Exhaustive Guide For Travelers To Buying And Using a Sim Card in India

Planning travel to India, you might want to stay in touch with your family and friends back there and would need to use internet services here in India. Using the international roaming services provided by your countrified provider could be quite expensive. So buying a sim card in India would be the best option available.
Here in this write-up, we will tell you the complete process of buying and using a sim in India along with which service provider you should use and whether the Indian sim would work on your phone.


1. Documentation for buying a sim in India

The Government of India has tightened its rules for sales of prepaid sim card to foreign customers unlike before where you had to just submit your passport and Visa and you would get a sim. Here are the documents you would need to get a sim in India:

  • 2 colored passport size photographs of yourself.
  • A photocopy of any proof of address of your country of residence which could be your passport, driving license or any document approved by the government.
  • A photocopy of the personal details page of your passport clearly showing your photograph and other details.
  • A photocopy of your Indian Visa.
  • A proof of address where you will be staying in India during your visit. This could be a letter from your hotel or any hostel or private organization where you plan to stay clearly mentioning that you are a guest and your period of stay.

Pro Tip: Always try to get a photograph with a white background and clear photocopies to avoid KYC form rejections.

Important Note:
Always remember to carry original copies of these documents with you at all times while you are out for buying a sim card.


2. Where to buy a sim card in India

On arrival in India, you can buy a SIM card at the international airport from the kiosks of service providers such as Jio or Airtel, which are located almost immediately after you clear customs. Alternatively, you can also buy the SIM card from the official stores of the service providers or vendors in the downtown such as shopping malls.
You can find the stores near you on the map by clicking this link

The cost of buying a sim in India is based on your plan. You always have the option to buy a plan that suits you, keeping in mind the tariff rates which we will be explaining in the next service provider section.


3. Which service provider to use

There are a lot of mobile service providers in India but we will be discussing only 3 of them which are Jio, Airtel, and Vodafone. These are the best and most consistent service providers in India. All of this 3 offer almost similar plans but if you would ask us to choose the best of these 3, we would suggest Jio as it is a bit reliable and has cost-effective tariff plans. Moreover, it works on the 4G spectrum and hence the quality of voice and video calls is exceptional.
We have listed down some best plans for you from all these service providers

Service ProviderPlan(In Rs.)Calls/Day (National)SMS/Day4G Internet/DayStandard Internet(64Kbps)Validity
 Jio Rs. 149 Unlimited 100 1GB Unlimited 1 month
 Jio Rs. 299 Unlimited 100 2GB Unlimited 1 month
 Airtel Rs. 349 Unlimited Unlimited 2GB Nil 1 month
 Vodafone Rs. 349 Unlimited Unlimited 2GB Nil 1 month

Note: All these plans are packed with free National roaming

We would suggest using online services such as Facebook and Whatsapp to connect to your family and friends in your country of residence as it would straight away cut your costs by one third. Still if you want to have a look at the international tariff plans, check them out here: Jio | Airtel | Vodafone

  • Recharing your sim

In case you run out of balance any time, you can visit your nearest sim card retailer, official service provider store. You can also recharge online anytime using Freecharge. Freecharge is a leading online service portal and frequently provides any offers to new customers. Moreover, Freecharge supports most of the credit and debit cards available worldwide.

  • Deactivation of sim

When you are leaving India, make sure you deactivate your sim by visiting any nearest official service provider store. In case you are running late, just make sure you leave balance less than Rs.20 in your sim card and destroy your sim, by doing so, your sim card will be automatically deactivated after a period of 90 days due to non-usage norms stated by the Telecom Regulation Authority of India.


4. Will an Indian sim work in a foreign make phone

In many Western countries, mobile phones are locked to some specific frequency to receive signals from some specific carriers. Before coming to India, you should check if your phone supports bands serviceable in India. You can check it here. If it shows that your phone is not supported, you need not worry, you just need to go to your manufacturer service centre to get it unlocked or else if your phone is out of warranty and you want to test it out yourself, you can read how to unlock your phone yourself here. If you are going to use a mobile phone in India only for calls and messages, without accessing the internet, then buying a GSM phone is another better option available. Jio also provides a feature rich Jio phone which costs only around Rs.1500 or $24(American).

Pro Tip: Never buy phones from street vendors as it could be stolen property


If you have any other question regarding any sim buying and usage issues, do ask us in the comments below


Siddharth Bhan
Siddharth Bhan
A Batman fan who designs things, in that order