A local SIM card is essential to staying connected in India.
India’s handset market is seeing a meteoric rise thanks to an influx of affordable devices and wide availability of 4G data, and with the country becoming a mobile-first market, having a local SIM card is mandatory for accessing the plethora of digital services available.
A local number comes in handy not just for staying connected, but also for undertaking basic tasks like payments and money transfers. To curb corruption, Prime Minister Narendra Modi demonetized high-value currency notes at the end of the last year, and the country still doesn’t have adequate cash reserves. The move has led to a drastic rise in digital wallet services like Paytm, but to register and use the service, you need a local SIM card.
Thankfully, the Indian government is making it easier for foreign travelers visiting the country by providing a pre-activated SIM card on arrival. The SIM card is issued by state-run BSNL, and comes with 50MB of data along with a ₹50 credit (90 cents) for making calls. You can top up the data and get additional balance for calling by recharging online.
SIM card on arrival
The SIM card comes with a kit that contains maps, brochures for popular tourism destinations, along with contact information for a 24-hour tourist helpline number that’s available in 12 languages, including Russian, German, and Japanese.
All you need to do to pick up your SIM card is show a copy of your e-visa at the immigration counter. An e-visa is the easiest way to get a short-term tourist visa to India, and the facility is available to citizens of over 150 countries.
That said, not all airports offer a SIM card on arrival. Right now, the service is limited to ten airports in the country, with more being added regularly: