How can I use my mobile phone when I am outside the UK?
You can use your mobile phone when abroad with giffgaff - just follow the guide.
How it works
When you are abroad, your device uses the local mobile networks instead of giffgaff but you can still enjoy all of giffgaff services – this is called roaming.
As you are using a foreign network, you must use the international dialling code (+44) to call or text a UK number. To use this international code, strip off the zero at the beginning of the number and add +44 instead - e.g. a number starting 07912 becomes +447912.
For your convenience, you can add the international dialling code to the numbers saved in your phone, as it also works when you are in the UK.
Cost of using your mobile abroad
Using data abroad.
Please note: Because the prepay system manages members balances during the data session (by reserving 1MB at the start of each session) some of the balance is reserved for data and members may not be able to use this for voice or text services, this reservation is released and available again, once the data session is closed.
How your usage is charged
Goodybags and gigabags are only valid in the UK and your usage abroad is charged out of your airtime balance.
When you arrive in another country, you’ll receive a text with the price for making/receiving calls and texts for that country. You can also find the details of the charges below to anticipate your budget.
Make sure to top-up enough credit before leaving the UK as top-up with a UK debit / credit card may be rejected when you are outside Europe. To avoid being short of credit during your travel, we recommend to set up auto top-up before you go.
If you are not used to using your phone abroad, you may need a quick explanation of who is paying when you are making or receiving a call. We prepared the table below so you can see who is charged for a call, when both you and your friend are using a UK mobile.
|Your friend is in the UK||Your friend is abroad|
|You are in the UK||
For both of you: Receiving a call is free, calling is charged at normal UK rate
For you: Receiving call is free, calling is charged at normal UK rate
For your friend: Calls are charged at roaming rate to make and receive
|You are abroad||
For you: Calls are charged at roaming rate to make and receive
For your friend: Receiving a call is free, calling is charged at normal UK rate
For both of you: Receiving calls is charged at the applicable roaming price for the zone you are in. Making calls is charged at the roaming rate for the zone you are in.
For instance, if you are in Germany and are calling a friend using a UK number in Uganda, you will be charged at the price of calling a UK mobile number (so EU rate). Your friend will be charged the cost of receiving a call in Uganda. If your friend was in Spain, you would pay the same charge (so EU rate).
giffgaff to giffgaff calls are charged according to the same rule (i.e. they are free for the caller when in the UK and charged to the receiver when abroad).
Receiving texts is free, as is checking your balance. Simply key *100# and hit send to verify how much credit you have left.
While you're overseas, it doesn't cost anything when someone leaves a voicemail message. It'll only cost if you retrieve it while you're away. Instead of the 'per call' rate you would pay in the UK, you'll be charged at a "per minute" roaming rate for the country you are visiting.
Charges for European Union and selected countries
If you call from any EU country, Andorra, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Iceland, Isle of Man, Jersey, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino and Switzerland.
|Dialling within EU and select countries plus calls to voicemail (charged in per second increments after first 30 seconds)||18p per minute|
|Dialling outside this price band||£1 per minute|
|Receiving calls (charged in per second increments)||4p per minute|
|Sending texts||5p per text|
|Picture messages (MMS) to a UK mobile||16p per MMS|
|Picture messages (MMS) to any other mobile||24p per MMS|
|Data Roaming||19p per MB|
The EU countries are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain (including Canary Islands), Sweden, United Kingdom.
If you are roaming in Europe and calling a Non European number then you will be charged Rest of the World price. For example, if you are roaming from Italy and calling a South African number, you will be charged according to the 'Other countries" tariff below.
Charges for other countries
Using your mobile in a country which is not listed in the previous section will be charged as follows
Making calls and calling your voicemail (charging in per second increments after the first 30 seconds)
£1 per minute
Receiving calls (charged in per minute increments)
£1 per minute
30p per text
Picture messages (MMS) to a UK mobile
16p per MMS
Picture messages (MMS) to any other mobile
24p per MMS
£5 per MB
For the avoidance of doubt, the list of these countries is available in the "spoiler" section below:
Antigua and Barbuda,
Armenia (Republic of),
Bosnia & Herzegovina,
British Virgin Islands,
Cruise Ships and Ferries,
French West Indies,
Papua New Guinea,
St Kitts & Nevis,
St Vincent and The Grenadines,
Thuraya (Satellite Mode),
Trinidad and Tobago,
Turks & Caicos,
US Virgin Islands,
USA (including Alaska),
How to limit international charges
Switch off data roaming
Data charges can be very costly when you are using your mobile abroad - even if you are not using internet actively, apps may consume data in the background.
As a general advice, don't use "data hungry" applications when you are abroad such as video applications, downloading files or Apps.
The best solution to prevent these charges is simply to switch off data roaming on your handset.
Apple iPhone (iOS 6 and below)
1) Go to "Settings" then "General" then "Network".
2) Slide "Data Roaming" off as required.
Apple iPhone (iOS 7)
1) Go to "Settings" then "Cellular".
2) Slide "Data Roaming" off as required.
1) From the home screen press the "Menu" button and select "Settings"
2) Select "Wireless and networks" then "Mobile networks"
3) Tick or untick the "Data roaming" box as required.
Other operating systems offer similar settings. You can also look at your device apps stores to find an app to fit this need.
Bar international use
If you want to take no risk, we can bar your data usage.
Switch off mobile internet: You can contact an agent and ask to put a “Mobile Internet Bar” on your phone, which means your mobile internet will stop working. Once the bar is on, your mobile internet won’t work in the UK or abroad. You’ll have to request it to be switched back on when you’re ready.
Switch off roaming: You can contact an agent and ask to put a “Roaming Bar” on your phone, which will stop texts, calls and mobile internet while you’re abroad. You’ll have to request it to be switched back on when you’re ready.
Please keep in mind that barring / unbarring your data access will take a few hours so this solution is not to be used if you need to reactivate your Internet access quickly.
Other advice to reduce the charges
Look for WiFi hotspots: If there's a free or low cost WiFi alternative use it instead of cellular data.
Prefer sites which have a mobile version: If you have the choice between different sites, use one with a mobile version – it will be optimised and will consume less data.
Make sure that your emails are not checked in real time: If you use email make sure to set your email application to look for new email only on your request - not automatically.
Make sure you turn off automatic app updating: Set these to manual.
Using your BlackBerry abroad
BlackBerry Messenger and all the other BlackBerry services work when you are using your BlackBerry abroad.
Moreover, the BlackBerry add-on comes with a free daily data allowance of 10MB to use abroad. If your daily usage exceeds 10MB, roaming charges apply. Make sure you have a BlackBerry add-on active for the entire duration of your travel before you leave.
Please note that handsets running BlackBerry 10 do not need the BlackBerry add-on so they can’t receive this free data allowance - standard roaming rates will apply
Checking your balance abroad
On your phone
Just like in the UK it's free to check your balance - Simply key *100# and hit send - don't worry it doesn't cost anything to check.
Within giffgaff.com you can get your balance, update your payment details and check your transactions.
We'd love to hear what you think of this article. Really. We mean it.
Let the community know what you would do to improve this article.