SIM Cards In Spain – How To Get One

When travelling or moving to a new country it can feel overwhelming getting to know the local brands we need for our day-to-day needs. Fortunately, most of the mobile phone network operators in Spain are well-known brands in many countries so getting a new SIM card in Spain is easy.

There are four mobile network operators in Spain

There are 4 major mobile phone network operators with antennas and radio spectrum in Spain:

But as in other European countries, there are many other specialised brands that use major operators’ networks. In Spain, they are called Operador Movil Virtual (OMV) which translates to Virtual Network Operator. Some specialise in people who don’t speak Spanish but speak English. More about them in this article.

OMVs are sometimes independent or sometimes second brands from other bigger operators. The virtual operators usually specialise in different clients’ needs such as low cost, topnotch customer service or English speaking customers.

Some OMVs in Spain are:

  • Lobster.es for English Speaking Customers
  • Pepephone.com for topnotch customer service plus electricity and fiber optic bills
  • o2online.es is the second Movistar brand for mobile and fibre services that
  • Symio is Orange’s low cost brand
  • Lebara is second brand in Masmovil (previously Vodafone) for international customers with links to other countries
  • etc…

As in many other countries, there is not a big difference in prices and coverage between networks. Any network will provide 4G+ or 5G technology in any major city, like Alicante. But not all OMVs have 5G yet (but just 4G+).

If your stay in Spain is short and you have a European SIM card you can use your phone as if you were in your home country thanks to the European free-roaming. But if your stay is longer or needs a lot of data you should probably get a Spanish SIM card.

Be sure you check with your network operator if travelling from the UK. Many big brands have removed the free-roaming to European countries! So your Instagram scrolling on one of Alicante’s beaches might end up being expensive if you don’t check.

How to Buy a SIM Card in Alicante and Spain

In Spain, when buying either a prepaid or contract SIM card you must show a type of photo ID that will be registered.

Valid proofs of identity are:

  • your passport,
  • the driving license,
  • a national ID,
  • the Spanish NIE if you are a resident.

Even if you get the local Spanish SIM card delivered the postperson will require you to show your ID proof.

Generally, the best (cheaper) deals are on the small OMV but most don’t have fiscal stores where to buy the SIM card and everything is ordered and done online.

For example, you can have a Lobster SIM card for 12€ that gives you 20GB of data and free-roaming to the EU and the UK at the time of updating this article. If online is an issue, buying a SIM card in any physical store of the major brands should do the trick. Some network stores will have available their second brands SIM cards to purchase.

How many mobile operators are there in Spain?

There are 4 mobile network operators with a radio spectrum: Vodafone, Movistar, Masmovil/Yoigo and Orange. There are many MVNOs (OMV in Spanish) such as PepePhone, Lebara, Lobster, Symio, O2 and many others.

After all this information if you might still have a question. Or maybe you have some experience with network operators in Spain. If so, please, leave a comment!