The convenience and ease of eSims makes them an excellent choice for anyone with a smartphone. No need to navigate a foreign country’s SIM cards every time you travel, nor wait for a physical sim card to arrive in the mail. There are a number of UK eSims providers — including most major networks, so it’s worth shopping around to find one that gives you exactly the features you need.

Advantages of eSims

If you have an eSim compatible smartphone, you essentially just download your SIM from your provider. So no more fiddling around with constantly shrinking sim cards and no need to swap physical sim cards to change providers. Some providers will allow you to purchase and download eSims online, cutting out the need for a trip to a stores and reducing wait times to zero.

Finally, eSims allows for “dual sim” modes on phones – two simultaneous tariffs at once (the eSim and the physical sim.) This can be useful when travelling, allowing you to have a tariff with advantageous roaming rules, while still keeping your regular phone number.

eSIM UK and eSIM Europe offer contract-free eSims on plans ranging from 1 day to 1 month and up.

eSim compatible Smartphones

To use an eSim, you will need a smart phone with eSim capability, fortunately many of the main smartphone makers now use eSims. Most iphones (since the XS and XR), Google Pixels (since Pixel 2), as well as the Samsung Galaxy S21 and S20 are all eSim capable. There are also various other eSim compatible smartphones including handsets from Motorola, Nokia and Sony.

UK Mobile Providers offering eSims

Vodafone Logo 5G
You can get a Vodafone eSim online or instore. | Photo by Vodafone


Vodafone’s biggest selling point in the eSim market is being the only network that allows you to order them entirely online. Simply toggle the “eSim” option at checkout and rather than sending you a physical sim, your order will contain instructions on accessing your eSim through QR code. This makes Vodafone one of the most convenient options for users looking for an eSim at short notice, such as recent UK arrivals. With a large selection of plans and add-ons, it’s easy enough to customize your sim to exactly what you need in terms of minutes, messages, and data.

Any additional changes you want to make to your sim, such as plan changes or deleting your eSim, can also be managed online. Depending on your needs, Vodafone can also offer advantageous roaming allowances. If you’re looking to use a Vodafone eSim while abroad, it’s worth checking to see what your plan gives you.


EE is just a step behind Vodafone in terms of convenience. You can’t order an eSim directly through the website, but can change to an eSim through their MyEE service. Generally, if this is a new contract, you’ll still have to wait for delivery, but the steps afterwards can be done online. This makes EE a good option for visitors to the UK if you can line up sim delivery with your arrival. Airport collection, for instance, would mean you have the sim in hand straight away and could convert at your leisure once you’re settled.

If you’re thinking of leaving the UK for a while, an EE eSim may also be useful to have. Although they do have roaming charges abroad, for £15 a month you can purchase a “Roam Abroad” pass which allows data usage in 47 European countries. If you’re a digital nomad away for a few weeks, or plan to hop between countries, this is one of the most cost-effective roaming options available.


O2’s eSim offerings are slightly less convenient for UK arrivals than Vodafone or EE. In order to obtain an eSim, you have to first order a conventional sim card. Once that’s arrived, you can change it to an eSim by calling or going into store, so you’re limited to business hours. They will then send you a physical eSim pack, so that’s a few more days of waiting. Overall, if you’re arriving in the UK, you’ll need to plan out receiving your eSim to avoid at least a 3 day wait.

However, if you’re leaving the UK, O2 might be one of your best options. Many of the tariffs it offers come with free EU roaming as a perk. This makes it an ideal choice to dual sim with your regular number when travelling in the EU. A data-only eSim in combination with your regular sim might be the perfect choice for the budget conscious traveler.


To get an eSim on Three, you need to either have or take out a Three Your Way plan, which you can check on the MyThree page. If you do, contact their customer support centre, or head into branch to convert your physical sim to an eSim. Like O2, this limits you to business hours, although since the swap can be done quite quickly, you only have to wait as long as it takes you to get to a store or make a call.

If you know you’re going to be making regular trips out of the country and need roaming, consider Three as a strong option. Their add-on packs make their sims endlessly customisable to your needs. One perk you can pick up is a roaming pass for 7, 14 or 28 days, as well as international minutes. If you have specific needs you want a custom solution for, Three is for you.

eSim Europe

An option away from the big carriers in the UK, eSim Europe offers access to an eSim for up to a month. This makes them ideal for travellers visiting the UK in need of a temporary solution to last them the trip. You can pick up packages for varying amounts of data – 500MB, 3GB, 10GB, and even 50GB for the data-hungry.

This is a data-only plan, so it’s best for those who plan on using apps to keep in touch. However, like
Vodafone, the process of picking up your sim is entirely virtual. Just order an eSim online, and you’ll have a code sent to your email with a code to download your eSim. Simple, quick, and efficient if you’re popping in for a few weeks!


Another option for people just stopping by, Airalo offers short-term eSIM rentals for nearly every destination. They provide eSIMs for between 7 days and a month, which you can order online and have delivered to you immediately. Packages start at 1GB and go up to 20GB, so if you’re efficient with your data, this is the plan for you.

Like eSim Europe, this is a data-only plan, so you won’t get a UK phone number. You can place your order online, and you’ll be emailed a QR code to activate your eSIM. Airalo is a quick and easy solution if you just need the basics to tide you over for a quick hop.

Related Resources

If you want to see our recommendations for good old physical sims, see our article on best UK sim-only deals.
If you’re a frequent traveller make sure you’re up to speed with the post-Brexit EU roaming regulations, and how much providers charge for your data-jaunt across the channel.

While we do our best to ensure it’s correct, information is subject to change.

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