If you’re visiting the Netherlands or you’ve moved to the Netherlands, you might need to get a SIM card. When I first moved here, I didn’t know Dutch and it was hard getting a working SIM card that I could activate myself. I hope this guide to buying a Dutch SIM card in the Netherlands helps you save yourself a lot of headaches that I had myself!
Do you even need a dutch sim card?
If you are visiting the Netherlands from anywhere else in Europe, specifically the EU, your phone should have no problems as you’ll be able to use your data as you wish here. However, if you’re visiting from elsewhere, it’s a good idea to buy a Dutch SIM card if you will need to make calls and use data on your mobile phone.
You must have an unlocked phone that uses the GSM network (which is common everywhere but the US). If your phone is not compatible with the GSM network and you need to make calls, I recommend stopping by MediaMarkt, a Dutch electronics stores with a location near Amsterdam Centraal. They carry affordable flip phones as well as smartphones that will work with any SIM card. I bought my phone here! Staff speaks good English and they also carry some SIM-cards.
the best dutch sim cards for non-dutch speakers
Until your Dutch is good enough to deal with phone messages, I highly recommend going to a shop or going with Lebara. Lebara is a popular European SIM card that caters to foreigners with cheap foreign calls. It’s a bit more expensive, but this is the expat tax, isn’t it?
It doesn’t matter much which cell phone provider that you choose as cell phone service in the Netherlands is generally good. Prepaid is what you think it is while SIM-only usually indicates that it’s a subscription. I pay a bit less than 20 euros month for 8GB data and unlimited calls. Dutch people love Whatsapp, so it’s not worth getting texting generally.
If you do not yet have a Dutch bank account, you will be unable to get a Dutch subscription for your phone. I’d plan on using a temporary Dutch SIM card for the first 1-2 months. You do pay a bit more, but it’s worthwhile as you can bring your phone number with you once you get a subscription. No matter what, be sure to bring your passport and relevant local ID for when you stop by a phone store!
I used Vodafone for quite a while and it’s a great recommendation for a Dutch SIM card if you’re traveling and/or moving to the Netherlands. Why? Vodafone has some of the best service in the EU and their staff generally speaks great English. They offer prepaid SIM cards with lots of data that you can buy at their shops in the Netherlands as well as subscriptions for those who have just moved here.
I used Lebara for my first 2 months here and they’re very solid. Their services are in English and it’s generally expat friendly. Service is generally good and calls to other countries are generally fairly cheap!
KPN is the major providers of telephone and TV service. They are a bit more expensive and their website tends to be in Dutch, however they do speak good English via their customer service and in the shop. They offer prepaid SIM cards although you will need help activating yours as the menu is in Dutch only.
I cut a few cell phone service providers based on the experiences of myself and friends.
Where to buy a sim card in Amsterdam
If you’ve just moved to the Netherlands or you’re just traveling, I recommend waiting until you leave Schiphol airport to buy a SIM card. I promise, you’ll be alright and there’s good wi-fi within the airport/the train station. Once you’re in the city center, drop by a Vodafone store with your passport. You’ll find a Vodafone store in the heart of the Red Light District at Nieuwendijk 205.
Although you can certainly find SIM cards at Albert Heijn and other supermarkets, you will have difficulty activating these without help in Dutch. Lebara is the best option if you prefer to DIY buy a Dutch SIM card and you can buy a Lebara SIM card at Albert Heijn (a supermarket). I do not recommend the Albert Heijn brand SIM cards as it’s tough for non-Dutch speakers.
where to buy a sim card in the hague
Within the Hague, you’ll find a Vodafone store on Spuistraat 38. The staff is friendly and they’ve helped me many times when I had Vodafone. You’ll also find a KPN shop nearby.
For those who have a permanent address within the Netherlands looking for an affordable cell subscription, I personally use Ben. This online-only SIM-card only service is so far only in Dutch, but their plans are pretty good and affordable. You can change your plan monthly, which is great if you anticipate a month of heavier phone usage.