Practical Life in Barcelona

Mobile Phone in Barcelona

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Mobile phone use and coverage is excellent throughout Spain. Phones must be GSM/GPRS compatible (AT&T and T-Mobile cell phones, for example) with a SIM card. Most phones from abroad will need to be unlocked. Many smaller mobile phone shops in Spain offer this service (se libran moviles) for about 20 euro.


Sending an sms (text message) is also extremely popular and is a necessary skill among many social groups. Sending a SMS is also a way to pay for a variety of services.


The major mobile telephony operators (operadores) in Spain are

  • Telefónica - Oldest and largest company, also known as Movistar. They offer possibly the best coverage in Spain and are partnered with many international providers.
  • Vodafone - A great option for those traveling around Europe with relatively inexpensive roaming charges.
  • Orange (formerly Amena) - Frequent deals on phones and calling plans. Can have uneven coverage in rural areas.
  • Yoigo - The newest provider.

Virtual mobile phone service providers are a new development in Spain. These providers often offer lower rates because they are able to set their rates independently of the networks they use.

Many of the mobile phone service providers offer customer service in English. Examine each company to find the one that offers the best plan for, depending on call times, rates to specific areas and countries, and your usage.


Unlike North America, but similar to the UK, whoever makes the call pays the charges. The receiving phone is not charged. Generally, callers pay for the call connection (establecimiento de llamada) and the time spent talking on the phone. This rate (tarifa) is generally quoted either per minute or per second, but all call time is charged per second. Most rates don't include IVA (VAT tax), which is charged at 16 percent.


When you sign a contract, you'll have a monthly bill to pay, but you can often get cheaper rates and a free or cheap mobile phone. There is usually a commitment of 1-2 years that can be next to impossible to break.

Prepaid Card

The majority of cell phone users in Spain utilize a prepaid SIM Card. A SIM card is actually a little chip that inserts into an overseas GSM phone, giving you a local phone number. Since the chip is prepaid, you do not need to sign a contract nor have any long-term commitment.

Additional credit (saldo) or a "reload" voucher can be purchased at magazine stands and convenience stores. They are usually available in denominations of 15, 30 and 50 Euros.

These are offered by most providers, or can be purchased from second-hand shops and or EasyExpat's classified's.

Related article: Landline phone in Spain

Update 17/10/2011


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