I understand that for some years now there is an EU regulation which requires proper identification of the owner of a SIM card prior to its activation. I.e. in Germany, for example, one has to show an ID card to the vendor when buying in a shop or use a video ident system to identify.

So I was very suprised when I recently bought a SIM in the UK which "just worked", i.e. I put in in my phone and I was able to make and receive calls. Nobody asked me even for my name.

Did that regulation get loosened? Is it just the UK or also other countries in the EU?

  • 2
    Netherlands never had mandatory registration for SIM cards. Of course if you buy a contract you're going to need to identify yourself and supply bank information for billing, but for prepaid cards there's no such requirement.
    – jwenting
    Mar 21, 2019 at 9:46
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    You can get sim cards from vending machines so I doubt there's any regulation for pay as you go sim cards in the UK, not sure about the rest of Europe
    – BritishSam
    Mar 21, 2019 at 9:58
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is a question about law, not about travel. (The only connection to travel is that the asker happens to have been travelling when they noticed it.) Mar 21, 2019 at 11:50
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    I bought a SIM card yesterday in the Czech Republic, which "just worked" and I didn't give any details. I have done so many times in the UK, and have previously done so in Poland. I would say the premise of this question is incorrect.
    – JBentley
    Mar 21, 2019 at 12:23
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    "there is an EU regulation which requires proper identification".. it's always fascinating how national legislation that people might disagree with magically transform into "EU regulations", isn't it?
    – Voo
    Mar 22, 2019 at 15:45

2 Answers 2


No (because there was no such requirement in the first place). You have never been required to register SIM cards in the UK. There is a trend towards this measure in other European countries, but there is no EU legislation on the matter.

  • 2
    You are right; there is indeed no EU legislation on this, I was mislead but the fact that indeed most (but not all) of the EU countries have imposed such rules lately, but indeed the UK did not.
    – TorstenS
    Mar 21, 2019 at 11:01
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    Actually in 4/2019 the UK is introducing age-verification for adult content, per the Digital Economy Act (2017). It doesn't directly mandate registering SIMs, but users' web use will be traceable back to their identity documents/ face scans, and potentially also their SIMs.
    – smci
    Mar 22, 2019 at 10:51
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    @smci This is not relevant to the question.
    – MJeffryes
    Mar 22, 2019 at 11:54
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    That does not mandate registering SIMs, though. SIMs are not mentioned in the act.
    – pjc50
    Mar 22, 2019 at 13:13
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    @smci I do not understand what you are getting at. The conditions under which you would be subject to age verification are purely voluntary. Furthermore, there is an anonymous procedure for completing it, involving buying a card from a convenience store. None of this has anything to do with registering SIM cards. If you want to advance this argument further, please write your own answer.
    – MJeffryes
    Mar 22, 2019 at 13:19

You’ll need an ID to enter a contract, not to buy a SIM card. The provider wants to make sure you’ll pay your bills and wants to know who you are. If you buy a pre-paid card no such ID is needed...

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