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Getting a UK mobile phone number

If you are moving to the UK for the first time, you may need a UK mobile phone number to use some services in the UK. For example, you may need one to register with a GP, to engage with other NHS services, order online shopping from a UK supermarket; and some banks may ask for a UK number as part of the process of opening a UK bank account.

Before you depart for the UK

This external linkLink opens in a new window explains some things to consider if you plan to use your existing phone in the UK; and offers a useful introduction to mobile phones in the UK.

SIM Lock (Country Lock)

Some operators lock the handset to their network; so that it can't be used with another provider's SIM card. Watch this external videoLink opens in a new window to check if your phone is locked. If it is locked, you may need to contact your current network provider in your home country.

Virtual UK Number

Consider signing up for a virtual UK phone number before you arrive; while you wait to arrange a more permanent number. Examples of companies include:

Ordering a UK SIM to your home address abroad

Some companies, e.g. GiffgaffLink opens in a new window also offer delivery of their pre-paid SIM cards around the world.

Please note that many other providers are available and the University does not recommend any of the providers listed on this page. It is your responsibility to ensure that your chosen product works for your individual needs.

There are several network providers who offer pay-as-you-go services; and this external comparison siteLink opens in a new window can help you decide which service suits you.

Buying a SIM card on arrival

Most airports or supermarkets will also offer pre-paid SIM cards. Note that many retail outlets at UK airports are operating shorter opening hours than normal.

'Pay-as-you-go' (PAYG) SIM Cards

With PAYG, you would need to add credit to your phone to use data, send texts and make calls. This short-term method could be convenient for settling into the UK before arranging your preferred plan from a UK network provider.

More information:

For general advice about getting a UK mobile phone, visit the Student Funding webpageLink opens in a new window or the UKCISALink opens in a new window page.