SIM card Belgium

Buying a SIM Card or eSIM in Belgium

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Belgium: country of beer, chocolate, the European Union, and one of the most original landmarks on the planet.

It is also one of the most (unfairly, in my opinion) underrated countries in Europe. Many travelers just pass through, reserving a mere half-day to visit Brussels, maybe check out Brugges, and move on.

Most people who do stay longer, though, end up pleasantly surprised. Belgium has a diverse population, a thriving arts scene, a phenomenal beer selection, and excitingly for me, a very fast, reliable cellular network.

It’s quite expensive compared to many other countries in Europe, though, even the neighboring ones. This means that even more than elsewhere, it’s also worth looking at travel eSIMs: they’re cheaper unless you need a lot of data.

However you choose to do it, here’s what you need to know about staying connected in Belgium.

Companies

  • I recommend Proximus or Orange for most travelers who want a physical SIM
  • An eSIM from aloSIM is the best option if you only need data

Belgium’s telecom landscape is dominated by three companies: Proximus, Base, and Orange. While you’ll get good service with all of them, Proximus and Orange have the highest levels of LTE coverage, blanketing the entire country.

I opted for Proximus, a decision made easier by the fact it has a store in Midi station, conveniently located just by the exit of the Eurostar terminal. If you mostly need data, though, I’d recommend you also take a look at Orange, which has lower data prices.

There are also a handful of resellers working in the country, running mostly on Base’s network and offering competitive voice and SMS packages. If you don’t need data, it may be worth checking them out.

Many can only be signed up for online, however, which as I later learned, make them a non-starter for foreigners.

Travel eSIM for Belgium

As I mentioned, mobile service is comparatively expensive in Belgium. This means that travel eSIMs are a better option for most visitors unless you plan to burn through a lot of data.

Not only will you save money, you’ll also save time: the whole thing about travel eSIMs is that you can set them up in a few minutes before leaving home and then be connected as soon as you arrive. Most recent phones support them.

Of the ones I regularly use and recommend, either aloSIM or Nomad are the way to go. I’ve typically found aloSIM to be the cheapest option, although Nomad sometimes has the edge for large data packs.

There’s a pricing table below that I update every week, with details of all of the plans from the companies I recommend.

Like most travel eSIMs, these are data-only: you don’t get a local number. I use apps for everything from communication to transport these days, so the lack of a local number very rarely matters to me, but you might have different needs.

One thing worth noting: if you’re planning to travel to several European countries within a few weeks, it might be worth looking at some of the regional eSIM packages on offer.

There are too many to list each one separately (and they change all the time), but as a starting point, these are the Europe eSIM options from companies I’d actually consider using:

How to Buy a Prepaid SIM Card in Belgium

Buying the SIM card was quick. I just popped into the Proximus store at the Midi train station, beside the Eurostar terminal exit, and asked one of the attendants for help.

They explained to me the couple of options I had for a prepaid card in flawless English, and set me up as soon as I made my choice.

They also registered me under their system, for which you need to show proof of ID. As an EU national, I showed my ID card. For anybody else, passports are a valid form of identification.

In the past, there was no need to show proof of ID to purchase a prepaid card. You could even do it online, with the SIM card arriving in the mail a few days later.

Things changed after the terrorist attacks of early 2016, however. Belgium changed the law, requiring all new SIM card buyers to register.

The documentation requirements to do this online are high, with new customers being asked to provide their e-identity number and Belgian bank account, among others.

Since only residents have these things, foreigners can no longer sign up for SIM cards online.

Prepaid SIM and eSIM Costs

Proximus

Getting the SIM card set me back 10€, loaded with the same amount of credit. As the starter pack noted, it’s worth it to top up with a bit more credit, as you get more bang for your buck with various data promos and extra calls and texts.

You can spend your credit on extra data (or calls) as needed. 500MB valid for a month costs 6€, for instance, while 3GB will set you back 12€. I wasn’t in town for long, so just went with the basic 500MB option.

Orange

Alternatively, Orange’s Tempo Giga plan gives 10GB of data, plus unlimited texts, for 15€. There’s also a smaller 1GB pack with 500 texts for 10€, but that’s not great value compared to either the larger pack or the travel eSIM options.

Keep in mind, though, that download speeds on Orange’s network are often lower than with Proximus.

aloSIM

Prices are really pretty reasonable with aloSIM: small data packs are only a few dollars, and even larger ones won’t set you back more than the cost of a few of those delicious Belgian beers.

It’s not the only company selling travel eSIMs, of course, but I’ve usually found aloSIM to have the best speeds. Airalo typically has identical pricing, and as I mentioned, Nomad can sometimes be a bit cheaper for large data packs.

Check out the prices and options below when deciding which company to use: they were last updated on 20 May 2024.

Validity Period

  • 7 days

  • 15 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

Data Amount

  • 1 GB

  • 2 GB

  • 3 GB

  • 5 GB

  • 10 GB

  • 20 GB

Price (USD)

  • $4.50

  • $7

  • $9

  • $12.50

  • $20

  • $30

Validity Period

  • 7 days

  • 15 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

Data Amount

  • 1 GB

  • 2 GB

  • 3 GB

  • 5 GB

  • 10 GB

  • 20 GB

Price (USD)

  • $4.50

  • $7

  • $9

  • $12.50

  • $20

  • $30

Validity Period

  • 7 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

Data Amount

  • 1 GB

  • 3 GB

  • 5 GB

  • 10 GB

  • 15 GB

  • 20 GB

Price (USD)

  • $6

  • $12

  • $14

  • $19

  • $27

  • $33

Topping Up

Proximus

Topping up is fairly simple. You can do easily it online, either through Proximus’ website or free app.

Alternatively, you can purchase a credit voucher at any of the authorized spots, including supermarkets, convenience stores, and gas stations around the country.

aloSIM

Topping up with aloSIM (or any of the other travel eSIM companies) is done by logging into the website or app. You just select your Belgium eSIM, hit the top-up button, and buy the same package again.

The top-up packs have exactly the same pricing and duration as the original eSIMs: there’s little difference between topping up your current eSIM and buying a new one, other than not having to activate it.

Coverage and Data Speeds

Proximus talks a lot about its LTE network, but unfortunately I’d broken my usual phone just before I visited, and the old phone I was using instead didn’t support the right frequencies to get LTE service in Europe.

That disappointment faded fast, though, when I realised just how fast the HSPA+ network was. At almost 30Mbps, it’s one of the fastest speeds I’ve ever seen.

That speed was pretty consistent throughout the country. Great stuff!

Proximus 3G speeds in Belgium
Proximus HSPA+ speeds in Belgium

EU Roaming

Belgium is part of the European Union, so EU roaming regulations apply. These “roam like at home” rules ended roaming charges across much of Europe in 2017, letting you use a SIM card from any EU country across all the others at no extra charge.

There are some exceptions and limits, however, especially with large data packages. Double-check the exact details at time of purchase, or just use one of the regional eSIM packs mentioned earlier.


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7 Comments

    1. If your cell company from Ghana offers international roaming in Belgium then yes, you can use your SIM there, but it will probably be quite expensive. Check the pricing with them, but it’ll likely be much cheaper to buy a local SIM instead.

  1. I decided on Proximus’ Simcard after reading this article. However, I went to the store yesterday and since I do not have an ID card, they wanted to register me using my passport, in which case the Simcard would be ready to use within 5-7 working days. Then they said that if I went to Orange, it would be done faster (even on the same day). That’s why I’m visiting Orange today. Anyways, it’s a nice article

  2. Hi, does the card get activated instantly or do I need to wait? I’ll be there for a couple of days, so is it possible to use?

    Thanks!

    1. It does, yes. Honestly though, if you’re only there for a couple of days, I’d look at a short-expiry eSIM (mentioned in the article) instead if your phone supports it and you only need data. It’ll be a cheaper and easier option for you.