Basics: the mobile contract

You should use a German SIM card in order to avoid high fees for calls and an internet connection. You can choose between a mobile contract and a prepaid tariff.

If you conclude a mobile contract, you will receive a monthly bill, and the fees will usually be debited to your bank account. You should avoid long-term contracts which often bind you to a provider for up to two years and make it difficult to change tariffs.

Only sign contracts that you really understand. Have someone who speaks German well accompany you or show them the contract before you sign it. This is particularly the case for contracts from mobile operator employees that visit you in your accommodation. Keep all documents in connection with your contract.

Prepaid tariffs without a fixed contractual period are more suitable. With a prepaid contract you first acquire credit (usually €10), which you can then use to make phone calls and surf the web. Once the credit is used up, it can be topped up. Prepaid contracts can be found in pharmacies, supermarkets and petrol stations. You receive the SIM card for your mobile in the shop and can later acquire more credit.

With a prepaid tariff, you can book monthly packets that include a telephone and internet flat rate. The packet will only be activated if you have enough credit on your phone. This allows you better control over your expenses.

In order to sign a mobile contract or use a prepaid tariff, you must submit proof of identity (for example a proof of arrival (Ankunftsnachweis), a permission to remain while the asylum decision is pending (Aufenthaltsgestattung), a temporary suspension of deportation (Duldung) or a passport) and give your address. Here you can initially use the address of the initial reception centre (Erstaufnahmeeinrichtung). If you move to a new accommodation, you have to inform your mobile provider of your new address.

Choosing a tariff: overseas calls, data volume and making calls within Germany

When choosing a tariff, it is important to compare various providers. The charges can vary greatly from one another, depending on which countries you want to phone. You should expect a charge of 15 cents per call in addition to the per-minute charge. Longer phone calls are therefore proportionally cheaper. As a rule, prices per minute of more than 25 cents are considered expensive.

Well-known providers for overseas tariffs include Lebara (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Eritrea, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan), Lycamobile (Eritrea, Jordan, Lebanon, Nigeria, Pakistan, Syria, Turkey), Mobilka (Russia, Urkraine, Kazakhstan), NettoKom (Iraq), Ortel Mobile (Afghanistan, Iraq) Simquadrat (Syria) and Vodafone (Iran, Turkey). You can find detailed information online directly with the providers. All companies also offer additional data options with which you can surf the web on your phone. Compare prices here, too!

If you want to make lots of calls within Germany, an additional mobile contract is often worthwhile. Providers for cheap overseas calls are usually particularly expensive for calls within Germany. This also applies to data tariffs. If, for example, you only use chat services such as Viber, WhatsApp or Skype, then a German data tariff is sufficient. You are connected overseas via the internet and not via the phone network.

Major German providers of prepaid contracts include Congstar, Aldi Talk, Telekom, O2 and Vodafone. You can also find information on this on the internet with the providers or in person in the shop.

Free Wi-Fi

The Freifunk.Hamburg initiative offers free Wi-Fi access across the entire city. For this, select the “Hamburg.freifunk.net” (SSID/WLAN name) network. You can find access under knotenkarte.de or with the help of the “Freifunk” app for iOS and “freifunk-karte” for Android.

Furthermore, regional internet providers created the free MobyKlick Wi-Fi network. In order to use the Wi-Fi, at the access point select the “MobyKlick” (SSID/WLAN name) network and click on “Verbinden” (“connect”) in your browser. Afterwards, you can use the internet for four hours for free. You can find the access points at: www.mobyklick.de/index.php?id=availability. You can often find MobyKlick in busses and the underground as well.

There are wifi hotspots in Hamburg Bücherhallen and many cafés and shops. You can also access the internet for free  at the Hamburg Hauptbahnhof, Altona and Harburg train stations (“WIFI@DB” (indefinitely) and SSID/Wi-Fi name: Telekom (for 30 min)).

Last Updated: 12.01.2022

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