Learn more about Belgium’s phone carriers and mobile coverage
Belgium is one of Europe’s top tourist destinations. Although it can be rather expensive, it has some great SIM card deals that can reduce your international mobile phone bills. You can buy 1GB of data from Belgium’s leading telco provider for as little as €5 (AUD$7.10). So, whether you’re planning a short holiday, a long trip or a tour around Europe, check out the best SIM card options available on finder.com.au.
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There are three main mobile phone operators in Belgium: Proximus, Base and Orange. All three operators have been tried, tested and trusted by both locals and travellers, so you won’t go wrong with our picks. Although there are many other SIM card options offered by the likes of Allo RTL, Jim Mobile, and Ortel Mobile, they are all operated through the Base network.Lycamobile also offer some great deals, which we have highlighted at the very bottom.
The locals call their SIM Cards chips or kartes, and can be purchased by using identification, passports and SIM registration. A new law has been passed which means a SIM card will only be sold once ID has been taken and the SIM has been registered. Credit can be purchased from official stores, supermarkets and Brussels International Airport. Top-ups can also be made online through official websites.
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Belgium’s operators offer great mobile coverage for a relatively small country, providing good 2G, 3G and 4G services. Roaming rates are among the best in the world, and all three operators sell prepaid credit, allowing users to take advantage of cheap offers and deals.
According to OpenSignal’s global state of mobile network report, Belgium was voted an above average mobile phone provider with one of the best overall speeds in the world with 18.55 Mbps – beating the likes of Hong Kong, Spain, Canada and the United Kingdom. Below, we have broken down each telco provider to highlight exactly what they can offer during your visit to Belgium.
Base is the largest operator in Belgium and acts as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) to several smaller providers, including Allo RTL, Jim Mobile, and Ortel Mobile. Base has some great 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE networks, which extend to more than 95% of the country’s coverage area. They offer a great prepaid plan called B-prepaid+which can be purchased for €15 from official stores and supermarkets, or it can be bought online for just €5 if you have access to a Belgium postal address. However, although the SIM prices vary, you won’t lose out because whatever you pay for the SIM will be translated into credit. Micro, mini and Nano SIMs are available.
Credit can be uploaded by purchasing Easy Cards which come in several different sizes:
- €10 - 60 operator or 30 any mins, 250 operator SMS, 100MB data bonus
- € 15 - 120 operator or 60 any mins, 1,000 operator SMS, 500MB data bonus
- € 20 - 240 operator or 120 any mins, unlimited operator SMS, 1GB data bonus
Dial *444# to check balance.
The standard default rate is €0.50 per MB. To add more data, Base also offer Surf & mail plans:
- Surf & mail 5: 100MB for 30 days - €5 – Text SURF5 to 1914 to activate
- Surf & mail 10: 2GB for 30 days - €10 - Text SURF10 to 1914 to activate
Base also offers 2 superior data plans that allow roaming right across the EU. Once you have used up the below data allowance, the standard charge is €0.06 per MB.
- 250 MB valid for 30 days - €5 – Text DATAEU5PRE to 1914 to activate
- 1GB valid for 30 days - €15 – Text DATAEU15PRE to 1914 to activate
Proximus is the second largest operator in Belgium, but the market leader. It has the best overall coverage on 2G, 3G and 4G networks. Their 4G/LTE service was the first to be offered, and they have some very good prepaid SIM deals. Their Pay&Go SIM cards are the best, and are available in official stores, approved resellers and at the airport. Standard, Mini, Nano and Micro SIMs are available. Remember to take your passport with you for proof of identification. Credit can be purchased for €5 - €20, either online or at official stores and resellers.
“Pay & Go+” is their standard data and voice SIM which can be purchased for €10 with the same amount of credit uploaded. The standard rate for data is €0.50 per MB.
The following packages give you unlimited SMS (domestic) and a data bonus when you add credit:
- €10: 100MB + 100MB bonus (top-up online)
- €15: 250MB + 250MB bonus (top-up online)
- €25: 500MB + 500MB bonus (top-up online)
Extra data can be added for even more savings:
- 250MB for 31 days - €4.99 - Dial #152*1# to activate
- 1GB for 31 days - €9.99 - Dial #151*1# to activate
Dial #152#- to check data usage.
Proximus also offer data-only SIMs for tablets and modems. SIMs can be purchased for €10 with 500MB included, valid for 31 days.
The following plans will automatically stop once data allowance has been reached:
- 500MB - €10 (includes 250MB bonus on second top-up) – valid for 31 days
- 750MB - €15 (includes 375MB bonus on second top-up) – valid for 31 days
- 1.250GB - €25 (includes 625MB bonus on second top-up) – valid for 31 days
- 2.5GB - €50 (includes 1.25GB bonus on second top-up) – valid for 31 days
Dial #121# to check balance, dial #120# to check bonuses.
Orange's 3G network is on par with Proximus, and they also offer customers a good 4G/LTE service. SIM cards are handed out for free, but to use them you must upload credit, of any denomination. SIM cards can be purchased at any Orange store or official reseller. Remember to take your passport with you when purchasing the SIM card, because Orange follows all the rules and regulations to a T.
Orange offer Tempo Easy, Tempo Touch and Tempo Giga plans, and can be activated by dialing #121#.
|Tempo Easy||Tempo Giga||Tempo Touch|
|€5 valid for 1 year||default rate €0.10/MB||default rate €0.10/MB||default rate €0.10/MB|
|€10 valid for 1 year||100 mins or 100SMS or 100MB||750MB and500 SMS||100MB and unlimited SMS|
|€15 valid for 1 year||150 mins or 150SMS or 150MB||4GB and4000 SMS||1GB, 500MB Facebook,Twitter, unlimited SMS|
|€20 valid for 1 year||200 mins or 200SMS or 200MB||5GB and5000 SMS||1.5GB, 500MB Facebook,Twitter, unlimited SMS|
|€50 valid for 1 year||500 mins or 500SMS or 500MB||6GB and6000 SMS||3GB, 500MB Facebook,Twitter, unlimited SMS|
All data bonuses are valid for 31 days on the above-mentioned plans. Additional data packs can also be added:
- 150MB - €5 – Dial #123# to activate
- 500MB - €10 – Dial #123# to activate
Lycamobile is also in Belgium and provides good rates for data. It operates on Orange using their 2G, 3G or 4G/LTE networks. All SIM cards are free and must be registered before use, by taking your passport to their nearest store. The SIM will only work once credit has been added.
Their standard default rate is €0.10 per MB before any plans have been added, and a one day plan costing €1 EUR for 50MB can by activated by dialing *139*3001#.
The following data packs are also available on the Lycamobile PLUS SIM cards:
|Data 5||600MB||€5||Dial *139*3005# to activate|
|Data 10||2GB||€10||Dial *139*3010# to activate|
|Data 15||4GB||€15||Dial *139*3015# to activate|
|Data 20||7GB||€20||Dial *139*3020# to activate|
|Data 25||10GB||€25||Dial *139*3025# to activate|
All plans will auto-renew, so call customer services on 1976 to cancel. Lycamobile also offers cheap EU roaming bundles, check out their website for more details
- People in Belgium speak French, Dutch and German, so if you don’t know any of those languages then download Google Translate onto your phone before you travel. The good thing about Belgium is that most people can speak English.
- Locals call a SIM card a karte or SIM.
- Ask the seller to set up the SIM for you, they will know how to do it. If not, follow the instructions we have highlighted above or go to the official operator website to seek advice.
- Remember, arrive at the store before it gets too busy, that way you are more likely to receive better service and avoid the crowds!
All networks require you to have a SIM-unlocked GSM compatible international mobile phone. To double check you have this phone, contact your provider before you leave.
- Good value for money
- Belgium has good coverage
- Prepaid credit when required
- No in-store contract needed
- Could be compatible with your current mobile phone
- Cheap handsets are sold in-store
- EU roaming options on all networks
- No mobile phone devices offered with the SIM card packages
- Can only be used on SIM-unlocked GSM phones
- ID and registration is required to use the SIM cards
Q: What about other SIM card providers in Belgium?
A: There are several smaller carriers providing SIM cards in Belgium, including Allo RTL, Jim Mobile, and Ortel Mobile. These are all run through the Base provider which we have highlighted above. Although you may find slightly different deals and plans, we feel it’s always best to stick with the main providers. However, if you do find a better deal on one of these operators, they can be trusted.