How to get a SIM Card in Nepal?

  • Last Updated on Jun 3, 2024

Nepal is a beautiful country with stunning Himalayan mountains, bustling towns, and a rich cultural legacy. During your visit to Nepal, you can expect to have new adventures, see beautiful scenery, and learn about a different culture. Every day is a new and amazing experience here.

Every year, thousands of travelers come to Nepal to discover the country's hidden gems. There are so many exciting things to do in Nepal that you will have the best days of your life, whether you choose to trek in the Himalayas, take a helicopter ride, tour the city, or do some adventure activities in Nepal.

However, while enjoying yourself here is part of your joy, it's also important to stay connected with your friends and family. Getting a local SIM card is one of the first things you should do when you get to Nepal.

A local SIM card not only lets you stay in touch with family and friends back home, but it also makes it easy to use important services like maps, ride-sharing apps, and information about the area. Furthermore, it costs less than international roaming.

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NTA Recommendations

Types of SIM Card Available in Nepal

A Nepalese SIM card is a great way to stay connected while you're visiting there. Take a look at the different kinds of SIM cards that are available:

Prepaid SIM Cards

Prepaid SIM cards are ideal for the majority of travelers. They are simple to get and use, and you don't have to make any long-term obligations. You pay ahead of time for a certain amount of credit that you can use for internet, calls, and texts. You just add more credit as needed when the credit runs out. This is a good choice if you only have a short time in Nepal or if you want to keep track of how much you spend.


  • There are no contracts or monthly bills.
  • Control over how much you spend.
  • It's easy to top up with additional credit.


  • Can be more expensive per minute or MB compared to postpaid plans.

Postpaid SIM Cards

Postpaid SIM cards are better for people who plan to stay in Nepal for a longer time or who come here often. You sign a contract for a prepaid plan and get a bill every month based on how much you use. It may be easier to do this if you need a steady, reliable service and don't want to bother with adding more credit.


  • Generally cheaper rates for calls, texts, and data.
  • There is no need to worry about running out of credit.
  • Often come with better perks and packages.


  • It requires a contract and regular billing.
  • You may need a local bank account or credit card for payment.

Major Mobile Network Provider in Nepal

Nepal has a few main mobile network providers from which to choose if you want to stay connected. There are pros and cons to each, so let's get into the specifics to help you choose the best one for your needs.


NCELL is a popular choice for both locals and visitors. It's a good choice for anyone moving across the country because it has good service and a lot of coverage. NCELL has great service, especially in cities like Chitwan, Pokhara, and Kathmandu. They're also slowly spreading into more rural areas, which is great if you want to go hiking or see places that aren't often visited.


  • The calls are crystal clear, and the SMS service is reliable.
  • Offers different types of data plans, from daily to monthly ones, to meet your needs.
  • Both over the phone and at a number of service centers, friendly and helpful customer service is available.

Nepal Telecom (NTC)

Nepal Telecom, or NTC, is the country's state-owned service provider and has a wide reach all over the country. It's a great choice if you want to go to more remote places. NTC has great coverage, especially in rural and remote places that other providers might not be able to reach. This makes it a great choice for hikers and people who like to try new things.


  • Voice calls and SMS services that work well, even in areas with few people.
  • Cost-effective and adaptable data plans for both short-term tourists and long-term residents.
  • A large support network with many offices and service centers for customer support.

Smart Telecom

Smart Telecom is a newer company in the market, but it has quickly become famous thanks to its low prices and growing network. Smart Telecom's coverage is not as extensive as that of NCELL or NTC, but it is steadily improving, particularly in big cities and towns. It's a good choice if you plan to stay in cities a lot.


  • Calls and texts are charged at reasonable rates.
  • Plans for data that are easy on the wallet and great for people who use a lot of data.
  • They have good customer service with a number of touchpoints, but not as many as the other two companies.

Where to Buy a SIM Card in Nepal

It's pretty easy to find a place to buy a SIM card in Nepal. Depending on where you are and what you need, you can choose from a few convenient options.

At the Airport

Getting a SIM card at the airport is the fastest and best way to do it. You can find booths for the big cell phone companies like NCELL and Nepal Telecom as soon as you land at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport. Most of the time, these outlets are in the area where people arrive. It's easy and quick because the staff is used to helping people from other countries. Keep in mind, though, that getting a SIM card at the airport might cost a little more than other places.

Mobile Network Stores

If you want a cheaper option, going to a store for a mobile network provider is great. In Kathmandu, Pokhara, and other big towns, you can find stores for NCELL, Nepal Telecom (NTC), and Smart Telecom. When you go to a provider's store, you can be sure that you're getting a real SIM card, and the staff can help you with the registration process, data plans, and any technical problems you may have. The people who work in these shops usually speak English and can help you more.

Authorized Stores

Authorized stores are a good choice for people who want even more freedom. These are tiny shops and the stands that are authorized by the big providers to sell SIM cards. These things can be found in many places, like markets, shopping centers, and tourist spots. To avoid any issues with registration or the caliber of the service, just make sure that the store has received approval from the network provider. Make sure you get a record every time and that your name is on the SIM card.

Documents Required

Here are the documents required to get a SIM card in Nepal:

  • You will need both the real passport and a copy of it. The original will be used for verification, and the source will keep the copy. 
  • You will need one or two recent passport-sized photos. These are easily bought at photo studios or booths located throughout Nepal's major cities and towns.
  • You will need to bring photos of either your visa or the arrival stamp you got when you entered Nepal. This helps the service provider make sure you are in the country properly. 

Steps to Purchase and Activate a SIM Card

  • Visit an official mobile network provider store or an authorized seller. These can be found in large cities and tourist destinations.
  • You will need to fill out a quick application form with your personal information. Don't worry, it's simple, and the staff will assist you if necessary.
  • Provide a photocopy of your passport, a passport-sized photo, and your visa information. Make sure you bring the originals for verification.
  • Purchase a SIM card and select an introductory credit or data package. Prices are normally reasonable, and you can choose a plan that meets your needs.
  • After submitting your documentation and payment, your SIM card is normally activated within a few hours. The staff will notify you when it is available to use.

Once activated, you'll be able to enjoy continuous connectivity while on your travels in Nepal!

How to check the balance on your SIM card?

It's easy to check the balance on your SIM card in Nepal. Here are the general steps and codes that you can use for a balance inquiry:

  • On your phone, open the call dialer app.
  • To check the balance as per your SIM card, use the following code:
    • NTC: *400#
    • Ncell: *901# (or *101#).
    • Smart Cell: *123#
  • Press the call button.
  • You will get a popup on your screen that shows your current balance.


  • This method is free and works even without an internet connection.
  • For balance checks, Ncell provides two USSD codes. *901# and *101# should work.

How to Recharge the SIM card in Nepal?

Here are some general steps to recharge your SIm card in Nepal:

1st step: Buy your self paper recharge card in denominations of Rs 50, 100, 500, and 1000 at local shops according to your requirement. On the rechard card you will see a silver-colored scratch layer. You will see a 16-digit PIN hidden under a scratch-off layer.

2nd Step: After scrating the layer and getting the 16-digit number, enter the appropriate code based on your mobile network provider:



  • Smart Cell: *122*XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX#

Replace the Xs with the 16-digit PIN from your recharge card.

3rd Step:  After dialing the the recharge code, make the call. This will initiate the recharge process.

4th Step: You will get a message about a successful recharge on your phone.

Alternative methods:

  • Many people use digital wallets for mobile recharges. Ask your guide or someone you trust to charge your phone with their digital wallet. Repay them for the amount transferred.
  • Look for recharge machines at airports, hospitals, and major shopping malls. They function similarly to ATMs. To recharge your

How To Get Mobile Data Package?

Here are the simple steps for purchasing a data package using the following simple USSD code:

USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) codes give a quick way to access your mobile network provider's menu and subscribe to data plans. Here's how.

  • First, you need to know your SIM card or network provider. The biggest providers in Nepal include Nepal Telecom (NTC), Ncell, and Smart Cell.
  • Dial the provider's code. Each supplier has a unique USSD code to access their data pack menu:
    • To call NTC, dial *1415#.
    • For Ncell, dial *141#.
    • For Smart Cell, dial *444#.
  • When you call the code, you'll get a menu with different data pack selections. These options usually include various data allowances, validity periods, and pricing.
  • Go through the menu using the provided instructions (typically a number) to find the data pack that best meets your requirements.
  • After selecting your pack, you will most likely receive a confirmation message. Respond as directed to activate the data plan.

Mobile Data Speeds in Nepal

Nepal offers mobile data connectivity through GSM (2G), WCDMA (3G), and LTE (4G) networks. However, the experience can vary depending on several factors. Here's a breakdown:

Network Coverage:

  • 4G (LTE): This is the fastest option, offering speeds ranging from 2 Mbps to 15 Mbps, with an average of around 7 Mbps. However, 4G coverage isn't uniform across Nepal. You might encounter areas with limited or no 4G access, especially in remote regions.
  • 3G (WCDMA): This is a fallback option when 4G isn't available. Speeds here typically range from 1 Mbps to 7 Mbps, with an average of around 3 Mbps. 3G coverage is generally wider than 4G, providing a more reliable connection in most areas.
  • 2G (GSM): This is the most basic option, primarily used for voice calls and SMS. It offers minimal data speeds, making it unsuitable for browsing or streaming.

Factors Affecting Speed:

  • Time: Mobile data speeds can fluctuate throughout the day depending on network traffic. Peak usage times may have slower speeds compared to off-peak hours.
  • Coverage Area: As mentioned earlier, 4G availability is limited in some regions. You might need to switch to 3G or even 2G in remote locations, impacting your data speed.
  • Phone Capabilities: Make sure your phone supports the specific network bands used in Nepal (check your phone's manual for more information). An incompatible phone might limit your access to higher speeds, even if the network supports it.

Tips for Optimal Speeds:

  • You can check the network coverage maps. Most mobile network providers in Nepal offer online coverage maps. These can help you understand 4G availability in your area.
  • You can consider the reliability of the network provider. Research different network providers to see which one offers the most reliable and fastest connection in your area.
  • You can also adjust your data settings. On your phone, you can often adjust your preferred network type (e.g., prioritize 4G when available). This can help optimize your connection based on network availability.
  • While using a phone, you can also use data usage patterns. If you primarily use data for browsing and light tasks, a 3G plan might suffice. However, if you need to stream videos or download large files, a 4G plan with a higher data allowance would be more suitable.

Please keep in mind that this information only provides a general range of mobile data speeds in Nepal. Your actual experience may vary depending on the factors mentioned above.


With this information, getting a SIM card in Nepal should be easy. Please feel free to ask any more questions or get more help with Nepalese SIM cards in the area below for comments. Furthermore, if you are a tourist having difficulty obtaining a SIM card, please do not hesitate to contact us by email. We want your time in Nepal to go smoothly and be easy to get around. Have a safe trip!

Manju Mahato

Manju Mahato

Manju Mahato is a content and blog writer with over 5 years of experience in the field. She has a passion for creating compelling and engaging content that resonates with readers. Her expertise lies in crafting informative and well-researched articles on a wide range of topics, including health, travel, and technology. She is a skilled communicator and enjoys connecting with her readers through her writing. With a keen eye for detail and a knack for storytelling, she strives to deliver high-quality and informative content that makes a difference.

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