How to Use Your US Cell Phone in Italy

Can I use my US cell phone in Italy?

Most modern smartphones, including all iPhone models, are designed to connect to mobile networks around the world and are compatible with Europe’s mobile infrastructure. When it comes to staying connected, you have four main options to use your US cell phone while traveling abroad in Italy.

Check if your wireless carrier offers an international plan.

This is likely the most convenient option, and it may be the best option for you if you are looking to keep your cell phone number and use your cell phone similarly to how you would at home in the US. International plans are enabled by agreements between your local carrier and carrier(s) in your destination. These agreements allow you to use your US cell phone abroad without paying separately for your usage with a foreign carrier. Signing up for an international plan with your carrier is likely the simplest way to stay connected when traveling abroad, but depending on the length of your trip, it may not be the most affordable.

If you are an AT&T Wireless customer with an unlimited plan, AT&T International Day Pass is an easy way to stay connected when traveling to Italy. 5G is available in Italy if you have a compatible plan and device.1 You can get International Day Pass for $12 per day for a single line and $6 for each additional line used on the same calendar day. The good news is you only pay for the days you use.

If you are an AT&T Prepaid® customer, you can get the AT&T Prepaid International Travel Add-On to stay connected in Italy. AT&T Prepaid offers two options: International, which includes 250 minutes of calling from the US to 70 countries, and International Plus, which includes unlimited calling from the US to 85 countries. Italy is included in both plans. Learn more about AT&T Prepaid international options. 

Buy an Italian SIM card for your US cell phone.

This option may be ideal for travelers looking for affordability and limited usage. SIM cards can be physical or digital (eSIM). Most newer model phones will have an eSIM, but if your cell phone has a physical SIM card, you can swap it with an international SIM card from an Italian wireless carrier, like Iliad, Tim, Vodafone, etc. You can even pick up prepaid SIM cards at the Rome Fiumicino Airport. Keep in mind that switching to an international SIM will mean that your cell phone number from the US will be unavailable until you switch back, and you will have to pay for the service you used in Italy separately from your US wireless bill.

If your device supports an eSIM, you may be able to download and activate an eSIM for Italy without having to purchase a physical SIM card. If you own an iPhone 14 or newer iPhone purchased in the US, your iPhone was activated with an eSIM. Many other popular phone models also support eSIM. When returning from a trip using eSIM services, all you have to do is go back into your phone’s settings and switch your domestic phone line back on. This simplicity makes eSIM a great option for travelers. Learn more about what an eSIM is and how it works.

Use Wi-Fi on your US cell phone for internet access and buy a throwaway phone with an Italian SIM card for calls.

This option may work best for frequent international travelers who value affordability. You can buy an unlocked cheap device, like a flip phone, to bring with you on international trips. Take that unlocked phone with you and buy a local prepaid SIM card once you arrive. Depending on the phone you choose, some advanced features (like 5G) may not work like they would on a smartphone. When you return home, just turn off the device until your next trip.

Also, keep in mind, some restaurants and cafes in Italy do offer free Wi-Fi, but it may not be as fast as the Wi-Fi connection you experience in the US. You might consider purchasing a portable Wi-Fi hotspot.

Pay roaming fees on your US cell phone.

This option may not be prudent, but it is an easy option for travelers who are not concerned about affordability. Even without an international calling plan, you can still access data, voice, and text when you’re traveling internationally, but you will be charged at pay-per-use rates. If you are an AT&T customer traveling to Italy, the pay-per-use talk rates are $2/minute, while the text rates are $.50/message and $1.30 to send pictures and videos2. Data rates are $2.05 per megabyte on land and $10.24 per megabyte on airlines. Learn more about AT&T’s pay-per-use rates.

To enable data roaming for international use, you’ll need to go to your phone’s settings and activate both voice and data roaming to access cellular coverage. Keep in mind, roaming fees can add up quickly.

What is the cheapest way to use my US cell phone in Italy?

If you want to find the cheapest way to use your US cell phone internationally, the best option will likely depend on the length of your stay and how often you plan to make calls and access data. That said, buying a local SIM card or switching the carrier in your eSIM settings is likely to be an affordable option for most travelers.

If you are traveling to Italy and want to use your US cell phone in an affordable way, and you haven’t enabled an international data plan or purchased an Italian SIM card or Italian cell phone, you will want to put your cell phone in airplane mode to avoid charges. Some phones and apps automatically download data when the phone is on and connected, which can lead to unexpected charges.

You can still use your phone when you have access to Wi-Fi, and some of your phone’s features, like the camera, will work while your phone is in airplane mode. Be sure to use Wi-Fi calling apps, like FaceTime, WhatsApp, etc. to place calls when connected to Wi-Fi.

More information about International Day Pass

AT&T International Day Pass lets you use your phone as you do at home, giving you unlimited data3, talk and text with your eligible AT&T unlimited plan. With International Day Pass, you can access your eligible plan in over 210 destinations, including Italy. You can even stay connected on select international flights from participating airlines.

Get started with AT&T International Day Pass.

How much does AT&T International Day pass cost?        

If you are an AT&T Wireless customer with an unlimited plan, AT&T offers International Day Pass for $12 per day. It costs $6 for each additional line used on the same calendar day, and you only pay for the days you use.

The first time you use data, send a text, or make or accept a phone call while abroad, your 24-hour International Day Pass begins and you will be charged a daily fee. You won’t trigger another daily fee until the next time you use your device in an included country after that 24-hour period ends. The daily fees are calculated and charged to your bill at the end of your billing cycle.

If you’re in an International Day Pass country, such as Italy, you can call within Italy, any other International Day Pass country and back to the US for no additional charge. Calls to countries not included in International Day Pass will be billed at International Long Distance rates. Per-minute pay-per-use rates apply unless an International Long Distance package is added to the device placing the call.  Visit to review rates and options.

Does AT&T turn on International Day Pass automatically?

It’s best to sign up for International Day Pass before you leave, but if you forget, AT&T will automatically add it for you as soon as you arrive in Italy. You can add International Day Pass to your account via the myAT&T app under Wireless Add-ons.

You do not need to remove International Day Pass when you return to the US. International Day Pass only charges a daily fee when you use your device in an included destination. And when you travel abroad in the future, International Day Pass will already be on your device, so you’re all set for your next international trip.

What is the difference between AT&T International Day Pass and Passport?

You can no longer add AT&T Passport® to AT&T unlimited plans, AT&T Mobile Share®, or AT&T 4GBSM consumer rate plans. This feature retired on August 12, 2021. If you have an auto-renew AT&T Passport on your account, you’ll keep it. International Day Pass is the current international travel plan offered by AT&T.

Read more information about the legacy AT&T Passport offering.

Other considerations when using your US cell phone internationally

How do I keep my cell phone from being stolen when traveling?

Unfortunately, tourists can sometimes fall victim to pickpockets. While it’s hard to avoid all risk of having your belongings stolen, here are some tips to avoid cell phone thefts while traveling to popular cities in Italy, like Rome, Florence, Milan and more.

  • Don’t keep your cell phone in open pockets.
  • Don’t keep your cell phone on the table at a restaurant or café.
  • Don’t take your cell phone out near metro doors.
  • Watch out for people who ‘bump’ into you or try to distract you.

If you’re an AT&T customer and you think your cell phone has been lost while you’re traveling abroad, the first step you should take is to try and find your device. Once you suspend service, you won’t be able to use GPS apps or features to find it. If you think your cell phone has been stolen, never put yourself in danger to track it down.

Next, you should contact AT&T’s International Department at +1-314-925-6925, so the AT&T team can help suspend your service until you can get a replacement device.

The good news is if you’re enrolled in AT&T Protect Advantage, your insurance covers lost and stolen phones. If you don’t already have device insurance, AT&T customers can sign up for AT&T Protect AdvantageSM during the open enrollment period. Each Protect Advantage plan includes an unlimited number of claims4, $0 unlimited screen and back glass repairs5, same-day replacement and set-up6, unlimited battery replacements7, unlimited photo and video storage8 and access to a ProTech expert.

Learn more about AT&T Protect Advantage.

What do I need to charge my US cell phone in Italy?

The standard voltage in Italy is 230V, which is much higher than the standard voltage in the US, which is 120 V. Most US cell phone chargers, including iPhone chargers, can accept the higher voltage provided by electrical outlets in Italy. While you likely will not need an electric power converter for your trip to Italy, you likely will need an Italian outlet adapter to charge your US cell phone. Most outlets in Italy will be Type F or Type L sockets. All you would need to charge your US cell phone in Italy is a European travel plug adapter. There are lots of affordable US to Italy outlet adapters available.

If you’re a frequent international traveler, you might also consider a world travel adapter.

Katherine’s recommendations

Each time I’ve traveled to Europe, I’ve used International Day Pass to stay connected on my US cell phone. For me, the $12 daily charge is worth the convenience of using my cell phone just like I would at home without worrying about finding free Wi-Fi hotspots or downloading special apps for calls and texts.

Before my trip to Europe, I upgraded my cell phone to the latest iPhone model and purchased more cloud storage to ensure I had plenty of room for new photos and videos. I also added AT&T Protect Advantage to my account to make sure I would be covered if my cell phone was lost or stolen. (Luckily, I was prepping for my trip during an Open Enrollment period.)

One tip I learned was that it can be useful to carry a portable phone charger when you travel to Europe. Oftentimes, traveling abroad means you’re using GPS apps heavily, which can quickly drain your cell phone battery. You may need an app on your cell phone to travel on the train or “tap out” at the metro, which means it’s important that your cell phone stays charged while you’re sight-seeing. During my last trip to Europe, my phone ran out of power just before a solo train trip, and I had to rely on a friendly employee at the ticket counter to give me a quick charge. For my next trip, I will definitely purchase a portable charger to carry with me. Staying connected with a charged phone is not only vital for travel but also for your personal safety.

A presto in Italy!

1Available countries, services and technologies are subject to change without notice. To view wireless coverage, go to
2Standard domestic messaging rates apply to text, picture, and video messages received.
3When added to your unlimited plan. Coverage and data speed vary by destination and may be changed.
4Maximum device value of $3500 per claim
5Unlimited Screen and Back Glass Repairs are available in select areas. Newly launched device models may not be eligible for repair. Visit or call 888.562.8662 to check current eligibility. Same-day repair option depends on claim approval time, part and technician availability. Eligible devices and available areas are both subject to change at any time. Repairs will be available for certain devices, in select locations, which are subject to change at any time.
6Available for select devices in select areas and is subject to parts and technician availability. Claims must be filed and approved by 4pm (local time). Eligibility is determined at time of claim approval and is contingent on certain criteria. Claims may be fulfilled with new or AT&T Certified Pre-Owned equipment of the same model or other models of like kind and quality and may be previously opened, used, refurbished, or remanufactured, and/or may contain original or nonoriginal replacement parts. Colors, features and accessory compatibility are not guaranteed.
7Subject to eligible wireless phones outside of manufacturer’s warranty period that power on but fail to hold an adequate charge after ProTech diagnostic testing. Available for select devices in select areas. Battery replacements come with a 60-day limited warranty.
8Unlimited Photo and Video storage: Video size limitations may apply.

This article is AT&T sponsored content written by Katherine Wrobleski, a TechBuzz contributor. The statements in this article are her own and don’t necessarily represent the positions, strategies, or opinions of AT&T.

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