Skip to Content

3 Easy Ways To Get a Sim Card in India For Tourists!

This post may contain affiliate links. I will receive a small commission if you use these links.

Is it hard to get a Sim Card in India? You may have heard, or you may read online that getting a sim card in India for tourists is hard. This used to be the case and although it’s still not as easy as getting a sim card in other countries, things are changing and how to get a sim card in India and how to buy a sim card in India is now pretty easy.

So in this India travel blog, let me help you work out which prepaid India sim card is best for you, what the best sim card in India for tourists is, and how to get a sim card in India in 3 easy ways!

Quickly though, let’s cover the question – Do I need to get a sim card in India? My answer – YES!

Sim Card in India

Sim Card in India
Keep Reading for how to get a Sim Card in India!

Best Sim Card in India

Airtel and Vodafone are India’s biggest network providers however because of how big India is the coverage is not the same all over the country.

I found that Vodafone and Airtel work well in North India but Airtel worked better for me in South India than my Vodafone India sim card did.

Jio is another popular network provider that I have not tried.

You must have an unlocked phone! If your phone is not unlocked you will not be able to get a sim card in India. Instead, your best choice for internet in India is hiring a wireless device so you can still be connected in India! A lot of American’s have locked phones and you cannot buy an Indian sim card in the USA so you will need to hire a wifi device.

Best Time to Visit India

Before we get into this India travel blog, it’s worth thinking about the best time to visit India as the country get’s very hot and wet in the middle of the year. November to March are the best times to visit both North & South India.

South India will be warmer than North India in the winter months of December and January, Delhi and further North actually get cold in these months but are still enjoyable to visit with the right clothing.

Outside these months, you can still visit but you’ll find that the heat and humidity will be much higher, especially as you go further South.


I really recommend having a sim card in India as it makes travel in India so much easier! You may have heard that it’s hard to get a sim card in India but you can get a sim card in Delhi Airport, read this post to see how to buy a sim card in Delhi Airport or if you fly in elsewhere 3 ways to buy a sim card in India and you’ll be connected in just a few hours!


If you are a woman, here’s what I recommend you pack and wear in India. Technically you can wear what you like in India in most places but to get fewer stares and feel more comfortable, read my post!


Most people arrive for the first time into Delhi and get scammed within a few hours! Read my Delhi Travel Tips to help you enjoy Delhi, and the best places to stay in Delhi which is so important!


Remember you need a visa to enter India! If you haven’t got a visa yet, here’s my step by step easy guide on how to apply for an e-visa for India.

How To Get A Sim Card in India?

1. Getting a Sim Card in India at the Airport

You can buy a sim card at Delhi Airport which I have done many times, and I have been told recently you can also buy a SIM card at Mumbai Airport.

Getting a SIM card at the airport is always the best idea because the shops are as you leave arrivals, the process is quick and easy and you’ll be connected with plenty of data with 2-3 hours of arriving in India.

Here’s my full blog post on how to get a sim card in Delhi airport with prices and packages.

Based on my past visits, the only Indian sim card provider at the airport is Airtel but the coverage and package they offer is pretty much the best sim card in India for tourists to get so that’s all you need.

If you’re flying into Delhi, I 100% recommend buying your sim card in India at Delhi Airport as it is the easiest way to get a sim card in India, you don’t need to bring copies of your passport and photos to them as you have to do in the options below, they do it all for you.

But make sure you read my post on getting a SIM card in Delhi here because the men often scam tourists with the price so make sure you don’t get caught out!

At the moment I only know of Delhi Airport and Mumbai Airport as Airports in India to get a sim card in.

But if you arrive at Amritsar, Bangalore, Goa or any other main international airports, look for an Airtel store when you leave arrivals as there may be one!

And let me know in the comments section of this post if you see one!

Sim card in India, Delhi Airport Airtel
The Airtel Store in Delhi Airport to get a simcard in India

2. Getting a Sim Card in India at your Hotel or Hostel

Another good option and the second-best way to get an India prepaid sim is to ask your accommodation to help you.

This works best if you are staying in a hostel in India as they are set up for travellers arriving and wanting a sim card.

For example, Backpacker Panda in Mumbai, Colaba offers this service which I used when I first arrived in India. Moustache Hostel New Delhi also offers this service. (I recommend both of these hostels as great places to stay in India by the way!)

Getting an India sim card for tourists this way will cost you a bit extra as they have to add on a commission for the hostel and you literally have someone from Vodafone Sim Card India or Airtel visit the hostel to complete the paperwork with you.

You will need photocopies of your passport and India visa, along with a passport photo to give to the sim card guy but the hostel can help you with these.

Look for the best flights to India here!

I use Skyscanner to book all of my flights! I’m a huge fan of Skyscanner because I love how easy it is to compare different dates and routes to help me find the best flight at the best price! 

Open Skyscanner by clicking here and search for the best flights as you read this post.

sim card in India, buying a sim card in india vodafone sim
This Vodafone Prepaid Sim Card in India is one of the most popular options.


India is best travelled by train because its the quickest, cheapest and best way of getting to know the country. For an EASY option of booking trains in India use 12GO to search and book trains really easily. If you’ll be in India for awhile, you can use the local booking system, it’s a bit tricker but possible, here’s my post on how to book trains in India as a tourist.


I always use to book my hotels in India and Hostelworld to book my hostels. India has a great range of accommodation with brilliant hostel chains like Moustache, Zostel and Backpacker Panda as well as homestays to luxury hotels.


Many cities in India are best seen with a guide, even if it’s just a half day tour on your first day. Cities in India are chaotic and complex and what better way to taste the food and get to know the city than with a local. I recommend Get Your Guide & Viator for the best tours in India!

3. Getting a Sim Card in India from a Store

Vodafone and Airtel are India’s largest network provider but I would avoid going into an actual Vodafone store or Airtel store which is how I initially assumed you would get a sim card.

This is because you’ll likely be asked for more information like an Indian number and Indian address to register your sim.. which you do not have!

Instead, if you can’t get a sim card at the Airport, or through your accommodation, go to a small shop in a local market for example which seems to dabble in everything phone-related and lookout for signs that say they sell sim cards.

This is what I did in Kochi in South India and it was so easy. If you have trouble finding one be sure to ask your accommodation for help.

I asked for a sim, he gave me a card of the options. He copied my passport, I gave a passport photo, I filled in the contract, handed over the money (which was a much better price than my first time), put my sim in 1 day later, called the number he gave me to verify it was me using my passport number, and I had internet!

However, this is still a more difficult option than the ones above as these stores are used to Indian people buying sim cards rather than foreign tourists looking for a mobile sim card in India.

sim card in India, rates and prices of sim cards in India
These were the rates and prices for a sim card I was offered in Kochi in 2019


I’ve spent many months travelling India in the last few years visiting over 50 places around the country, here are my recommended itinerary posts for India to help you plan your trip!








Prices of Prepaid Sim Card in India

When it comes to the cost of sim cards in India, there are different international sim card packages in India.

Generally, you can get packages for 28 days, 60 days, 82 days and 90 days.

You may be offered a certain one, you may just be given what you’re given (which you’ll get used to in India!). If you are staying in India for a few months as I did for 4 months, make sure you get a 90-day sim card in India!

What I love about the data sim cards in India is that the data is PER DAY! For example, when I last got Delhi Airport sim card package, the deal was:

  • 900Rs / £10.00 / $12.50
  • 1.4gb of data each day which refreshes each day.
  • Unlimited calls to Indian numbers.
  • Validity for 82 days.

*Note this price and packaged might have changed as this was pre-pandemic.

There is talk about there being a Delhi Airport free sim card but I didn’t see this in Delhi Airport and wasn’t offered it at any point so I wouldn’t rely on this, to be honest.

Remember to read here how to get a Sim Card in Delhi Airport.

I hope this helped you with how to get a sim card in India!


Monday 3rd of April 2023

Bangalore this week, there was a shop selling SIM cards at arrivals but when we asked him he said, "system down,," and I still don't have one. Grateful for your post!


Monday 3rd of April 2023

Thanks for letting me know!


Monday 3rd of April 2023

Second time I have done this.

In late March 2023, travelled from Australia landed at New Delhi airport went to the Airtel counter and asked for a tourist sim card. Was told 450rupees for 1mth (28 days?) and 1.2 GB download per day (the app says 1.5GB per day). They took a photocopy of my passport and they took a photo of me as well.

You will be advised to call a phone number after a couple of hours and you be provided with the details you need.

This process took about 5mins.

At the hotel room put in the sim card, called the number and followed the prompts to set up. Took less then a couple of minutes to do that.

Matt H

Monday 20th of March 2023

I just went to an Airtel office in Mumbai and got a SIM card with my passport and a copy of my visa. They took a digital picture, so there is no need to have one. The big hang-up was they needed to be able to send a one-time text to someone who already has an Indian number and get the code back to complete the process.


Monday 20th of March 2023

Great to know! Thank you.


Tuesday 14th of March 2023

Nov 2022, I asked a Airtel staff at Delhi airport to make tourist SIM, he said it’s take 4 hours!! So I have to gave up at that time. We need internet immediately for Uber but 4 hours? Aug 2022, at the same place, it took 1 hour, was still fine. Before covid it took just 15min.

I have to buy SIM card every time I visit. And their Indian internet service like hotel booking or shopping requires mobile number. Have to updates the registration info but some service doesn’t allow to modify by myself. I’d like to(have to) understand cause the security reason but totally inconvenience and suck for tourist.


Friday 24th of February 2023

Can OCI card holders get a SIM card? OCI card holders do not need/get visa and it seems Airtel insists on having a visa. Last time I was denied a SIM with OCI card.


Monday 6th of March 2023

@A, Could you please give some guidance on tipping? Thank you.


Friday 24th of February 2023

@TheWanderingQuinn, I was told a few days ago by a tour organization that I need 2 passport size photos for a SIM. Is this obsolete information?


Friday 24th of February 2023

I don't know what an OCI is so you'll have to ask someone else :)