• SIM card india

Save Yourself Hassle: Buy a Local SIM Card in India

For my American readers who may not even know what a SIM card is, you should know other countries do not have cell phone plans like ours! Getting a local SIM card in India and having access to the internet will make your trip WAY easier and less stressful. In the US your phone number comes from your provider (for most other than AT&T and possibly T-mobile) and you can switch phones with them and keep that number. There is no “card” in the phone that you take out and switch between phones. This is slowly changing, but it could be that you’ve never seen a SIM card and don’t have a SIM card slot in your smartphone.

Buy a Local SIM Card in India

In most other countries, you buy a SIM card that you can put in any phone you want and you can refill with “Talktime” as you please.

The perfect thing about SIM cards is, they are CHEAP, at about a dollar or less a piece. Some places give them out free, and some make it a little harder to get. You add minutes and then don’t have to worry about roaming or not having 3G abroad. The Indian government has started giving SIM’s to travelers on the e-visa (30 days or less) but apparently they are loaded with just 50 Rs. are nearly impossible to recharge, according to blog readers who have gotten in touch with me.

In this article, I’m going to share how to get a SIM card in India. Then because you’ll see it’s not always easy breezy, I’m going to share the more expensive but super easy way to get connected, which is called Trabug. If you would rather take the easy route, don’t read past this and just click over to their website

Getting a SIM Card in India & How to Stay Connected to the Internet in India

They change the rules on how to get a SIM card in India often, but as of now, you can get one as a foreigner as long as you have an address to list.

First, you need a phone with a SIM slot. Sadly, this is why I can’t use my iPhone except for with Wi-Fi while abroad. You can buy a phone on Amazon and I’ll link some great cheap options below. Go to anywhere in India that sells “recharge” and ask to buy a SIM. Some places won’t have one. You’ll have to shop around. Sometimes they’ll give you a “recycled SIM” which isn’t a big deal; you’ll just get a lot of calls from strangers. Some airports sell SIM cards at arrivals but ususally they will have a little bit of a higher price. The best plan for buying the SIM is going directly to the authentic shop that you are buying from rather than buy from a reseller.

backpackers sim card in india

Take a copy of your passport and a 2×2 photograph. Go somewhere that is either suggested by someone local, or at least somewhere that looks popular. If they don’t ask for paperwork, passport information, or a 2×2, they aren’t planning on submitting anything and your SIM will work until the company realizes someone is using it and turns it off. Go somewhere else!

Basically, the company is supposed to check the address and phone number you list, call and see if you really are there. This is why it’s so hard for foreigners to get SIM’s that last, and why three of mine have been turned off after a couple of weeks, even one that I bought IN THE MAIN OFFICE of Vodafone. It’s one of the many scams of India in my opinion.

The easiest way to stay connected in India via phone and the internet:

Sometimes it’s worth paying a little extra to have this all sorted, though, because India can be stressful enough without dealing with SIM card problems!

Your other option is called Trabug. It’s a phone specifically for tourists coming to India. It has super fast 4G and you simply tell them the hotel you are staying at. They ship the phone to your hotel and it’s waiting there for you when you arrive!

If you watched the video, it explains most of how this phone works. I have contacted the company with a few questions I had about this. In my four + years living in India, I haven’t found a product or company similar to this.

  1. Can you add apps to this phone? No. It has all the popular apps and if there are others you want, you can tell them ahead of time and they will add them. I suggest adding the train booking website app and a currency converter if it’s not already there.
  2. Can you hotspot the WiFi to share with friends or use your laptop? Yes. You can connect to 5 devices. This means that if you are traveling with a friend, you can split the cost. If you have 5 friends, this would be the BEST option for internet in India, even cheaper than a SIM. It’s high speed 4G, so the speed will be fast even if others share this. Just make sure to charge it every night.
  3. Why don’t they just send the SIM card? “We provide a Smartphone along with the SIM to ensure that there are no issues with band compatibility, carrier locks or provider settings. Our smartphone will connect to 4G networks across India wherever available.”

The phone is loaded with India travel tips! “At Trabug, our goal is to make travel easy. We have curated the best places to eat, shop or explore and integrated services like finding an ATM, getting walking directions, booking taxis, changing currency, listening to audio guided tours and more.” They have apps for all things India to help you travel. It’s like having a guide book in the phone.

Pricing for Trabug phone

There are a variety of plans. In my opinion, the “Eco” plan is not going to give you enough data with less than 1 GB offered. The second higher plan “Flexi” certainly will if you are using it just to make bookings online and check in with family occasionally. It has 4 GB. But, if you want to watch YouTube or stream anything, or are very active on social media, the “Power” plan might be necessary.

Plans start at $9.99 and go up from there. Then you add extra days on at $1 per day. Compared to WiFi devices I’ve reviewed like TEP, SkyRoam, and RoamingMan, this is 90% less expensive as they charge upwards of $10 per day.

Let’s say you wanted the full power plan, which offers pretty much unlimited calls and data + loads of International call time. Let’s say you are in India for 1 month. That would be a total cost of $62.99.

If you had to buy an unlocked phone to use in India anyway, then this is going to come out cheaper.

Other things you need to know about Trabug:

  • They charge a fee that is refunded to you once you return the phone, so don’t lose it. It’s $65.
  • Incoming calls are free. There is a return bag in the packaging so you can send it back for without postal charges.
  • Plans cannot be greater than 80 days. If you are traveling longer, they will work something out with you; just email them.
  • If you want a phone from Trabug and use this link, I get a small commission. As always, I never promote something I wouldn’t recommend to a friend and this is 100% what I would make my friends and family do. I remember the struggle of getting a SIM as a backpacker here and how Vodafone cut me off over 3 times. The SIM would go inactive after I would add $10 of recharge to it. It wasted a lot of money. Of course, if everything worked out well getting a SIM that is a best option, but it doesn’t always work that way and this is more fail proof.
  • You can cancel the booking without 6 days of your start date for a full refund. If you try it and within 24 hours tell them you don’t like the phone, you can get a full refund also.

If You Do Want to Buy a SIM & not get Trabug: Cheap phones to buy in the USA and take to India

You can buy phones in India but phones are not cheaper here than the US. The cheap ones are 40 USD at least and that’s for a piece of crap Nokia that’s text and call only. It’s better to bring a cheap one from home that has WiFi options as well. iPhone and Samsung are far more expensive in India than the US.I have been told AT&T and T-Mobile will unlock a phone for you and even come with SIM cards. Also that T-Mobile has a new international plan with no roaming charge.

  1. Nokia Unlocked Lumia
  2. New Huawei G610S
  3. Samsung Galaxy Ace 2


I’ve linked three phones here that Ben (my very techy boyfriend) and I have researched and think are great buys which are unlocked and ready to use internationally. I was surprised how hard they were to find! I couldn’t find an iPhone 5C that was unlocked for international use, only US use. So these might just be your best bet! It beats buying one when you get to India and if for some reason you weren’t satisfied you could return, whereas no shop in India will give you your money back if they sell you a bad phone.

Costs of Indian SIM Cards for Foreigners

Your SIM shouldn’t be more than Rs 150 at baseline.

I use IDEA now, so will use that as an example. You need to check which has good reception in your area. If you buy a SIM in Rajasthan, you will be roaming in Goa. For this reason, it’s best not to load the phone up too much on pre-pay and purchase a new SIM card in Goa, for example, if you’re going to be in a month of each spot. This will work if you aren’t giving this number out, but just using it for bookings and calling home.

Because I live here now I put Rs 500 at a time “full talk-time”, but as a tourist, you can put 100 or 200 and be okay. You can add more anytime you like. There are shops on every corner. You will get a confirmation text when the credit has been added so stay at the shop until you get that text.

Don’t use that as your data or it will be gone in 10 minutes. Buy a data plan. With IDEA, I get 1 GB for Rs 249. Make sure you tell the clerk exactly how much, don’t say Rs 250 because when they text it through to credit your phone it won’t work properly. There are posters to help you. I use the internet a lot and 1 GB usually lasts me about 2 weeks.

backpackers sim card in india

So in conclusion, you can buy a cheap phone to take and pay 4 or 5 bucks in talk credit which will last a couple of weeks if calling in India. If you want 3G, you can pay about 5 bucks for at least two weeks of Facebook messaging and such. Then you never need an Internet Cafe and don’t have to worry about finding a place for lunch that has WiFi.

SIM cards can expire, depending on the country. My SIM in Thailand was only a 30 day SIM, but my card in India will last indefinitely as it was properly registered.

For a pricing example, to call abroad from a local SIM, I paid Rs 5 per international text (while it’s only Rs 1 for local). Usually, after about a 15-minute outgoing phone call to the U.S I would be charged Rs. 40. When I’m not in 3G signal I just call home (US) from my cell and it’s obviously super cheap.

BY THE WAY: Coming to India soon? Don’t make the mistake of not having your visa or thinking you can get it on arrival. You can’t! You need to have it ahead of time. Search on iVisa to see what type of visa you need.

Which is the best SIM card in India?

It’s honestly hard to say because it depends so heavily on the area. For example, IDEA was non-existent in some areas of NE India, but works great in Mysore for me. It’s all dependent on the area and it’s very cheap to change SIM’s if necessary so don’t worry too much if yours doesn’t work well at first.

Now that I’ve traveled with a phone and Internet, I don’t think I could go back to finding Internet cafes and paying outrageous amounts of money for them. You save money getting a SIM card and it gives you more freedom to call when and where you want or to let hotels call you back with openings or whatever you need. It ended up being cheaper than paying Internet café’s in combination with Skype charges.

I used my number on fliers asking for a ride share from McLeod Ganj to Amritsar and got loads of calls to share rides and saving me lots of money and time! You’ll also have access to maps, feel safer, give your number to a cute boy, and be able to look up the name of that song you know the lyrics to but can’t remember!

backpackers sim card in india

Just like you can get SIM cards in India, I bought one in Thailand, Sri Lanka, etc and can do so almost anywhere in the world! Having a SIM card for India travel was serious trip-changing (for the better, obviously!).

Bonus Tip if you have Verizon: You can suspend you phone bill while you’re out of the country, it will just extend you contract. You can do this up to six months at a time, two times.

Double Bonus TIP! If your phone is a 2G/3G phone you have to text whatever code your carrier says to basically request them to turn on 3G! Same goes for a 3G/4G phone. It won’t happen automatically. For example, for 4 months I thought 3G didn’t work on my phone until someone told me to text “ACT3G to 12345” and boom, fast internet! Also, if you have talktime but no data, there are codes to convert your talktime to data :)

For me, I have an unlocked phone now, so I buy SIM cards sometimes. Other times, I use WiFi devices if I am changing countries often. For India, if you are coming (especially for the first time) I think Trabug is the easiest and most reliable option, although it does cost more.

PS: Coming to Goa? I wrote a 170-page ebook the Insider’s Guide to Goa which you can buy with this link. It’s all my secrets to make sure you have the BEST time here.

Other than having a phone and SIM card in line for India, the next most important thing when thinking about planning your trip to India is having travel insurance. I use World Nomads. I have never had to make a claim, but feel so much more confident being covered. Read more about my views on travel insurance through that link if you want. I’ll add a quote box here so you can see just how affordable it is.

Heading to India on a big once in a lifetime trip? Don’t forget to get my India Guide ebook, which has 6 years of India travel all wrapped up into the perfect guide to India – it covers everything from preparing with health, visas, and WiFi, but itineraries with custom maps, experiences, monuments, and things to do, places to eat, etc in each place I recommend in the book! Check it out here.



About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing and lived on the beaches of Goa, India for the five years. Now she lives in Mexico where she gives advice on the 40+ countries she’s visited in the last 10 years. She’s the author of two India travel e-books: Guide to India and Insider’s Guide to Goa. Her blog, Hippie in Heels, like its name, is a contradiction combining off-beat adventurous places with glamorous and bespoke travel. Hippie in Heels has been featured in ELLE, Marie Claire, Grazia, and Cosmopolitan magazines. She’s a writer for Bravo TV.


  1. Yara Coelho April 11, 2014 at 1:45 pm - Reply

    I also had a sim card when traveling in India. The silly thing is that we actually didn’t need it as we didn’t know anyone there. But if you’re staying in one place longer, then it’s well worth it.

    • Rachel Jones April 11, 2014 at 2:35 pm - Reply

      yeah plus I find that it’s cheaper to use that to call and book hotels or order take away etc rather than skype!

  2. Renuka April 13, 2014 at 9:59 am - Reply

    Definitely informative for those who are traveling in India for the first time. It’s important to be in touch with people back home.

    • Rachel Jones April 14, 2014 at 2:20 am - Reply

      Yes, it’s so nice to call home and it’s really nice to have a phone rather than waiting for an internet cafe that you will have to DL Skype to.

  3. Elora April 17, 2014 at 8:11 am - Reply

    That’s interesting! Certainly helpful. I’ll remember that.

  4. jana October 4, 2014 at 5:18 am - Reply

    Ok…not a compilation related question. My mother in law just arrived here in U.S. from Mumbai. She has a phone that she brought with her that she wanted to keep working in order to receive business calls. It worked for a few days here in the U.S…. but then the phone started saying it needs a sim card. I thought maybe the sim card needed to be re-seated but when I opened the phone up… there was NO sim card. Have you ever heard of an I.Dina phone company selling g a phone that works without a sim card? I’m completely at a loss as to how her phone was working?

    • jana October 4, 2014 at 5:21 am - Reply

      Sorry…… corrections…* completely related* and Indian phone company

    • Rachel Jones October 5, 2014 at 1:16 pm - Reply

      sorry, I’m not sure the answer. If it’s an Indian phone she can go get a pay as you go SIM from at&t with a new american #… but in India all phones have Sim’s so Idk why her’s wouldnt and how it worked?

  5. Manj October 6, 2014 at 2:09 pm - Reply

    Hi Rachel,

    Great website :)

    I have just returned from my many annual trips to India.
    Unfortunately they regularly change their policy regarding SIM cards.

    A few months ago I took my UK passport, two photos and my hotel details and was given a SIM card, which was activated within 6 hours.

    This time though, I was told they couldn’t give me a sim as I wasn’t an Indian resident !!!!
    I tried many different shops and suppliers in Delhi and Punjab…. Same reply!
    They claim the government had clamped down on it to prevent terrorism! (Confused face! Lol)

    Fortunately for me I have many friends and relatives there, so they sorted one out in their name/address.

    Hopefully they change back to the previous system.!


    • Rachel Jones October 6, 2014 at 7:39 pm - Reply

      THey do change! I recently lost one though and had to get a new and had no problems! I think it depends who you get one from & also, sometimes if you have a problem you can ask for a recycled one

      • vinay_ragas@yahoo.co.in June 16, 2017 at 1:44 pm - Reply

        As an Indian, I would suggest anyone to “not” use recycled sims. This is because a number of sim cards (used by drug dealers, thieves from stolen phones, pimps, illegal traders, terror sponsors/helpers, etc) are circulated in the grey market. As long as they are not reactivated by using, its ok. But once it is inserted into a phone and switched on, it might get guys into serious trouble for no reason. Buy one on your name or friend’s if you couldn’t get in on your name. Stay safe..

  6. Christina October 27, 2014 at 4:08 pm - Reply

    Super informative – thank you! Yeah I def think mobile internet is a good idea for solo traveller. It’s interesting you say to turn off GPS though?? In Europe GPS is free.

    • Rachel Jones October 28, 2014 at 9:53 am - Reply

      Hi! I think when Google maps is running in the background its taking up from the data plan. Having GPS and just watching the dot is ok, but I meant just not having a map app running in backgroun . Woops!

  7. A.J December 9, 2014 at 9:16 pm - Reply

    Hi ,
    I am tired of all that hassle of submitting Passport and other stuff and as you mentioned sometime disconnected after few days., So next week I am heading to GOA /Delhi etc. I bought SIM in states as little expensive but worth it . IT can be more cheaper on Ebay but I prefer below site :

  8. danielle December 17, 2014 at 7:19 am - Reply

    I am in the same boat, going to Goa, followed by possibly Thailand and Laos. I have T Mobil but because I started my account as a no credit check, they had trouble setting it up as a “credit check” which would allow me to get International Roaming (Yes, they have international data, but you still have to pay for calls). Unfortunately it will take 2 months to resolve and I leave in a couple weeks. I have a sim in my phone (most new phones that arent I phones do in the US now) but it is T-Mobil. Will I be able to get a sim card in India that will work with this phone? based on what you said it seems like I could. How would I get an Indian number though? Is it assigned with the sim card? I was confused by that part of what you wrote. Thanks!

    • Rachel Jones December 19, 2014 at 7:33 pm - Reply

      The SIM card will come with a # that is activated when you put in the SIM. Interesting that new phones have them in the US!

  9. Ken January 14, 2015 at 9:48 am - Reply

    Hi Rachel,

    Thanks for the info. I have a 2 month trip in India coming up in Sept/Oct. During the trip, I will visiting pretty much most of India. (North, south, east and west) I would like to buy a local Indian SIM card that would allow me to access data/internet while I am travelling in all of the different regions of the country.

    As far as you know, will I be able to get a SIM card with a pre-paid data plan that can be used throughout the whole country and not be “roaming” when I go from region to region?

    Thank you.

    • Rachel Jones January 14, 2015 at 11:18 am - Reply

      With all carriers you’ll be roaming when you leave the place the SIM was bought. With data roaming doesn’t apply (from what I understand), but talk-time does. Unless you’re making international calls, you’ll be fine. 500 rs (10 bucks) lasts me a long time like 2 weeks whether I’m roaming or not. Plus, you can get on the data part to make calls from Skype making roaming not matter.

      • Ken January 14, 2015 at 11:26 am - Reply

        Thanks Rachel,

        I don’t expect to use the SIM card for any phone calls at all. It is just to get on the internet, ie. data only. So, from what you are saying, using data in various regions won’t be considered roaming with respect to incurring extra charges?

  10. Ruchi January 14, 2015 at 8:39 pm - Reply

    Hi Rachel,

    Your article is helpful, thanks! But are you sure its possible to buy a SIM card in India with a foreign passport and foreign address now? I know it wasn’t possible till last year (Jan 2014). One had to have an Indian address. I have a Belgian passport & address, no address in India. I’m planning to visit in March 2015 (to Bangalore). Will I be able to buy a SIM card?

    • Rachel Jones January 14, 2015 at 10:37 pm - Reply

      Hmm.. even two years ago while traveling I bought multiple SIM’s no problem. I see people come in the post office while I”m in line all the time and buy them without hassle so I don’t think you’ll have a problem.

      • Ruchi January 15, 2015 at 3:24 am - Reply

        ok, thanks, thats good news! btw, you mentioned ‘post office’, can you buy a SIM card from a post office..?!

        • Rachel Jones January 15, 2015 at 2:17 pm - Reply

          well, not really . in anjuna there is a shop on the same place but probably not a shop in all post offices.

  11. iPhone King January 20, 2015 at 10:50 am - Reply

    Hi Rachel,

    I am sorry, but you seem to be slightly misinformed when it comes to SIM cards. All US carriers use nano SIM cards for both CDMA and GSM iPhones. Moreover, in order for a foreign national to purchase a SIM card in India (e.g., Airtel or Vodafone) you need to present your passport, visa, prepaid application, local reference, a permanent and/or local residence as well as a passport-sized photo of yourself. Moreover, all T-Mobile and Verizon iPhones come unlocked. For Sprint and AT&T you just need to call your carrier and they will happily unlock your iPhone.

    P.S. Most Indian carriers provide micro SIMs. You will need to ask them to cut the SIM card to the nano SIM card standard (they call it “sim-cutting”) in order for it to fit in your iPhone.

    Hope this helps and safe travels!

    • Rachel Jones January 20, 2015 at 11:16 am - Reply

      I have had Verizon for 10 years and never been given an unlocked phone – and they can’t even be unlocked. I hear it’s starting to change this year. And yes, I mentioned that others can be unlocked. And also, have mentioned many times on my site that you need verified paperwork to get the SIM.

      • Jeff Kinsel February 25, 2015 at 10:21 pm - Reply

        Hey Rachel,

        Yes, the law changed in the US for unlocking phones. If you have an old locked iphone you can contact the carrier and they will unlock it for you. It took a couple of days with ATT then they sent me instructions to do so. I did that with my old iphone. Thank you for all the useful information! Good stuff on your blog!


    • Olivia August 31, 2015 at 7:41 pm - Reply

      I think Racheal did a great job of sharing her India experiences with SIM cards. I found it to be helpful. I think most ppl aren’t aware that they do make iPhones with sims. I have one, and when I told my sister about the hassle I went thru in sliming my SIM card. She didn’t believe I had an iPhone, she was suprised to find out that iphone are made with SIM cards these days….

  12. Alistair February 1, 2015 at 6:00 am - Reply

    Hi I’m an Australian just arrived in Delhi, Greater Noida. This is an industrial moon scape wasteland and so un interesting. The company I am working for would not give me a car as they say its too dangerous to drive if you are unfamiliar (true). Then they said its too risky to get a taxi into Delhi as they will rip you off. A company driver cant take me anywhere in his personal car as the police will question him. I asked for a SIM card but that is still coming. After reading your blog I see there is sanity so I will take a taxi and go get one myself and escape this exile. Regards Al.

    • Rachel Jones February 3, 2015 at 2:28 pm - Reply

      Ah you’re company sounds intense! Glad you are going out on your own to explore :)

  13. Ram June 28, 2015 at 1:21 am - Reply

    Hi I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog. Well for Indian citizens they just have to go submit their driving license photocopy 1 and 1 passport size photo and money for buying a prepaid Sim card.

    They’ll give a normal Sim and a micro or a nano Sim also together based on which you request. They will call you to verify and ask your name and address to double check so for that you have to insert normal sized sim in a no frills basic Nokia kinda phone first.

    The call for Tele verification will come only after the network comes. Network appears in 2 hrs. Call sorry you have a number so you must call them. Get yourself verified. After that you wait until your normal Sim network disconnects.

    Then put your given nano or micro Sim inside your smartphone or tablet. And wait for network to appear it’ll in 5 mins because the older one disconnected. And now you must wait for 2 hrs for the network to appear. Once network appears your outgoing sms facility and data facility won’t be granted. You must wait another 4 hrs for that too to get activated. So total like 8 hrs. And then you can fully use 4G or 3g or 2g from your Sim card.

    (Nowadays if you go direct to Telcom store they’ll have micro and nano and normal Sims company manufactured ones with 64k for 3g and 128k for 4G.) So avoid roadside small shops who don’t submit your documents properly and result in line being cut half way and also the way the cut the Sim is also horrible.

    I recommend you to go get Airtel 4G micro or nano Sim card. Don’t go for other telcos they are just hopeless. And don’t forget when you are in India you must really have lot of patience as things happen very very slow. You will know that right from the immigration quee after you land in Indian airport.

    For Indians the Sim will get deactivated if they didn’t use for more than 6 months and if constantly using its valid for life.

    For foreigners the Sim even if you constantly use it it’ll only work for 3 months. Not more than that. After that you have to repeat the process all over again.

    Hope my piece of info helps someone out there.

  14. Ram June 28, 2015 at 1:28 am - Reply

    Forgot to add the point that foreignors the required documents are your passport data page photocopy, 1 passport size photo, address proof in India (friend or colleague or company or relative or anyone whom you know) if not then the hotel address. Get a letter in hotel letter head typed by hotel management stating your name as on passport your passport number nationality and duration of stay In that hotel or in the country. That should suffice.

    Remember before leaving your home country and coming India (India uses 2 pin power point socket for electricity) and voltage and power fluctuation and even electricity cut out happen few hrs a day not in hotels though.

    Always choose network mode to wcdma only if you on 3g data plan.

    And choose LTE mode if you on 4G data plan.

    Certain places you don’t get both so you choose GSM only option and still be connected to data until you temporarily get out of that no network place.

    And network.and signal strength in India is erratic. I’m your hotel or house only at certain spots you’ll get nice speed on data. And if you step out you won’t. Or even not to be surprised if no service at all for few other spots within your room or house or hotel itself.

    • Rye September 5, 2015 at 12:32 am - Reply

      Ram, thanks for the downright thorough write up. And Rachel, thanks for addressing the topic! This is one of the unknowns that are often an afterthought when checking out foreign lands…which usually turns out to be a total PITA. You guys have alleviated this worry for me on my upcoming trip.


  15. Christine | GRRRLTRAVELER September 17, 2015 at 1:13 am - Reply

    Wow, I’m going through a TON of your posts prepping myself for India again. All largely helpful!! Thanks for the insight about the scam. Every time I or friends have bought SIMs it’s seemed they’ve shut off in 2 weeks or so…. always an issue with them. Now I know why! And I do recall going back and forth to Vodaphone offices.

  16. Robbie Welsh September 17, 2015 at 9:46 pm - Reply

    Dear Rachel,
    I am traveling to India in Oct. for 2 months . I have a verizon iPhone 5.
    I am thinking of bringing it with me .I will be using it mostly for internet and local phone calls to hotels in India.
    Do I simply buy a sim card with data on it?
    How much data do you think I will need?
    Thank you ,

    • Rachel Jones September 18, 2015 at 12:40 pm - Reply

      Hi Robbie,

      I haven’t been in the US for a couple years, but when I left, Verizon phones didn’t have SIM slots. Does your phone have one? If so, then yes you just buy a SIM to stick in it. You can buy one with or without data on it & top up as you go.

  17. Marie November 2, 2015 at 1:33 am - Reply

    Hi Rachel,

    Thanks for the advice, I’m flying soon to India and doing last minutes checks. I thought about buying a Sim card in Mumbai where I land (I stay there for a day only), but would you advice me to buy it in Goa where I’ll spend my first two weeks?

    • Rachel Jones November 6, 2015 at 7:12 pm - Reply

      Better to buy in goa because a local Goa sim will get better service

  18. Amy April 17, 2016 at 9:11 pm - Reply

    Hello, am going India in September. We are spending 4 days in Mumbai before moving to Goa. Is it still the same policy where it takes a good 3-4 days to get the sim and sometimes more? Thanks.

    • Rachel Jones April 18, 2016 at 11:50 am - Reply

      I would wait to get the SIM in Goa anywhere if you’re moving here because you want a local #. My SIM was purchased over 3 years ago so things may have changed – I really don’t know :( sorry! you get the SIM handed to you right away though it just takes time to get it legally set up

  19. Burner April 29, 2016 at 9:13 am - Reply

    I’ll be in India Dec1-Jan31, planning on hitting as many cities as possible. I need Internet access, text and voice service, what do you suggest and is there a plan for all three that works in the whole country without having to keep changing cards? I’m kinda a dork when it comes to things like this.

    • Rachel Jones April 29, 2016 at 7:49 pm - Reply

      you don’t have to change cards but you will be roaming outside the state you bought it in- it’s not that much more expensive

  20. smh July 12, 2016 at 10:32 pm - Reply

    um We use sim cards in the US – all AT&T and T-Mobile phones have sim cards.

    • Rachel Jones July 13, 2016 at 5:07 am - Reply

      This was written four years ago when most people in the US didn’t know what SIM cards are. In fact even now when I got one while in the US none of my friends with Verizon iphones knew what one was. SMH :)

  21. Helena September 2, 2016 at 11:54 pm - Reply


    I have just come across this post and your blog- really interesting as heading to India for a couple of months in a few weeks! I just wondered, I have come across a couple of companies where you can order a prepaid sim before hand- have you heard of this? Or is it better to wait and just buy when you land in the country?

    Thanks :)

    • Rachel Jones September 3, 2016 at 10:11 am - Reply

      I have heard of this but haven’t done it. I would imagine the prices would be a lot higher than the prices of local sim.

  22. Eva January 28, 2017 at 11:22 am - Reply

    I am going to India for a solo trip. Need a sim card with good network data speed should be good too. I am taking my iphone 6 with me will it work properly there??
    Reply asap. TIA

    • Arun February 5, 2017 at 1:23 am - Reply

      First open ur phone and Check if it has Sim card slot… if it does then u shld be good..In india Airtel usually has the largest coverage so thats best to go for..As far as speeds are concerned it will be decent you get good 3g/4g speeds in the citiies but in the interiors its bit difficult to get the best coverage hence affects the net speed.

  23. jodie October 18, 2017 at 4:55 pm - Reply

    Hi I am traveling to South East Asia end of November, first stop India (unsure how long for). I am a complete Luddite so was going to bring my iphone 7 (get it unlocked before I leave) and leave my tablet and large camera at home. I was thinking that way I would have a good camera, internet and communication devise to hand in my pocket at all times. After reading your article I am now a little confused (although as always it was a very informative article)…….

    Is my iphone 7 plan to stressful an option? I am a first time solo traveler with no contacts in India
    Can use an i-phone with an Indian sim?
    Or would it be better to sell my iphone and get a trabug?
    Thank you

    • Rachel Jones October 19, 2017 at 12:26 pm - Reply

      Hey Jodie – sorry you are confused! So, if your iphone is unlocked then that is the best way to travel in India (unlocked phone, get a SIM here). Some people find getting a SIM too difficult as they get cut off sometimes and there are scams so if that is the case then you might like Trabug. Trabug is best though for people who do not have an unlocked phone and are going to have to buy one anyway – then in that case just buy a trabug as it’s cheaper and then you don’t have to go through SIM card process. I hope that makes sense. If you can unlock your iphone 7, def take it – they are expensive so to sell it I imagine you’ll lose a lot of money

  24. Daniela November 19, 2017 at 5:35 am - Reply

    Hi Rachel, excellent article and useful info. Thanks!!!!!
    I just wanted to know why you can’t get a sim card for your Iphone.
    I have an Iphone 6, unlocked and that uses micro or nano sim card.
    Do you think i will be able to use it with a sim card in India?
    Thanks again for your help!!!

    • Rachel Jones November 19, 2017 at 2:44 pm - Reply

      You can get a SIM card for your iPhone if it has a slot for a sim. Until recently not many had slots as in the US their weren’t SIMs the # was with Verizon or whoever – my iPhone 4 and my parents 5 from Verizon have no slots for SIM. I think now it’s changing at Verizon and there is a SIM card. As long as you have one and it’s unlocked then it’s fine.

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  26. […] off, you might want to check out my article on how to get a SIM card in India. It walks you through the whole process which is not easy. I get so many emails from people who […]

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  29. Cheap Flights March 10, 2018 at 9:00 pm - Reply

    It was really Interesting article. thanks for sharing.

  30. JeromeArmstrong (@jeromearmstrong) March 17, 2019 at 9:27 pm - Reply

    This still works, can spend about an hour or two at Vodaphone in Calcutta and get a phone, but gotta have a phone number and address lined up for them to call. I skip having the photo, just have them take it with their phone (though that was a hassle at first). Crazy regulations.

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