How to Buy and Use a SIM Card in India as a foreigner
Where to buy a SIM card when you land in India
- Kiosks at the airport: These counters are usually located right after you clear customs. For the most part, if you have the above documents in order, you should be able to get your card in fifteen to twenty minutes after you fill out the required documentation. Usually, the SIM is activated within 24 hours, after a confirmation call is made to your mobile phone for verifying the details provided in your application.
- Local cellphone dealer: You might get some reluctance from shopkeepers due to new government regulation that puts a 3 month limit on prepaid SIM connectivity for foreign visitors to India. The procedure for activation is similar to the earlier option.
Documentation Required to buy a SIM Card
The Government of India has tightened the regulations on the sale of prepaid SIM cards to foreigners after November 2012 and therefore you need to be prepared to submit the following documents to the vendor along with an application form.
- 2 color passport photographs of yourself
- A photocopy of the personal details page of your passport. You will also have to produce your passport for verification, after which it will be returned to you.
- A photocopy of your Indian visa. Once again, you will have to show the original visa for verification.
- A photocopy of the proof of your home address in your country of residence. This could be your passport, driver’s license or any other Government issued document. Remember to carry the original document along for verification.
- Proof of where you will be staying in India. A letter from your hotel confirming that you are a guest will suffice.
Which Prepaid SIM card should you buy:
Some of the more popular networks in India are as follows:
- Airtel: the most popular network in India because of the good coverage in metropolitan areas.
- Vodafone: one of the better networks for metropolitan coverage.
- Reliance: another large carrier in India, which offers both 3G and 4G connectivity.
- BSNL and MTNL: state owned telecommunications providers that may be a better option if you’re travelling away from the major cities, as their coverage is better in the more remote areas.
How much will a SIM Card cost?
Approximately INR 350.00 for a SIM card with 3 months validity.
How to make a call using your new Prepaid SIM Card
- For international calls dial country code + area code + phone number
- Call to local fixed phone in India ‘City/area code’ followed by the number. City/area codes can be found here.
- Call to local mobile Dial the 10-digit mobile number without prefixing ‘0’
- Call to mobile in other state/service circle Dial ‘0’ followed by the 10-digit mobile number
Note: The information mentioned above will be updated if there is any change in the regulations by the Government of India.