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How to buy SIM card in Nepal?

Currently Nepal has three nationwide mobile network operator and their SIM card network is available in most of the places. As people find it difficult to get the information for the buying SIM cards, they keep on asking for detailed information. This is true for foreigners or Nepalese coming from abroad and also for People living in Nepal. This post, we will provide the detailed information for how and where to buy SIM cards in Nepal.

When we say SIM card, it is mostly of GSM technology. Most of the people’s mobile/cell phone also supports GSM sim card.

People from abroad also have roaming facility enabled in their home SIM card. Some of them prefer to use the same SIM card with their own number. But as some find it expensive to use international roaming, they look for a local SIM card for their stay in Nepal. Of course they will save huge money by doing so.

Which SIM card to choose?

The three Nationwide Mobile network operators are Nepal Telecom (NTC), Ncell and Smart Telecom. Nepal Telecom is the oldest and pioneer telecom operator (owned by Government) in Nepal with many services like GSM (2G, 3G, 4G) CDMA, ADSL, WiMAX and more. Whereas Ncell is the leading private mobile operator with 2G, 3G, and 4G mobile services. Then there is Smart Telecom which has 2G and 4G service.

Regarding the coverage, Ntc and Ncell have almost similar coverage. But if you are one of those who love to travel to the rural areas either for work or travel, we recommend to use Ntc SIM card. Recently the regultor finds Nepal Telecom (Ntc) to have better voice quality in their mobile network. Ncell stands a little better for data service but Ntc’s data service is comparable in most of the areas. For data service, you can select either Ntc or Ncell as they have 3G and 4G services. Coverage of Ncell for 4G is bigger than Ntc.

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Smart Telecom is the third largest telecom operator but their coverage is quite limited. Find the latest update on their Smart Telecom coverage. If you are only visiting the major city areas like Kathmandu, Pokhara, Chitwan, then you can also select Smart’s SIM card. But make sure you have 4G enabled handset to use high speed data with the operator Smart as they don’t have 3G.

Where to buy/get?

If you are coming from abroad, you can buy the prepaid SIM cards in the international Airport itself. Currently Nepal has single international Airport called Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA). You can find the NTC and Ncell counters outside the arrival terminal. You can also ask the local security personnel for the SIM card counters in the Airport.

If you have missed to buy the SIM card in the Airport, you can also get the SIM cards in local shops of groceries, stationaries or pan pasal and some SIM cards shops. The SIM card is also available to buy near the bus parks like New bus park. Or You can take help of locals or the staffs in hotels where you are staying.

For a Nepali, it will be very easy to buy the SIM card whether you want to buy in International Airport, Local shops or bus parks.

What do you need to buy SIM cards?

For a foreginer, you need to show your passport, make a copy to attach it to a SIM card registration form. For Ncell, you just need to give your passport to make a copy, they will fill the required information in the form and ask for your local address. If you do not find anyone (as with Ntc office counters) to fill it for you, it’s easy to fill the form yourself and provide the required information and the cost of the SIM card. For a Nepalese, you need to provide a copy of your citizenship certificate, a photo and fill the registration form, and get a SIM card with its cost. There is also a requirement to sign and put left & right finger print in the registration form paper. Find the Nepal Telecom SIM card registration form. You can also print it yourself to submit at the counters.

Cost of a SIM card

In Nepal, SIM card plan only differs in Prepaid or Postpaid plan. Prepaid sim cards are mostly available in the local shops or airports. Most people also prefer Prepaid SIM cards as they do not have recurring rentals and use as you like. The price of prepaid SIM cards for all the three mobile operators is Rs 100 (Nepalese Rupees) where you get Rs 50 as a main balance. You may get some additional bonus as per the type of SIM card. If you are a foreigner coming for travel, you can also get a tourist pack enabled SIM card, which is available in international airport and major hotels/resorts.

Three in One SIM card

All the telecom operators now have the three in one SIM card, that can fit for any requirement of SIM size. Although most of the new mobile phones support nano-SIM, there are some cell/mobile phones that only supports Micro SIM or standard SIM. Nano SIM is the smallest of all while Micro SIM lies in between the standard SIM and nano SIM. So, such three in one SIM card will allow you to change to other sizes without cutting or using any SIM adapters.

Topups/recharge

For the top-ups/recharge, you can find the recharge cards from the amount Rs 50 to Rs 500 in most of the places. For top-ups/recharge also, you need not worry. You can even ask help of the local shopkeepers for the recharging your account. These days, as people prefer recharging from mobile digital wallets, you can even ask your local friend (if you have or need to make one) to top-up your account and pay by cash.

Buy packs

All three operators now provides the method to buy data, voice packs using some dial codes. Here is how you can buy packs in Ntc, Ncell, and Smart.

  • For Ntc: Dial *1415# and select the packages inside.
  • Ncell: Dial *17123# and select the packages inside.
  • For Smart: Dial *141#  and select the packages inside.

Mobile balance check

Similarly for Mobile balance check, you need to dial different numbers to get the balance info. Here is how you can check mobile balance in Ntc, Ncell and Smart.

  • For Ntc: Dial *400# and you will get the balance information.
  • Ncell: Dial *101#
  • Smart: Dial *123#

Data Speed

The technologies that Nepalese mobile operators support are: GSM (2G), WCDMA (3G) and LTE (4G). 2G networks are available in the most of the place but has a slow data speed. But for places where there is no 3G, 4G, you may have to adjust your pace to the 2G data speed. For 3G, the mobile data speed ranges from around 1 Mbps to 7 Mbps, with 3 Mbps in average. Whereas for 4G, the internet data speed ranges from 2 Mbps to 15 Mbps, in around 7 Mbps average. The data speed differs from the place (coverage) and the time of usage.

All in all, the SIM card buying in Nepal is pretty easy. With the all the requirement information provided above, we hope it will be more easy not only to get the SIM card but also to use it.

If you have any queries, feel free to ask us below in comments or in our Facebook page.

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