Getting a Mobile Phone Number in Berlin


Interested in moving to Berlin?

This post is an extract from my book The BreakingOut Guide To Moving To Berlin.

In this post I talk about the best way how to get fixed up with a mobile phone number once you’ve arrived in Berlin, plus what to watch out for with mobile phone contracts in Berlin.

Check out my book The BreakingOut Guide To Moving To Berlin

How To Get A Mobile Phone Number in Berlin

Once you’ve arrived in Berlin one of the first things you’re going to need is a mobile phone number.

This will make it much easier in your search for accommodation and finding a job.

Using Your Mobile Phone in Berlin

First of all, beware when charging your mobile if you are from North America. Germany uses a voltage of twice that of the US: 230 volts versus the US 110 volts.

So don’t plug your charging adapter directly into the mains in Germany even with a European adapter plug. You will either need to buy a transformer or else buy a new charger here in Berlin once you arrive.

By the way, somehow or other Germans have adopted the English word “Handy” to refer to their mobile phone. They assume everyone from English-speaking countries automatically knows what this means.

I don’t like the word “Handy”, I think it sounds silly. Alternatively you can use the word “Mobil” (pronounced “moBEAL”) or even just “Smartphone”.

It goes without saying that you should not use your existing mobile SIM card from your home country to make mobile calls in Berlin. If you do you’ll find yourself being charged international call rates even for a local call within Germany.

So what you need to do first as top priority is obtain a German SIM card which will give you a German mobile phone number in Berlin.

For mobile phone contracts in Berlin you first need to have a permanent address which you have registered with the local authority (Burgerbüro) of the borough in which you live. So that’s probably not going to be an option open to you from the first day of your arrival.

Instead (and in my opinion a much better option in many cases) you can buy a “pay as you go” SIM card which avoids all the bureaucratic formalities and does not tie you in to a contract.

The Mobile Phone Providers in Germany

There are currently three main mobile network infrastructure operators in Germany:

Telekom Deutschland, which used to be known as T-Mobile, the Vodafone network, and O2 (now owned by Spanish Telefónica).

There are also a large number of so-called Mobile Virtual Network Operators or MVNOs. They are contracted to one of the main three networks and “piggyback” on their mobile infrastructure network.

The MNVOs are very popular in Germany, especially for prepaid “pay as you go” SIM cards in Berlin as they are mostly cheaper than the main operators.

Your best bet is to get a contract or a pay-as-you-go SIM card with one of these operators.

You can buy SIM cards at most of the big supermarkets, drugstores, auto filling stations and at many small kiosk type shops often run by the immigrant community.

Among the operators are Lebara and Congstar (who use Telekom), ALDI Talk, Blau, LIDL, and Ortel (who use O2), and Lycamobile and Edeka who use Vodafone.

SIM cards are good for both phone calls and SMS text messages. The standard rates are around 10 cents per minute for a national call to a mobile or landline and about 1o cents for a national SMS text. Berliners and Europeans in general use SMS much more than Americans.

If you also want an Internet data package for your SIM card, you should purchase a daily or monthly package rather than try to rely on the default per unit rate as the latter will work out very expensive.

The choice is basically between daily packages for short-time high volume usage from between 500 MB and 1 GB per day; and monthly packages which cover you for up to around 10 GB per month for high-end usage.

If you aren’t interested in a data package, then I recommend you shut off data immediately you install your SIM card to keep usage down.

A good choice for expats in Berlin is Ortelmobile. Their website is in several different languages including English rather than just German and the service is prompt and efficient.

Registering Your SIM Card in Berlin

All SIM cards in Germany have to be registered (freischalten) before they can be used.

Registration is most often done online or by phone rather than in the shop. However, this requires you to already have access to a phone line and Internet. Registration is mostly only possible in German.

You will need to enter a Berlin or at least a German address rather than an overseas one – and you will need the correct German postcode as well. German postcodes or “Postleitzahlen” (PLZ) are 5 figure in the format 12345. All Berlin postcodes by the way start with 1.

Activation can be completed in several minutes, but more often takes up to an hour or so. You might also have to switch your mobile off and on in order to make the first full activating connect.

Note the general policy among mobile operators is to try and ban VoIP calls from their networks – with a few exceptions.

Buying New Mobile Credit in Berlin

German SIM cards can be topped up through a number of ways.

You can buy credit vouchers (called Ladebons) for cash in many stores. These come with a long eg 18 figure PIN that you have to enter into your phone.

You’ll find stores and outlets selling the credit vouchers throughout the city, so there should not be any problem topping up your credit.

A Warning About Mobile Phone Contracts in Berlin

If you’re looking to buy a mobile with a service contract, or simply just a monthly service contract, then bear in mind mobile phone service contracts in Berlin are usually for a minimum period of 12 or 24 months. They also usually roll-over automatically without warning to extend the contract duration for another 12 or 24 months at the end of the period.

This is a feature of many service contracts in Germany, not just for mobile phones but for many services, both online and offline.

In Germany it’s down to you the customer to expressly cancel the contract (usually required in writing) usually at least 3 months before the end if you don’t want to continue. Otherwise they will automatically renew the contract. This snares a lot of expats in Berlin, so beware!

By the way, the emergency phone numbers in Berlin are 110 for police and 112 for fire brigade and ambulance. You can make these calls from your mobile for free, and also from any public phone.

The international telephone dialing code for Germany is +49

Once you have your Berlin mobile phone number and SIM card sorted out, you’re then be suitably armed to start searching for some short-term accommodation and a job.

Learning German in Berlin

One thing that should also be top of your priorities when you arrive in Berlin is to get started learning German.

Although most Berliners have some ability in English, in practice they’re not so willing to speak it all the time.

You will also need to speak German in your dealings with government officials when it comes to things like registering and applying for a visa. Not to mention looking for a job and apartment hunting.

There are a number of ways you can learn German. The best approach is a combination of an MP3-based self-study course which you can use on your smartphone or tablet headphones, combined with a regular classroom-based course. This is also how I learned German,

By far the best German audio course of all has to be the higher popular GermanPod. This is now a best seller course around the world.

Get Started Learning German With GermanPod

Give yourself a head start in learning German by signing up for the self-study MP3 based course offered by GermanPod.

GermanPod is now one of the world’s most successful digitally based online language courses. It’s not hard to see why.

My advice: check out and get started right now on learning German

Get the Best out of Berlin by Learning German

About the best thing you can do to get the best out of your stay in Berlin is to learn to speak German as soon as you can.

And there’s one German course in particular that stands out way above the rest. It’s called GermanPod.

Learn German Quickly With GermanPod

You can give yourself a head start in learning German by signing up for the self-study MP3 based course offered by GermanPod.

GermanPod is now one of the world’s most successful digitally based online language courses. It’s not hard to see why.

german_desktop_250x250GermanPod – The Best Language Course For Expats in Berlin

You can give yourself a head start in learning German by signing up for the self-study MP3 based course offered by GermanPod.

GermanPod is now one of the world’s most successful digitally based online language courses. It’s not hard to see why.

GermanPod – The Best Language Course For Expats in Berlin

GermanPod is THE ideal audio MP3-based German language course for expats in Berlin.

This is because with GermanPod you learn German quickly in your own time, as and when you want – and at your own pace.

And what’s more, GermanPod is VERY low cost.

You can use GermanPod on your smartphone and tablet, as well on as your laptop or PC.

So you can be learning German wherever you are – and whenever you’re on the move.

With GermanPod you can make the most of those spare moments of time that you have which otherwise just get wasted. When you’re commuting on the S-Bahn or U-Bahn. When standing in line, or sitting in a waiting room.

Learning German With GermanPod is Easy, Fast – And Fun

GermanPod teaches you modern, up-to-date German. The kind of German that people speak in everyday life in Berlin.

GermanPod comes with four different learning levels -Absolute Beginner, Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. So you can choose the level which suits you best.

That makes learning German with GermanPod very easy, fast and fun.

I myself learned German using the self-study audio method before I came to Berlin and I found it the fastest and easiest way of learning to speak and understand German.

GermanPod is Affordable

GermanPod is available on a monthly subscription basis. It’s “pay as you go”. Unlike some German courses, you don’t have to part with a large sum of money.

For just $8 a month you can get started with GermanPod.

For longer term advance subscriptions there are discounts of between 11% and up to 60%.

And if you’re a student then you can benefit from an EXTRA 20% DISCOUNT on a 12-month subscription.

This makes it very inexpensive to get started learning German with GermanPod.

And it gives you the flexibility to use as little or as much of GermanPod as you wish, when you wish – and according to your own budget.

In short, GermanPod is probably the best investment you can make to ensure the success of your move to Berlin.

My advice: check out and get a head start right now with learning German

Try GermanPod for FREE!

GermanPod gives you an UNLIMITED Lifetime Free Trial of the first three audio lessons with NO obligation.

So you can test drive GermanPod for yourself before you buy.

PLUS you also receive a FREE 7 Day Trial of GermanPod’s Premium package.

You can sign up for a free GermanPod account right now at

GermanPod also comes with a 60-day Money Back Guarantee.So there’s no risk whatsoever.

Start getting yourself up to speed understanding and speaking German NOW by learning German the quick, fun, and easy way with GermanPod.

Visit GermanPod101 at to take the FREE TOUR – and get started learning German right away!

Click Here To Check Out GermanPod



, ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

To continue using this site, you must agree to the use of cookies and to the terms and conditions of our privacy policy. more information

Cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience. By using this website without changing your cookie settings or by clicking on "No Problem" below, you agree to these settings as well as to the terms of use for this website. Usage of this site is conditional on your acceptance of our Privacy Policy. For more information click on the Privacy Page.