SIM card registration in Europe might be worse than Henry thinks

In Surveillance Report episode 119, traveling to Europe got mentioned.

Henry said something like this: “If you go to Europe, you can just get like a SIM card when you get there…”

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be that simple. I’ve read this article from last year which contains the list of countries with mandatory SIM card registration.

When you look at Europe, the situation doesn’t look that good:

Note that this map is from February 7, 2022.

As far as I know, Sweden has recently introduced ban on unregistered SIM cards. These are the sources:

It is a shame to see Sweden do this. In fact, 92% of party members voted for this:

It is interesting that every single party member voted for this except for the Left Party where all members voted against this proposal. What’s funny is that the Left Party, according to Wikipedia, has its roots in communism.

@Henry It would be nice for Surveillance Report to mention this in the next episode. Even though the decision is from last year, the deadline for registering SIM cards is today, so it might just count as news :slightly_smiling_face:


Thanks for the notice! I ignorantly assumed that my experience in Portugal would be similar to other countries in the EU.

Big bummer to see Sweden head that direction as well :confused:


Is VOIP phone number as a possible solution?

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VOIP is an option, but it not as convenient and it costs more.

It was much nicer to just be able to grab a couple of SIM cards from a store, charge each of them with 5$ and then use them for up to a year for shopping, creating junk accounts etc.

I have tried using JuicySMS for for creating junk accounts and it wasn’t too bad. Not that pricey either. You can receive one SMS for 0.50-1.00 EUR which is okay for single use junk accounts.

Do you know of any other services that might be useful?

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Yeah, it is too bad that Sweden, a country where Mullvad comes from, suddenly decides to invade the privacy of all its citizens. And you could probably guess why… The main excuse for this is to fight crime :roll_eyes:

When I get the chance to travel to any of the remaining “green” countries, I’m definitely going to get a bunch of SIM cards on the way back. Who knows, maybe it’ll be Portugal :slightly_smiling_face:

You can probably make a company just to register your phone number.

The company I work for gets blank SIMs directly from the service provider, we use their website to activate the SIM. The only information needed is the tax number from the company who owns the SIM, we don’t need the name of the employee using the SIM.

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Wouldn’t having a company with just a single employee kind of make it easy to track this back to you? Isn’t company information open to the public?

It’s not impossible to make the connection, but it would require some investigating.

It’s not going to protect you against law enforcement, but data brokers are not going to put in the amount of work it would take to discover that you own the number.

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It’s all about threat modeling. The majority of people are concerned about corporations. It wouldn’t be a streamlined process to deanonymize the fake “company,” and it wouldn’t be worth their time anyway. If your threat model involves the government, then registering a company is complicated, but then again, you probably shouldn’t be taking advice from strangers on a forum if that’s the case.

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On a recent international trip, I found it convenient to purchase a data-only eSIM online from a company called Airalo. This worked on a de-Googled Android phone and allowed me to use my existing VOIP numbers and messaging apps.

Thats bad atleast i am in the netherlands and currently do not have to deal with this (yet)

This map is incorrect. You can buy a prepaid SIM card anywhere in Ukraine without an ID, e.g., they are sold freely in most supermarkets and some smaller shops.

The mobile network providers will encourage their subscribers to verify their identity by offering voice/data packages or a discount for monthly subscription price in return, but the subscriber can always refuse, and the service will continue to work as usual.

They also recommended doing so to protect the number from being stolen, as there were already a plenty of cases when fraudsters managed to “recover” a supposedly “lost” SIM card by deceiving the provider’s customer support operator with social engineering, and those new SIMs were used to steal money from online banking or crypto exchanges, for social media account theft, etc. So some concerned people prefer to attach their identity and ask the provider to refuse the SIM recovery unless valid papers are provided in person in the provider’s shop/office.

Lastly, the only case where you are required to personalise your number is when you want to migrate from one provider to another while saving your old number via MNP.