Getting a SIM card in Peru
Updated: Mar 30, 2020
Staying connected while travelling is a high priority for most tourists. Having internet connection is very important for multiple reasons, whether it is to talk to friends and family, post pictures on social media or to get around and find attractions, restaurants, etc. The best alternative is getting a local prepaid SIM card. There are two ways to get a SIM card in Peru as a tourist, we highly recommend PeruSIM as it is the easiest way for a tourist to get a local SIM card and a data plan that lasts 30 days.
Before arriving in Peru you must make sure that your phone is unlocked, that means that your carrier has not locked it to only work exclusively within their network. Nowadays most phones are unlocked and work with multiple networks. We recommend you make sure by calling your phone carrier before traveling.
Buying a SIM card has become a bit more tedious than before, for both tourists and nationals. The peruvian government has created very strict norms for obtaining a new phone number, this is because before no ID was required and phone lines were used for criminal activity. The authorities have enforced strong security regulations to make sure that every SIM card is linked to a person, for Peruvians this is done through a fingerprint reader which is checked with the national registrar. For tourists, the activation process can be done only in some pre-authorized locations and can only be bought with a passport. So we highly recommend you to avoid buying SIM cards from street vendors, phone repair stores or corner shops as these are very likely not authorized and in the best case scenario you will buy a SIM card that will only work a few days before being deactivated.
As mentioned before, the easiest way of obtaining a local SIM card as a tourist if through PeruSIM, where you can purchase your SIM card beforehand and have it delivered to your accomodation. You can also get a SIM card in Peru through the traditional channel which is going to a phone carrier’s main offices to have a prepaid SIM card activated. To do so, follow these steps: Step 1: Locate the nearest office, there is typically one or two in every major city. You must go with your passport and wait your turn, since these are main offices there are a lot of locals as well trying to solve issues with their services (typical wait time is 30 minutes).
Step 2: Once you get to the counter you must ask for a “chip prepago” which is how prepaid SIM cards are referred to in Peru. The cost for one of these goes from 5-15 soles (1.5 - 5 USD). Step 3: After getting your line activated you must top-up or “recargar” this will grant you credit or “saldo”. You can top-up at the offices or at a corner shop with your phone number, you must lookout for shops with your carrier’s logo. You can top up with a minimum amount of 5 soles
Step 4: You can start using the credit right away, but you will run out of credit quickly if you haven’t bough a package, a package will grant you more minutes/data in exchange for credit “saldo” than using it straight after topping up … I know, sneaky carriers… A package is bought by sending an sms with a special code to a short number.
Important! Each carrier has their own codes and procedures, which you should be aware of. These packages usually only last 7 days and if you would like more data you must top up again and buy a new package.