Expats newly arriving in the Netherlands will want to sort out their mobile phone service as soon as possible, to avoid making high-cost calls or incurring substantial data roaming charges when using a foreign phone.
Getting mobile phone service in the Netherlands commonly requires the signing of a one or two year contract agreement (‘abonnementen’). The monthly charge for service varies based on the selected plan. Some packages will be more suitable for those who spend a lot of time talking on the phone, while other plans may be better suited for those who use their phone to reply to work emails and therefore need more data download included rather than talk time. Those who use their phone to stream entertainment will definitely want to choose the most relevant package to meet their needs.
The advantage of signing a service contract is getting the phone itself at a significant discount off the suggested retail price (how much the phone sells for without a service agreement). Typically the discounted cost of the phone itself needs to be paid at the time of purchase. Some retailers allow it to be broken into installments (which results in a higher total cost).
The seller will commonly offer an insurance plan (through a third party) which covers loss, theft or damage to the phone. The cost of the phone insurance is typically payable in quarterly installments.
Additionally, there are some companies which offer a smartphone leasing program that is combined with a service contract. These plans usually include servicing and insurance and allow the leaser to upgrade to a newer model every 6 or 12 months, allowing access to the latest technology. Samsung Netherlands offers a mobile phone leasing program.
Opening a mobile service account
To open a new account, the following are needed:
- Proof of identity (most stores require a valid passport)
- Local bank account details and/or Dutch bank PIN card
- Proof of address
It is also possible to get a pay-as-you-go (prepaid) system when buying a mobile phone in the Netherlands.
A credit check is usually run before the contract is approved. Some shops may require an expat resident from a non-EU country to pay a deposit or may even refuse mobile service completely.
The following is a list of popular mobile phone service companies in the Netherlands:
Dutch Mobile Phone Numbers
Mobile telephone numbers in the Netherlands are 10 digits in length and always begin with prefix 06 followed by the remaining eight digits.
Using a foreign mobile telephone in the Netherlands
It is possible to use a foreign mobile phone in the Netherlands as long as the phone is GSM compatible and the current service provider allows international calls and/or data roaming. These charges can become quite expensive so if you can, keep calls short and remember to turn off data roaming unless connected to WiFi.
If the foreign mobile phone is not locked, a cheaper way to operate the phone is to remove the phone’s SIM card and replace it with a local pre-paid SIM card. These can be purchased at supermarket checkout counters, convenience shops in larger train stations, electronics chain stores and mobile phone shops.
Note: it is illegal to talk on a hand held mobile phone when driving in the Netherlands.
Lost or stolen mobile telephones
All mobile phones have a unique IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) code assigned to it. The number provides protection if a phone is lost or stolen. The IMEI code is shown on the original purchase paperwork. Make note of it and keep it accessible separate from the phone itself, as it will need to be provided when reporting a lost or stolen phone.
The IMEI number can also be obtained by entering: * # 0 6 # on the keypad.
A SIM card holds the telephone number and memory and is necessary for a mobile phone to operate. Access can be protected by personalising the card with a 4-digit PIN number.
The loss or theft of a mobile cell phone must be reported to the service provider. The service will be suspended and the device blocked from making calls. The owner is responsible for payment of any calls made until the SIM is blocked unless they have taken out insurance with the supplier.
If the phone is stolen, a declaration can also be made at the nearest police station; police must be supplied with IMEI number.
Some phones are equipped with a geo-locator program which needs to be activated in order for the location of the phone to be traced. Most phone thieves are aware of this and will usually disengage the feature immediately.