Phones from other countries work in Germany but if they contain a non-EU SIM they attract roaming charges. Local SIM cards cost as little as €10.
- Mobile phones operate on GSM 900/1800. If your home country uses a different standard, you’ll need a multiband GSM phone in Germany.
- If you have an unlocked multiband phone, a prepaid rechargeable SIM card from a German telecom provider will always work out cheaper than using your own network. Cards are available at any mobile-phone store (eg T-Mobile, Vodafone, E-Plus or O2) and will give you a local number without signing a contract.
- If you have a SIM card from anywhere in the EU you will be charged the same in Germany as you are at home (or wherever the SIM is from).
Most public payphones only work with Deutsche Telecom (DT) phonecards, available in denominations of €5, €10 and €20 from DT stores, post offices, newsagents and tourist offices.
For long-distance and international calls, prepaid calling cards issued by other providers tend to offer better rates. Look for them at newsagents and telephone call shops. There may be a connection fee. Most cards work with payphones with a surcharge.
German phone numbers consist of an area code, which starts with 0, and the local number. Area codes can be up to six numbers and local numbers up to nine digits long. If dialling from a landline within the same city, you don’t need to dial the area code. If using a mobile, you must dial it.
- If calling Germany from abroad, first dial your country’s international access code, then 49 (Germany’s country code), the area code (dropping the initial 0) and the local number. Germany’s international access code is 00.
- Numbers starting with 0800 are toll-free but numbers starting with 0190 or 900 are charged at exorbitant rates. Direct-dialled calls made from hotel rooms are also usually charged at a premium.
- If you have access to a private phone, you can benefit from cheaper rates by using a call-by-call access code. Rates can be found online at www.billiger-telefonieren.de.