Navigating prepaid mobile phones and sim cards in the Channel Islands
The Channel Islands are not part of the UK, despite being geographically close. They have also never been considered part of the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA).
This causes some confusion regarding mobile phones and SIM cards and the roaming fees you pay when using your mobile phone.
So let’s take a look at the basics and then some of the services available in the Bailiwick of Jersey and Bailiwick of Guernsey, comprising the islands of Guernsey, Alderney, Sark, Herm, Jethou and Brecqhou.
- The networks in Jersey and Guernsey are separate and independent of the UK’s national system. However, the same companies cover both Bailiwicks.
- Both islands form part of the British telephone numbering plan, but the UK regulator is not responsible for telecommunications and licensing issues on the islands. This means the number you receive will look like a UK number.
- All three operators provide 4G/LTE to pay-as-you-go (prepaid) customers without surcharges on their plans.
- Prepaid can be supplied without registration
- The expiry policies are not always customer friendly on the SIM cards.
- The Channel Island providers charge excessively for roaming, even within the UK.
Sure is the leading operator in Jersey and Guernsey, with different web pages for each prepaid service area. The company claims to have over 99% coverage of both Bailiwicks.
- The maximum speed of prepaid SIM cards is limited to 10Mbps.
- The SIM card is free of charge. You need to top up with £5 to activate the card.
- You can top up through the MySure app or in-store service providers scattered throughout the islands.
- Using the MySure app can give you unlimited data if purchased during the promotion period. However, this is throttled after using a specific amount of data. Check the current conditions on the app.
- Nano and micro SIM cards are available from Sure shops.
- The Guernsey shop is located on High Street, and the Jersey shop is located on King Street.
- There are two different plans – Classic and Rewards. Please see the respective websites for the current plan pricing.
- Do not allow data roaming if you go off the islands, as you will be charged very high roaming rates
JT Jersey and JT Guernsey are the second largest providers on the Channel Islands as a part of JT Global. The JT network claims to cover parts of the ferry route between the two main islands, but speeds are slow, and you will get random disconnections.
- The prepaid SIM is available in Jersey at the Queen Street Store and the High Street store in St. Helier, Guernsey.
- The prepaid card will cost £3 and comes with £3 of credit. The SIM becomes active after completing your first top-up.
- Top-ups can be done through Payzone terminals on both islands and online using an international credit card on their website.
- Like other competitors, the app connects cheaper data to top-ups.
- Top-ups are available in-store via a locked Wi-Fi network. Just ask a staff member.
- Roaming in the mainland UK and Europe is at around 19p per MB.
AIRTEL – VODAFONE
Airtel-Vodafone is a mobile phone provider in Jersey and Guernsey, and their coverage is on par with the two other competitors.
- They have two types of prepaid SIM cards, which both last for 360 days
- Switch plan – If you call internationally, you want flexible top-up benefits and lots of data. The card is loaded with £2.50 free credit and freebies.
- Island plan – If you call and text a lot and want a set price per month.
- The Guernsey store is located on High Street, and the Jersey store is in Queen Street.
- Top-ups can be made through vouchers, Payzone terminals, or online using credit cards.
- As with the other two providers, there are freebies and bonuses’ for topping up.
- You can use your SIM to only be topped up with data packages that last around 90 days each.
- International roaming starts from 18p per MB
As you probably know, in June 2017, international roaming rules were enforced, so roaming rates were capped within the EU and EEA.
Because the Channel Islands are not a part of the UK, EU or EEA, European SIM cards are NOT capped or regulated, so the prices are much higher!
Are you considering moving to the Channel Islands? Then don’t miss the following post: What it’s like to live and work in the Channel Islands