How to Use a Cell Phone Internationally

by Mandy Slake

If you are planning to visit another country, you might be wondering if you can use your cellphone while you are traveling. The answer is maybe. Your ability to use the phone will depend on the wireless technology the phone uses and whether your mobile carrier has a roaming partner in the area. An AT&T Wireless or T-Mobile mobile phone will work almost anywhere. With other carriers, it depends on the model of phone and the country.

Contact your mobile service provider and ask whether your cellphone is supported in the country that you intend to visit. You can call your carrier by dialing "611" or your carrier's toll-free number on your cellphone.

Ask the customer service representative if your service plan allows you to make international calls. Some carriers require that you subscribe to an international roaming feature before you can make and receive calls in another country.

Check the costs. Most carriers charge a per-minute rate for international calls. The rate may vary, depending on the country. Costs for sending and receiving messages and data charges can vary as well. You can find this information on your carrier's website or by asking the customer care agent.

Research the format for making local and international calls from the countries you will be visiting. Countries outside of North America use a different format than the familiar 10-digit area code and local number. You can find this information on the website.

Consider using a prepaid international SIM card if you have a GSM phone. If your phone is locked, you will need to unlock it first. Ask your carrier for the SIM unlock code or purchase an unlock code from a cellular unlocking site. Unlocking procedures vary by phone model, but your carrier or the unlocking service can give you instructions on how to unlock the device.

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