International Travel With Republic Phone: 2021

Hello Republic members:

Hoping to get back to international travel in 2021. I love the savings and flexibility we have with Republic in the United States, and the wonderful access to WiFi anywhere in the world. That said, there is no international roaming with Republic: not a big deal considering the service and savings we get.

However, if a Republic member wants roaming cellular, or cellular service internationally, I believe we have two options 1) swap out the SIM card in the Republic phone for that of a foreign carrier, or 2) buy a separate phone for use in the country visited.

Regarding option 1, there is an article on the Republic website from March 2017 that is very helpful, but is now almost four years old, and written before the advent of 5G. I am wondering if this information is still relevant – or maybe there’s another article that has updated information. Personally, I’d feel a bit skittish about potentially messing up my lovely Samsung S10e that has served me flawlessly with Republic if I were to swap out the Republic SIM card with an international SIM card. What has been the experience of users here with that procedure? Do all your apps and other functions work? What happens when someone tries to call you from the United States? Does it “snap back” to normal when you return home and reinsert your Republic SIM? (And how do you keep from losing that tiny thing?)

Regarding option 2, I suppose that one could find a phone to use for international travel to use in a variety of countries, inserting and swapping out SIM cards as necessary. The best part of this option, I think, is that you wouldn’t be messing with your Republic phone. Now that the world is going off CDMA and GSM and moving to 4G and 5G, what might be the minimum functionality?

Thanks everyone. I look forward to continued savings and service from Republic Wireless!

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Hopefully before the year is out, however, with new COVID variants floating around it seems like it will be later in 2021 rather than sooner. In the short run, I suspect more will follow Canada’s lead.

More or less, yes. There is the additional option of using an alternate U.S. provider who offers international roaming also.

If you look just to the left of the March 17 posting date, you’ll see the article has been edited 78 times since. To the best of my knowledge, the information remains relevant.

Whether overseas or in the U.S., 5G remains an emerging technology. Please see here for more: Understanding Emerging 5G Technologies. As an aside, your Republic activated Samsung Galaxy S10e lacks 5G capability.

I’ve swapped multiple alternate SIMs both domestic and international in and out of multiple Republic activated phones without issue. The downside is one cannot use Republic service when the alternate SIM is resident in the phone. Using Republic service on WiFi when outside the U.S. requires the Republic SIM be swapped back in and opening Republic’s mobile app. Calls made to your Republic number while an alternate SIM is resident would go to voicemail. If taking the Republic SIM with you, I suggest investing in something like this.

If willing to carry an additional phone, one might buy an unlocked GSM phone in the U.S. or when arriving at one’s overseas destination. The world has never really been on CDMA. CDMA is mostly a U.S. thing. With the exception of Canada (Canadian providers have since moved to GSM), Japan (which used an incompatible with U.S. phones flavor of CDMA) and the Dominican Republic, the world standardized on GSM technology from the beginning. Unless you choose to acquire a 5G capable phone (expensive), you’ll be limited to 4G LTE and in some places 3G. For what it’s worth, both 4G LTE and emerging 5G technologies are evolutions of GSM technology, which is why the standards are administered by the GSM Association.


Thanks Ambassador Rolandh! You are certainly knowledgeable! I very much appreciate your thoughtful response.




I continue to believe that swapping SIMs is a poor solution to Republic Wireless’ issue of no international access to cell talk, text, and data. RW’s cell carrier is T-Mobile, whose largest shareholder is the German telecommunications company Deutsche Telekom ( DT ) with a 43% share. It’s inconceivable that T-Mobile/DT would refuse to negotiate a deal with RW to provide RW’s customers with service while traveling internationally at the subscriber’s cost, much as Verizon and AT&T offer such service to their customers when traveling. While the subscription rates are exorbitant, many of us would consider it worth the cost for the ability to use our RW phones internationally to place and receive calls on cell without having to swap SIM cards. I’m considering switching to Google Fi, which offers such international usage once you’ve activated your phone within the US.

I did option 1 while traveling and had no issues. I stashed my SIM with my passport so that I didn’t lose it. It snaps back to normal when you switch the SIM card back.


I felt the same way in Spain, took the plunge, and my Moto G7 did not blow up. The SIM I bought was from OneSIMcard/Telestial. They have enough plans to make your head explode. It was handy to recharge the SIM but was still more expensive than I had anticipated although Telestial is, I think, the best of the euro, global choices if you are going to use Voice, text, and data or ANY combination of them. They do offer a phone (I checked yesterday) for voice and text only for $59.95. Whatever you bury from OneSimcard/Telestial they will ship for free to your house in the States. Their tech support is 24/7/365 and it was good support. (The problem was on their end. My self-esteem remained intact.) If you leave a balance on the SIM its good for two years beyond the last chargeable voice, text, data use. The phone number they give is a stateside number.

The worst that happened was Google’s helpful butting-in to oh-so-helpfully offer to upgrade my 109 apps for Euro use. How nice! Click. It was about euro22 spent before I realized Google had hijacked my phone and was burning data at a Saturn V rocket rate. If Google offers, Just Say No. Your apps will work without Google’s extra help.

I ditched the SIM after three weeks. It was a good solution, not a great one. Plan B was to go to a local phone company store for some advice. That is really the best way to go if you want to use your phone as you do at home. The helpful staff with some limited English met my limited Espanol inserted their SIM and setup whatever and I was ready to go.

Here’s a tricky part. Upon arriving over the States I tried switching the euro SIM with good ol’ Republic but it must have been one more thing to suffer in Economy Plus because I couldn’t make it work. I think it was arriving in TPA that I was able to think straight to make a call for Lyft.

It is possible to rent a rechargeable self contained portable WiFi box from a few euoro suppliers. It looks like a portable phone recharger on steroids. It is a much more expensive deal than the phone SIM solution but very tempting. At the end of the rental period you just drop the thing into a local mailbox. I suppose they provide a self-paid postage box for that. So, if you want to use your WiFi phone and your notebook computer at the same time it is a good solution for those places you may stay without a WiFi connection.

For advice checkout PC mag, Cnet, maybe Wired.

Bonne chance!


There’s no question that companies are willing to negotiate deals that make them money. But the equation has to work for both sides. It’s easy to think that everything is simple but Republic’s hybrid calling system makes things more complicated. Republic has to see the demand, and lost business because of that demand, outstrip the complexity and cost of providing the service. As Republic is a business, if they felt it was strategic in nature and worth the effort, they would do it. If they haven’t I’m quite sure it isn’t because they haven’t thought of it, but rather because they’ve made a business decision not to pursue it (or for all we know are actually in the midst of pursuing it).

I travelled to the UK a year ago and acquired a British SIM. That was when I was on a T-mobile plan (that also didn’t offer international service). However, I switched to Republic soon after returning from that trip and have successfully switched out SIM cards in order to send an SMS using the British SIM card in order to keep the British phone number active. :+1: When I put my Republic SIM back in everything worked fine. :+1: (Note: my phone is a Pixel 4xl purchased elsewhere.)
I keep my extra SIM card in a little case (maybe originally an SD card case?) in my travelling wallet, along with one of those little ejector tools.


I used @rolandh 's excellent guide a little over a year ago and had absolutely no problems, either in using the new international SIM while overseas or switching back to the RW SIM when returning. Piece of cake. I did make sure that my phone was set to ONLY do updates (either app or OS) over WiFi, to avoid any accidental and unwanted use of my international data plan. But overall it was a piece of cake.


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