How to use an eSIM iPhone for International Travel

Curious about harnessing the power of your eSIM when journeying abroad? Here’s what you need to know

Using an eSIM Abroad

Apple has embraced eSIM technology since the iPhone XS, and the iPhone 14 even exclusively uses eSIMs in the US, bidding farewell to traditional plastic SIM cards. While this shift is convenient in your home country, it raises questions about using your eSIM while traveling overseas. Can you rely on it for international adventures?

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What Is an eSIM?

An eSIM, or electronic SIM, is an internal electronic SIM card that functions similarly to traditional physical SIM cards. It is embedded within your device and serves the same purpose, with added benefits.

Why Opt for an eSIM?

iPhones can support up to eight different eSIMs, including dual-active eSIMs. This flexibility allows you to use various providers for different purposes, such as work-related eSIMs, personal ones, and those tailored for travel. If you own an iPhone 13 or a later model, you can even have two eSIMs active concurrently. Additionally, eSIMs enhance security, as they cannot be removed and replaced by unauthorized individuals if your phone is stolen.

Can You Use an eSIM Abroad?

Similar to traditional SIM cards, eSIMs can be used internationally, but the feasibility depends on your current plan or the availability of eSIMs from local providers at your travel destination. For instance, if you’re traveling from the US to the UK, check with your current provider to inquire about international roaming options within your plan. If your plan doesn’t cover it, you may purchase the feature for the duration of your trip. To activate roaming, navigate to Settings > Cellular > Cellular Data Options and toggle Data Roaming on.

This can become costly during extended trips, so an alternative is to obtain a local eSIM from a provider in the country you’re visiting. These are typically data-only eSIMs. Compatible iPhones allow two eSIMs to operate simultaneously, meaning you can use one for data while keeping your existing phone number on the other. To economize, consider making calls via apps like WhatsApp or FaceTime instead of traditional phone calls when reaching out to loved ones.

Using a Local Provider’s eSIM While Traveling

If you wish to utilize an eSIM from another provider during your travels, determine if your iPhone is locked to your current network provider. To check, navigate to Settings > General > About and review the Network Provider Lock status. If it indicates ‘No SIM restrictions,’ you’re good to go. Otherwise, purchase a roaming plan from your existing provider, as your iPhone will not function on other networks, similar to a traditional SIM. Once your contract is complete, you can request your provider to unlock your iPhone, enabling you to use a different company’s eSIM.

Before your trip, research which eSIM providers are available at your destination. Apple’s website offers an extensive list of options. You can set up the eSIM before your departure or do it upon arrival in the country. Each provider will provide instructions for setup, so follow them carefully for a smooth eSIM experience while traveling abroad.

Should you forget to make these preparations in advance, you can always visit a physical store of a local provider upon arrival to get set up quickly.”


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