How to get a SIM card in India for calling and data?

Get Indian SIM Card with every Travel Phone

India is a land of colours, cultures, calmness and chaos all in a vibrant and delicate balance that you’ll find nowhere else. It is diverse and beautiful. It is huge and welcoming. But while it’s all these great things, it is also a little difficult.

Buying a SIM card in India can get a little tricky sometimes especially if you are a roaming foreign traveler. You need many documents and there are many steps to obtaining one. Even when you have the cheapest SIM card in India or the most expensive one, it might not work with your phone unless your phone is locked and the GSM bandwidths are compatible.

Must Know These Facts About Buying a SIM Card in India

  1. Types of SIM cards: There are two types of Indian SIM cards available namely; postpaid and prepaid or pay as you go SIM. A postpaid SIM Card is the one where you are billed after having used the services like calling, data, texting. Postpaid plans cost more than prepaid plans generally whereas a prepaid sim card in india for foreigners or a pay as you go sim india is where you pay before hand to avail services like calling, data, texting. The plans on this one are comparatively cheaper.

  2. Validity of a tourist SIM card is for max 90 days. After that it will automatically get disabled. If you are here for longer than 90 days you will have to rely on an Indian resident to get you a card. Or you will have to get a new SIM card for a foreigner with a new number.

  3. In most of the parts of the world, mobile phones are locked to their telecom carriers and only they (your telecom carrier) can unlock the phones for you. You will not be able to insert another sim or use it with another carrier unless unlocked.

  4. To obtain an international/ travel SIM card in India, you need to present the following documents in original and photocopies:

    • Passport
    • Photographs
    • Indian Visa
    • Local Address Documents
    • Home Address Proof and some more depending on your SIM card provider’s and seller’s requirement.
  5. Within 15 hours of your details being successfully verified, your SIM card to use in India should be active. Post that you can go back to the shop and top up or recharge your phone.

  6. You will have to make sure that you are in the same area as you bought the roaming SIM card for the activation to go through. For instance, if you bought the local SIM card in Delhi, you cannot complete the activation if you have travelled outside of Delhi. It has to be done within the same area it was issued.

  7. Indian government tried a scheme with free tourist BSNL SIM cards and international SIM cards being sold at airports. The free sim card in india for foreigners that BSNL used to provide, has now been discontinued. There is no such free sim card India that you can avail and we warn you to be careful from such fraudulent claims.

Steps to Obtaining an Indian SIM Card

Step 1: Local reference

For a prepaid roaming SIM card you will need a local reference name and phone number (For instance you can’t apply for a SIM card in Delhi with a reference in Mumbai- it has to be a local number)

  1. It is not necessary that you will have a local reference but you will need one because your local reference will get a call from the network provider within 24 hours of submitting the documents.

  2. It is possible that only one phone call is made to the local reference and in case they miss that call, you may have to wait for a day or so get the call again.

  3. It is also possible that you may have to repeat the entire documentation process with a different number as your application may be rejected and then you’ll have to wait for another two days.

Step 2: Final verification

  1. Once the network has called your local reference and your phone becomes active, it should display a signal.

  2. You then need to call the activation number (59059) from your phone and confirm the name and address details as provided at the time of applying for your SIM card at the new SIM card price.

Step 3: Choose a calling plan

  1. Traveling around India, outside your circle of Indian SIM card issue, you will generally be considered to pay for ‘cell roaming’.

  2. You should still be able to use your phone, but making and receiving calls will be more expensive because of roaming fees which includes mobile roaming charges as well as data roaming charges.

  3. Ask the sales executive at your sim card provider in India to help you pick out the plan that suits you the best.

As of October 2018, a new method of verification called ‘e-KYC’ was made available to foreign tourists trying to buy a sim card.

What e-KYC Means for Foreigners/Tourists

The latest direction issued by the Department of Telecommunication, allows for fulfilment of E-KYC without a government issued Aadhaar (identity) number. This new provision, coupled with the term ‘E-KYC’ has led to some ambiguity.

Taken at face value, ‘ eKYC’ suggests an electronic or digital method for submitting pertinent documents via the internet in order to fulfil the KYC requirements needed to buy a local sim card.
To help clarify the new regulation, we’ve outline the new eKYC method below:

  1. The Entire process of eKYC verification will be undertaken by Licensees ( shops that sell sim cards) through authorised and official apps.
  2. e-KYC is done at Points of Sale or shops.
  3. Perhaps the most important omission in discussions about the new eKYC process is that a potential customer must be physically present at the Point of Sale ( PoS) or shop, where an Officially Valid Document for identification must be furnished. For example, an original and valid passport or a Driver’s License .
  4. At the Sim Card store, the merchant or shopkeeper Will take a live photo of the customer, that shall be embedded in a Client Acquisition Form ( C.A.F) by the storeowner. Further, this live photo of the customer shall be watermarked and must be geo tagged. i.e. include GPS coordinates along with time and date. These details are then embedded in the CAF by the shopkeeper, and sent to the regulatory telecom body for verification.
  5. Once a person’s KYC details are verified, that customer will be given access to an operating sim card.

To avoid all this tedious process, there is another option you can opt for!

Get Indian SIM Card with every Travel Phone

Say hello to Trabug!

Trabug offers a smartphone and a pocket wifi hotspot device powered by a 4G data connection. Both the devices are available to foreigners travelling to India on a rental basis. Trabug is designed by and for travellers. It is for anyone visiting India. Whether you are travelling for business, leisure or to meet family and friends, Trabug provides a hassle free experience of staying connected in a foreign country.

The Mobile Phone

  1. You can rent a fully functional 4G sim card mobile phone in India at a rental price of per day which would be hassle free as you don’t have to buy a new use and throw phone and a separate SIM card and can avoid those costs completely.

  2. The plans offered on the phone can be viewed on the site. There’s a good variety to choose from but not too much to confuse you either.

  3. International roaming costs for other service providers are generally high whereas the international roaming costs are almost even less than $4 a day for people who stay for longer durations.

Therefore, Trabug definitely saves you both time and money and gives a lot more than just a temporary mobile number India.

Why is the Trabug phone worth it?

  1. Your personal phone may not work while in India because the GSM band might not be not compatible or you might be locked to your home network. So, to have a working phone Indian cellphone, one may need to buy a new cell phone which would cost a few hundred dollars. Trabug saves you that big amount as it is a rental service and you pay a nominal amount only.

  2. The phone is pretty attractive with its 5-inch high-resolution screen and comes in lovely packaging. The battery is pretty long lasting which too, is honestly a life saver.

  3. The mobile phone rental is charged on per day basis.

  4. The phone is delivered at your hotel/hostel and is picked up from whatever place you leave it at. For e.g. It can be ordered in Delhi and left for return at Mumbai.

Useful Features The Phone Has

  1. The phone comes with reliable information about places to visit, eat, stay at, it is like a guide to new places.
  2. It can be used to book a cab with a preinstalled Uber/Ola app.
  3. The internet plans and international roaming plans too are amazing as while booking a cab or going through the social media apps (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, WhatsApp, Skype, IRCTC App, Google Maps, all come preinstalled), there’s hardly any lag.
  4. One can create a hotspot from the Trabug phone and connect as many as 5 devices. So, no internet hassles for the iPad or the laptop or a personal phone.
  5. The phone is very helpful with the audio tour and currency exchange services too.
  6. One can even use personal services on the phone without getting concerned as you get to checkout and wipe off all the personal data once you are ready to return it.
  7. Most importantly, one can access the emergency information about police, hospitals, embassies, based on location anytime anywhere using your phone overseas.

How To get Wifi In India?

Now, if you ask, is there Wifi in India? Yes. But is it everywhere? No.

In India, there are a lot of cafes & restaurants which offer free wifi but the OTP or One Time Password to activate these Wifis is sent to your Indian Sim Card. No Sim card therefore also implies no OTP and hence no internet! Most cities in India also unfortunately, do not have free wifi zones.Therefore to use internet; you remain confined to your hotel rooms or airports that is if they also do not have the Indian OTP system.

Therefore, along with a rental mobile phone, you might want to consider a mobile wifi rental in India.

The Pocket Wifi Hotspot Device by Trabug

This is a small convenient pocket sized device to be used as a portable wifi device in India and that you can rent on per day basis. The device gives you access to high speed internet (4G) and hence provides data roaming services abroad. It is handy and lasts long. It can be charged again using a regular USB android cord. It comes with a companion app. Where to get portable wifi? It too is picked up and delivered at the doorstep.

Features the Pocket Wifi Hotspot Device Has:

  1. It comes with a high speed 4G connection which you can choose plans for.
  2. It lets you connect upto 10 devices at once and hence this is how the pocket wifi device works.
  3. The device lasts upto 6 hours after 1 full charge.
  4. The companion app is installed and you are good to go.

For pricing, plans, bookings and more information; visit

For more information about Trabug’s requirements, visit our FAQ Page

Here’s a video to tell you more:

Review from a happy customer

“These guys are the real deal - my phone was Brilliant!!!!! Data saved me and having a local number was pure gold! I wast sure how it would go, but it was worth a go, and to have this sorted before leaving is a no brainer! Now, i would highly recommend it for anyone going. Dont waste you bucks on global roaming calls and data. Well done guys and thank you so much!”