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Traveling to India? Need a SIM for Your Unlocked Phone? Hurry Up...and Wait!

Updated on July 27, 2017

Commercial Street Mumbai, India

Commercial Street Mumbai, India
Commercial Street Mumbai, India | Source

Read in full before starting! This will save you days of frustration....because it's India.

I'm Jared Jenkins from Calgary. This is my quick guide to getting your phone activated in India.I recommend you get these materials organised BEFORE you get to India but like myself, you can always wing it! What you will need (besides patience):

***Make sure your phone is carrier unlocked**** (Google it)

2 - passport photos (not 1! but 2!)

1- Referral from Person living in the city you are getting your sim card setup. Has to be local person, sometimes the guesthouse manager or hotel manager will sometimes let you use them as a referral. Get their NAME, NUMBER, ADDRESS/hotel address. They will be contacted with an automated message to activate your sim.

1- Photocopy of your Passport with all the pages that have your visa (must have all pages that were stamped when you entered the country) This will obviously be something you will have after you've arrived in India.

Now find yourself an AIRTEL store. Not one of those top-up vendors with the small sign in their business. They can only sell you minutes or data to top up your plan once you're activated, you will see them everywhere. Try and find a shopping mall or a legit AIRTEL store. You'll have to fill out some paperwork and it will take a day or so for them to confirm your referral to activate your new sim.***TIP*** take a photo of the RATES/MINUTES/DATA chart for the plan you're setting up. This is important because if you need to add minutes or data you will need to know exactly how many Rupees to add to your plan in the future and the rates are different from province to province.....because it's India. Make sure your referral is aware you are used them to setup your sim. They will have to let you know that they've been contacted by AIRTEL.

If you're only going to be in a city for 2 days or less I would not recommend you attempt this. Give yourself 3 days for this process.....because it's India. Have patience and once you see how cheap their rates are for might want to load up so you can turn on your navigation and Uber and all that fun stuff....because it's India.

AIrtel 3g rates as an example of what you should keep for later notes.  Rates vary from province to province
AIrtel 3g rates as an example of what you should keep for later notes. Rates vary from province to province

© 2017 Jared Jenkins


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    • Jagatheesh Er profile image

      Jagatheesh Aruchami 

      14 months ago from Coimbatore, India

      Wow. I hope you had a wonderful experience in India. As a citizen of India we are also facing the same frustrations every day due to the birth of New India.


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