How to get a SIM Card / Data Connection in India

If like us at CaptivaTour, you need your mobile phone connection and data just a little bit less than you need water and air :), then you will certainly be looking for a way to be connected while on holiday.

This article will guide you on where you can get a SIM card for your phone, and the process.

Where to buy a SIM card:

  1. Kiosks at the airport: These counters are usually located immediately after you clear customs. For the most part, if you have the required documents in order, you should be able to get your card in fifteen to twenty minutes after you fill out the form. A confirmation call is made to your mobile phone to verify details provided in your application, after which the SIM is activated (usually) within 24 hours.
  2. Local cellphone dealer: You might get some reluctance from shopkeepers due to new government regulation that puts validity of the SIM card to your Indian visa or a 3 month limit whichever is shorter. The procedure for activation is similar to the earlier option. Many local dealers may not have mini and micro SIM options on hand.


Documentation Required to buy a SIM Card

The Government of India has tightened the regulations on the sale of prepaid SIM cards to foreigners after November 2012 and therefore you need to be prepared to submit the following documents to the vendor along with an application form.


  • Filled out Consumer Application Form (CAF)
  • 2 color passport photographs of yourself (3.5 inches x 4.5 inches)
  • A photocopy of the personal details page of your passport. You will also have to produce your passport for verification, after which it will be returned to you.
  • A photocopy of your Indian visa. Once again, you will have to show the original visa for verification.
  • A photocopy of the proof of your home address in your country of residence. This could be your passport, driver’s license or any other Government issued document. Remember to carry the original document along for verification.
  • Residency proof – Proof of where you will be staying in India. Guidelines state foreigners may use the address of a local reference, a tour operator, or a hotel where you are staying – A letter confirming that you are a guest will suffice.


Which Prepaid SIM card should you buy:

Some of the more popular networks in India are as follows:

  • Airtel: the most popular network in India because of the good coverage in metropolitan areas.
  • Vodafone: one of the better networks for metropolitan coverage.
  • Reliance and Idea: other large carriers in India, which offer both 3G and 4G connectivity.
  • BSNL and MTNL: state owned telecommunications providers that may be a better option if you’re travelling away from the major cities, especially remote regions, as their coverage is better in remote areas.

How much will a SIM Card cost?

Approximately INR 350 (USD 5) for a SIM card with 3 months validity. However depending on the voice and data bundle you buy you may get the SIM card for lower prices as well.

How to make a call using your new Prepaid SIM Card

  • For international calls dial country code + area code + phone number
  • Call to local fixed phone in India ‘City/area code’ followed by the number. City/area codes can be found here.
  • Call to local mobile Dial the 10-digit mobile number without prefixing ‘0’
  • Call to mobile in other state/service circle Dial ‘0’ followed by the 10-digit mobile number

You can add more balance to your SIM card online via the network’s website or at most shops with the network’s logo on the shop front. You will get better deals online as many local shops will not have data heavy bundles available. Most networks have selfcare apps that you can install on your phone to use for adding voice minutes and data to your SIM.

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