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International Texting: Is International SMS Messaging Free?

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Whether international text messaging is free or not comes up a lot. Some people think it’s an expensive service; others believe it is as cheap as domestic texting. One must first understand what constitutes “international” texts to answer this question.

“International” usually refers to any text message sent from one country to another. For example, if you are in the United States and you send a text message to a friend in Canada, that would be considered an international text.

The same applies to people living in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, North Korea, and South Korea. Okay, that last one seems pretty obvious – but the case isn’t always so clear-cut.

What about texting between Wales and Scotland? Lesotho and South Africa? Denmark and Greenland? Italy and The Vatican or San Marino?

Is texting internationally accessible?

Phone on a Table

This question has no definitive answer, as it largely depends on your carrier and plans. Here’s the scoop: Text messages sent internationally will incur a fee, usually less than making an international phone call. To avoid any surprises, be sure to check with your carrier before sending any texts overseas.

The good news is (for US carriers, at least) that you can receive messages for free, regardless of your location. So, if you’re only interested in obtaining international texts, there is no need to worry about fees!

In general, sending an international text will cost you between $0.25 and $0.50 per text message. Of course, this fee can vary depending on your carrier and plan.

If you’re looking for a way to avoid these fees, consider using a messaging app like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. These apps allow you to send messages over an internet connection to prevent international charges!

Plus, you can use these apps (and most folks without them) to make free international calls over WiFi and send complimentary international SMS messages. What’s not to love about that?

MethodProsConsCost EstimateBest For
Local SIM CardLow rates for texting/data, best rates in that countryNeed to purchase a new SIM card in each country$10-$30 per countryLong-term travelers, frequent visitors to specific countries
Global SIM CardOne SIM for multiple countries, no need to swap SIMsHigher rates than local SIMs, coverage limitations$20-$50 initial cost, plus pay-as-you-go ratesTravelers visiting multiple countries on one trip
International PlanConvenience of using existing number and planOften very expensive for texting and data$10-$50+ per day or pay-per-use ratesOccasional international travelers, short trips
Messaging AppsFree texting over data with apps like WhatsApp, SignalBoth parties need the same app installedFree with existing data plan or WiFiTravelers communicating with contacts using the same app
Satellite TextingGlobal coverage, no SIM neededExpensive, limited functionality$0.50-$1+ per text, plus hardware costRemote locations with no cellular coverage
Data RoamingUse existing phone plan’s data for textingExtremely high data roaming rates$10-$25+ per MB of dataEmergency use only, unless included in domestic plan

Types of International Messages

Typing a Message

Fun fact: not all international texts are treated equally. There are three different types of international SMS:

  • Type One: Free International Texts
  • Type Two: Low-Cost International Texts
  • Type Three: Premium International Texts

So, which type of international text messaging are you using? And is it free? Let’s take a closer look. If you are sending a text from the United States to another country, you are most likely using Type One service, which is free international texting.

This service is typically included in your cell phone plan and does not cost you anything extra to send texts internationally.

Type Two services are low-cost international texts, usually costing around a few cents per text. Prepaid phone plans typically offer these services, allowing you to send texts to over 190 countries worldwide.

Lastly, there are premium international texting services, also known as Type Three services. These services usually charge you a monthly fee, allowing you to send texts to any country worldwide.

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Popular international texting apps

Several popular international texting apps allow you to send text messages to people in other countries. The most popular apps include WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Telegram.


WhatsApp Logo

WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app in the world and allows you to send complimentary text messages to people in over 190 countries worldwide – we use it daily. The app is easy to use and works on Android and Google smartphones.

Facebook Messenger

Messenger Logo

Facebook Messenger is another popular app that allows you to send text messages to your friends and family members – again, we use this every day, and so does half the world.

The app is available in hundreds of countries on basically every form of smartphone and OS worldwide, and literally, billions of people use it.

You might have used it once or twice.


Telegram Logo

Telegram is another popular messaging app that offers a variety of features, such as group chats, file sharing, and voice and video calls. The app is available in over 190 countries worldwide and is used by millions of people every day.

WhatsApp is a good option if you are looking for a free app to send text messages internationally. The app is easy to use and works on both iPhones and Android smartphones.

Telegram is a good option if you are looking for an app that offers more features than just texting. The app provides group chat, file sharing, and voice and video calls.

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Sending SMS Messages and Using Mobile Data Without WiFi

There’s no assurance that a WiFi internet connection will be accessible while you’re traveling. Even if you have an overseas plan, the costs may get prohibitive, especially if you are a prolific text bandit. If your phone’s WiFi is damaged, the hotel is on the fritz, and text messaging is required outside of the United States, services are available here.

International texting, calls, and data plans

Setting up an international phone call and data plan is relatively straightforward. You only need to contact your service provider and tell them which country you will travel to.

They will then provide the necessary information to make calls and send texts over WiFi. In addition, they may also offer international plans that include unlimited data usage.

With an international plan in place, you can rest assured that you can keep in touch with family and friends while you are away from home. So, whether traveling for business or pleasure, check with your service provider about their international plans.

That way, you can enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing you can stay connected anywhere in the world.

Buy a SIM Card

Tapping on Phone Screen

To use your phone internationally, separate from your phone plan, you’ll need to buy a SIM card that will work in the country you’re visiting. You can buy a SIM card at most airports or in advance on Amazon.

  • This one from Orange gives you 1,000 texts to send across 30 European countries, including the UK, France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Austria, Spain, Czechia, Poland, and more, for only $50 – perfect for your grand European tour.
  • This one from travel-friendly KnownRoaming is only $20 and will connect with local networks in over 200 countries without roaming fees for calls or texts.
  • These Lycamobile USA Prepaid Sim Cards include a 30-day unlimited service plan with unlimited international texting and calls to over 50 countries for $19.

This is usually the most cost-effective way to use data, make international calls, and send texts while abroad. The main downside is that you’ll have to use a different phone number than your own.

To find the best prepaid SIM card for your needs, you must first check which carrier operates in the country you’re visiting.

Research rates and coverage to compare and find the best option for you. Once you’ve chosen a carrier, purchase a SIM card and activate it according to the instructions. After your SIM card is activated, you can start using it immediately.

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Consider Purchasing a Global SIM Card

Holding  a Phone and Arms on a Bag

If traveling to multiple countries, consider getting a global SIM card. International SIM cards are becoming increasingly popular because they offer one phone number that works in over 190 countries.

You can buy a global SIM card online or at many electronics stores. With a worldwide SIM card, you’ll have to pay for the data you use, but you’ll be able to use your phone number no matter where you are.

Tips Before Your Trip

Group Holding Phones

Before traveling internationally, it’s essential to check with your carrier to see their rates. Many pages offer unique international plans that can save you money. Even if your carrier doesn’t have a particular plan, they may be able to give you some tips on saving money while using your phone abroad.

If you’re planning on using your phone often while abroad, it might be worth considering an international data plan.

With an international data plan, you can use your phone’s data like at home. You can stay connected with family and friends, post pictures and updates to social media, and do everything you love online.

Before you leave for your trip, research the best international data plans available. That way, you can find a plan that fits your needs and budget.

And when you’re ready to start using your phone internationally, follow the steps above and enjoy staying connected while you’re away from home.

See related: 9 Cell Phones That Can be Used in Canada.

What are the drawbacks of international texting?

There are a few drawbacks to sending messages when you are abroad. First, it can be expensive if your carrier does not include it in their plans.

Second, you may not be able to text people who do not have an international texting plan with their carrier. Finally, you may have difficulty sending or receiving texts in some countries due to network coverage issues.

If you’re thinking about adding international texting to your mobile plan, be sure to check with your carrier first to find out what their policies are.

And if you’re traveling internationally, research the texting situation in the countries you visit. That way, you can be prepared and know what to expect.

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International texting for iPhone users

Holding a Black Phone

iPhone users have a few different options for sending international SMS. One option is to use Apple’s iMessage service, which allows you to send text messages over WiFi.

Another option is to use a free text app from Google, such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or Telegram. These apps allow you to send text messages to people in over 190 countries worldwide.

If you are an iPhone user looking for a free app to send text messages internationally, WhatsApp is a good option. The app is easy to use and works on both iPhones and Android smartphones.

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Is iMessage free internationally without WiFi?

No, iMessage is not free internationally without WiFi. The cost of international SMS depends on your coverage and plan.


Is international texting free?

The answer to this question depends on your career. Some carriers include international texting, while others charge per text. Check with your carrier to find out what their policy is.

What are the benefits of international texting?

There are a few benefits to international texting. First, it lets you stay in touch with friends and family living abroad. Second, it can be a cheaper alternative to making long-distance phone calls. Finally, it’s a convenient way to communicate when traveling internationally.

Do all carriers offer international texting?

No, not all carriers offer international texting. However, most major carriers do offer this service. If your page does not provide international texting, there are a few ways to work around this.

One option is to use a third-party texting app that offers international service. Another option is to buy a SIM card from a local carrier in the country you’re visiting. This will allow you to send and receive texts while you’re abroad.

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