Changing your mobile phone provider in Germany

Rates and offers are constantly changing. Switching to a provider that matches your needs better can save you a lot of money.

Update: Jan 2014

However, you should read your contract carefully to make sure that you do not get charged a lot for changing your plan.

What to do if I own a prepaid plan?

If you have already chosen a prepaid card and would like to change your plan, you should first check your balance. If you have used up your balance, you can simply choose a new contract and your old prepaid card will normally expire after several months of no use. Nevertheless, check your contract for more details.

Mobile phones sold as part of a prepaid plan are often locked to a specific network. In order to use the phone with the SIM card of another provider, you have to unlock it first. In the first 24 months, most providers charge a service fee of about 100 EUR for unlocking your phone, but after this period it is usually free. 

What to do if my plan includes a minimum contract duration?

Most contracts in Germany have a minimum length of either 12 or 24 months. After this period, your contract renews automatically if you do not cancel your plan in due time. For more details of your particular plan, check your mobile phone contract.

If you are planning to cancel your plan after the minimum length, you are normally required to unsubscribe three months before the end of the contract/the renewal date. Make sure to send your cancellation a few days prior to this date, since your operator will take into account the date that your cancellation request arrived and not the date that it was sent.

It is also recommended to send your cancellation request by registered mail (“Einschreiben”) in order to prove its arrival. Most operators provide a form on their website in order to facilitate the cancellation process.

If the minimum duration is not yet over, it is not always possible to successfully cancel your plan. Sometimes your provider will charge you for unsubscribing ahead of time and you often have to pay at least a share of the charges for the fixed duration mentioned in your contract.

What to do to keep my number?

To keep your number, it is necessary to cancel your contract. Normally, your previous provider will charge you for transferring your number. The cost of  transferring your number is usually between 25 and 30 EUR, depending on your provider. If you have a prepaid plan, make sure to refill your balance with the amount necessary to transfer your number. Your new provider will generally reward the transferal of your old number. 

Subject to the “Universal Service Directive” 2002/22/EC of March 2002, every customer has the right to transfer their mobile phone number for a reasonable price. However, it is crucial that you follow the specific conditions for time and form of your request, otherwise you will lose the right of porting your number.  After your cancellation you can make a request to your new provider to transfer your number. You can set this request anytime between 123 prior and 30 days after expiration of your previous contract. Your new provider will inform you via text message about the exact date of the porting from previous to new provider.

Since 2012, customers are allowed to port their number before cancelling their contract and even if the minimum duration of their agreement is not over yet. Subject to the TKG-Novelle § 46, customers are able to request an earlier porting, but still have to pay for their previous contract until its expiration.

Good to know

In case you have a disagreement with your provider, you can approach the conciliation committee for telecommunication of the Federal Network Agency “Schlichtungsstelle Telekommunikation der Bundesnetzagentur”. The committee is in charge to support consumer and provider to find an extrajudicial decision. Since this service is only available in German, feel free to contact the ECC Germany for help if you have any language problem.

Make sure to cancel additional services as ring tones as well. These services are often booked separately and will not be cancelled automatically with the normal plan cancellation.

German law prohibits the usage of mobile phones while driving a car. You should use a hand free device when driving.

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