Buying a SIM card is the first thing you should do in Iran to stay connected to the Internet and keep in touch with your family and friends back home. This is because using your home network in Iran could be really expensive and uneconomical. Kiosks selling SIM cards at Iran’s international airports are open round the clock. There are currently three main mobile network operators to choose from: Hamrah-e Avval, Irancell, and RighTel. All three offer prepaid SIM cards and data plans which depending on your usage can significantly reduce your costs.
Hamrah-e-Avval or the Mobile Telecommunication Company of Iran is the first and largest operator in the country. The state-owned company has a wide network coverage across the country and offers competitive rates. Hamrah-e-Avval SIM cards support 2G, 3G, and 4G LTE networks and can be used to access high-speed internet.
You can purchase Hamrah-e-Avval’s prepaid SIM cards at Iran’s international airports, the company’s official stores and approved resellers. You need to show your passport and visa stamp in order to be able to buy, register and activate a SIM card in Iran. There is a registration form to fill out and the SIM card will be active only after the registration process is completed which usually takes up to 24 hours.
Once your SIM card is activated you can make calls. You can also connect to the Internet by following these steps:
You can find Hamrah-e-Avval recharge top-up cards in most shops and newsstands in Iran. To add credit, you should dial *140*#<voucher PIN>#. To check your balance dial *140*11#. Dial *10*320# for your data balance.
Irancell is Iran’s second-largest mobile network operator and is partly state-owned. Like Hamrah-e-Avval, it boasts a solid coverage across Iran and offers 3G and 4G LTE services.
The company has kiosks at Iran’s international airports where you can purchase a pre-paid SIM card. You can also refer to one of Irancell’s official stores or re-sellers to buy a SIM card. Your SIM card will be registered on the network hours after making a purchase and completing the registration form.
You can activate your SIM card’s internet connection via one of the following methods:
- Dial USSD code *555*4*2#
- Enter the following parameters in your device’s setting:
- Visit the Get Mobile Internet Settings page
Once you have activated the Internet service, you need to purchase/activate a data plan. You can see a list of available plans on this page. You can also buy a plan online but you need a debit card connected to Shetab Banking System. Alternatively, you can purchase a data plan from Irancell’s official stores and re-sellers (You can save much time by purchasing a data plan at the time of buying the SIM card).
You can also top-up credit by buying recharge vouchers available at most stores and newsstands. Adding credit is very simple. Once you have got the voucher PIN, dial *144*1#<voucher PIN>#. You can check your balance by dialing *141*1#. Dial *555*1*4# for your data balance.
If you need to purchase a data plan using your credit you should dial *555*5#. The options will be displayed in Farsi and you need to know a little bit of the language (or ask a local’s help) to complete the purchase.
RighTel is the third mobile network operator in Iran. Its network coverage does not match that of the first two operators but it still covers all provincial capitals and major cities. It offer 3G and 4G LTE services for high speed internet. There is a similar registration process for RighTel SIM cards.
RighTel recharge top-up cards are available in most shops and newsstands in Iran. To add credit, you should dial *141*<voucher PIN>#. To check your balance dial *144#. You can dial *142# for a list of all available data plans.
Registering Your Phone
All mobile phones will work in Iran without any registration up to 30 days. But if you are planning to stay in Iran more than 30 days you need to register your phone on a domestic platform. The government introduced the phone registry scheme in late 2017 to counter smuggling.
The registration is done via this website. You need to know a little Farsi or ask a local’s help to register your phone. You will also need a debit card connected to the Shetab banking network in order to pay the importation tariff and complete the registry.