How to set up a local SIM card in Iceland
Buy a local SIM card to reduce your roaming rates.
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Iceland is popular with tourists looking to experience the natural spa waters and see this remarkable country. Using your phone there can be extremely expensive, so to keep costs down why not switch to a local SIM card so you can take advantage of better plans, deals and tariffs?
Iceland has prepaid SIM cards available for tourists, with reasonable offers at around ISK1,500 ($16.10) per GB. Although this might sound a little on the expensive side, it will certainly work out cheaper than roaming on your home phone there. So, whether you’re planning a quick break, or an extended trip, check out the best SIM card offers.
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Telco providers in Iceland
There are three main telco providers operating in Iceland: Siminn, Vodafone and Nova. All three operators have been tried and tested by both locals and international visitors, and each one can be trusted. According to OpenSignal’s country coverage map, Iceland’s network coverage is great along the shoreline and the main cities. Speeds are quite fast and despite the country’s challenging topography, the signal is relatively good.
About Iceland’s telco providers
Iceland’s operators offer prepaid SIM cards, which you can buy from stores, supermarkets, kiosks, drug stores, official outlets and at the airport. 2G and 3G plans are available for unlocked GSM phones, and 4G/LTE services are being slowly introduced. You can purchase SIM cards without any form of ID, and your telephone number is already active when purchased. To add credit, there are several prepaid card machines around Iceland and you can find vouchers in shops and supermarkets. Iceland is not part of the European Union (EU), but it is part of the European Economic Area (EEA), which means it will be subject to European roaming caps to further bring costs down.
Below, we have broken down each telco provider to highlight exactly what they can offer you during your stay in Iceland.
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Síminn is Iceland’s market leader and offers relatively good 2G and 3G services. The best place to purchase a prepaid SIM card is at Keflavík airport, either at the SIM kiosk or at the duty-free shop by the baggage reclaim. They sell different plans and packages for smartphones, tablets and computers, and they vary in price depending on what deal you go for. Credit can also be purchased from most independent retailers, corner stores and supermarkets.
There are two prepaid SIM cards available – one's voice and data while the other is a data-only SIM. Síminn voice and data SIM cards can be purchased for ISK2,900, which comes with 100 local minutes, 100 SMS and 1GB of data.
The data-only SIM card can be purchased for ISK2,000, which includes 1GB of data. The following data packs can be added to both SIM cards:
There are also EU roaming deals on SIM cards, but “Roam Like at Home” plans have to be purchased to use this option. A good start is the ISK500 pack which gives you 500MB per day.
Siminn’s APN: internet, and website in English: https://www.siminn.is/english/
Vodafone is Siminn’s biggest competitor and offers good 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE networks. It offers better prices and competitive packages. You can purchase prepaid SIM cards from official outlets, supermarkets, gas stations, kiosks and drug stores. The best place to purchase a prepaid SIM card is at Keflavík airport either at the SIM kiosk or at the duty-free shop. They sell different plans and packages for smartphones, tablets and computers, and they vary in price depending on what deal you go for. Credit can also be purchased from most independent retailers, corner stores and supermarkets.
Prepaid SIM cards for voice and data can be purchased for ISK2,000, which includes unlimited local calls plus 1GB of data, valid for 30 days.
The following packages are available after the first 30 days of use:
- Frelsi S: ISK1,100 which includes ISK500 credit, 500 local minutes, unlimited local SMS and 1GB data
- Frelsi M: ISK2,100 which includes ISK1,000 credit, 1,000 local minutes, unlimited local SMS and 5GB data
- Frelsi L: ISK3,500 which includes ISK1,500 credit, unlimited local SMS and minutes and 15GB data
These data packs can also be added:
In addition, there is a data-only SIM card available for ISK2,000 which comes with 3GB of data.
The following data packs can be added:
EU roaming caps also apply on all prepaid SIM cards.
Vodafone’s APN: gprs.is, website: http://vodafone.is/english
Nova is the smallest telco provider and offers good 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE networks. It offers reasonable prices and competitive packages. You can purchase prepaid SIM cards from official outlets, supermarkets, gas stations, kiosks and drug stores. The best place to purchase a prepaid SIM card is at Keflavík airport, either at the SIM kiosk or at the duty-free shop. They sell different plans and packages for smartphones, tablets and computers, and they vary in price depending on what deal you go for. Credit can also be purchased from corner stores and supermarkets.
The “Frelsi 0 kr. Nova í Nova” prepaid SIM card can be purchased for ISK2,000, which comes with the same amount of credit. The following data packs can also be added:
EU roaming caps apply on all prepaid SIM card plans.
Nova’s APN: net.nova.is, and website: http://www.nova.is
Some top tips from finder.com.au staff
- Locals call a SIM card a “Chip” or “SIM”.
- Icelandic is the official language, and one of their main foreign languages is English.
- Ask the retailers to help set up the SIM card for you. They are official sellers and will be very happy to help.
- Get to the shops early to avoid the crowds!
TripAdvisor tips for the best SIM cards and where to buy them
TripAdvisor reviews can help guide you through what SIM cards have been tried and tested in Iceland.
“Here is the siminn website https://www.siminn.is/english/ I know that they have at least the starter pack in the duty free store at KEF airport.”
“You can buy the starter pack from Icelandair and apparently at the duty free shop (ask cashier) but you will be charged per MB with the ISK2,000 credit. If you don't mind spending a little time going to the mall I think it is a better deal as I immediately purchased 5GB (less and more is available, see website) instead of adding the 5GB top off after the ISK2,000 was used up.”
“I bought a SIM card in Kringlan Mall at Siminn. Just spend 5 minutes and they can issue the nano sim card to you and help you with the set up.”
Pros and cons of Iceland’s telco providers
You will need a SIM-unlocked, GSM-compatible international phone. To double check you have this option, or if it’s possible to unlock your device, contact your provider before you set off on your travels.
- Prepaid credit when required
- No in-store contract needed
- Could be compatible with your current phone
- No phone devices offered with the SIM card packages
- Can only be used on SIM-unlocked GSM phones
- Signal can sometimes suffer in the far-flung regions
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