As mobile phones have become essential gadgets, the SIM card that connects you to the network is equally important. As long as you have the right documents, it is not difficult to buy one in India. Whether you are an Indian citizen or a foreign citizen, this guide will explain how to buy a SIM card in India.

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If you are an Indian citizen, how to buy a SIM card

For Indian citizens, if you have an Aadhaar card, the process of obtaining a new SIM card is easy.

  1. Take your Aadhaar card to the telecom operator’s store. You can download a copy of the Aadhaar card and print it, or you can print it through the mAadhaar app. Some of them may request a copy of this card or an email copy. For the eKYC (online “know your consumer”) process, you don’t need a paper copy of the Aadhaar card, but some telecom operator stores may require this, even if it is unnecessary.
  2. The store staff will enter your Aadhaar number and ask you to verify your identity by fingerprint.
  3. After completing this operation, you will get a new SIM card, which will be activated immediately or within 48 hours, depending on the telecom operator.

Aadhaar card: How to verify your phone number using UIDAI website

If you do not have an Aadhaar card, the process of buying a new SIM card in India will be different between operators, and some even refuse to provide you with a new connection. If your carrier allows you to obtain a new SIM card without Aadhaar, then you will need these files.

  • Address proof and copy (eg rent agreement, electricity bill, bank passbook, etc.)
  • Government-issued photo ID certificate with photocopy (such as driving license, passport, voter ID, etc.)
  • Two passport-sized photos

After submitting these documents, your application will take some time to process, and the SIM card will be activated upon completion. Please note that if you are a resident of Chamu and Kashmir or any state in northeastern India, the prepaid connection may not be available, or you may have to wait longer to get a SIM card-even if you have an Aadhaar card.

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How to check Aadhaar authentication history

If you are a foreigner, how to buy a SIM card

If you are not an Indian citizen and you are visiting India, the process of obtaining a SIM card is different from that of an Indian citizen. First, foreign citizens do not have an Aadhaar card, so they need another set of documents. Gadget 360 visited two different stores-Airtel, Vodafone and Reliance Jio-Airtel, Vodafone and Reliance Jio for each of these three telecom operators to understand the process for foreigners. Since there is no Aadhaar for identity verification, foreign citizens must fill out a paper form to get a SIM card.

If you need a pre-paid (pay as you go) connection, please visit the nearest Vodafone, Airtel or Reliance Jio store in India and provide the following documents.

  • Passport with copy
  • Copy of visa
  • Passport-sized photos (usually only one is needed, but you need to bring four, just in case, because telecom operators require four photos in some states in India)

For post-paid connections, you need the following documents. There is a slight difference between carriers and carriers, but for safety reasons, please bring these documents (indian nationals who can provide you with voucher if possible) to the store.

  • Passport with copy
  • Copy of visa
  • Passport-sized photos (usually only one is needed, but you need to bring four, just in case, because telecom operators require four photos in some states in India)
  • Details of local references
  • Proof of local address

This means that you need to provide the contact details of any Indian nationals you know (ideally friends or relatives) and provide proof of Indian residential address, such as electricity bills or rental agreements. For post-paid connections, the telecom operator may also insist on verification at your local address, so the representative may visit your residence in India within one week after issuing the SIM card. In some cases, such as OCI cardholders, you need to present the card and submit a photocopy, while purchasing a new SIM card.

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Although these procedures are standard procedures for telecom operators, we found some subtle differences between the fine print editions. A Vodafone store representative told Advertisement Shout that a new connection usually takes about two hours to activate. Both Airtel and Reliance Jio stated that it takes up to 24 hours to activate your SIM card.

Pre-activated SIM card

Normally, pre-activated SIM cards are not provided in India, but the government recently announced that the state-owned telecommunications operator BSNL will provide these cards for free, and the airtime value is Rs. 50, in various airports in India. This feature is only available for people who have obtained an electronic visa in India. Unfortunately, we cannot independently verify whether this feature is available or whether the SIM card is working as shown in the advertisement.

In India, there is another way to use a pre-activated SIM card, which is to use services such as Trabug, which allows you to rent a smartphone with a pre-activated SIM card once for up to 80 days. They also ship the phone to your Indian address, so you can keep in touch with your friends and family. The disadvantage is that the pricing is very expensive and you cannot use your smartphone with SIM Trabug products. You must use a phone rented from Trabug. For unlimited daily calls and 3GB of data, Trabug will charge USD 60 (approximately Rs 3,900) plus USD 1 (approximately Rs 65) during your stay. If you get a local SIM card and use it with a smart phone, you can pay about Rs per day for unlimited free calls anywhere in India and get 1GB of data. 500 ($8) for three months. You can do the math yourself and figure out how much you saved by getting a local SIM card, even if it means you have to spend a little time going to the store and submitting some documents.

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Roaming charges in India

Another thing that confuses many foreign citizens visiting India is roaming charges. Services in India are scattered among various telecommunications circles, and moving from one circle (usually a state, although not always) to another involves roaming. Currently, almost all operators allow you to receive calls in India without paying any additional fees. For outgoing calls, as long as you are in the same telecom circle where you purchased the SIM card, there is usually no additional charge. If you are not in your circle, you may have to pay every minute for outgoing calls, but some plans can allow you to avoid this cost altogether. Just ask the operator for free outgoing calls while roaming, and you will get a fairly affordable plan. Finally, in India, data roaming does not cost any additional fees. You can continue to use mobile data on any telecom operator in India without incurring additional charges.

SIM card validity in India

The prepaid SIM card in India has a lifetime validity period, so as long as you continue to recharge and use the SIM card, you should not deactivate it. If the SIM card is inactive, the store representative we talked to said it will be discontinued after 90 days. For foreigners, the telecom operators we talked to said that the validity period lasts until their visa expires.

Do you have any other questions about purchasing a SIM card in India? Let us know through the comments. For more tutorials, please visit our methods section.