How to choose the right mobile operator and tariff


Which provider and what package do I need when getting a mobile phone in Holland? At first it might seem quite complicated with all the different offers out there. However, if you ask yourself some questions, you'll learn it does not have to be that difficult.

Can I use my existing mobile in Holland?

If you have a GSM compatible phone and your current provider allows you to 'roam' (check with them), then you will be able to use your phone in Holland. Be warned: this can be expensive and is not a long-term solution as you pay for both incoming and outgoing calls and mobile internet.

Can I use my existing mobile with a Dutch SIM card?

You need to find out whether your phone is 'unlocked' or 'locked': some mobile phones are sold very cheaply (below cost), but are locked. You can only use a locked phone on a particular network. Providers sell ‘locked’ phones to prevent customers from switching to another carrier. Find out whether your phone is locked (a good test is to try someone else’s SIM card who’s with a different network). If it is locked, you may be able to get it unlocked (for a charge) by a specialist mobile shop. If it is unlocked, you can use it in the Netherlands with a Dutch SIM card.

Ask yourself these questions:

Do I need a new mobile phone or can I use my own phone in the Netherlands?

If you already have one and do not feel the urge to get a new model, you can just get a SIM card. This will be cheaper than buying a new phone. You can purchase a SIM card (either pay as you go (prepaid) or with a contract) in almost any phone shop. Just pop off the battery and slide your new sim card into the slot, reinstall the battery, and you are ready to go.

Do I want a prepaid plan or a contract (abonnement)?

This choice really depends on how many calls you are going to make and on how long you are planning to stay in Holland.

A) Prepaid gives you a lot of freedom, you can use it for as long or as short as you want, with no obligations at all. The downside is that your calls are more expensive than with a contract. Also, when you run out of credit, you need to purchase new credit before you can continue making calls or using the internet.

B) Contract: If you are planning to stay for (almost) a year or longer, a contract could be the right choice for you. You can choose from a 1, 2, or 3 year contract. Obviously, the longer the contract term, the less you have to pay for the mobile phone (some are even free of charge). Remember that when you sign a contract with a phone included you have to pay an activation fee.


When you’ve decided on whether to sign a contract or get a prepaid card, you need to choose a provider. All of the Dutch providers offer good quality and good service. So you need to find out which pricing scheme fits you best. In all cases, the higher the monthly fee, the lower the cost per minute. 

Below are some independent providers of mobile phones where you can compare the different contracts and prepaid schemes provided.

Analyse your calling habits to find the most suitable provider or consider an internet and mobile phone package:

Further reading

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