All about having access to the Internet, Wi-Fi and Sim Card in Iran
For almost everyone, it is critical to have access to the Internet and phone calls. It is more serious, while traveling, to be able to have contact with loved ones. Some people manage their internet needs with the Wi-Fi provided at their hotels, or public areas, however, others prefer to have their own network all the time.
When traveling around Iran, it would be more convenient to have your own sim card and internet.
Many public places, such as cafés, restaurants, and airports offer free Wi-Fi in Iran, however, it doesn't mean you have good coverage all the time, and of course not at all public places. better not to depend on those.
Here, we are going to answer all your questions about having access to the Internet in Iran, where you can find free Wi-Fi in Iran, how to buy and activate your sim card in Iran, and many more questions.
While we try to update our posts frequently, we recommend you to check the provided websites in this article, or contact us for the latest information.
Read more: Things to know before Travel to Iran
How is Internet access in Iran?
Internet is everywhere, but it is limited. Nowadays, you can access the Internet almost everywhere in Iran with some limitations.
Basically, there are three ways to access the internet in Iran:
- First of all, you can buy a local Sim Card, so you can have 24 hours’ access to the Internet.
- You can also use free Wi-Fi at Hotels, Café’s, and public centers.
- In addition, you can buy a pocket Wi-Fi internet, a portable Wi-Fi hot-spot that gives you access to the internet.
You need a VPN to access some Social Media Platforms (Facebook and Tweeter)
Having access to a number of websites is blocked by the Iranian government. At the time of writing, these included Facebook and Twitter as two major social media platforms.
However, Skype and Instagram are accessible at the time of writing. In addition to these social media platforms, BBC and most Western news services are also banned in Iran.
To get around blocked websites, you need a VPN service to freely search on the web. Although it can slow things down considerably, which can be particularly frustrating where the Wi-Fi is already slow.
Read more: Is it safe to visit Iran in 2020?
How can I buy a portable Wi-Fi hot-spot in Iran?
There are a number of internet service providers in Iran, however, only a few of them offer TD-LTE service, which is a high-speed wireless technology.
It uses a single carrier frequency for both uplink and downlink and uses the 3 and 4G networks to service customers.
The biggest advantage of TD-LTE service is that it is not limited to a single telephone number, and you can carry it with yourself to every city you travel to in Iran.
The best TD-LTE service providers are Irancell, Mobinnet, and Shatel. To have more information, you can check their websites (the only website of Irancell has an English version), or contact our travel experts.
What are the mobile phone operators in Iran?
Hamrah-e Aval, Irancell, and Rightel are mobile phone operators in Iran. These companies offer SIM card services to both locals and foreign visitors. They have extended network coverage in most cities, highways and popular tourist destinations.
However, the connection might get lost once you wander deep into the desert, the Kurdish mountains or the Mazandaran jungle. Basically, coverage will be guaranteed if you stay within a reasonable distance from, and in between large cities.
Read more: How to get Iran visa in 2020? (Complete guide)
How to buy a Sim Card in Iran?
Both Hamrah-e Aval and Irancell have booths at Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran. So, as soon as you arrive at the airport, you can simply purchase your sim card from one of these operators.
They have different offers designed for travelers, and an English language online platform. If you are tired from your flight and don’t want to buy a sim card at the airport, you can easily find official centers in every city, where you can buy a local sim card.
In order to buy and activate your Iran SIM card, you need your passport with a valid visa for registration.
Read more: Travel guide for solo women travelers in Iran
What is IMEI registration?
With the implementation of Iran’s National Mobile Registry Scheme back in 2017, all mobile phones must be registered to be eligible for using local Iranian SIM cards. This doesn't apply to foreign SIM cards roaming in Iran.
Since the actual implementation of the registry scheme in 2018, all new mobiles must be registered to receive service from Iranian mobile operators.
Travelers including ex-pats visiting Iran, foreign tourists and business people visiting the country are exempt. They can use Iranian SIM cards on their phones for a maximum of 30 days (since the first day of using the SIM card) without registering.
However, if you want to use an Iranian SIM card for more than 30 days, you must register your phone. To do this at the airport’s customs office, first, you need to pay an import tax for the device which will be determined by customs officials.
Read more: Iran Travel Insurance, How to choose the right travel insurance for Iran
Also known as the ‘Mobile Telecommunication Company’, is Iran’s first telecom provider. It has been operating since 1992. To buy a Hamrah-e Aval Sim card, you just need your passport and a valid Iran visa.
The SIM card will only expire once it’s unused for three months or has less than 5000 Tomans credit on it. So unless you come below this credit, you can keep your SIM card and use it again for your next visit to Iran.
In order to activate MCI internet, you should follow these steps:
First, send a blank SMS to 8088 or dial USSD code *10*231#.
Then go to http://mci.ir/notrino-settings for your cell phone settings or create an app manually:
- Name: mcinet
- APN: mcinet
- MCC: 432
- MNC: 11
- Authentication type: PAP
- APN type: default
Finally, dial USSD code *100# or go to MCI webpage for internet packages to purchase and activate your preferred internet package. For questions about your SIM card in English, you can also call 9990 (for Hamrah-e Aval customers) or 09129990 (for other numbers)
How to recharge Hamrah-e Aval Sim Cards?
To recharge your Hamrah-e Aval Sim card you should buy credit vouchers from newspaper shops or markets everywhere in the city. Vouchers have credits from 1000 to 20,000 Tomans.
First, you have to scratch the silver seal, and then dial *140*#15-digit pin number# and press OK.
You can now use this credit as airtime or to purchase a data package as described below.
Hamrah-e Aval offers different data-packages from only one single day to one year. Dial *100*2# to check the price of your desired data package, top it up with the vouchers, dial *100*2# again and make your purchase.
You are now ready to surf online.
Read more: Best Time to Visit Iran: A Season-by-Season Guide
Iran’s second-largest telecommunication company is part of the MTN group. It has good coverage and offers better service in English, making it overall easier in use compared to Hamrah-e Aval.
The visitor SIM packages will expire automatically after one month. If your trip is longer than one month you can buy a regular prepaid SIM card at the airport or at the MTN/Irancell service centers.
The price for a regular prepaid SIM card is 5000 tomans plus the regular cost for airtime and mobile data. For questions about your SIM card in English, you can also call 09377070000 or 09377000000.
How to recharge Irancell Sim Cards?
Irancell has three different types of Visitor SIMs, you can choose one according to your needs. These packages may change from time to time, here you can check the latest price of Irancell Sim Cards.
To recharge your Irancell Sim card you should buy credit vouchers from newspaper shops or markets everywhere in the city.
First, you have to scratch the silver seal, and then dial *141*15-digit pin number# and press YES/OK.
You can now use this credit as airtime or to purchase a data package as described below.
Read more: 6 Reasons for Traveling to Iran with a Tour guide or an Iranian tour operator
Rightel is the 3rd active telecom service in Iran. It works fine in particular parts of big cities, however, the limited coverage in small cities or rural areas might disappoint you.
The company was never able to gain enough popularity comparing to the other 2 providers anyway. If you decided to buy a RighTel Sim card, there’s only one place where you can purchase it.
The office is located at Shahid Navab-e Safavi Metro Station, Line 2 (Exit: West Azarbayejan Street, the office is right next to the exit). It is open until 6 pm. Your prepaid SIM card will be active as soon as the registration process has been completed.
Dial *141*1# as soon as you activate the SIM and follow the options to finish the registration process.
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