Reasons Against Buying Local SIM Cards on Travels

Reasons Against Buying Local SIM Cards on Travels

If you are looking to stay connected abroad, just like most of the human population, then you probably heard that buying local SIM cards can be beneficial for your wallet. Alas, sometimes “cheap comes out expensive” as there are some countries where buying local SIM cards can turn into a real nightmare.


Travelers have many complaints about Turkey and the fact that local SIM cards expire anything from 2 to 14 days from first use. All mobile phones that were purchased outside of Turkey and using a Turkish SIM have to be registered, the process is difficult and has to be registered with the government. This policy is being practiced by many authorities around the world, due to the fact that prepaid telephones/SIM cards have been used by the terrorist group members for communication. If the Turkish SIM card is not registered in the grace period, it will be blocked permanently on the IMEI number. The cost of registering a Turkish SIM card is quite high if you are on a short holiday, around $40 or 115 Turkish Lira.

 Read more about Internet Options in Turkey


SIM cards in Thailand are easy to find and buy, but some Thai language is required and all SIM cards have to be registered. To register a SIM card you need to provide a passport if you are tourist in Thailand and sometimes a working knowledge of Thai language is needed. Once a SIM card has been registered, the settings on the phone need to changed, this is where complications can occur. Many phone shops can change the settings for free, but not all shops have English speaking staff.



In Spain all SIM cards need to be registered by either showing a passport or photo ID. The options are either a phone shop or an agency, depending where you are in Spain, you may need some local language to obtain a SIM card.



Things are slightly different in Uruguay, if you wish to use a Uruguayan SIM card, then you must register your phone on arrival. The procedure is straight forward and just a form to fill out. To obtain the SIM card in a local shop you will need to produce a passport and give a local address, the hotel or apartment you are staying in. Some Spanish language maybe required for customs and the phone shops.



It is not straight forward to get a SIM card in Egypt. You have to visit a shop or branch of a mobile provider, show your passport or ID, address and then they will sell you a SIM card phone number. The address of the hotel or apartment that you are staying at will be fine.


In Ecuador you need to be a citizen to buy a SIM card. In practice if you find a shop that lets you buy the SIM card, they will register in someone else’s name and then transfer to yourself a few days later. A passport or photo ID card is still needed to complete the purchase. Language may prove a problem if you don’t speak Spanish.



To obtain a SIM card in Romania a passport or photo ID will be required, possible language barriers may happen away from popular tourist areas not to mention the chance of being bitten by a vampire. (just kidding, or am I?)



Buying SIM cards in Colombia is dependent on which shop you go to and that may involve showing you passport of photo ID, plus filling out some paperwork. Technically prepaid SIM cards are for the local population only.


As you can see, obtaining a local SIM can be rather challenging. You can spend a lot of precious vacation time and effort looking for a store and then dealing with SIM registration (providing your personal information and potentially exposing yourself to identity theft) deciphering set up instructions  (if you don't speak the local language), and ultimately not being able to get in touch with your family or get on with your work (if you travel for business).  I am not even talking about the nonsensical hassle of having a separate tiny data SIM for every country you visit which you may or may not use after you leave the country (because your credit will expire in 14-30 days after the SIM has been activated)

Of course you can always resort to hunting for WiFi, but even if you find a decent WiFi hotspot, you will be confined to one place instead of staying online everywhere you go. 

One of the most popular mobile Internet solutions overseas is ordering a Global Data SIM or a Mobile Hotspot before going on your next trip. 

A Data SIM can be adjusted to fit in any unlocked phone. You will be able to activate and test it before leaving on your trip and refill your data when you run low. Your credit will not expire for a full year most importantly, one SIM will serve you equally well in 64 countries around the world.

If your phone is locked by your home carrier, consider acquiring a Mobile WiFi Hotspot as it works with any WiFi enabled mobile device regardless of whether it is locked or not. It will give you the freedom to connect to the Web wherever you want without the restrictions of spotty and non-secure traditional WiFi.