We’ve heard from some of you that getting a SIM card in Italy can be difficult, even when you have the proper documents.
Fortunately, regulations are starting to change. You’re now eligible to purchase a SIM card or mobile number if you have a valid passport from your country of origin or a valid permesso di soggiorno.
Below is a quick rundown of your options, depending on which document you use, to buy a mobile number.
If you have a passport from your country of origin
Most major mobile service providers in Italy, such as TIM, Vodafone and Wind/3, offer prepaid "international" SIM bundles that provide a set amount of data, SMS messages and call minutes. These offers are specifically for international calls (but still allow you to make local calls). To buy one of these bundles, you just need a valid passport as a form of documentation.
Major carriers like TIM and Lyca offer these bundles. But many other companies do, too.
You can usually find TIM and Lyca shops and kiosks near the central train stations of major cities throughout Italy.
If you have a valid permesso di soggiorno
If you have valid permit, you can purchase any kind of SIM bundle offered by any of the major service carriers. You can buy a SIM card from outlets of major providers like TIM, Lyca, or Vodafone, or from resellers.
To buy a SIM card, you will need to bring one of the following documents or combination of documents:
- Permesso di soggiorno or carta d'identità
- Carta d'identità and codice fiscale
- Italian driver’s license and codice fiscale
If you don't have a valid ID
Italian law requires you to show a valid ID when buying a mobile phone line. If you don't have a valid ID, you can't get a phone line, unfortunately.
I have an ID, but my friend doesn't. Can I buy him/her a SIM card?
Many mobile phone companies in Italy will allow you to buy multiple SIMs, and it's not illegal for your friend to use a SIM that you bought, as long you give him/her your permission. Your friend will need to come to the store with you when you buy the SIM for him/her.
Buying your friend a SIM does come with a risk: If your friend does anything illegal using a SIM card you bought him/her, you could be held responsible for his/her actions.
How much it costs
Italy has 16 different mobile service providers, each with different mobile service bundles.
You can have a phone line with internet, calls and SMS for as little as €5 per month or as much as €50 per month, depending on what you need.
Most prepaid SIM bundles have a set amount of data, SMS and international/local calls per month. In most cases, if you run out data, SMS or calling minutes before the month is over, you can recharge them using a recharge card.
As in most other countries, activating a new phone line may cost you something, but this can range from €5 to €10, depending on what kind of line you want.
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