- To inform and educate travellers about prepaid mobile phone tariffs from around the world, particularly relating to mobile data connectivity for smartphones, tablets and mobile modems; and
- To allow travellers, for the benefit of other travellers, to add further information acquired during their own experiences of buying and using such mobile data services.
International roaming is when you use a SIM card from one country in another country. This can often be unexpectedly expensive, especially for passive usage such as mobile data (internet). Many cases have been reported where users arrive back home facing bill shock with unreasonably high costs, often thousands of euro, dollars or pounds per gigabyte. Some users switch off their phones abroad because they are afraid of this. A better solution is often to use a local prepaid SIM card instead. That’s the raison d'être of this wiki and why it was created some years ago. Recently surcharge-free roaming zones, such as the European Economic Area and North America were established. This wiki shows where and when you can use them.
Can I buy a local prepaid SIM card in every country?
As an international tourist or visitor, you can buy a local prepaid SIM card in most countries with very few exceptions. The known restrictions, where you can't get a prepaid SIM card or where mobile data is unavailable, are mentioned in the articles and summarised in the Blacklist. In the Greylist, some problematic countries are shown, where for various reasons you should think twice before buying a local SIM. For Warzones we can't give verified information. But in most of the more of 200 countries and territories featured below, you can buy a local prepaid SIM card with data, although in many of them you now have to show a travel document (like a national ID card, passport or visa) at the point of purchase or later:
Which requirements must my device(s) meet?
- it needs to be a GSM-enabled device
- it needs to be an unlocked device
- it needs to support the frequencies used by networks in your destination country
Data on SIM cards
When you have purchased a SIM card, and topped it up with credit (if it does not include credit at the time of purchase), you may or may not have data right away. If you have, you will be on the standard or default data rate of the operator. This can also be quite expensive. In many cases, data is charged at high per-megabyte rates unless you purchase a data bundle. Click on the pic with the packages to learn more about default data rates and how to buy data packages.
How to find a good data rate?
First, you should check with your home mobile provider whether it offers international roaming at your destination and at what price. This is mostly as a comparison to see how much you will end up paying when you use international roaming. Then you can research further in your home country whether your provider or others offer reasonable prices for your destination.
International SIM cards in the all countries section can be an option if you travel to multiple countries within a short period of time, or for day trips outside the EEA (e.g. Spain to Morocco or Cyprus to Northern Cyprus). However, their prices are not as favourable as buying a local SIM card in every country you visit, especially if you want stay for a while or use a lot of data. The only exceptions to this rule are some surcharge-free zones like the European Economic Area. This might sound onerous, but is easy to do if you are aware of a few catches. In some countries it's possible to keep a SIM card active for a while or even indefinitely after having left. If you expect to return, you should check the validity of your SIM card. Pick your destination in the list above and compare it with the international roaming rates you are offered by your home network.
In the manuals below frequently used terms and procedures mentioned in the national chapters are featured in more detail. They are made for users who are not so familiar with the matter to get a better understanding. Select a topic you want to know more about and click on the pic below:
Contributing to the Wiki
This wiki needs your help!
Existing editors of this wiki can't follow all developments and updates in every country. Therefore your contribution is very much appreciated here.
For editing articles, some guidelines have been established that you should try your best to follow. If you are still unsure, simply add a comment below the article.
Don't worry; it will be read and your information added.