Local SIM cards can be used in European, Australian and some American phones. Other phones must be set to roaming.
Romanian mobile (cell) phones use the GSM 900/1800 network, which is the standard throughout much of Europe as well as in Australia and New Zealand and many other parts of the world. This band is not compatible with many mobile phones in North America or Japan (though multiband phones do work across regions). Ask your provider if you’re uncertain whether your phone will work.
Using your own phone and SIM card in Romania could expose you to expensive roaming fees, particularly for long calls or data downloads. A cheaper option is to buy a prepaid Romanian SIM card, which gives you a temporary local number and charges local (cheaper) rates for calls, texts and data transfers. These cards only work with phones that are ‘unlocked’ (able to accept foreign SIM cards).
Prepaid SIM plans start at about 20 lei per card and usually include some bonus minutes. They are offered by all three of Romania’s main carriers: Vodafone (www.vodafone.ro), Telekom Romania (www.telekom.ro) and Orange (www.orange.ro).
Buy prepaid SIM cards at any provider shop or independent phone seller. You can top up cards at phone shops, newspaper kiosks and even some ATMs. Shops around the country also sell new or used phones that can be used in conjunction with local prepaid SIM cards.
The situation is more complicated if you have a smartphone device that may not be easily unlocked. With these phones, it’s best to contact your home provider to consider short-term international calling and data plans appropriate to your needs.
Even if you’re not using your smartphone as a phone, it still makes a handy wi-fi device. Switch off the ‘data roaming’ setting to avoid unwanted roaming fees.