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I will be travelling from France to Germany / Poland / Austria later this month and I will have a French new SIM card shipped to me when I will be abroad.

Is it possible to initialize such a card on a foreign (roaming) network without the card having been in a phone in the country it was issued from? (if it matters, the card will be from the Frech provider Free Mobile).

Notes:

  • the card has roaming enabled
  • I can "activate" the card remotely on the company web site. "Activate" means "flip a switch which will make it allowed to get into the network at all"
  • it will not be opened in France (I need the package to be intact - not because I am a bandit of some sort but because, long story, this is what I need)
  • Worst case scenario you activate it when landing in France. – JonathanReez Dec 6 '17 at 9:35
  • @JonathanReez: yes of course. I wanted to use it when travelling, though. – WoJ Dec 6 '17 at 9:55
  • I have done the same thing (not in Europe) and it worked. Why don't you ask Free Mobile themselves? +33 1 78 56 95 60 – Newton Dec 6 '17 at 13:20
  • @Newton: the support of Free Mobile is dreadful. I will get somebody who will explain me what roaming is. When i ask again, that I will not be charged more for the roaming. And if I ask a third time they will provide me a list of phones which are compatible with a nano SIM. – WoJ Dec 6 '17 at 15:41
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    It depends on the carrier. Some will only activate on native service. On the other hand, I personally have activated UK (GiffGaff) and US (T-Mobile) SIMs while in Canada. So... maybe. – Jim MacKenzie Dec 6 '17 at 16:42
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I went through some contacts and I got an answer form an engineer who oversees the roaming (at another provider's). Her answer is

yes, the card needs to be active on the local (national) network at least once so that it is registered with the HLR (Home Location Register). It then can roam.

I will take it as an authoritative answer.

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