses around 10GB of mobile data each month. 

If you’re spending a lot of time on social media (notably Instagram and TikTok) then you might use a bit more but if you’re just doing normal web browsing and using Google Maps then you might only use 1-2GB a week.

YOUR PHONE MUST BE UNLOCKED

Some mobile carriers (mainly in the US, Australia, and New Zealand) “lock” their phones so they’ll only work on that carrier’s network—this typically applies if you have a plan that includes a free phone with a multi-year contract. You’ll need to contact your carrier and have them “unlock” your phone so it will accept a third-party SIM card.

In the US, carriers are required to unlock phones if the customer requests it but it’s often not unlocked by default. That said, a few carriers still make customers jump through hoops to unlock their phones so don’t put this off to the last minute or you could be out of luck.


The Best eSIM Data Plans in Germany

Ok, let’s take a look at the best eSIM plans for traveling to Germany.

Orange Holiday Europe eSIM

  • Price: $49.90 (Check SimOptions for details)
  • Data: 30GB
  • Calls: Unlimited within Europe and 120 min outside of Europe.
  • Texts/SMS: Unlimited within Europe and 1000 outside of Europe.
  • Credit validity: 14 day
  • Service Speed: 4G/LTE
  • Data Tethering: Allowed
  • Usable on any device (phones, tablets, hotspots…)
  • This eSIM comes with a French phone number
  • Backed by one of the largest mobile networks in Europe

The Orange Holiday Europe eSIM is one of the most robust eSIM plans for Germany—it also works for every EU country so it’s great for multi-country trips.

As you can see, this is one of the few eSIM plans that comes with voice minutes and texts (most eSIM plans are data-only). This Orange Holiday Europe eSIM also allows data tethering so you can use your phone as a mobile hotspot for your laptop/tablet.

As an added bonus, the Orange Holiday Europe eSIM doesn’t require registration unless you use it longer than 14 days.


Orange Holiday Zen eSIM

  • Price: $29.90 (Check SimOptions for details)
  • Data: 15GB
  • Calls: Unlimited within Europe and 30 min outside of Europe.
  • Texts/SMS: Unlimited within Europe and 200 outside of Europe.
  • Credit validity: 14 day
  • Service Speed: 4G/LTE
  • Data Tethering: Allowed
  • Usable on any device (phones, tablets, hotspots…)
  • This eSIM comes with a French phone number
  • Backed by one of the largest mobile networks in Europe

The Orange Holiday Zen eSIM is another excellent option for people traveling to Germany (and the entirety of Europe) because it comes with 15GB of mobile data which should suffice for most travelers who aren’t heavy data users—heavy data users are better served by the Orange Holiday Europe which has 30GB of mobile data.

As an added bonus, the Orange Holiday ZEN eSIM doesn’t require registration unless you use it longer than 14 days.


O2 Go Card eSIM

  • Price: $24.90 (Check SimOptions for details)
  • Data: 10GB
  • Service Speed: 4G/LTE
  • Calls: Includes $2 of credit to make calls within Europe
  • Texts/SMS: Includes $2 of credit to send/receive texts within Europe
  • Credit validity: 30 day
  • This eSIM card comes with a Czech phone number

Another option to consider is the O2 Go Card Plan—which operates on the O2 mobile network (the largest mobile network in the UK) so the service quality will be good.

And while it’s slightly cheaper than the Orange Holiday Zen plan, you get less mobile data and you don’t get the benefit of any international calls/texts—you also get a very limited amount of EU calls/texts. Personally, I’d opt for the Orange Holiday Zen plan unless you’re a light data user and your trip will last longer than 14 days.


Smart Comfort X eSIM

  • Price: $17.90 (Check SimOptions for details)
  • Data: 5GB
  • Service Speed: 4G/LTE
  • Calls: None
  • Texts/SMS: None
  • Credit validity: 30 day

Ultra budget travelers might consider the Smart Comfort X eSIM—it’s a budget data-only eSIM plan option that gives you 5GB of data but no calls or texts (you can still send iMessage if you’re sending messages between iPhones and make calls/texts via WhatsApp, etc).

The Smart Comfort X eSIM is a third-party service so it connects to whatever local network is available—for example, France (Bouygues), Germany (O2), Italy (WIND), Spain (Telefonica), etc.


Telekom Germany eSIM

best-mobile-data-plan-germany-telekom

Telekom (T-Mobile) is the largest mobile provider in Germany so their eSIM plans have the best/fastest coverage but they’re also the most expensive local provider. You can sign up for their eSIM service online but it’s somewhat complicated and their website is only in German.

It might be easiest if you buy this plan from a Telekom shop in Germany—but then you lose out on the convenience factor of instant delivery. Personally, I’d only consider this if you’re going to be traveling in Germany for an extended period of time.

eSIM Plans From Other German Mobile Carriers

As of now, these major German mobile carriers offer eSIM plans but they’re only available to users who have long-term contracts—i.e. they’re not available for prepaid customers. Things might change in the future but for now, these aren’t viable options for visitors.


HELPFUL TIPS FOR USING YOUR PHONE WHILE TRAVELING IN GERMANY

I’ve written extensively about using smartphones and data plans in Europe as well as tips for buying SIM Cards For Visiting Europe but below are some more helpful tips about using your phone in Spain.

BUY A PORTABLE BATTERY POWER BANK

I highly recommend a portable battery for your phone because traveling with your phone will quickly drain your battery. I use Anker PowerCore 10000 because it’s tiny and affordable but there are multiple options on Amazon.

HOW TO LOWER YOUR MOBILE DATA USAGE

Data can be expensive and it’s extremely easy to unknowingly burn through a lot of data because many apps use data in the background. Facebook, email, Instagram, Snapchat… those all constantly use data throughout the day without you knowing it. That’s it’s important to know how to limit your data usage.

USE AIRPLANE MODE AND BLOCK DATA TO SPECIFIC APPS

I’ll put my phone in Airplane Mode because that disables all data (but GPS still works in Airplane Mode). You can also go into the settings and disable data access to each individual app. I’ll go in and turn every off except for things like Google Maps or others that I’ll use more frequently — this way when I turn off Airplane Mode only those apps that will use data. Then I’ll turn Airplane Mode back on when I’m done.

DOWNLOAD OFFLINE MAPS

Google Maps lets you download entire city maps so they can be used offline. As an added bonus, GPS doesn’t use data so offline Google Maps works fairly well (but not all functionality works). Here is a good YouTube video that explains everything.

MAKE CALLS OVER WIFI

WhatsApp is an excellent app for free calling and text messages—I’ve found that many Europeans exclusively use WhatsApp to communicate (including many Airbnb hosts).


MORE GERMANY TRAVEL TIPS FROM THE SAVVY BACKPACKER

Here are some more helpful articles I’ve written about visiting Germany on a budget:

James Feess is the creator of The Savvy Backpacker and the author of the book “The Savvy Backpacker’s Guide To Europe On A Budget”. He’s been blogging about budget travel in Europe since 2010.

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