In France, a mobile number is often used as a form of ID for online shopping and services – so it can be useful to have one if you’re a British owner of French property.
Recently, I was contacted by a couple from the UK who own a holiday home in France. As their UK mobile provider had announced it would soon be restricting their data roaming use in France (post-Brexit), they’d decided to install broadband at their French property.
Their online application went well. Their address and French bank details were both accepted, but then the application unexpectedly failed because they could not quote a French mobile number. Why was this necessary, they asked.
Why do we need a French mobile number?
Well, part of the reason a French mobile number was requested lies in the way mobiles are issued in France.
In the UK, £1 buys you a mobile SIM complete with a UK phone number. Top up with cash and there’s never a link between you and the number.
Yet to minimise fraud and crime, in France the market is much more regulated, with your mobile number representing a form of ID.
How to get a French mobile number
To acquire a French mobile number, you’ll need a French SIM card. You can get one without a contract for as little as €2 a month through a price comparison website, large supermarket, kiosk or phone shop. However, first you’ll need to prove who you are, normally with a passport and proof of your French address, even if it is only a holiday home address.
If your French language skills are not great, an easy route to access competitive deals for SIM cards is by using a price comparison website. At Anglo French Telecoms, we work with one of these sites.
Is it helpful to have a French mobile number?
Once you have your French mobile number, it’s a simple form of ID for online shopping. As well as helping you verify your ID to utility suppliers and so on, there’s another reason why a French mobile, and not a fixed line number, is needed to complete an internet service order. Your supplier will need to contact you to confirm the collection point and appointment time for your new internet router or ‘box’. Mobile SMS is the easy option.
With this couple’s case in mind, I recently decided to try buying a French mobile SIM through our own Anglo French Telecoms comparison service. I selected a €2-a-month basic mobile SIM from network provider Free with a delivery address in France. I entered details of my French bank account and my address in France. Buying online means you’ll need to give a French phone number. I used the number of our French office, yet a recent customer of ours simply used the number of their French neighbour; both worked.
Delivery by post followed and the SIM was automatically activated on day 14, giving me the valid French mobile number I wanted. All I now need to do is remember to take a spare mobile handset with me on my next visit to France.
Andrew Holford is the Director of Anglo French Telecoms