iPhone in Europe: Information for Verizon customers

Posted in: Practical Info


Verizon's international plans are bit different from AT&T's. Photo: Tourist Republic
Verizon's international plans are bit different from AT&T's. Photo: Tourist Republic

Note: This article is part of a series on Using an American iPhone in Europe… without Going Broke.

Verizon customers heading to Europe with their smartphones have somewhat more limited options than AT&T customers. Rather, Verizon offers two main international bundles, priced at $25 and $40.

Verizon’s two bundles

No plan (“Pay as You Go”)
$25 bundle
$40 bundle
$25 / 30 days
$40 / 30 days
Messages sent
(Text, picture, video)
$0.50/text message sent, $.05 received
$.25/multimedia sent or received

Sent: $0.50
Received: $.05
Sent: 100 texts
Received: Unlimited
Talk (from Europe)
$1.29/min 100 minutes included($0.25/min. overage)
Data $0.02/KB ($20.48/MB)
100 MB
100 MB
Wi-Fi Free Free Free

Some notes

A few notes on these international bundles:

• The $25 bundle really only offers you 100 MB of data (which would be used for checking emails, using the internet, and using apps). This plan doesn’t offer any discounts on texting or phone calls.

• If you plan to use any data at all during your trip (even quick email checks), we’d strongly suggest at least getting the $25 bundle, as the data charges for “pay as you go” are very expensive.

• To get 100 minutes of phone calls (placed and received) and 100 texts, you should opt for the $40 bundle.

• Check out this page on Verizon’s website for more information on these plans.

• Prices and plans above, as of March 31, 2015

Will your phone work in Europe?

Before leaving home, you should contact Verizon to make sure that your phone is able to work abroad. Some phones (specifically those that are “CDMA only”) are not “global ready” and therefore will not work on Europe’s network (which uses GSM technology). If your phone is built with global-friendly technology (for example, 4G LTE), it will be able to work, once it’s activated.

To determine whether or not your phone will work, answer these questions on Verizon’s trip planner website.

Note: Even if your phone is technically “global-ready”, you’ll still need to call Verizon before you leave to make sure that it’s been activated for international dialing. Don’t just head to Europe assuming that you’ll “pay as you go”. Call first to make sure your account has been cleared for international use.

Help! I can’t use my phone!

If you’re one of the unlucky ones who can’t use your Verizon smartphone in Europe, we feel your pain. (We’re looking at you iPhone 4 users.)

However, using Wi-Fi networks will still work. The best bet for Verizon’s iPhone 4 users would be to put the phone on “airplane mode” and turn off data roaming just in case. Then surf away on free Wi-Fi networks. I know, it’s not great (you can’t really text or make calls, except on Skype), but it’s something.

Verizon’s “Trip Planner”

The best bet is to use the trip planner service on Verizon’s website for exact rates, plans and availability.

Also, remember to cancel your international plans as soon as you return. Otherwise you could be paying a hefty price for services you aren’t using.

Our Guide to using an American iPhone in Europe

Using an American iPhone in Europe… without Going Broke

Tips for AT&T Customers

Tips for Windows, Android and Blackberry Customers

Setting up your phone to avoid a billing “surprise”

AT&T vs Verizon: A comparison of international plans

About the author

Tom Meyers

About the author: Tom Meyers created and launched EuroCheapo from his Berlin apartment in 2001. He returned to New York in 2002, set up office, and has led the EuroCheapo team from the Big Apple ever since. He travels to Europe several times a year to update EuroCheapo's hotel reviews. Tom is also a co-host of the New York City history podcast, The Bowery Boys. Email Tom. [Find Tom on Google Plus]

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19 thoughts on “iPhone in Europe: Information for Verizon customers”

  1. Linda Stembridge015,

    I had a riverboat cruise scheduled for April 4 thru 12, 2015, and went by the local Verizon store to
    see if there was a “plan” available so that I could use my phone as I cruised through France. I was told
    by the young man there that it would cost me $1.29 per minute for calls, $.50 to send a text and $.05
    to receive a text. But he said that when he went over to Europe, he just bought a cheap little phone there to use
    and suggested the same. He gave me the international global help number. I called that number and
    was basically told the same thing (except for the buying another phone). When I got to Paris, I was unable
    to use my phone, got a message that I did not have the correct ‘subscription’, even though I had asked twice
    for a ‘plan’. So I searched for blocks and found a place to buy the little phone, spent about $50.00 that I
    did not intend to spend and was able to use it with some accuracy, after having someone with our cruise line convert it to English so that I knew what the hell it was saying.. Very disappointed in Verizon at that point.
    I came home and went to the local store, explained what had happened and John and Debra were very
    helpful and apologetic, even removed what charges that I had incurred on my account. Some of your employees need further training regarding this subject!! It was very stressful for me and frustrating in that I could not use my phone, even though I was told I could.

  2. Thanks Thomas! I LOVE you for providing this really helpful and instructive information! I will be traveling to the UK and Europe in a few weeks. Just signed up for Skype for my iphone and am trying to figure out how it works. I know that I will need Wi-Fi, and that I can call other Skype members for free. A little confused about calling land lines vs. mobiles, and if I can use Skype to call European numbers (for instance to confirm a hotel, make a dinner reservation or call a taxi) or if I can use Skype to call a friend who will also be traveling in Europe on his mobile. Your information is so much clearer than that provided by the Skype website that I am hoping maybe you have an information sheet on using Skype? If so, wonderful! If not, thanks for all of the great information that you HAVE supplied.

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Rick! So glad the post was helpful. Regarding Skype:

      1) When using Skype on your iPhone while traveling in Europe, stick to only using it on a Wi-Fi network. (Like other apps, you could fire it up over a data connection, but that would use a lot of data and could be very costly.)

      2) When using the app, you can call other Skype users for free, but you’ll have to pay a tiny bit to call normal telephone numbers. So, if your friend also had Skype on their phone and had it turned on, you could Skype between the phones for free. However, you can call landlines (or mobile phones) for about $.01 per minute. You need to buy Skype credits — very easy to do on the app. Click around and you’ll find it. With these credits, you can then call the US or call hotels or restaurants to make reservations.

      3) In terms of trying to stay in touch with a friend you’re traveling with, I don’t think Skype is usually going to be the best answer, as you’ll both need to have it on to get calls or text messages in real time. Instead, I could send SMS text messages to your friend. Check out my article for the pricing of these.

      I hope that helps!


  3. I’m going to Italy and I am under contract with Verizon. If I bring my Samsung S3 to Italy and replace the SIM with a local one, should I be able to use it? I tried it once and it did not work… Is it because my phone is locked? Will it become unlocked when the 2-year contract period expires?

  4. So very important to know that the iPhone 4S does indeed have a glitch! We just experienced this with a child who traveled abroad to Ireland and England. The phone does not work and dealing with Verizon was very difficult. In fact many of their people at Global Support did not understand the problem. It took several calls before they were able to find a competent person who admitted that it was their fault. We did all the suggested steps before she left too. If you have an iPhone 4S through Verizon you need to make other arrangements. She contacted us using wi-fi through her hotels when she could.

  5. I have an iPhone 5 (Verizon) got the global plan, data roaming is off and it was working fine to call my son while visiting him in Spain and it suddenly stopped working for in coming and outgoing calls. It says the carrier is vodka phone in settings airplane mode is off and wifi works. What is my problem? I am anxious to be able to get & receive calls again from my son? Any ideas what might be wrong? Also it says VPN not connected.

  6. The iPhone 4 is CDMA only but from the 4S onward all iPhones have both CDMA and GSM.
    LTE is very different ( the frequencies used) by country.

  7. Verizon phones use CDMA technology. Europe uses GSM technology. Verizon does have some “global” phone models that will work on both CDMA and GSM, but I didn’t think that the iphone was a global one. Am I missing something?

  8. If you iPhone does not work, it may be that your ICCD # has not been registered by Verizon. I had my iPhone stolen in Paris last year. When I returned later in the year with my new iPhone, it didn’t work. I contacted Verizon through my assistant, they asked for the ICCD # (available under Settings, General, About). Verizon registered the number, I turned the phone off then on again and voilá. Works fine.

  9. I have an iPhone 4s on the Verizon network. I’m here in the UK and I have no service. Nothing. I can connect via wireless, but that’s all. I thought my iPhone 4s was at least going to connect to the network but it didn’t.

    Maybe there was something I should have done with Verizon, but as I can call home to the US on the land line for free I’m not worried.

    I just thought I’d pass this on. My old Blackberry connected last year no problem, so i was really surprised my new 4s didn’t.


  10. Hi Thomas,

    So, I cannot use my iPhone 4 in Europe? Incredible! A “network issue”?

    In the Fall ’12 I’m going to Netherlands, France, Spain, Portugal and Rome, Italy. I have an iPhone 4. I would like to be able to use the Internet for browsing, info, maps, etc. and be able to send text messages in Europe and to the US. I would also like to be able to take photos of the trip. Phone calling is not essential.

    Would you recommend (in that my iPhone will be useless) that I use an iPad with or without data or a MacAir laptop? I will have to buy either one new. I only have an iPhone 4 and a MacBook Pro currently. The MacBook is too heavy. I have lugged it far enough already traveling throughout So. America.

    Thanks very much.

  11. Just so were all clear….I can turn my iphone 4 (verizon carrier) to “airplane mode” and turn off “data roaming” and still be able to connect to the internet via Wi-Fi at an internet cafe / hotel in Germany/Italy/France etc. Right?

    1. P.S…my plan is to use Skype to make phone calls to the US connecting through Wi-Fi at an internet cafe in Germany.

      1. Hi Daniel —

        Yes, once you put your phone on “airplane mode” it won’t be sending or receiving any data through the phone or data networks. In order to use the Wi-Fi, you may have to enable it.

        You can test this out at home: Turn your phone on “airplane” and then see what happens. If you don’t see the Wi-Fi icon, go into your settings and manually switch “Wi-Fi” to on.

        Once you have Wi-Fi working on airplane mode, you’re set to use Skype and other apps wherever you please.

  12. Kimberly Warren

    Oh thank goodness! I felt like I was the only one who was frustrated and confused by all the mounting add’l expenses I was bombarded with by Verizon in order to stay connected to home ICE.
    Your info has made me feel at ease with turning off my data and using wi-fi. One question, is Airplane Mode different from just turning off my cellular data? I was told to go to settings and under general turn off “cellular data”, but if I do this, will this be easier to connect to wi-fi or does using airplane mode make it even easier?

    1. Hi Kimberly,

      If you turn off cellular data, your data (for emails and web browing) will go through Wi-Fi, but you will still be able to make and receive phone calls. This would be an option to keep your data usage down (to nothing) while traveling; however, if somebody calls you (or you place a call), you’d still be connecting to the phone network and would be charged.

      When you turn on “airplane mode,” however, you can’t make or receive phone calls either, and any data transfer goes through Wi-Fi. Thus, there’s no chance that you’re going to incur charges.

      I hope that’s clear!

      1. Kimberly Warren

        Just got back from Ireland. Was not able to make or receive any calls due to some glitch in Verizon’s network. Kept my phone in Airplane Mode the entire trip and had to rely heavily on wi-fi to access email and internet. Thank goodness the Irish are friendly if no wi-fi was available. I’d recommend anyone using a iPhone on Verizon network, do their homework before travel. Even with written instructions from the Verizon tech, the phone feature was not reliable.

  13. I am going to france. so what what i have read when yoou turn on the iphone any incoming messages are on its probably best to leave your phone off? you can buy a plan for a certain amoount of mgs? also what about the gps in the phone that would come in handy but then again if your phone is on and you receive a txt or answer a call charges acurr?


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