How to buy a local SIM card in Sri Lanka as a Foreigner

How To Buy A Local SIM Card In Sri Lanka? (As A Foreigner)

Staying connected while traveling is important, especially in the digital age. Before you plan any trip, you usually check whether the destination has good connectivity. If it’s an international trip, staying connected with your friends and family can be quite a hassle without constant wifi. So, what is the best solution for this? A local SIM card.

In this blog, we’ll be discussing Sri Lanka. Getting a local SIM card in this country is relatively easy. However, if you’re wondering how to go about it, allow us to help you. We’ll take you through the different network providers, SIM card options, the documents you need, and, most importantly, how to buy a local SIM card in Sri Lanka as a foreigner. Let’s get started.

Buying A Local SIM Card In Sri Lanka

Benefits Of Purchasing A Sri Lankan SIM Card

  • The rates are relatively cheap compared to the hefty roaming charges in Sri Lanka.
  • The local network providers give good coverage nationwide, even in several remote areas.
  • Unlike the locals, you can also choose anytime data usage plans as they have separate plans for day and night. The tourist plans also include free calls or talk time with some value and SMS all over the nation.

Reliable Service Providers In Sri Lanka

Among the three major network providers, Dialog, Airtel, and SLTMobitel, we purchased a SIM card from Dialog for a month while exploring various parts of the country and faced no issues while exploring some offbeat places like Ritigala

Dialog has the largest customer base, followed by the SLTMobitel. They provide seamless 4G and 5G internet connectivity at an excellent speed, wide network coverage, and value for money. We also discussed with locals and found that Dialog is the best service provider in the country.

Prepaid And Postpaid Plans In Sri Lanka For Tourists

Prepaid services are “pay before you use,” and Postpaid services are “use first pay later.” The postpaid services require utility bill proof valid for 6 months or a Sri Lankan bank account statement for 3 months to verify the address. Since you would have neither, as a foreigner, you can only use prepaid services. But don’t worry, even the residents prefer prepaid plans over post-paid ones. The former is cheaper and helps you avoid the shock at the end of every month.

You can choose your plan with the prepaid option, but you must pay upfront to enjoy the benefits. You can also recharge to get add-ons or even upgrade your plan. Once the plan expires, you must top-up to continue the services. 

Documents Required

A passport is all you need. Suppose the passport doesn’t have your address. In that case, you need to provide proof of residence in your country, like an identity card or driver’s license, and a letter asking to accept your home country’s identity card as their address proof with your signature. At the time of purchase, you will be asked to do a digital sign confirming your purchase.

How Is The Internet Speed In Sri Lanka?

Sri Lanka has good network connectivity when compared to most countries. The speed is quite good in the cities, but it does vary widely in remote areas.

How Much Does It Cost?

If you purchase the SIM Card at the airport, 

Network providerPlan DescriptionCost
Dialog50 GB, Whatsapp Unlimited, Rs. 250 calls & SMSLKR 2450
20 GB,Rs. 200 calls & SMSLKR 1400
30 GB,Rs. 200 calls & SMSLKR 1800
100 GB, Rs. 200 calls & SMSLKR 3200
Airtel30 GB (1 GB data per day) + 5GB backup data, Unlimited FREE local callsLKR 2000
60 GB (2 GB data per day) + 5GB backup data, Unlimited FREE local callsLKR 2700
SLTMobitel20 GB, Unlimited social media – YouTube, Whatsapp, Twitter, Facebook, and InstagramUnlimited data and local callsLKR 2600
60 GB, Unlimited social media – YouTube, Whatsapp, Twitter, Facebook, and InstagramUnlimited data and local callsLKR 3600
*All the above plans are valid for 30 days, and the price includes taxes. 

Disclaimer: The prices are subject to change often based on the USD. The prices given here are only for your reference.

If you buy the SIM from the airport, there are no separate charges. The cost includes the SIM card charge and the plan’s cost. If you’re purchasing from retail stores, an additional service charge of LKR 150 is levied for the SIM card. 

Digital SIM Or eSIM

If there is no card slot on your mobile, you can purchase an eSIM from the SLTMobitel service provider.

Where To Get A SIM Card In Sri Lanka?

Best SIM card provider in Sri Lanka

At The Airport

The process is very easy and seamless. Just give your passport and mobile, and choose the plan that best suits your needs. The card will be activated within 5 minutes. When you give your mobile, they will open the SIM card slot, insert the card, check if the SIM is activated, and return the phone.

All three network providers have their shops at Bandaranaike International Airport, Colombo. You can enquire at the airport’s information desk if you cannot locate the store.

Twin’s tip: We highly recommend you purchase a SIM card at the airport, as the prices for the same SIM and plan are twice as high in other retail stores. We walked into a retail store and were taken aback by the amount they charged.

At Exclusive Retail Outlets

There are multiple retail outlets spread across the country. They are usually found in main towns and cities. Use Google Maps to find the one closest to you.

How To Activate The SIM Card?

Once your details are verified, your SIM Card will be activated within 5 to 10 minutes of purchase. You don’t have to take any extra steps to activate your SIM. However, ensure that you leave the airport only after it is activated. Just to avoid another trip to the place.

Validity Of The SIM Card

Most tourist SIM Cards bought at the airport are typically valid for only 30 days. However, upon request, you can have the SIM validity extended to a period equal to the validity of the VISA.

Top-up/ Recharge

You can visit any retail outlet if your quota is over and you want to recharge. You can also do it online by downloading the app.

Is 5G Available In Sri Lanka?

High-speed 5G services are available, predominantly in the cities. However, in smaller towns and remote areas, the speed will depend on the strength of the network.

Roaming In Sri Lanka

There are no roaming charges within the country for a local SIM card. If you want to enjoy services from your home country’s SIM card, you have to pay the roaming fees applicable from where the SIM card was originally purchased. However, we advise you not to use your country’s SIM as the roaming charges are enormous and a sheer waste of money.

Helpful Tips

  • You can download your network provider’s app to track your current plan and data balance and recharge if your quota is over.
  • Generally, the telephone number bought in Sri Lanka starts with +94/ 0094 followed by 9 digits.
  • If you want to charge your device, know that most sockets are Type D and Type G plug types. Therefore, purchasing a universal adapter that can be used in 150+ countries, including Sri Lanka, is advisable.

Have you purchased a local SIM Card in Sri Lanka or any other country? Do share your helpful insights in the comments below.

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