How can Expatriates secure a Mobile phone connection in India?

SIM card india

How can Expatriates secure a Mobile phone connection in India?

One of the most common challenges faced by expatriates moving to India is that of acquiring an Indian Mobile number. Applying for a SIM card in India is a tedious process even for local Indians as it involves submitting a lot of documents and identification cards for verification. Those Expatriates who receive a phone number from their employers do not have as much of a challenge as those who wish to take a SIM in their own name.

The individual has a choice of applying for a SIM card from various Telecom companies operating in India and have a choice of multiple data plan packages. There is also an option of seeking a local SIM card with the pre-paid facility or postpaid billing.

We will discuss the process of securing a prepaid plan below.

Foreigners moving to India must ensure complete documentation for quick access to a personal mobile number in India, but first, they must ensure that they possess a mobile phone which will operate in India.

Documents required :

The government of India is tightening the regulations on the sale of SIM cards due to security reasons.  The minimum document requirements for a Foreigner to secure a SIM under the prepaid method are :

  • Two passport size photographs
  • A copy of the passport
  • Copy of the Visa
  • A copy of the proof of the address in the home country.
  • Proof of address within India.


A duly filled form will have to be submitted to the TELCO along with the documents mentioned above. The SIM card can be purchased immediately for a cost of around INR 550 and is usually activated within 24 hours after a verification call is received from the service provider.  SIM validity is three months. Once three months elapse, the SIM is required to be revalidated.


  • Minimum balance of Rs 250.
  • International calls (US/Canada) Rs.7 per minute
  • International text messages Rs.5 per message
  • Calls to a cell phone in India Rs.1 per minute
  • Local text messages Rs.1 per message.


Malini Vinod

Malini joined the relocation industry over a decade ago, with prior experience in the hospitality industry. Malini started her career over two decades ago having worked with organizations like Brooke Bond, Standard Chartered Bank.

  • Dinesh
    Posted at 19:46h, 21 June Reply

    nicely put Malini.. this article shall help an expat to plain sail the tedious process…

  • Vinod Sharma
    Posted at 15:13h, 24 June Reply

    Very informative article, Malini! Just wondering once the Pre-Paid sim is activated how long this remains validated – life long or period of Expatriate’s visa?

  • Mukesh Kailash
    Posted at 14:27h, 01 July Reply

    Very Informative and will be helpful for expats

  • Santhosh
    Posted at 16:38h, 20 January Reply

    Hi Thank you for the above information, is there any permanent mobile phone connection available for Indian expatiates. If yes please advice

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