For those of you traveling from abroad, if you own a mobile phone and plan to use it when you arrive, make sure you get it 'unlocked' before you leave. Unfortunately, most phones are 'locked' to the country and service provider from which they were purchased, which can be a real hassle. For example, if you bought your phone from Vodafone and you replace your Vodafone SIM card with a SIM card from another network whether it's Orange, Virgin, O2, 3, or any other provider, your handset won't work.
Unfortunately, this also extends to SIM cards from the same service provider in different countries. For example, the Vodafone handset you bought in Australia, will not work with a Vodafone SIM card purchased in the UK (unless you have had your phone unlocked).
Once unlocked, your mobile phone can be used with any compatible SIM card (including foreign SIM cards), on any network. Not only will this give you greater flexibility for prepaid SIMs and pay-as-you-go plans in the UK, you'll also avoid expensive overseas call rates when you're traveling. (Tip: Purchase a local SIM card whenever you travel abroad).
Where can I get my phone unlocked?
If you've already arrived in Oxford and forgot to have you phone unlocked, Benny's on St Aldates should be able to help you out. They generally charge between £5-15 depending on the make and model of you phone, but this may void your warranty.
Buy yourself a
prepaid or pay as you go SIM card as soon as you arrive. Setting up your mobile phone with a plan or contract is far more challenging and frustrating than you will ever anticipate! Until you can provide an English bank account, bankcard and statement from the same account (including a minimum of 5 transactions) and a permanent UK address, I'd save yourself the headache.
Don't you just love these gorgeous tin can telephones? I found them at madebyjoel and they reminded me of all the fun I used to have as a kid. Such simple pleasures. Joel's website is full of fun and creative projects, perfect for keeping your little ones occupied whilst you prepare for your move. Check it out here.