This late July I went to EU for a 10 day trip. I live in the US. When I stopped at TMobile (or was it Deutsche Telekom?) store at Hamburg to buy a local SIM card. I was told that this is impossible, as SIM cards are sold to EU residents only according to the new law passed July,1st. As I am not a resident of EU they can not sell me even a prepaid card.

Questions: is this information correct? If it is, what options do we, regular tourists, have in Germany?

I was not able to confirm that by doing an online search. So if it is not true, what could have been the motives of the sales rep to deny the sale, and how can I get back at him.

  • 5
    There's some info on this wiki here, which certainly suggests that there is new legislation in Germany that took effect from July. It does suggest, however, that residence is not a strict requirement, and that the other carriers are less insistent that the address given has anything to do with you.
    – waiwai933
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 1:01
  • Thanks. Looks like I was searching for a wrong keywords. Post it as an answer, and I will upvote.
    – mzu
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 1:13
  • Semi-relevant news post in German about the ALDI discounter having trouble identifying certain ID documents for SIM card registration: heise.de/newsticker/meldung/…
    – simbabque
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 15:43

2 Answers 2


Yes, but it depends what do you mean for getting a SIM card...

if you are in Germany as a resident or tourist you can go to electronic stores like Saturn and find SIM card for like 5€, many Phone operators will even send you one for free per mail-post (e.g. O2), then after that you need to top on a little amount of money and there you are!

what the new law means is that you can not buy that anonymously anymore (for security reasons)

I quote the news:

Am Samstag, dem 1. Juli 2017, tritt die Registrierungspflicht für Prepaid-SIM-Karten in Deutschland in Kraft. Der Kauf einer Prepaid-SIM-Karte mit einem Pseudonym ist dann nicht mehr möglich. Kunden, die sich am morgigen Samstag eine neue Prepaid-SIM-Karte im Supermarkt oder Mobilfunk-Geschäft kaufen, müssen ihren Namen, ihre Adresse und ihr Geburtsdatum nachweisen.

the translation main idea is:

since sat. Jul 1st 2017 you can buy a SIM card, but you have to give your Name, Address and Birthday

so you still can show your id as tourist :) ...

Edit: if you still are interested in the law regulation see the Paragraf 111 des Telekommunikationsgesetzes (TKG)

  • As the link in waiwai933’s comment shows, it is considerably harder in practice than in theory. Your answer only covers the theoretical situation.
    – chirlu
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 13:03
  • This is all amusing and relevant, but unfortunately, this is not an answer to the entire question I asked (the "what options" part)
    – mzu
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 17:48
  • As a tourist your only option is to show your id Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 20:58
  • @ΦXocę웃Пepeúpaツ which clearly did not work for me
    – mzu
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 21:00

You can buy all the SIM cards you want, but can't activate them. You have to be registered in the German residence bureau's data base. No residency, no activation.

I went to Greece to get a SIM card.

  • Can you add some background information supporting that claim?
    – nohillside
    Commented Jun 23, 2019 at 11:23

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