Phone Plans Abroad: Your Smartphone in Italy

In 2016, we are all far more reliant on our smartphones than ever before. Before you begin panicking that you will be forced to spend your semester abroad hunting for free wifi or worse, using an old-school Nokia flip phone, we have good news for you! You have several great options for getting a phone plan in Italy, and it’s much simpler than you may initially realize.

Colosseum photoIf you already have a smart phone that you would like to use abroad, the first step is ensuring that your phone is unlocked. All you will need to do is call your cell phone company and make sure that your phone is not “locked” to your carrier. In most cases your phone will already be unlocked, but if it is not and your phone company will not do it for you, a quick Google search will allow you to find more information on unlocking your phone so that it can be used with other providers. Just make sure to double-check that unlocking your phone won’t void the warranty!

Once you get to Italy, you will have a couple options. If you plan to keep your smartphone and simply change out your SIM card during your time abroad while freezing your plan back in the US, here are a few of the main options John Cabot University students use during their time in Rome:

  • PicCell, a phone company specifically targeted toward study abroad students, offers numerous SIM card options within Italy and while traveling abroad. Their plans can be a bit more pricy than local Italian companies, but their customer service team speaks English and billing is straight-forward.
  • Vodafone, Wind, Tim, and Tre, Italy’s main phone companies, all offer rechargeable SIM cards (ricaricabile) that allow you to pay as you go. You can purchase one of these plans by going to the local store (all of these stores are within walking distance from campus), and bringing along your passport for identification. Each company offers a range of monthly plans that you can simply recharge with a credit card or by going to a local tabaccaio (tobacco shop) that has your phone company’s logo on its window. Some of the current plans available include (paste the link into Google Translate for a rudimentary translation of these web pages if you do not speak Italian):

You will learn more about your phone options at John Cabot University’s 5-day long Orientation, but it is definitely smart to do a bit of planning before arriving on campus to avoid unnecessary hiccups. The local plans are certainly the most inexpensive, but you may run into some translation difficulties while purchasing your plan and deciphering text message notifications from your new phone company. Just be patient, and it wouldn’t hurt to befriend some Italian classmates for some help along the way!

Learn more about studying abroad at John Cabot University.

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