Setting up a UK mobile phone contract

  • April 10, 2020

Just arrived in the UK, how do I set up my mobile phone?

There are many things to consider when setting up your new life in the UK, one of which is how to get yourself a mobile phone contract. In this article we’ll help overseas doctors arrange a mobile phone contract by addressing the following questions: 

First, some general advice

At IMG Connect we strongly recommend doing some research by using several trusted market-comparison websites and looking at the reviews to help decide on your network provider. 

The wrong contract might leave you stuck with a long contract, that proves to be unnecessarily expensive whilst offering poor signal in your area. If you rush this process and take out a contract that is not right, you will regret it. This comes from personal experience, so please do your homework!

Main Providers in the UK

The main providers are:

  • EE
  • Three Mobile
  • 02
  • Vodafone

There are numerous other providers that ‘piggy-back’ off their service, but do not have their own network. The package you can get from a ‘piggy-back’ provider is potentially cheaper than the main provider who’s service they use – however the network quality will always be poorer than the main providers.

How can I check for the best coverage in my area?

Make sure to check the coverage and network availability in your area by using the Ofcom mobile and broadband checker.

Ofcom are the government approved authority for communications and tasked with ensuring people get the best service from their provider. You can raise any issues you have, free of charge, with Ofcom.

What do I need to set up a contract?

Once you’ve decided on your provider and package, most mobile phone companies will only require the following to open a contract:

  • Two proofs of address (utility bills, rental contracts etc.) which must show both your name and address.
  • Proof of Identification
  • Active bank account in order to set up a direct debit

Packages on offer:

There are two types of package you can consider; Contract or Pay-as-you-go


Most providers offer a minimum contract of 12 months, SIM only.To get a handset included as part of your contract package typically you need a 24-month contract.


Another option to consider is a pay-as-you-go sim card with no contract or handset. This will cost about £10 and can be up and running immediately.

Can I use my current mobile phone handset? 

Yes, all sim-only packages will work with the device you already have.

What if I plan to be in the UK less than 12 months?

Whilst most IMGs prefer taking out a contract, if you do plan to be in the UK less than 12 months, a pay-as-you-go contract may be a better option.

In summary:

Only you will know what you are going to use your phone for, and which package will be right for you. If you are someone looking to call overseas regularly, think about WhatsApp calls, VOIP calling packages, facetime etc. 

With regards to phone contracts, just make sure to get a number of different quotes on similar packages and use these to try and get a bargain for yourself with one particular provider. All networks tend to be flexible at some point and the general rule is, if you don’t ask, you don’t get!

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IMG Resources

In our IMG Resources library you can read more useful articles on finding an NHS trust doctor job, pay scales & doctor’s salary in the UK, relocation and much more!  

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