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4 main problems with getting local SIM cards at your travel destination

One of the first things we do when we reach a new destination is to get a hold of a local SIM card – though it isn’t always a straightforward process. You’ll be surprised to know what it takes to get hold of one. Here’s a list to give you a better idea:


Imagine the kind of process you have to go through just get a small SIM Card. Source: Wikimedia Commons

In some countries, you can get a SIM card off the shelves, and some require more information. Depending on the country’s security reasons and regulations, different types of data is necessary to obtain a SIM card, even if you are a tourist.

For instance, in India, you’ll require a copy of your passport, a passport photo, and a letter from your hotel of residence to begin your SIM card application.

Bear in mind, these steps may differ from state to state, but they are roughly what you need to begin the application process. Officials may request for more details if deemed necessary.


Are you looking for an alternative, pay as you go, data plan? Then local SIM Cards aren’t that! Source: Needpix

Wireless carriers are great at marketing to tourists. They’ll leverage on pushing longer validity of SIM cards, even for travellers who are having a layover or just a short stay. The whole process makes it a chore to decide on a SIM card, as it cannot be customised to suit your travel needs. In Malaysia, tourists must purchase at least 2GB for the validity of a minimum of 5 days.


Are you sure you want to spend more money on data plans? Source: Public Domain Pictures

Surely, you’ll need a local SIM card and data no matter where you go. That doesn’t mean it’s something you’d like to splurge on; in fact, most would prefer to spend on food and attractions. In certain countries, the SIM card and reload cost are separate.

When travelling in Greece, the SIM card cost five euros (without credit). The default package has 300 minutes of call and 500MB of data, valid for a month, costing 8.50 euros. If you run out, there are top-up vouchers to choose in these denominations: 10, 15, 20, and 30 euros.

Here’s the catch, a 12% tax is imposed on these vouchers. So, if you purchase a 10-euro voucher, only 8.93 euros gets topped up. Not a pleasant experience for any traveller.


Strict law is one of the main reasons why travellers should opt for another option. Source: Pixabay

Strict registration law is one matter, but invasive when it comes to privacy is another. A recent report by UK-based technology website Comparitech stated that China is one of the world’s worst countries for SIM registration laws.

This report studied 150 countries and how new users need to provide information that ranges from an address to biometric data like facial scans and fingerprints. It also detailed whether the public’s data is stored by carriers or distributed to government agencies and law enforcement agencies.

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