How to Get a Sim Card For Foreigners in Turkey?
When traveling abroad, it's often a bad idea to use your existing SIM card. Instead of paying crazy roaming charges, there are other solutions; Get a local SIM Card. If you are moving or traveling to Turkey and will stay at least 1 week or longer, it is reasonable to get a SIM card and a phone number.
The good thing is that Turkish SIM cards are generally not very expensive depending on how much data you use and how long you stay. There are only three GSM providers in Turkey: Vodafone, Turkcell, and Türk Telekom with around 75 million subscribers. All operators mostly have good coverage and speed. Turkey is pretty advanced when it comes to mobile technology.
Obtaining SIM Card in Turkey
If you’re arriving in Istanbul, you can purchase both Pay-As-You-Use and Prepaid SIM cards from the official stores of GSM Operators, located on the arrival floors of the Istanbul Airport and Sabiha Gökçen International Airport, at major transport stations, and central streets in every Turkish city (Available on Google Maps).
Since the shops at the Istanbul Airport are mostly dedicated to tourists, you can find a lot of information about the opportunities in flyers and posters or negotiate with absolutely good English-speaking store vendors. So you don't need to spend a lot of time finding the right store (stores in the downtown are mostly dedicated to locals) with enough offers for tourists and good English-speaking store vendors. Please check the tariffs from their websites about the tariffs, before you arrive in the city.
You can top up your SIM card from the official stores of GSM Operators, or online by your credit card. Foreign credit cards can also be used.
Which documents needed to purchase a SIM card?
All you need to purchase a SIM Card is a valid passport or recognized travel document. Under Turkish law, all SIM cards must be registered and can only be purchased with a valid passport.
Also, note that all phones purchased from foreign countries will stop working after 120 days from the day they were first used in Turkey. You can continue to use it only after paying the registration fee.
What about prices?
All Turkish GSM operators offer tariffs for travelers similar to those found elsewhere in Europe. They have different options that will allow you to update your social media, stay connected with your friends and family. Pay-As-You-Use SIM cards with non-contract consumable minutes only packages vary from 5 Euros to 15 Euros and Prepaid SIM cards (calls, SMS, internet/data) range from 10-15 Euros to 20-25 Euros per month. Please note that tourist packages may differ from the standard local rates.
Most of the tourists prefer the Tourist Welcome Pack that costs 149 TL (18 Euros) for 20 GB of mobile data, 200 minutes local and international calls, by Turkcell, the leading telecommunication company in Turkey with more than 34 million subscribers, or Vodafone's Exclusive Pack (Tourist SIM) that costs 40 TL (5 Euros) with 20 GB data, 750 minutes local calls.