Prepaid SIM cards used to be fairly straightforward to acquire all over the world. Buyers needed simply to walk up to any place that sells them from convenience stores to vending machines to branded mobile phone stops.  However for security reasons, an increasing number of countries have started to require some form of personal registration from mobile phone users. In almost all countries, registration doesn't prohibit the direct sale of prepaid SIM cards to visitors, but it may still be cumbersome. 

 This table shows a summary of countries that require registration, and if so where visitors should go to register their SIM cards, and what they need to bring.  Although some countries do not require registration but individual telcos do, this page focuses more on where compulsory SIM card registration is enshrined in national law or government regulations. In most cases, the registration happens at the point of purchase, meaning you will register the SIM at the same time you buy it (and will thus require identification at that point) but in some other cases, you may have to complete the registration yourself or go online.  

Africa[edit | edit source]

COUNTRY Registration required? Where to register What to bring Other Notes
Algeria YES point-of-sale official ID such as ID card or passport and/or visa (original + copy)

+ an Algerian address such as hotel address

Botswana passport
Egypt
Kenya
Madagascar
Malawi
Mauritania
Mauritius
Morocco
Rwanda
Seychelles
Swaziland/eSwatini
Tanzania
Tunisia
Burkina Faso valid ID document such as passport
Djibouti valid ID such as passport
Ghana passport or national biometric identity card such as driver's licence or Ghana Card
Sudan paper copies of passport

+ passport photos

Ethiopia Ethio Telecom stores copy of passport

+ one or two passport sized photographs

South Africa RICA-accredited agent (i.e., most point-of-sales) passport

+ accommodation address

-
Chad telco-branded store

(boutiques)

photo ID such as passport
Guinea passport
Mayotte (France) ID card or passport
Reunion (France)
Niger ID document such as passport
Angola telco-branded store passport with a valid visa
Cameroon ID such as passport max. three SIM cards per operator per subscriber on one name
Equatorial Guinea passport (original + copy)

+ two passport sized photos

Gabon two copies of passport and visa
Gambia ID such as passport
São Tomé and Príncipe Registration is mandatory and it can take up to 3 hours for the SIM to activate after registration.
Uganda
Zambia passport

+ hotel address

Mali passport
Mozambique
Nigeria
Sierra Leone
Benin ID such as passport
Burundi
Senegal
Togo
Zimbabwe
Liberia telco-branded store or service point official ID card or passport
Ivory Coast telco-branded store or resellers passport or any other valid ID
Lesotho NO n/a

America[edit | edit source]

COUNTRY Registration required? Where to register What to bring Other Notes
Argentina
YES
point-of-sale ID card (DNI Argentino or Cédula del Mercosur) or passport procedure varies slightly per operator
Brazil passport CPF (Cadastro de Pessoa Física) is asked for, but not mandatory.
Bolivia telco-branded store
Canada
NO
n/a
Colombia
YES
point-of-sale ID card or passport

+ address details

+ IMEI details of device with proof of purchase (if stay is 30+ days)

Costa Rica photo ID such as passport SIM cards need to be registered with Sutel, the national regulator: https://registroprepago.sutel.go.cr/, register your SIM card and wait for some hours to be activated.
Chile
NO - for stays shorter than 30 days using a device purchased overseas
online

for stays of 30+ days:

copy of passport + info about device manufacturer and model

+ screenshot of IMEI device

+completed registration form

devices bought in the country don't need to go through this process

Chilean tax number (RUT number for Rol Único Tributario in Spanish) might be asked for, if they insist on it (e.g. on an online form) just give 9 times 9 (e.g. 999999999).

Trinidad and Tobago Optional point-of-sale ID card or passport
Anguilla YES passport
Antigua and Barbuda
Bahamas
Dominica
Grenada
Honduras
Jamaica
Montserrat
Haiti ID such as passport or a copy of it
Guatemala ID such as passport
Belize authorized dealers
Dominican Republic telco-branded store passport or national ID card (cedula)
Barbados passport
Ecuador By law you have to be an Ecuadorian citizen to buy a SIM card. In practice it's easy to find a store that will activate it in someone else’s name, and then transfer it to you a few days later.
El Salvador
Uruguay passport (original only) Previously, the device was required to be declared at customs, but this is no longer obligatory. Formerly had to provide a local address (such as accomodation or hotel address) which is also not mandatory anymore.
Mexico
NO
n/a
Nicaragua
Panama
Paraguay YES point-of-sale ID card or passport

You need to complete a form prepared by the country’s communications regulator Conatel and provide a fingerprint.

Peru passport max. 10 prepaid lines per operator
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Turks and Caicos Islands
USA
NO
n/a

Asia Pacific[edit | edit source]

COUNTRY Registration required? Where to register What to bring Other Notes
Abkhazia (Georgia) NO n/a
Australia
YES
point-of-sale or online through telco's website passport or driving licence should be presented to sales point

+ Australian address (e.g. of accommodation)

Armenia point-of-sale passport
Azerbaijan point-of-sales of the operators passport and visa max. 5 SIM cards per person for all operators, country greylisted
Bangladesh point-of sale passport and visa (original + copy)

+ one or two passport size color photographs

Bhutan copy of passport and additional photo
Brunei Darussalam telco-branded store passport
Cambodia passport with a valid visa
China, People's Republic of (PRC/Mainland China) telco-branded store or service point passport and proof of address in Mainland China such as hotel voucher, hotel address card, or temporary residence registration form
* proper termination of mobile service before leaving the country by visiting a telco-branded service point is required**

Facial recognition will be required to register new SIM cards

Greylisted due to Great China Firewall censorship.
East Timor (Timor-Leste) telco-branded store passport
Fiji ID such as passport
French Polynesia (France) ID card, passport or a driver's license
New Caledonia (France) photo ID such as passport
Georgia (except Abkhazia and South Ossetia) ID document such as passport
Hong Kong SAR (China)
NO
n/a
Tonga No ID is required, but the store agent just asks for your name.
India
YES
point-of-sale passport (original + copy)

+ visa page (original + copy)

+ passport photos

+ proof of address

Greylisted
Indonesia telco-branded store for foreigners: passport or e-KITAS (Electronic Limited Stay Permit) or e-KITAP (Electronic Permanent Stay/Resident Permit)

for Indonesians: Indonesian Identity Card (e-KTP) and Family Card (KK for Kartu Keluarga in Indonesian)

IMEI registration regulations is enforced since 18 April 2020
Iran office of the providers passport and visa Greylisted: IMEI registration required within 30 days paying taxes.
Japan
NO

YES - for voice-enable SIM cards

Greylisted because Japan does not permit the sale of most voice-enabled SIM cards to visitors.
Kazakhstan YES point-of-sale ID such as passport IMEI registration required
Kyrgyzstan photo ID such as passport
Kiribati NO n/a
Laos
Macau SAR (China)
Malaysia
YES
point-of-sale ID such as passport or Malaysian ID Card (MyKad for Kad Pengenalan Malaysia in Malay)
Maldives passport
Mongolia telco-branded store or service point ID card or passport or driving license
Myanmar telco-branded store passport and visa (or passport stamp)
Nepal point-of-sale passport

+ passport-sized photo (if applicable)

New Zealand
NO
n/a
Cook Islands (NZ)
Pakistan YES

point-of-sale

passport and visa Greylisted: IMEI registration required, max. 5 devices per year
Philippines
NO (legislation pending)
photo ID such as passport There is pending legislation to require IDs but it has not yet been passed.[1]
Singapore
YES
passport, work permit, employment pass, or NRIC (National Registration Identity Card) max. 3 SIM cards per person
South Korea passport -
Sri Lanka passport

+ recent passport-size photograph (if applicable)

Taiwan (ROC) passport

+ second ID may be required such as drivers license, ID card etc.

max. 1 active SIM card per operator for visitor

Second form of ID is no longer asked on Taiwan Mobile network.

Thailand passport max. 5 active SIM cards per operator
Uzbekistan passport

+ temporary residence permit or hotel voucher

IMEI registration required since September 2019
Tajikistan telco-branded store or service center passport, visa, and hotel registration (or hotel voucher), or other official ID documentation
Vietnam telco-branded store passport -

Europe[edit | edit source]

COUNTRY Registration required? Where to register What to bring Other Notes
Albania YES telco-branded store photo ID such as passport

+ local address (such as hotel or accomodation address) in Albania

Austria telco-branded store or partner shops

+ post offices

+ online verification (for some passport holders only)

passport or ID card

+ fee (at some partner shops or post offices)

-
Belarus point-of-sale of the operators passport Be aware that some local shops don't know, how to deal with foreign (= not Belarusian or Russian) passports. So better stick to stores in railway stations or airports.
Belgium telco-branded store or independent store at point of purchase (delays are possible) passport or ID card -
Bulgaria telco-branded store

+ big supermarkets

max. 10 SIM cards per person
Bosnia and Herzegovina NO n/a
Croatia
Czech Republic
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
YES
point-of-sale passport, ID card, or driving licence
Germany telco-branded store (for larger telcos)

+ agency-appointed stores (for smaller telcos)

+ independent mobile phone stores that sell SIM cards

+ online video verification (for selected passport holders only)

+ post offices

passport or national ID card

+ German address (accommodation address will suffice)

Registration is not required at the time of purchase but for activation and use.

Some stores will only take requests to register SIM cards purchased from them.

Results of online verification and at post offices may take some hours to process; in-store verification usually instant.

Greece point-of-sale passport or national ID card
Hungary telco-branded store passport prepaid subscribers are required to have their subscriptions verified annually to keep prepaid SIMs active,

max. 10 SIM cards per user

Iceland
NO
n/a
Ireland
Isle of Man (UK)
Italy
YES
point-of-sale passport or ID card Codice fiscale (tax code) might be asked for, but not a legal requirement.
Channel Islands (UK)
NO
n/a
Latvia
Lithuania
Luxembourg YES point-of-sale ID card or passport
Montenegro
Malta NO n/a
Netherlands
North Macedonia YES point-of-sale photo ID (ID card or passport)
Northern Cyprus telco-branded store ID such as passport
Norway telco-branded store

+ electronics stores that sell SIM cards

passport (all foreigners) or national ID card (EU/EEA citizens only) Supermarkets and non-electronics stores do not always activate SIM cards.
Poland telco-branded store

+ Ruch kiosks

+ post offices

residence permit, passport (all foreigners), or national ID card (Polish, EU/EEA citizens only) Independent electronics stores may sell SIM cards but they won't register them and will hence remain deactivated.
Portugal NO n/a
Romania
Moldova (except Transnistria)
Transnistria YES IDC stores passport pay in Transnistrian rubles
Russia telco-branded store passport with visa and stamp -
Slovakia telco-branded store

+ online

passport or national ID card -
Serbia NO telco-branded store ID such as passport (if applicable) ID such as passport may be required at the branded stores.
Slovenia n/a
Spain
YES
for larger telcos: branded store

for smaller telcos/MVNOs: agent store or branded store

passport or national ID card (DNI for Documento nacional de identidad in Spanish) -
Sweden
NO
n/a
Switzerland
YES
point-of-sale passport or national ID card -
Turkey point-of-sale in branded stores passport or ID card,

for use of 120+ days: IMEI details of phone

Greylisted

Only 1 SIM can be linked per device

In practice, this concerns users who will stay longer than 120 days as there is a grace period. However, a user may encounter problems if he/she visits Turkey again in the future and wants to use the same device.

Ukraine
NO
n/a
United Kingdom

Middle East[edit | edit source]

COUNTRY Registration required? Where to register What to bring Other notes
Bahrain YES point-of-sale passport max. 10 SIM cards per provider
Israel
NO
n/a
Lebanon YES telco-branded store passport Greylisted: IMEI registration required within 90 days paying taxes.
Oman point-of-sale
Qatar
Saudi Arabia telco-branded store passport with visa stamp max. 2 SIM cards per user
UAE point-of-sale

Hi Timmy. Thanks for your work.

I've made a format proposal for this category. You can check it out through this link.

I think it's very hard to navigate through 5 big tables in an article on a small mobile device. 68% of all users access this wiki on their phone. So it might be better to make 5 tables and link it to one manual page through the icons or thumbnails of the continents.

Check it on your phone what looks better and tell me.

Hi TIMMY. This is from the admin.

  • please don't use bullet lists in tables. They get very broad in size. Don't forget that most users access this material on a small screen on a mobile device
  • please follow alphabetical order of the countries within tables
  • I removed "telco-branded stores" where there are "points of sale". This double calling doesn't make sense as a branded store is a point of sale.
  • please follow the categories of the main wiki. Middle East belongs to Asia and Asia and Oceania are two separate continents.
  • Japan is too negative. You get a SIM card, just not for voice, but for data from which you can VoIP calls.
  • These tables get very long. We might use a picture gallery like on the main page of the wiki showing the 5 continents and link each table behind this continent. What's your opinion on that?

Thanks for your work.

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