Using a SIM Card in Ireland: What North Americans Need to Know

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Whether you need to check in with family back home or you just want to share all the amazing photos you are taking on social media, staying connected during your Ireland vacation is often top of mind for travelers.

When choosing the best option for using your mobile phone in Ireland you'll find a SIM card is an easy and affordable option to make your North American phone compatible with your Ireland travels.

What is a SIM Card?

A SIM card connects your device to a specific mobile network, allowing you to make calls, send text messages, and access mobile data in Ireland.

It holds important data such as your phone number, network authentication details, contacts, and sometimes even stored messages.

By switching SIM cards, you can change your service provider or use a local network when traveling abroad.

Using an Irish SIM card will mean that you will have a different phone number and connect to a different network. 

All other phone data, including contacts, apps, music, photos, etc. are stored inside your phone (and not the SIM card) so the accessibility to your important information will not change.

What is an eSIM card?

Many contemporary smartphones support eSIM, which offers a more convenient alternative to physical SIM cards. With eSIM, there is no need to physically insert a new SIM card. Instead, you can purchase a prepaid eSIM data plan and easily activate it by scanning a QR code sent to you via email. The entire setup process takes just a few minutes and can be done from anywhere.

These can often be added directly from your mobile provider by going to the settings on your phone and finding your SIM manager.

An eSIM also makes it very quick and easy to switch from one service plan to another just by using your phone settings.

Why consider a SIM Card when traveling in Ireland?

  • There may be limited data availability in some areas.
  • Mobile roaming costs may be expensive. You do not want to come home to a surprisingly large mobile phone bill!
  • You need a more secure network. Some public Wi-Fi networks are not secure.

Pros & Cons for Buying a SIM in Advance of Your Trip to Ireland

Buying a SIM card before your trip to Ireland has advantages and disadvantages.

While it can be more cost effective to do your research on the different available options in advance of your trip, you might incur international shipping costs that increase the cost of the card. 

It might be challenging to anticipate the amount of data usage you will have so there is the possibility of under-purchasing the correct prepaid data amount. 

Lastly, while it doesn’t happen often, if there is an issue with the SIM card, you may not know this until you get to Ireland and it could be more difficult to handle this remotely.

The benefits, however, outweigh the disadvantages. 

It is convenient to have a SIM card shipped to your house so you are prepared before you even leave home.

Buy a SIM car for Ireland on Amazon for super quick shipping!

While you are en route, simply load the new SIM card into your phone.  When you arrive in Ireland and turn on your phone, you are ready.

You will not have to waste valuable vacation time trying to find an available SIM card once you arrive.  You can text your family and friends to let them know you have arrived and then enjoy the spectacular sites and scenery.

Things to consider before buying a SIM Card

  • Check with your current mobile phone provider.  They may have an international roaming plan. Inquire about roaming charges and data inclusion. Compare rates and data plans.
  • Verify your phone compatibility here:
  • Ensure your phone is unlocked for compatibility. Unlocked phones are able to roam on other networks around the world.  Locked phones could incur expensive charges to do so. It is important to call or visit your mobile provider in advance because some might take time for them to unlock it.
  • Consider the length of your trip and the amount of data you might require.  For example, if you are keeping up with work, you might need more data. 
  • Check SIM card size compatibility before you order.
  • Confirm free EU roaming and coverage areas in your travel area.
  • Ensure there is no expiration date for the card in case your trip is delayed.

One important note: Bring something with you that will safely store your current SIM card until you are traveling home. 

Stay connected in Ireland with

Should Everyone in My Group Purchase an Ireland SIM Card?

Unless your group plans to separate often you should be ok with a single SIM card purchase.

If multiple people would like to have access to wifi but don't need to make or receive phone calls consider renting a mobile wifi unit from WifiCandy. Up to 10 devices can be connected at one time.

Armed with this SIM card information, you are now empowered to be connected on your current phone during your Irish adventures. 

Click here for additional tips about using your mobile phone in Ireland, including information about international phone plans, mobile wifi rental, and free wifi.

Where to buy a prepaid SIM Card in Ireland

How to plan an Ireland Vacation to Remember

Jody Halsted
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