Traveling to Tanzania and need a local SIM card for your phone? Getting a Tanzanian SIM card is easy and affordable, whether you just need call and text access or want lots of data for using apps and maps. Here’s a complete 2023 guide to getting the best Tanzania SIM card for your needs!

tanzania sim cards

I. Should I Buy a New SIM Card for My Tanzania Trip?

mobile internet in Tanzania

For most travelers visiting Tanzania, getting a local SIM card is highly recommended. Here are some of the key benefits:

  • Avoid expensive roaming charges – Using your home SIM card in Tanzania can result in very high roaming fees for calls, texts and data. A local SIM lets you pay local rates.
  • Access data affordably – Bulk data packages are very cheap with Tanzanian SIM cards. This makes using maps, travel apps, social media and other data needs affordable.
  • Make cheap local calls – Local calls and texts are extremely inexpensive. Getting a SIM helps you easily stay in touch affordably.
  • Gain a local number – Having a Tanzanian phone number can be useful for arranging tours, accommodation, restaurant reservations and more during your stay.
  • Enjoy strong network coverage – Tanzania’s main networks have excellent nationwide coverage, keeping you connected throughout your travels.

For short trips under a week, some travelers do fine without swapping SIMs if they are willing to stay in airplane mode mostly and just use WiFi. But for any longer visit, getting a Tanzanian SIM is highly advisable for seamless connectivity.

II. Tanzania SIM Card Types – Which One is the Best for Tourists?

When shopping for a Tanzanian SIM card, you’ll find these basic types:

Prepaid SIMs

This is the most common choice for travelers, allowing you to pay as you go. You can top up your account balance easily as needed. Local prepaid SIMs are inexpensive and plans are flexible. Some key pointers:

  • No contracts – Prepaid is commitment-free, you just top up when you want.
  • Affordable data – Prepaid data bundles offer great value, like 1 GB for around $2 USD.
  • Easy top-ups – You can recharge your prepaid SIM at thousands of shops, ATMs or with mobile money.
  • Validity – Credit and data bundles usually expire in 1-2 months if unused. But you can always recharge again.

For these reasons, prepaid SIMs make the most sense for foreign visitors to Tanzania. You can get exactly the service you need with no contracts.

Postpaid SIMs

Postpaid or contract SIMs require a 1-2 year commitment, along with providing residency documents. As a tourist, postpaid plans aren’t an option. Stick to prepaid SIMs.


Electronic or digital SIMs don’t require a physical card. Just download a profile to access local networks. eSIMs are slowly becoming available in Tanzania from a few providers, but physical SIM cards still reign supreme.

III. How Much Data is Enough for a Prepaid Tourist SIM Card for Tanzania?

Tanzanian SIM cards make mobile data very budget-friendly for travelers. For light users who just use maps occasionally, 2 GB could be plenty for a 1-2 week trip. With moderate usage of social apps, maps and more, 5 GB should easily last a week. Heavy data users may want 10 GB or more for a week.

You can always top up your data plan anytime. Rates are around:

  • 1 GB data = $2 USD
  • 5 GB data = $5 USD
  • 10 GB data = $8 USD

Tanzania has excellent 4G/LTE coverage even in remote regions, so speed is rarely an issue. The main carriers all offer strong data networks suitable for tourism.

To conserve your data:

  • Connect to WiFi whenever possible at your hotel and in cafes.
  • Download offline Google Maps for the areas you’ll be visiting.
  • Enable data saving modes in social apps like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

With a few smart habits, even just 2-3 GB can stretch a long way over a week or two in Tanzania.

IV. How Much Does a Tanzania SIM Card Cost?

In Tanzania, SIM cards themselves are inexpensive, usually under $2 USD. The main expense is topping up your account balance and purchasing data bundles.

Here are typical costs to consider:

  • SIM card – Between 500-2,000 TZS ($0.20 – $0.85 USD). Often includes small starter credit.
  • Top up vouchers – Start around 1,000 TZS ($0.40). Validity is 180 days.
  • Data bundle – 1 GB is around 5,000 TZS ($2), 5 GB for 12,000 TZS ($5). 30 day validity.
  • Calls and texts – Domestic calls from 10 TZS/minute (less than $0.01 USD). SMS around 50 TZS ($0.02 USD).

So in total, expect to budget around $10 USD for a prepaid SIM card with a 5 GB 30-day data plan and some extra call/text credit. With data costs being so affordable, most travelers find staying connected with a local SIM very reasonable.

V. Tanzania eSIM – Alternative to Physical SIM Cards

Electronic SIMs or eSIM profiles are slowly being launched by Tanzanian providers. Instead of using a plastic SIM, you simply install a mobile plan digitally. eSIMs can avoid the hassle of finding and swapping physical SIM cards.

how esimtanzania benefits you by GIGAGO offers affordable Tanzania eSIM data plans starting from only $5 for 1GB valid for 7 days, up to 10GB for 30 days for $28.90. The plans include high-speed 4G/LTE data on the Vodacom network, providing reliable coverage across Tanzania. provides instant eSIM delivery via email, allowing travelers to conveniently set up their connectivity before arriving in Tanzania.

tanzania esim

Hotspot/tethering is also supported, enabling users to share their internet with other devices. 24/7 customer support is available to assist with any setup or usage issues. With Gigago’s Tanzania eSIM, staying connected while traveling has never been easier or more affordably priced.

VI. Where to Buy a Tanzania SIM Card?

tigo sim card in tanzania where to buy

Buying a SIM card in Tanzania is easy. Here are some of the best options:

  • Airports – Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro, and Zanzibar airports all have phone shops with various SIMs available. Prices are fair and staff can help set up your service.
  • Local phone shops – In any town, you’ll find small independent phone shops selling SIMs with hassle-free setup. Avoid the hotels which charge more.
  • Supermarkets – Bigger grocery store chains like Shoprite also sell prepaid SIMs from all the major carriers. Simple and reliable.
  • Carrier offices – Storefronts for Vodacom, Airtel, Tigo, and other providers sell their SIMs directly. Offers access to sales staff.

When purchasing your Tanzanian SIM:

  • Bring your passport for identification and registration
  • Know which carrier you want from recommended options
  • Ask about data bundle rates to understand the best value
  • Make sure to get the seller to activate your SIM and test it

Choosing reputable sellers like airports, carriers, or big stores can be safer than small shops. But plenty of travelers have success buying SIMs from local vendors too.

VII. How to Use Tanzania SIM Cards

Using your new Tanzania SIM card is straightforward. Here are the key steps:

  1. Insert SIM – Turn off your phone, remove previous SIM, insert the new Tanzanian SIM.
  2. Restart phone – Power your phone back on. The SIM will register on the local network.
  3. Top up – Add airtime credit by purchasing top up vouchers at stores, ATMs, etc.
  4. Check balance – Dial *123# to check your account balance.
  5. Purchase data – Text a bundle code like “Data5GB” to the carrier number to get a data plan from your balance.
  6. Make calls/texts – Dial phone numbers to call locally or internationally. Contacts will see your new Tanzanian number.
  7. Manage account – Use USSD codes to check usage, recharge and more. Dial *123# or *125#.
  8. Remove SIM – When finished, turn off phone again to take out the Tanzanian SIM and replace your usual SIM.

Most tourists have an easy, hassle-free experience using Tanzania SIM cards for connectivity. Following those steps will get you started quickly.

VIII. Best Tanzania SIM Card Plans

Tanzania has a highly competitive telecom market with several major providers. The top options for reliable service are:

Operator Time Volume On-net Calls Price (TZS) Price (USD)
Halotel 24 hours 250 MB (*) TSH 999 ~$0.43
1.5 GB TSH 2,000 ~$0.86
7 days 1.3 GB 40 mins TSH 5,000 ~$2.15
12 GB 100 mins TSH 12,000 ~$5.17
30 days 850 MB 20 mins TSH 4,999 ~$2.15
Vodacom 1 day 70 MB TSH 500 $0.22
7 days 500 MB TSH 3000 $1.29
Tigo 24 hours 70 MB TSH 500 $0.22
7 days 400 MB TSH 3,000 $1.29

Halotel generally offers plans with the largest data volumes, while Vodacom and Tigo have more affordable short-term options. Travelers can consider these plans depending on their data needs and length of stay in Tanzania. Purchasing a SIM card and data bundle from one of these providers provides a cost-effective way to access mobile internet while visiting the country.

IX. Tips for Saving Data for Tanzania SIM Card

To get the most out of your data plan and minimize usage:

  • Use WiFi whenever available – Ask lodgings for the password. Seek out WiFi cafes daily if possible.
  • Download offline Google Maps – For key destinations and transit routes, save Maps areas for navigation without data. Works offline.
  • Disable background updates – Pause auto-updates and background downloads in social media and messaging apps. They drain data quickly.
  • Close apps fully – Completely swipe away apps when done using them. Partially open apps still consume data in the background.
  • Turn off cellular data – When not needing internet access, go into Settings and switch Cellular Data to off.
  • Avoid bandwidth-heavy uses – Limit streaming music/video, video calls, and other data-hungry activities for essential use only.

Being smart about limiting background processes and intentional about when you need data access goes a long way. A few prudent habits will keep your Tanzania SIM data usage low.


What documents do I need to buy a Tanzania SIM card?

For foreign tourists, just bring your passport as ID. Some sellers may photocopy the ID page. No other paperwork required as a visitor.

Can I get a Tanzania SIM card on arrival at the airport?

Yes, at Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar airports, you’ll find phone shops after exiting customs where you can easily buy a Tanzanian SIM.

How long does a Tanzania SIM card take to activate?

Most sellers will activate and test the SIM for you on the spot. Otherwise may take up to 24 hours after first use to fully activate.

Can I use mobile payment systems with my Tanzanian SIM card?

Yes, many travelers use their local SIM to access Tanzanian mobile money systems like Tigo-Pesa, Vodacom’s M-Pesa and Airtel Money.

What network has the best coverage across Tanzania?

Vodacom currently has the widest reach, but Airtel and Tigo also provide strong nationwide coverage suitable for tourists.

XI. Final Words

A Tanzanian SIM card is a handy travel essential for any visit beyond a few days. With inexpensive data and calling rates, you can stay connected affordably across Tanzania.

Locals SIMs are easy to find, convenient to set up, and provide reliable service through the top national networks like Vodacom and Airtel. For under $10 USD, you can get voice service and several GB of data for a week or two of travel.

By picking up a prepaid Tanzania SIM card on arrival, you’ll be set for navigating, communicating, sharing and accessing travel tools seamlessly during your adventures. Enjoy the journey without roaming worries!