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Getting an Icelandic Sim Card

    Updated: 29th January 2024

    Two iPhones
    Credit: HS You

    Understanding Icelandic SIM Cards

    When travelling to Iceland, you’ll have options between different types of SIM cards along with the choice between prepaid and contract plans. It’s important to select the right one to stay connected during your visit.

    Types of SIM Cards Available

    In Iceland, you can choose between a physical SIM card or an eSIM. With a physical SIM card, such as those offered by Síminn, you’ll get a tangible card that fits into your mobile device. eSIMs, like those from Nomad, are digital SIM cards that are activated electronically without the need for a physical card.

    Prepaid vs Contract SIM Cards

    You have two main options when it comes to service plans: prepaid and contract. With prepaid plans, you pay upfront for a certain amount of credit, which you can use for calls, texts, and data. For instance, Airalo offers prepaid eSIM plans with different data allowances. Contract plans require signing an agreement with the provider for continuous service over a set period, but might not be suitable for short-term visitors.

    Purchasing a SIM Card in Iceland

    When visiting Iceland, staying connected is straightforward if you decide to purchase a local SIM card. This allows access to local rates for calls, texts, and data.

    Where to Buy SIM Cards

    In Iceland, you can pick up a SIM card at various locations:

    • Airport Shops: Upon landing, shops in the airport offer SIM cards, making it convenient to get connected right away.
    • Service Providers: Outlets such as Síminn offer physical SIM cards that you can purchase and top up as needed.
    • Electronics Stores: Several electronics shops throughout Iceland sell SIM cards.
    • Gas Stations and Supermarkets: Some gas stations and supermarkets stock SIM cards, especially in larger towns and cities.

    Required Documentation

    To purchase a SIM card in Iceland, you’ll typically need to present:

    • A valid form of identification: This can be your passport or another government-issued ID.
    • Payment Method: Credit card or cash to pay for the SIM card and any associated credit or data plans.

    Activating Your Icelandic SIM Card

    Before you can start enjoying the convenience of a local phone number and data services, activating your Icelandic SIM card is a crucial step. It’s a straightforward process that will connect you to Iceland’s extensive mobile network.

    Steps for Activation

    1. Insert Your SIM Card: Ensure your phone is powered off. Carefully insert the Icelandic SIM card into your handset’s SIM tray and switch your phone back on.
    2. Enable Mobile Data & Roaming: Navigate to your phone’s settings and ensure that both mobile data and data roaming options are turned on. This will allow your phone to access the network.
    3. Enter PIN: If prompted, enter the PIN number that came with your SIM card packaging.
    4. Wait for Network Registration: Your phone should automatically register with the local network. This may take a few minutes, and you’ll see the signal bars once it’s complete.
    5. Make a Test Call or Send a Text: It’s wise to make a test call or send a text message to confirm that your SIM is active.
    6. Top-Up If Necessary: Depending on your SIM type, you might need to top up your card with credit.

    Troubleshooting Common Issues

    • Not Getting Signal: If you don’t see any signal bars, try restarting your phone or reinserting the SIM card.
    • Incorrect PIN: If you enter the wrong PIN, you’ll have a limited number of attempts before the SIM locks. Use the PUK (Personal Unblocking Key) provided to unlock it.
    • Can’t Connect to Data: If your data isn’t working, check your APN (Access Point Name) settings. The correct APN details are often included in your SIM’s packaging or available on the provider’s website.
    • SIM Not Recognised: Ensure your phone is unlocked. If it’s locked to a carrier, it won’t accept an Icelandic SIM card. Contact your current carrier for unlocking before you travel.

    Using Your SIM Card in Iceland

    When you’re travelling in Iceland, staying connected is straightforward if you’ve got a SIM card. You’ll enjoy reliable network coverage, easy top-up options, and high-speed internet, providing you with a seamless experience as you explore the land of fire and ice.

    Network Coverage and Speed

    • Network Coverage: Across Iceland, three main mobile providers – Síminn, Vodafone Iceland, and Nova – ensure extensive coverage. Síminn is hailed for offering the broadest coverage, especially in rural areas. Traveltomtom recommends a Simmin SIM card for this very reason, as you’re less likely to encounter connectivity issues, even when you venture outside of urban centres.
    • Speed: Don’t fret about being stuck with slow data; Iceland’s mobile networks boast impressive 4G/LTE services. If you have a compatible device, you’ll enjoy fast internet speeds that work well for browsing, streaming, and staying in touch with loved ones.

    Topping Up and Checking Balance

    • Topping Up: It’s a breeze to add credit to your Icelandic SIM card. Most providers offer online top-up services, as well as vouchers available at various retail outlets and petrol stations. Ensure your adventures aren’t hindered by running out of credit by frequently topping up.
    • Checking Balance: To keep track of your spending, simply use the mobile provider’s app or dial the balance enquiry number specific to your provider. You’ll receive an instant update via text or through the app, helping you manage your usage effectively.

    International and Roaming Options

    When visiting Iceland, understanding your options for international roaming or purchasing a local SIM card can save you from unexpected charges and ensure you stay connected.

    Roaming Charges and Policies

    Roaming with your current provider might seem convenient, but it can lead to significant costs. Before you travel, it’s crucial to check your provider’s international roaming policies and the fees associated with data, calls, and texts in Iceland. Some may offer travel packages which reduce these costs temporarily.

    Choosing a SIM Card for International Visitors

    For a more economical choice, consider purchasing an Icelandic SIM card. Providers such as Síminn, Nova, and Vodafone have varied options, some even tailored for tourists. You’ll likely find the best deals and widest coverage with Síminn. For flexible data plans and eSIM options, you might consider Airalo’s eSIMs, which can be convenient and sometimes cheaper. Ensure the SIM card you choose works with your phone and offers the needed coverage, especially if you’re planning to visit other European countries.

    SIM Card Tips and Tricks

    When travelling to Iceland, getting a local SIM card can be a smart way to stay connected without incurring hefty roaming charges. Here are some tips to help you:

    Choosing the Right Provider:

    • Coverage: Choose a provider like Síminn, known for widespread coverage in Iceland.
    • Data Allowances: Consider providers such as Vodafone and Nova that offer generous data plans.

    Before You Purchase:

    • Ensure your phone is unlocked and can support Icelandic networks.
    • Compare plans online but remember, you may need a passport to purchase a SIM card in-person.

    Purchasing Options:

    • Airport: Buy a SIM upon arrival for convenience.
    • In-flight: If you’re flying with Icelandair, purchase a SIM from the main providers onboard.
    • Online: Buying a European prepaid SIM card online before travelling can be handy.

    Data Connection:

    • Post-purchase, make sure your data connection works before leaving the store or airport.

    Alternative Options:

    • If you prefer a fuss-free setup or need only data, consider an eSIM from Nomad.
    ProviderBest ForCoverageNotable Features
    SíminnOverall CoverageWidespreadGood for 5G availability
    NovaData AllowancesCompetitiveOffers 5G to prepaid users
    VodafoneData PlansGenerous offersIncludes large data packages

    Use these tips to ensure a smooth experience as you explore the stunning landscapes of Iceland with a reliable mobile connection at your fingertips.

    Check out our other handy guides for everything else you might need to bring on your trip!

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