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India to Hand Out Free SIM Cards With Tourist Visas

Distribution is expected to begin September 27—here’s what you need to know.

Free Sim Card with e-tourist visa
If you’re visiting India and planning on buying a SIM card to use in your own phone for the duration of the trip, you might want to consider postponing your travels until late September. For years, it’s been notoriously difficult to procure a SIM in the subcontinent—from sourcing a retailer who’s even willing to sell to a non-resident to endless paperwork, passport photos, documentation, and a complicated activation protocol. That’s why the government has decided that, starting at the end of September, anyone arriving in India on an e-tourist visa—a visa that’s available to residents of over 113 countries, including the United States—will be automatically be issued a SIM card, along with a welcome packet that includes a “dos and don’ts” list, maps, and emergency contact information. The government will issue the SIM cards through BSNL (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited), a state-owned telecommunications company that’s the sixth-largest mobile service provider in the country.

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