TIM is one of the main mobile operators in Italy with excellent nationwide coverage and fast speeds. Getting a local TIM SIM card or eSIM is a great way for tourists visiting Italy to stay connected affordably.

This guide will provide everything you need to know about using TIM in Italy, including coverage and speeds, the best connectivity options, SIM card plans, where to buy a SIM or eSIM, how to activate and use it, top up options, and FAQs. 

TIM-SIM-card-v2

I. Quick Facts about TIM

TIM Italy (Telecom Italia Mobile) is a major Italian telecommunications company, providing mobile, fixed-line, internet, and TV services to millions of customers. Founded in 1994, it is the country’s largest mobile network operator and the second-largest fixed-line operator.

Quick Facts about TIM Italy:

  • Headquarters: Rome, Italy
  • Founded: 1994
  • CEO: Pietro Labriola
  • Employees: 42,000 (as of 2020)
  • Revenue: €11.3 billion (2020)
  • Market share: Mobile: 33%; Fixed-line: 22%; Broadband: 21%
  • Network: 4G: 99% population coverage; 5G: Launching in major cities

TIM Italy’s Services:

  • Mobile: Offers a variety of prepaid, postpaid, and data plans for individuals and businesses.
  • Fixed-line: Provides fixed-line phone, broadband internet, and TV services.
  • Wholesale: Offers wholesale network access and services to other operators.

Estimated number of network of stores, agents: TIM has around 3,500 TIM retail stores and other authorized dealers located in towns and cities across Italy.

Additional facts:

  • TIM is a founding member of the GSM Association, which is the global industry body for mobile communications.
  • The company is also a member of the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS), which is a North American industry association.
  • TIM has a strong commitment to sustainability and has been recognized for its efforts in reducing its environmental impact.

II. Why TIM When Traveling Italy – Coverage and Speed

1. TIM Coverage in Italy

TIM Italy coverage

With 99.7% population coverage across Italy’s regions, TIM provides excellent service around most areas visitors go. Only in extremely remote mountainous areas will coverage potentially be limited.

TIM provides generally good coverage but speeds are slightly lower than Vodafone according to the national analysis.

2. TIM Speed

Mobile operators speed in Italy

According to November 2023 testing by Opensignal, TIM provided has the fastest average 5G download speed of 239.3Mbps and average 5G upload speed of 22.8Mbps. So TIM gives fast, reliable connectivity around Italy for common travel usage like maps, social media, messaging, web browsing etc.

If you are wondering which network to use on your upcoming trip to Italy, TIM is a good choice. With high coverage and high speed, TIM will definitely give you a great connection.

III. What are the Best Connectivity Options of TIM for Travelers to Italy?

When vistting Italy, there are a few good options to use TIM service while visiting Italy:

  • TIM SIM Card – Buying a local TIM SIM card for your unlocked phone is the most convenient and affordable option. SIM cards can be purchased at airport arrivals, TIM shops, or other retailers in Italy.
  • Pocket Wifi – Renting a TIM pocket wifi hotspot is another excellent choice, allowing you to connect multiple devices like laptops, tablets, etc. These are available at airports and can be delivered to your hotel.
  • Roaming – If you have an international roaming plan with your home carrier, you can simply enable roaming on your phone to use TIM’s network, but this is typically the most expensive way to stay connected. 
OptionProsCons
TIM SIM CardAffordable data packagesUse your own phoneEasy to getOnly works with unlocked/compatible phonesLocal number
TIM Pocket WifiConnect 5+ devicesNo phone compatibility issuesMust return deviceHigher rental cost
TIM RoamingUse your phone numberNo new SIM or device requiredVery expensiveCheck roaming rates first

IV. Best TIM SIM Cards for Tourists to Italy & Cost

TIM sim card

TIM has one prepaid SIM plans for tourist visiting Italy. Here are features of tourists prepaid SIM card in Italy

  • 50 GB data only valid in Italy + 200 minutes worldwide = €14.99 EUR – ($16.5 USD)
  • The maximum data speed supported on TIM tourist prepaid plans is 4G LTE. The network is not 5G ready.
  • TIM SIM cards can also be purchased as e-SIM cards by visiting TIM retail stores in Italy. However, the tourist plans are only available as physical SIM cards.

Note: prices of this plan can change over time.

V. Does TIM Support eSIM in Italy?

Yes, TIM launched its eSIM service in Italy in November 2019. Initially, it was only available for business customers, but it became available for all customers in June 2020. An eSIM allows you to digitally download your SIM profile directly to compatible phones and devices instead of inseting a physical card.

The main benefits of using eSIM over regular SIM cards are:

  • Don’t have to go to store to get SIM card
  • Remote provisioning – activate before you leave
  • Convenience – built into device already
  • Dual SIM capable – use local data + existing number

We recommend GIGAGO for hassle-free TIM Italy eSIM service with competitive rates. You can use up to 20GB in 30 days at only $49. GIGAGO Italy eSIM is very easily set up via QR code sent immediately after successfully payment.

Note: To use eSIM, you need a carrier-unlocked and eSIM-compatible phone. Learn how to check if your phone is unlocked and eSIM-supported by yourself or quickly check with our updated list.

VI. Where to Buy a TIM SIM card and eSIM?

1. Where to Buy TIM SIM Card for Italy?

There are 03 main options to purchase a TIM SIM card locally:

1.1. Upon arrival at major airports

TIM at Italy airrport

TIM shops and authorized resellers are located in arrival areas at airports like Rome Fiumicino and Milan Malpensa. Here you can easily buy a tourist SIM card on the spot before leaving the terminal. Bring your passport as ID to register.

Pros

  • Convenient if arriving late
  • SIM ready instantly

Cons

  • Airport shops close earlier
  • Potentially long queues

1.2. TIM Retail Stores

Visiting one of over 3,500 official TIM stores (look for the red TIM signage) found in all towns is another sure way to get a SIM card. Here you receive dedicated service to find the right plan. Stores generally open from 9am-1pm, 3:30-7pm on weekdays.

Pros

  • Expert local advice
  • Wide range of SIM card options
  • Support activating SIM

Cons

  • In-store only during business hours
  • Staff may not speak English

3. Other authorized TIM dealers

In addition to TIM stores, there are thousands of authorized TIM agents and tabacchi shops that sell SIM cards with vouchers. These include newspaper kiosks, convenience stores, phone shops etc. Look for the TIM retailer sticker on the entrance.

Pros

  • Extended hours
  • No appointment needed
  • Often located conveniently

Cons

  • Staff has limited TIM knowledge
  • Cash only policy places

Note: To register any TIM SIM purchased in Italy, you’ll need to provide a valid passport or photo ID.

2. Where to Buy TIM eSIM for Italy?

Ways to buy eSIM of TIM

TIM eSIM profiles are most easily purchased online in advance from third party providers like GIGAGO rather than directly from TIM.

To buy TIM eSIM from telecom company directly requires having an Italian tax code first. As a visitor, it’s impossible to register for an eSIM online with TIM without local residency.

Buying TIM eSIM via GIGAGO

Pros

  • No need for Italian tax ID
  • Remotely provisioned
  • Multi-network options
  • Support team

Cons

  • Need a phone that is compatible with eSIM

Buying TIM eSIM directly from TIM.it 

Pros

  • Lower rates on plans

Cons

  • Need Italian tax code
  • Self-activation can be complex

Our recommendation: We advise using GIGAGO to effortlessly obtain a TIM Italy eSIM before you leave and skip the hassle. GIGAGO emails your TIM eSIM profile remotely without needing Italian residency. Their helpful support can also assist you in any activation issues.

VII. How to Use and Activate TIM SIM/eSIM in Italy?

1. How to Use and Activate TIM SIM Card in Italy?

Activating a standard TIM SIM card is straightforward:

  1. Insert SIM card into unlocked device
  2. Select “TIM” network on phone settings
  3. Open mobile browser on device
  4. You’ll be redirected to TIM activation portal
  5. Follow prompts to select your plan
  6. Enter SIM card number + ID info
  7. Make payment to activate SIM
  8. Check for “TIM” network confirmation

You now have an active Italian SIM! Remember to turn off data roaming on your usual SIM card in dual SIM devices to avoid high charges.

If you face any issues activating, contact TIM customer support by dialing 119 or visit a TIM shop.

2. How to Use and Activate TIM eSIM?

If using a TIM Italy eSIM from GIGAGO, you’ll receive an email with your eSIM QR activation code and instructions before departure.

Follow these steps when ready to setup:

  1. Make sure phone has iOS 15+/Android 10+
  2. Connect to WiFi
  3. Scan QR code email to download eSIM
  4. Follow prompts to select TIM network and plan
  5. Enter confirmation text sent to activate eSIM
  6. Securely store email in case you need to re-install eSIM.

Please check your detailed instructions below:

VIII. How to Top-up TIM SIM/eSIM

When your data or credits run low, topping up TIM SIM cards or eSIM is straightforward:

  • Online – If you provided local payment details, login to TIM’s MyAccount portal or mobile app to instantly refill.
  • Vouchers – Purchase top-up vouchers from TIM stores, tobacconists etc, then enter the code online on MyAccount or by dialing *119
  • Stores – Visit a TIM store in person to pay and add more data or credits. Bring ID.

IX. FAQs about TIM in Italy

Do I need to register a SIM card or eSIM in Italy?

Yes, you need to provide passport/ID details by law to activate prepaid SIMs in Italy against terrorism and criminal threats.

Can I use 4G/5G on TIM?

Yes, TIM prepaid SIM cards and eSIM provide access to TIM’s full speed 4G and 5G networks where available for fast speeds.

Does TIM have good coverage in Italy?

Yes, with 99.7% population coverage, TIM offers top connectivity around all of Italy’s main tourism areas and cities. Only deep rural zones have gaps.

Is unlimited data available?

Yes, TIM sells 100GB 30-day SIM cards for €40 providing essentially unlimited full speed data for most visitor needs. Some niche unlimited plans also exist. Check TIM’s website for more information.

Can I call internationally with TIM SIM?

Yes, just top-up credits then international calls are from €0.50-2.00/min depending on location. Using mobile apps like WhatsApp to call is much cheaper.

X. Conclusion

We hope this guide has provided everything needed to understand using TIM SIM cards and eSIM in Italy as a tourist. With excellent nationwide coverage, fast speeds, affordable Europe data rates, and easy activation, getting a local TIM connection is a great way to stay connected seamlessly during your Italy trip!