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Staying connected when traveling can be a real hassle. Finding local Sim cards or paying high data roaming fees only serve to add stress and costs to most travel experiences. Finding the right option when abroad can be challenging and expensive, and more often than not your best option is to go with a local provider. However, finding a local provider and setting up a new line can be problematic depending on local laws and language barriers. The Indian Association of Tour Operators is listening and is aiming to boost international travelers’ connectivity by offering free SIM cards to visitors.
How it Works
This will see travelers arriving at Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) in New Delhi, being offered a free local SIM card upon arrival. To be eligible for the free SIM card, you must be arriving using the e-visa system. The IATO plans to extend this promotion to 15 airports around the country that also offer the e-visa facility. The SIM is restricted to e-visa travelers since their information is available in advance, which allows the company to sync the SIM information with the travelers’ data well in advance. The e-visa system is open to citizens of 150+ countries who are visiting India for medical, leisure, or casual business reasons.
The free SIM card is offered by the government-run telecom operator BSNL. The card will come pre-loaded with 50 MB of data, and 50 rupees ($0.85) of credit. The credit can be used for making calls and is valid for one month. More importantly for international travelers, the SIM card has a 24-hour helpline that is available in 12 languages including English, German, Japanese, and Russian.
How to Get Your Free SIM
To obtain your free SIM card is relatively straightforward, all you need to do is present the information page of your passport along with a copy of your e-visa to receive your free SIM. The new process is an enormous improvement on the previous system of obtaining an Indian SIM. Previously you had to submit a photocopy of your passport, a valid visa stamp, proof of address, personal photographs, and the address of a local reference, which was hardly worth the effort if you were in the country for a week or two, since it often took several days just to get your card activated.
This latest step from IATO is a great step forward for Indian tourism; staying connected and sharing our travel experiences with friends and family on social media is a must. Any step that makes this easier is a great move in the right direction.
Source: The Points Guy/Emily McNutt
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