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is there a problem buying a cell phone or SIM card in Spain?

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I read recently that waiting to buy a cell phone or a SIM card until you get to Spain is a bad idea because you are required to jump through a bunch of bureaucratic hoops, needing to provide passport information, local residence (not easy if you're traveling), etc. And that if your Spanish language skills are lacking, like mine, accomplishing these tasks can be a real ordeal. The suggestion was that it's easier to simply carry an already activated phone with you. Which raises another question: for Americans long distance calling state-to-state is neither expensive nor a big deal any more. Is it equally casual for Europeans calling other EU member countries? So that if you tell someone your number is in another EU country, they won't get any more annoyed than when somebody gives me their cell number from another area code? Thanks.
goletian

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