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Why you'll need to report a lost Italian SIM card to the police

Jessica Lionnel
Jessica Lionnel - [email protected]
Why you'll need to report a lost Italian SIM card to the police
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Losing things is always a nuisance. However, losing your SIM card in Italy is likely to require a trip to the police station, as reporter Jessica Lionnel explains.


I’ve always been pretty clumsy. It’s not uncommon for me to trip over or to forget to take the keys out of my apartment door when I enter it (which usually results in me a) panicking about where I've put them or b) a nice neighbour telling me I’ve left them in again).

So when I lost my SIM card last summer, I wasn’t too surprised. I was perhaps more surprised that it had never happened to me before. How do you lose a SIM without losing your phone, you ask? Well, I had an old phone (Samsung Galaxy 17 to be exact) that could not hold two SIMs at the same time.

For anyone who’s an international resident with elderly relatives, having a SIM from your home country is a great way to keep in touch with them, especially as figuring out WhatsApp for them is the equivalent of figuring out the Enigma Code. I kept my trusty UK Tesco SIM and swapped out my Iliad one anytime I wanted to make a call to my nan.

That’s how I came to lose my Italian SIM. I gave it a day to pop up again, but it didn’t, so I Iooked online to find the nearest Iliad SIM machine which was only 10 minutes away. I got there and explained to the Iliad worker what had happened to my SIM and that I wanted my old number. As you’re probably well aware, having a main number here in Italy is crucial to accessing your SPID or your banking app.

“Perhaps it’s best you get a letter from your local carabinieri station first,” he replied, as though it were obvious I should have done that beforehand. 

Confused, I contacted my local carabinieri station (the Italian military police) using my partner’s phone and explained what had happened. They told me to come in the next day to get a denuncia (which was the name of the letter I needed) and advised me to bring ID such as a carta or permesso di soggiorno or a carta d'identità. They also advised me to have my old phone number to hand.

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I got there the next day and was met by a friendly officer who asked me to sit down so he could tackle a few details. He took my carta d’identita, asked me what my job was, whether I was married or not, and what my old number was. The whole process took two minutes. I know if your phone has been stolen it takes a bit longer as they have to send information to your telephone provider too.


After he finished tapping away at his keyboard, he presented me with a signed letter stating who I was, what carabinieri station I came to, my old phone number and a section of the law which stated I had made a report and knew the consequences of making a false one.

I asked the officer why I had to do this and he responded: “Because it’s the law and because it’s better protection for everyone.”

I understood his point; the process does make it harder for people to steal numbers, which is a bonus. I took the letter to the Iliad machine, scanned in the denuncia and had my old phone number back along with a new SIM.


It may seem bizarre at first, especially if you’re from a country like I am where getting your old number back takes only a quick phone call, but there is a valid reason behind it even though it’s lengthy.

So if you're one of the unfortunate ones to lose your SIM, bear in mind you may very well have to go to the carabinieri.

I can’t say I’ll have to do it again in the near future: I have a new phone now that holds two SIMs.


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David Mladenoff 2023/10/26 18:57
You can have two SIMs on your phone. Get one installed as a virtual SIM. It is common now. Actually, both, on newer phones. Nothing to lose. Except your phone I guess.

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