The postal service in Spain is offered through Post offices ( Correos ) which are generally found near the centre of towns and are normally open from 8am to around 7.30pm. In the last few years though new post offices have sprung up everywhere, specially in the busy tourist towns and cities which has made the overall service much better, no more long queues! There are now post offices located in the well known Corte Ingles branches across Spain.
If you have to collect inbound certified post you will be asked to prove your identity so it is always best to take your passport with you.
Outbound mail is now very reliable, with letters or cards taking around five days to a week to the UK and Europe, a week to ten days to North America, New Zealand and Australia.
Spanish public phones work well and have instructions in English. They can be found all around towns and cities as well as bars, internet cafes etc.
All cabins should display instructions in a variety of languages. Spanish provincial (and some overseas) dialling codes are displayed in the cabins. The ringing tone is long, engaged is shorter and rapid; the standard Spanish response is digame ("speak to me"), often abbreviated to diga, or the even more laconic si .
Dialing Codes: The main dialing prefixes in Spain.
For international calls , you can use any street cabin or go to a locutorio , an office where you pay afterwards. They usually offer very good rates for international calls. In general the cheapest time to phone is after 8.00 pm, weekends for metropolitan and inter-provincial calls. International rates are slightly cheaper between midnight and 8am; the reduced rates apply all day on Saturday and Sunday.
If you want to make a telephone call to Spain from abroad, you must dial the exit
code of the country from which you are calling plus 00 34 (the code for Spain) plus
the number, which will have 9 digits.
If you want to call another country from Spain, you need to dial 00 followed by
the country code and the telephone number.
The mobile phone technology used in Spain is GSM, which is not
compatible with some countries such as the United States or Japan. If your technology is compatible with GSM, you should contact the operator in your country to
find out if you can use your mobile phone in Spain (Some operators will activate
an international service for you - “roaming”.). Once you have taken these steps in
your country of origin, all you need to do is to use your mobile phone as if your
phone were Spanish. In other words, to make international calls you need to dial
00 + the country code.
112 is the one number to dial for all emergency services.
In some communities, calls may be attended to in more than one language but, be
in any case, the emergency services operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Important Telephone Numbers of Interest are:
National police ( Policia Nacional ) 091
Local police: 092 ( Policia Local
Ambulance: 061 ( Ambulancia )
Fire services: 080 ( Bomberos )
One of the best ways to keep in touch while travelling is to sign up for a free internet email address that can be accessed from anywhere, for example YahooMail or Hotmail - accessible through www.yahoo.com and www.hotmail.com . Once you've set up an account, you can use these sites to pick up and send mail from any internet café or hotel with internet access.
www.kropka.com is a useful website giving details of how to plug your laptop in when abroad, phone country codes around the world, and information about electrical systems in different countries.
The internet has made great inroads into Spanish life and access is widely available at internet cafés (more commonly referred to as cibercafés in Spanish), some computer shops and many locutorios . Prices have come down a lot with s hourly rates as little as 1.00 to 1.50 Euros.
If you plan to be online for a long time then it is advisable to buy a mutli-hour bonos , these are usually for increments of 5 tom 10 hours at a time and will reduce your online costs if you plan to use the internet every day.
The charges made are usually purely for the internet use and will not include the extras such as printing, scanning etc.
Be very careful when using internet cafes as they have been a target in the past for thieves looking to pick up your bag whilst you are engrossed in your net activities.
WARNING: Also it is most important that you always log out of any secure sites that you have visited and used personal passwords , if you fail to log out the next person using the same PC could find themselves with full access to your bank, email, facebook page etc etc.
Mobile Broadband Service in Spain
Information has never been easier to access. Data connections are fast, easy and affordable. We can be checking our schedule, writing a note, web browsing, listening to music and talking to a loved one - nearly all at the same time! Typical coverage at home is excellent and the time savings are immense, but what about when you travel overseas to Spain? Suddenly the ease and affordability becomes a lot less simple and the confusion increases. How will my laptop, tablet or phone work outside of the US if at all? What will I be billed?
Using Wi-Fi in Spain
Wi-Fi is Wi-Fi the world over, so anytime you can get on a hotspot the data function of your Wi-Fi device will support the same way they do at home. Check with your hotel to see if they offer Wi-Fi service. Increasingly hotels will offer Wi-Fi, either for free or for a fee. It's also a good idea to do a search before you depart for Spain for internet café's that offer Wi-Fi service where you will be traveling.
What about using my devices when I'm not at the hotel or at a cafe?
Using Your Existing Phone
Check with your carrier to see if your phone supports overseas, some models through Sprint and Verizon may not work off of a data connection at all. Phones that do support data will be billed international roaming rates for calls and data. Be very careful of returning home to a giant bill. International roaming rates can often be hundreds or even thousands of dollars that can rack up in a very short amount of time! Is there another option?
Using a Local Spanish Service
In order to use your existing phone in Spain with a local service your phone must have the 900/1800 frequency bands, take a SIM card, and be unlocked. Contact your carrier to check on the specs and locked status of your phone. If you phone meets the correct requirements you can swap out your existing SIM card, located underneath the battery, with Spanish SIM. The major carriers in Spain are Orange, Movistar and Vodafone. Changing the SIM card will change your phone number to a Spanish number. You will now be on a pay as you go plan for calls, text and data. Don't worry this doesn't effect your existing service in the US, just change the SIM card back to your original one when you return home and your existing service with instantly resume!
For the adventurous traveler seek out a cell phone store when you arrive in Spain, test out your Spanish and buy a Spanish SIM card with a data plan. Be prepared to give your passport information and a local address in order to purchase the SIM card. The SIM you buy will come with some preloaded credit. You can then buy additional credit in the form of recharge voucher codes in any convenient store through out Spain. The recharge voucher comes in the form of a scratch off card that reveals a code you dial into your phone. The codes are a one time load and you can purchase multiple euro denominations.
Do I have to wait until I get there?
Getting a Local Spanish Service Before You Depart
You do have the option of getting the SIM card or a compatible phone and SIM before you depart for Spain. Companies like Cellularabroad.com allow you to have your Spanish number in advance to hand out to friend, family and coworkers. The phone is ready to use right when you step off the plane. Also, since the instructions are in English, this is a time saver for travelers who do not speak Spanish. See the rates below!
Calls within Spain
€0.08 per min outgoing*
*(€0.29/connection per call)
International Call Rates
€0.01 per min outgoing*
*(€0.29/connection per call)
Text / SMS Rates
€0.28 per local message outgoing
€0.71 per international outgoing
€0.30 for 24 hours of unlimited data connectivity
Using Your Laptop/Tablet
Get a portable Wi-Fi hotspot! This phone sized devices allows you to link several devices to it at once so you can have an internet connection where ever you are in Spain. You can do emails, pull up maps and make reservations while you are on the go! Cellularabroad.com offers portable Wi-Fi hotspot devices for Spain for rental or purchase with 2G of data over a 30 day period.
Alternatively, you can get a prepaid Spain data SIM card upon arrival or prior to your departure from Cellular Abroad.