A foreign SIM card is a great idea for any traveller staying in Italy for a week or longer. International plans with your home carrier will likely be expensive. When you buy an Italian SIM card, you are still getting all the services you would get from your carrier at home (calls, texts, and data usage), but an Italian carrier will be providing them. And the best part about it is… you can still use the phone you bought at home! A SIM card is easy to take in and out of your phone, and doing so does not affect any of your phone settings. The only thing that will change with a new SIM card is your phone number.


It can be kind of intimidating to figure out how to buy a SIM card in Italy, but don’t let that stop you! Follow these steps and the process will be a breeze…

  • Do some research

The actual process of buying a SIM card is not incredibly difficult. The most important thing to know is what carriers are available, and what plans they offer. The four most popular cell phone carriers in Italy are Vodafone, WIND, TIM, and Tre. Visit their websites to learn more about what they offer.

  • Make sure your current phone is “unlocked”

In order for your old SIM card to be removed, your phone has to be unlocked. Most phones (especially the newest versions of the iPhone) will already be unlocked. It is best to go to the store of your home cell phone carrier before you leave to get this taken care of; if your phone is not already unlocked, they can quickly do it for you.

  • Welcome to Italy! Find the provider you have determined you will purchase a SIM card with.

Pro tip: don’t buy a SIM card at the airport… it will probably be very expensive. It’s easy to get a train from the airport to Termini (Rome’s main train station), where many cell phone providers will have stores inside the station. Otherwise, you can wait until you get to the center of the city to find a store. Be sure you know what you’re paying for. Companies usually offer plans that allow you to “pay-as-you-go,” or pay a flat rate for a set amount of calls, texts, add data.

  • Take your old SIM card out of your phone and put the new one in

The provider you purchased the SIM card with should be able to do this for you. Be mindful of the fact that it may take a few hours for your new SIM card to activate once it’s installed. It is VERY important that you keep your old SIM card somewhere safe… you will need it once you return home!

  • Enjoy your vacation with your fully functional phone!

If your plan only includes a certain amount of calls, texts, and data usage, be sure to keep track of your consumption. Going over can be costly.

On vacation, your cell phone service is the last thing you want to have to worry about. If you come to Italy with a plan of action, you will have no problem keeping in touch with friends and family back home.

  1. I was in Rome last June.
    I tried for the first time a local mobile wifi hotspot instead of a local SIM card.
    In my opinion, it allows saving money and a lot of time…in many stores, the SIM activation by foreign tourists are becoming very difficult due to new anti-terrorist measures.
    For this reason, I suggest a service like witourist.

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