Buying a SIM card at Delhi Airport (Indira Gandhi) 2024: Travelers Guide

Traveling to India and need a local SIM card to stay connected? This article provides a guide for buying a SIM card at Delhi Airport (Indira Gandhi) to highlight the process, options, and tips for travelers arriving at Delhi Airport. We cover where and how you can buy a SIM card at India Delhi airport, available cellular providers, data plans and prices, and more to ensure you can get online hassle-free upon landing in the capital city.

guide to buy a sim card at delhi airport
Buying a SIM Card at Delhi airport is very convenient.

I. Why buy a SIM Card in Delhi?

Travelers often need the internet to navigate maps, book transportation like Grab or Uber, and stay updated. However, roaming can incur high costs, free public WiFi is unavailable everywhere, and pocket WiFi has data caps and rental fees.

In comparison, purchasing a local SIM card in Delhi City offers reliable and affordable mobile data without limits. This ensures convenient Internet connectivity during the entire visit to easily look up information and enjoy a perfect travel experience.

Which type of SIM card to buy for Delhi?

If you choose a physical SIM card, you should get a prepaid data SIM. This will allow you to access the internet and stay connected with friends/relatives through messaging and calling apps during your trip. Additionally, if your phone is compatible with eSIM, that is also a suitable option.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the two main SIM options:

Physical SIM card:

  • Readily available from shops across Delhi
  • Affordable pay-as-you-go plans from Airtel, Jio, Vi
  • Reliable coverage in Delhi and beyond
  • Easy to insert/ top up the prepaid card as needed

eSIM:

  • Digital SIM embedded in compatible devices
  • Remotely activated before travel if carrier-supported
  • Offers equivalent coverage once profile installed
  • Convenience of changing plans digitally

Tip: Some travelers use VPNs to boost data security when traveling.

II. Where to buy a SIM card for Delhi?

There are 3 simple ways to stay connected in Delhi. 

1. Online before departure (Delhi SIM & eSIM)

buy a delhi sim card before departure

Where to buy: Purchase from sites like Gigago. They will deliver your eSIM via email. To install the eSIM, you can scan the QR code or import activation code manually. Wait for it before traveling.

What to prepare: no need to show a passport, unlocked phone

Price: Prices vary depending on plan and carrier, but are generally cheaper than other options

Pros: Convenient to get a SIM before a trip. Avoid queues at airports/stores.

Cons: Might not arrive on time. 

2. At Delhi Airport – Indira Gandhi Airport – DEL

buy a sim card at delhi airport

Where to buy: Stores located after immigration on the ground floor near the baggage claim area. Check the New Delhi airport website for a store map.

What to prepare: Passport for verification at counters.

Price: Around INR 1,000 for 1-2GB data starter SIM. More expensive than city prices but instant connectivity.

Pros: WiFi from arrival without delays. Book rides, and check travel plans.

Cons: Higher initial fee than retailers. Fewer plan options than in in-city stores.

Opening hours: 5 am-11 pm daily. A few 24-hour kiosks for late flights. Just ask staff for a basic SIM pack on arrival for smooth travel from the start.

3. In the Delhi center

why buy a sim card in delhi center

Where to buy: convenience stores/gas stations/official stores of mobile network operators

What to prepare: Passport as ID. Research best network coverage and desired plan.

Price: INR 400-500 for 1GB at city stores. Slightly more at the airport but provides instant use.

Pros: Immediate connectivity. English assistance at stores and retailers. Alternate WiFi if needed.

Cons: Potential language barriers at small shops. Older SIMs may not work. Fewer plans than chain stores.

III. Where to Buy a SIM Card at Delhi Airport (Indira Gandhi Airport)?

where to buy a sim card at indira gandhi airport

If you don’t know, India has 5 main carriers: Airtel, BSNL, Jio, VI and MTNL. And 4 of them are available at kiosks at Delhi airport (except BSNL). You can easily find them when you land. I will guide you to buy a SIM card at Delhi airport by carrier name at the airport based on the information below:

1. Airtel store

Location: Centrally located in the arrivals area of T3.

SIM Card: Airtel 4G prepaid SIM

Language Support: English, Hindi

Opening Hours: 6 am – 10 pm daily

Evaluation: One of the largest networks, easy setup and good coverage nationwide. 

2. VI store

Location: Near the customs exit in T3 for convenient purchases.

SIM Card: Vodafone 4G prepaid SIM

Language Support: English, Hindi, regional languages

Opening Hours: 5am – 11pm daily

Evaluation: Vast coverage and deals on data packs. 

3. Jio store

Location: Located in T3 food court for grabs & meals after purchase.

SIM Card: Jio 4G prepaid SIM

Language Support: English, Hindi, regional languages

Opening Hours: 6 am – 11 pm daily

Evaluation: Fastest network for streaming and calls. 

4. MTNL Counter

Location: Near the T3 taxi stand for easy access.

SIM Card: MTNL 4G prepaid SIM

Language Support: English, Hindi

Opening Hours: 8 am – 8 pm daily

Evaluation: Inexpensive calling rates for MTNL users. 

IV. What to Prepare for Getting a SIM Card at Delhi Airport – Registration Process

Here are the key things to prepare when buying a SIM card at Delhi airport:

  • Passport: Staff will need to check your passport to verify your identification.
  • Unlocked phone: Ensure your phone is not tied to a specific carrier in your home country.
  • Passport photo – Bring a printed or digital passport photo 
  • Cash in Indian rupees:
    • SIM kiosks may not accept foreign cards, so have cash ready.
    • ATMs are available if you need to withdraw rupees.
  • Completed registration form: Staff can help fill it out, but doing it yourself saves time.
  • Hotel /address proof: Like booking confirmations for verification of your stay.

Note: Don't worry about language because staff at airport kiosks speak English and will help guide you. They will insert SIM, help you with activation and choose a plan.

Our Recommendation: In fact, if you don’t need immediate internet access, an airport SIM isn’t necessary because the plans offered have some drawbacks:

  • Higher prices compared to city stores.
  • Very basic plans with less data and call/text allowance.
  • Short validity of 1-2 weeks unlike store plans that last a month.
  • Restricted hours. Might close if you land late.

Unless you need internet right away, it’s better to wait and get a SIM outside the airport or use an eSIM for more affordable whole-trip connectivity options.

V. Best Tourist Delhi SIM Cards Deals and Price

Good to know: 1 USD = 83.18 INR (Jan 07, 2024)

OperatorPlan NameData/ValidityPrice (INR/KRW/USD)
AirtelTourist Plan1GB data valid for 30 days249 INR/30,000 KRW/20 USD
JioGlobal Roaming1.5GB data valid for 30 days299 INR/36,000 KRW/24 USD
VodafoneTourist Plan2GB data valid for 28 days299 INR/36,000 KRW/24 USD
MTNLTourist E-SIM1GB data valid for 15 days199 INR/24,000 KRW/16 USD

As you see, the Vodafone provides the best value for tourists.

VI. Best Mobile Network in Delhi – Coverage & Speed

When it comes to Delhi, the capital of a country with modern technology, coverage and data speed are undeniable. Let’s explore the best options.

1. Coverage in Delhi

coverage in delhi

Because Delhi is the capital of India, almost all carriers have good coverage here. Therefore, choosing which network to use is not a problem when you travel to Delhi. Comprehensive 4G coverage across Delhi by major operators: Jio, Airtel, and Vi.

  • Jio’s 4G network offers extensive coverage throughout the NCT region.
  • Airtel and Vi networks provide similar coverage, but speeds may vary in some areas.
  • Limited 5G services launched by Jio and Airtel in select areas like Delhi University, Connaught Place, and Gurgaon, with coverage still limited.
  • While 4G remains the dominant technology, promising initial test speeds for 5G exceed 1 Gbps.

2. Data speed in Delhi

data speed in india

According to an Ookla speed test report, Jio recorded significantly better 5G speeds than Airtel. 

Jio’s 5G download speed was recorded at 848.8 Mbps, noticeably higher than Airtel’s download speed of 572.2 Mbps. Similarly, Jio’s 5G upload speed stood at 44.9 Mbps compared to Airtel’s 31.1 Mbps.

The report highlighted that Jio’s 5G network achieved speeds that were 1.5 times faster than Airtel for both downloading as well as uploading data over 5G networks. This makes Jio’s 5G service stand out in terms of performance as per independent testing.

VII. eSIM for Delhi – an Alternative to Prepaid SIM Card Delhi

For travelers arriving in Delhi, eSIM provides a more convenient alternative to purchasing a physical SIM card at the airport. The key benefits of using an eSIM include:

  • Activate online before travel, no SIM kiosks or airport lines.
  • Quick setup with a QR code scan, ideal for short trips.
  • One device supports multiple eSIM profiles for different countries.
  • Reusable eSIM profiles for future trips to India.

When traveling to Delhi, I suggest opting for eSIM data packages provided by Gigago. As a prominent eSIM service provider, Gigago offers cost-effective India eSIM plans through Jio, the country’s largest mobile network. 

gigago india esim

For India, Gigago offers multiple data plan options, starting from 3 GB for 30 days with $14.50 . What is great about Gigago’s India eSIM is that its plans’ costs are diversifying, varying between $14.50$29.90 . Thus, it does not matter how Internet users you are and how long your trip is in India, there is always an option for you with Gigago.

Setting up is straightforward – simply scan the QR code sent via email. With 24/7 support, Gigago India eSIM ensures a seamless choice for travelers to stay connected to Delhi’s top cellular network without the need for a physical SIM card.

VIII. FAQs

Is it possible to pay by card when buying a SIM card at Delhi airport?

Yes, you can pay for your SIM card using major credit or debit cards like Visa and Mastercard at all authorized airport kiosks and stores. Having cash as a backup is still recommended.

How long does activation of an India SIM card take?

SIM activation usually takes 20-40 minutes after registering your details. Retailers will guide you further on the verification status. Make sure to factor activation time into your arrival plans.

Do I need ID proof when buying a SIM card at Delhi airport?

Yes, you’ll need to present your valid passport for identity verification during SIM purchase and activation as per regulations for tourists. A photocopy may also be taken in some cases.

IX. Conclusion

Travelers passing through Indira Gandhi International Airport can easily purchase a local SIM card at Delhi airport to stay connected. And it would be even better if you use eSIM to increase convenience in your travel journey. Gigago would be the ideal place for this.

With Gigago’s fast activation and massive data allowances, you can immediately start using the internet, calling, and messaging services. Don’t forget to visit the Gigago website before your flight for a seamless connectivity experience during your visit to Delhi.