Moving to Spain: Keeping a UK Mobile Number While Reducing Costs

Question

I want to keep a UK mobile live after moving to Spain, mainly for incoming calls and WhatsApp etc. What platform do people use to do this, please, to keep costs down? Currently on 3 but out of contract so can easily change.

Answers

These are the answers of Spainguru’s Facebook group members:

“Lobster.”

“Can I keep a UK number on Lobster? I have a Lobster Spanish number.” – “No, you can’t.”

“I have a Lebara UK sim card for £6.95 a month and a Lebara ES sim card for €10 a month. Both are rolling and you can cancel at any time. I use both in a dual sim phone and it works well.”

“This is what I was thinking of. Didn’t know if it would work. Did you port your UK number across?”

“No, you don’t need to as it’s a UK sim card. The Spanish one is a Spanish number.”

“I have Lebara UK and now they tell me I have to pay a supplement as I’m not using it enough in the UK!!!!”

“They are crap… it’s Vodafone.”

“I got a Lobster sim (which gives you a Spanish number which you will need) and then moved my UK number across to an app called Swytch, which means I can still make and receive calls from my UK number as well as get SMS, but use Lobster for my internet access and day-to-day use.”

“Is Swytch a free app? We have bought an apartment in Spain now, lots to do now though, including selling 2 properties.”

“I pay £6 per month for my number to be on Swytch and then PAYG for any calls I make. It’s free to receive calls and SMS (from memory). But I make all my calls on my Spanish number anyway.”

“Did you have a dual SIM? My iPhone only appears to have 1.”

“No, 1 sim for Lobster. Swytch hosts my number elsewhere and it just appears on an app. Avoid the route of dual sim as at any point the UK phone company can determine you in breach of their Ts&Cs for extended roaming.”

“O2, pay as you go. Only have to top up every 6 months to keep the number live.”

“Smarty are very good. They won’t deliver the SIM to the UK though. It’s a monthly contract, £10 per month. Unlimited roaming.”

“Lobster all the way “

“I was on 3 when moved to Spain. I kept this phone and got a Lobster sim! Best people for UK/Spanish sim was so cheap and their deals are unbeatable.”

“We’ve been in Spain over a year now and despite being advised by O2 and EE that after 90 days we’d lose all our free roaming, my wife and I are still paying the same contracts with free roaming and calls. We’ve also got a Spanish number with Lobster that has free roaming and calls throughout most of Europe including the UK.”

“I would put my 3 number on unconditional divert to your answering machine, you will get an alert if anyone leaves you a message. Get a Spanish number as you will need one in Spain anyway, you can ring people back on that, most people use WhatsApp, that won’t change as you can change that number easily.”

“Lobster.”

“Giffgaff is easy for keeping active and 30-day rolling contract and top up as when you want as long as it is at least once every 3 months. Also, port your current number.”

“Lobster for me, I keep a UK burner phone just in case I haven’t changed two-step verification over on all accounts, even UK government gateway allows you to have a Spanish number for verification.”

“Moved UK number to a giffgaff PAYG. Been here 2 years and no issue with it, turn it on once a week to check it.”

“I use Devyse.”

“Devyce, it’s an app, works well keep your UK number while having a Spanish sim.”

“Lobster.”

“Lobster.”

“Sim only deal.”

“Pay as you go Vodafone with a phone which has 2 SIM card slots.”

“Tesco prepay works well.”

“O2 pay as you go. Had mine 2 years and no problems.”

“Go on pay as you go for UK number. Or just a £5 per month one.”

“Skype is an option, although the SMS capabilities are a bit unpredictable. Not sure about compatibility with WhatsApp – in principle if you can receive a text on the number, you can register it. Might be worth getting a number for a month to test it out.”

“Switch to pay as you go. My wife and I have problems. We use Tesco.”

“I moved to Digi when I moved out here far cheaper than keeping my UK 3.”

“Myself and wife both use Devyse, great service.”

“Lobster.”

“Devyce.”

“Used Libara for about £6 a month and got Digi eSIM in Spain so could use both in iPhone.”

“I’ve got a dual SIM phone. So was able to keep my old EE number but changed it to PAYG. Plus Lobster for a Spanish number on contract.”

“O2 as they don’t charge for roaming. But I have two sims, UK and a Spanish number and have WhatsApp on my Spanish number.”

“I kept my 3 SIM on contract when I moved to Spain and soon realised that I was making zero use of it. I then switched from an £8 monthly contract to PAYG with 3, topped up with £10 and very rarely use it in Spain, making the odd call when I go back to the UK just to keep it alive.”

“Lobster without a doubt! English speaking staff, free EU and UK calls, plus you can park it for up to a year…”

“I have 2 sims, Lobster for mostly Spain and still pay contract to O2 this has been mine for years £3 per month with original number.”

“Lebara.”

“Try Lebara.”

“Lobster.”

“I use EE to keep my English number at a cost of £9 per month. I also have a Spanish phone that costs €5 per month with Movistar as I have TV with them. Personally, I’d get a Spanish number too. Glad I did. ????”

“I’m with Vodafone. Cheapest contract at £15 a month. I only use it for incoming calls though as I’ve a Spanish sim also for data and outbound calls.”

“WhatsApp works on any phone even Spanish ones ???????? If you’re happy to pay EU roaming charges then keep your English number.”

“Got an O2 pay as you go sim and Digi mobile Spanish sim in dual sim phone, Digi €5 a month and top up UK every 6 months or so or when going back to the UK. For WhatsApp, you don’t need a UK number.”

“I had our UK mobile numbers ported to Devyce (acts as a virtual SIM card) then use Spanish Vodafone contract to put in the phone. Devyce is an online service you can still make/receive calls and texts to the UK.”

Conclusion

When moving to Spain and wanting to keep your UK mobile number active, there are various options to consider. Popular choices among expats include using apps like Swytch or Devyse, which allow you to maintain your UK number for calls and texts while using a Spanish SIM for daily use.

Another effective strategy is switching to a pay-as-you-go plan with providers like O2, Lebara, Giffgaff, or Vodafone. Dual SIM phones are also a practical solution, enabling you to use both a UK and a Spanish number simultaneously.

The Lobster SIM is frequently recommended for its compatibility with UK and Spanish numbers, as well as its affordable plans and excellent customer service.

Here’s a summary of the recommended companies and their relevant details:

Company/AppDescriptionCost/PlanSpecial Features
LobsterSpanish mobile provider with compatibility for UK numbersAffordable plansEnglish-speaking staff, free EU and UK calls, park number feature
LebaraDual SIM option with UK and Spanish SIM cards£6.95/month (UK), €10/month (Spain)Rolling contracts, cancel anytime
SwytchApp to host UK number£6/monthFree to receive calls and SMS, PAYG for outgoing calls
O2Pay-as-you-go optionTop up every 6 monthsUnlimited roaming
SmartyMonthly contract with unlimited roaming£10/monthWon’t deliver SIM to Spain
GiffgaffPAYG with easy top-upTop up every 3 months30-day rolling contract, can port current number
DevyseApp to keep UK number virtuallyOnline serviceMake/receive calls and texts to UK, use with Spanish SIM
VodafoneCheapest contract option£15/monthIncoming calls only, uses Spanish SIM for data and outbound calls
Tesco MobilePrepay optionPAYGWorks well, recommended for simplicity
DigiSpanish SIM with eSIM option€5/monthUse with dual SIM iPhone
EEKeeps UK number at a low cost£9/monthCombine with Spanish phone for comprehensive coverage