Communicating with others

Living in Europe | Access to the culture of the host country/language courses | United Kingdom

There are many ways to stay connected to the rest of the world - from calling directly on mobile numbers, via your computer and the internet, to posting an old-fashioned letter.

Mobile phones

There are several large network operators in the UK, as well as various types of phones and contracts available for you to choose from depending on your needs and budget:

  • Pay-as-you-go is a top-up phone service sim card, which will require you to add certain amount of money to use the mobile network and will charge you a fixed rate for calls and text messages.
  • A monthly contract is a pre-paid service of varying durations (usually 12 or 24 months), which entitles you to set amounts of free call minutes, texts and data allowance, depending on the operator, and usually you can select a mobile device within this type of contract. They will require you to have a UK bank account in order to sign a contract with the mobile operator. If you wish to end the contract before its contract duration has expired, you may need to pay a fee.

Be sure to assess which network provides a service that meets your needs. It is also advised to check which network works best in your area. Consult uSwitch for the latest information on mobile phones.

Internet service

Internet broadband connections are availble throughout the UK. You can have bundled packages which include free off-peak phone calls. Remember to check whether the download restrictions fit your requirements. Complete research on uSwitch for the latest information on internet providers.

Postal services in the UK

The primary postal service across the UK is provided by the Post Office. There are post office shops throughout the UK in most towns and cities. The post office allows you to pick up official application documents, exchange currency and even set up a bank account.

If you want to send letters or packages you can choose between using Royal Mail or an independent courier service, such as DHL. They also provide next day delivery services for many packages, if needed urgently, and cost more.

Postage costs will depend on the weight and size of the letter or parcel, and whether you are sending it to somewhere in the UK or abroad. For more information, visit your local post office, or find out more online.

Sending mail abroad

Airmail usually arrives within three days to Western Europe, four days to Eastern Europe and five days for the rest of the world, following the day of posting.

Surface mail is cheaper than airmail but it takes much longer to arrive: around two weeks to Western Europe, four weeks to Eastern Europe, and eight weeks to the rest of the world.

You cannot send letters to Europe using surface mail, but you can send packages. If you are sending heavy packages which are not urgent it may be worth using surface mail.