SIM card and Internet in Iran
Providing a local SIM card with a personal number for
making international calls and using High-speed broadband
You are planning to travel to Iran, but you are not sure how to navigate the internet in Iran. Worry not, since we have every bit of Information you need in order to stay in touch with the world despite the internet censorships. keep in mind that almost anywhere in the country (unless hardly reached natural sites) internet service is accessible and with having a SIM-Card you will be easily able to connect with the global village. Roaming in Iran is possible, mostly via IR-MCI, if you have a contract. You can inquire the prices from your network provider. However, you will probably end up paying hundreds of dollars for a two-week stay.
SIM Card for your cell phone is another important thing on a trip, and more important in Iran. That’s also the best way to access high-speed internet everywhere. You have to call back, send a message, or post a tweet to say the world how much fun you have in this ancient country.
Recently Iranian government has made it compulsory to register all imported cell phones to prevent smuggling! Based on this new policy, an activation code is assigned to each imported cell-phone or tablet!
Tourists can use their phones for 30 days with no registration needed. But if they want to stay more than 30 days or come back later, they should register their phones at customs offices at international airports. Tourists who use their own SIM cards with roaming services would not face this issue. The registration is not free of charge! You need to pay 18% of your phone’s price to register it and be able to use your SIM card and its services.
Making an International Call from Iran
Locked and unlocked are the words that you might hear a lot on your journey. The locked mobile phone is configured to the way that you cannot insert Sim cards from other mobile providers. On the contrary, the unlocked mobile phone can be used in every country. So, it can be easily switched to the local mobile SIM card (mobile provider in the destination country) and benefit from using cheaper deals and services. Using the locked mobile phones will cost an extra charge based on the roaming services of mobile operator.
As a consequence, it is necessary to unlock your mobile phone by paying an extra charge. If you have purchased your mobile phone from countries such as the USA, Australia, New Zealand and a few European and Asian countries, you are likely to have a locked mobile phone. If you're not sure what your mobile phone status is like, you can get notified by making a call to your operator support department.
In general, depending on the agreements between Iranian Telecommunication service provider and your mobile phone service provider, you may be or may not be able to use your phone from inside Iran. If such agreement is in place, you could use your phone in Iran and pay for it to your service provider. Of course, this is regardless of the roaming charges. But do not worry! We will solve this problem and provide you with a mobile phone during your stay in Iran.
What Is a Prepaid SIM Card?
You can also buy some pre-paid SIM card in Iran and use it as an Iranian uses it for local phone calls and international ones. Prepaid SIM cards are those for which credit is purchased in advance of service use (including local or international calls), rather than paying a bill at the end of the month. Prepaid users can use various mechanisms to top up their credit.
Mobile Phone Operators in Iran
Currently, there are three major providers in Iran: IR-MCI Hamrah-e Aval, MTN Irancell, and Rightel. All provide good services, yet most travelers stick with Irancell, probably because it is easier to register and their customer service centers, is more ubiquitous.
All three providers offer customers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services. There are rules and regulations when purchasing them. Passports and visa stamps must be shown before the SIM cards can be registered for use.
Hamrah-e Aval and Irancell are the two largest phone operators in Iran. Both companies offer SIM card services to foreign visitors and have an extended network coverage in Iran. I mention extended as most cities, highways and popular tourist destinations are covered, but 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 reasonable distance from, and in between large cities.
1. Hamrah-e Aval
Also known as the ‘Mobile Telecommunication Company’, is Iran’s first telecom provider and has been operating since 1992! Although they have an extended network and good service, only limited information is available in English.
What Package Do They Offer Tourists? Visitors to Iran can get a registered prepaid SIM card. Depending on the location the price of the SIM card varies. Airtime and data can be bought separately according to your needs.
Where Can You Buy It? Buy the SIM card directly at the Imam Khomeini airport after arrival or at one of the Hamrah-e Aval service centers in the cities. In order to activate your SIM card, you need your passport with valid visa for registration. For questions about your SIM card in English, you can also call 9990 (for Hamrah-e Aval customers) or 09129990 (for other numbers)
How Long Is Your SIM Card Valid? The SIM card will only expire once it’s unused for three months and 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.
Re-Charging Options: All SIM Cards should be charged by the prepaid credits to get operational.
1. Credit Vouchers: Travelers who don’t have access to the Iranian bank system can buy credit vouchers from newspaper shops or (mini) markets everywhere in the city. Vouchers can be bought from 1000 tomans to 20.000 tomans. In order to re-charge; scratch the silver seal open, dial*140*#16 digit pin number# and press OK. You can now use this credit as airtime or to purchase a data package as described below.
2. Data-Packages: Hamrah-e Aval offers different data-packages from one day to one week, one month, three months, six months and 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.
Iran’s second largest telecommunication company is part of the MTN group. Irancell also has a good coverage and offers better service in English, making it overall easier in use compared to Hamrah-e Aval.
What Package Do They Offer Tourists? Irancell offers visitor three different SIM card packages.
Where Can You Buy It? You can buy the SIM card directly at the Imam Khomeini Airport or at one of the MTN/Irancell service centres in the cities. In order to activate the SIM card, you need to register with your passport.
For questions about your SIM card in English, you can also call 09377070000 or 09377000000.
How Long Is Your SIM Card Valid? 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 30000 tomans plus the regular cost for airtime and mobile data.
Re-Charging Options: All SIM Cards should be charged by the prepaid credits to get operational.
1. Credit Vouchers: You can buy credit from all newspaper kiosks, grocery stores, and also hypermarkets. They give you a 16-digit pin to apply to your phone using USSD codes. The credit you buy is in the form of a little card which must be scratched for a 16-digit number to appear. Dial*141*16-digit no# and get your SIM card recharged. One of the first things you might inquire is how to put credit in it. Credit in Persian is “Sharj,” so the keyword would be “Irancell sharj or Hamrah-e Aval Sharj.” After scratching the ink that covers the pin, dial in*141*[16-digit pin] # and hit call. If you have entered the pin correctly, you should get a message with your new balance. Other providers give you a similar option for topping off your balance, yet the code is not the same; no worries though, as the relevant code is noted on the little cardboard you bought. You can now use this credit as airtime or to purchase a data package. Using ATMs, you can recharge your SIM directly; yet, it is only possible with an Iranian debit card. Here are a few other useful USSD codes: to inquire your credit balance, dial*141*1# and hit call; to change the language of your SIM to English, dial,*555*4*3*2# and hit call; to request your phone’s Internet setting, dial*555*4*2# and hit call.
2. Data-Packages: Irancell offers different data-packages from one day, three days, to one week, one month up to several years. Dial*555*5# to check the price of your desired data package, top it up with the vouchers, dial*555*5# again and make your purchase. You are now ready to surf online.
RighTel is the smallest operator in Iran with quite high prices and slow Internet speeds. It offers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services on the GSM platform.
Where Can You Buy It? Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official outlets and approved resellers. Credit can also be purchased from official outlets, approved resellers, corner stores, service stations and supermarkets. The best place to purchase and register the RighTel SIM card is at its flagship store near Sahid Navab-e Safavi Metro Station, Line 2. The office is directly next to the exit.
Your passport and visa stamp will have to be shown before you can purchase the SIM card. SIM registration is a legal requirement in Iran, so make sure you complete the process properly. Fingerprints may be requested, so you should explain if you don’t have a copy of your fingerprints, or agree to have your fingerprints taken. 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.
عکس از فضای چهانی اینترنت
Censorship Issues in Iran
You must be informed that gaining access to some websites like couchsurfing is not possible from inside Iran since these websites are filtered, which, of course, can be accessed with a proper VPN service. However, when you come across the following image, it means the site you are looking for is filtered.
So, don't get disappointed all together, since you can install anti-filtering applications or VPN's to gain access to such websites which are common in Iran and easily installed and used. It would suffice to install an anti-filter service on your mobile and then gain access to the websites you want to get to.
List of Most Popular Blocked Websites in Iran
Most websites considered to contain materials that go against the Islamic teachings and Iranian culture have been filtered and are; therefore, inaccessible. This includes, but is not limited to:
. Most news websites such as bbc.co.uk, abcnews.go.com, and washingtonpost.com
. Blogging platforms like wordpress.com and blogspot.com
. Communication tools, specially Telegram and Viber (although WhatsApp is accessible)
. Social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Myspace
. Media sharing platforms including YouTube and Netflix
Banned for Iran IPs
Also, be aware that some regulations in the US and European countries restrict the use of services for Iranian IPs, meaning you won’t be able to access Spotify or receive shipments from Amazon.
Additionally, you are likely to be faced with throttling, which is slowing or speeding of an internet service, and surveillance of your traffic and online conversations.
But does this mean you have to lose your connection with your family and friends or miss out on your favorite YouTuber’s next video? Of course not! It just means you must find yourself a trusted VPN that works, and you will be good to go.
What Is a VPN?
VPNs provide a wealth of privacy and anonymity features thank to something called encryption. This process wraps each packet of data that leaves your device in a layer of unbreakable mathematical code. No one can see what’s inside these packets except your device and your VPN, creating a tunnel of privacy between you and the internet.
VPNs also assign you a non-local IP address each time you connect. VPNs make it easy to stay hidden online, all without any extra effort on your part.
Although the use of VPNs is illegal, there are no records of people getting in trouble for using one, and this has not stopped Iranians from selling and buying VPNs, or even downloading free ones.
ISP throttling is a problem in Iran and many countries around the world. The practice artificially slows speeds for users accessing certain websites or services, gently encouraging them to use companies that have a deal with the ISP or local government. This is often entirely arbitrary and has no bearing on what services are best for users, only what serves the needs of the companies involved.
VPNs can help defeat throttling efforts by automatically masking your traffic. If an ISP can’t tell what site you’re trying to access, they can’t throttle it based on a pre-defined list. You can use the internet with full neutrality, surfing and shopping wherever you like at full speed.
It can be tempting to use a free VPN service to try and keep your data secure. Unfortunately, these companies simply cannot be trusted. Free VPNs don’t make money from their users, so they have to resort to other methods to keep their servers online. This usually means injecting ads into your browser or, worst of all, secretly collecting your data and selling it to third parties. If you value your privacy and security, avoid free VPNs in all their forms and choose a reliable, trusted paid service instead.
Some Tips to a Better Enjoyment of Internet in Iran
. Make sure you download your VPN before you go. Paying for subscriptions or even accessing some of these websites can be a difficult business once you are in Iran.
. Download more than just one VPN. It is always good to have a backup!
. If you want faster speed, connect to countries closer to Iran. Also, keep in mind that connecting to a VPN can drain your battery very quickly.