Buying a prepaid mobile SIM card in Italy
Mobile providers in Italy
There are five major mobile providers in Italy:
Many resellers also operate in the country, that use the main operators' infrastructure. The list is changing frequently therefore we're not listing them all, however, Lycamobile seems to be the most popular reseller in Italy.
Network coverage and mobile internet speeds
TIM and Vodafone have the best network coverage at the moment but every carrier has excellent coverage in main cities. If you travel to rural areas please check the current coverage map with your carrier.
Italian carriers support the modern LTE-Advanced protocol (in 2019 also rolling out 5G) so the data transfer rate is very good in most urban areas.
In Italy prices start from €5 for bare SIM card with only voice and text (no data allowance), and you can buy data transfer credit (valid for up to 30 days after top-up) for as little as €5 for 1 GB or €10 for 4GB.
Please note that prices change frequently. Check your operators' website listed above for current pricing.
How to buy an Italian SIM card
In Italy you can buy a SIM card at any mobile shop, convenience store, operator's store or gas station.
How to register an Italian SIM card
SIM cards in Italy must be registered (registrare una carta SIM) before you can use them. We recommend buying a SIM card at a mobile phone shop or operator's shop because you might encounter problems if you want to register it somewhere else. In order to register your SIM card you need to produce a valid ID with picture so, of course, a passport will do.
Our research shows, that you sometimes might face problems getting your Italian SIM card working right away and it also needs to be inserted in a working, unlocked phone at the time of activation. Therefore we recommend activating your card immediately at the shop where you buy it, so in case you ran into problems with activation the seller can assist you right away.
How to top-up
In Italy you can top-up almost anywhere, including convenience stores, kiosks, gas stations and mobile shops. You can also top-up online for most operators, please check their websites' links we've listed above.
How to check your mobile phone balance in Italy
You can check your current mobile SIM card balance (credito residuo) for different carriers in Italy by following these instructions:
- TIM: Either call the toll-free number 40916 or send cost-free SMS to number 119 with question about your balance: "qual e il mio credito residuo". You will get a text response with information about your current balance.
- Tre: Call the toll-free number 4030 and follow instructions to get information about your current balance.
- Vodafone: Call the toll-free number 404 and you will receive a text with your current balance.
- Iliad: Send a free text with word "credit " to number 400 or call the toll-free number 400 and you will receive a text with information about your remaining credit.
Will my phone work in Italy?
Italy operates on a GSM network, which means all unlocked European phones will work in Italy. Travelers from North America or Asia using CDMA, please check with your operator first if your phone will work in Europe. If not then you need to buy a GSM phone.