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How to Buy Sim Card in China?


Buy Sim Card in China


Why you should buy a SIM card while you are in China ?

Buying a SIM card in China can be beneficial for several reasons, especially if you are staying in the country for an extended period or want to have reliable local communication. Here are some reasons why you might consider buying a SIM card in China:

  • Local Communication:

  • Having a local SIM card allows you to have a Chinese phone number, making it easier and more cost-effective for local communication. This is particularly useful if you plan to stay in China for an extended period.

  • Cost Savings:

  • Using a local SIM card can be more cost-effective than relying on international roaming services from your home country's carrier. Local rates for calls, texts, and data are often more affordable.

  • Data Access:

  • A local SIM card provides you with access to local data services. This is essential if you rely on mobile data for navigation, communication, and internet access while you're in China.

  • Convenience:

  • Having a local number makes it easier for local contacts to reach you. It can also simplify communication with local businesses, services, and government offices.

  • Ease of Purchase:

  • Purchasing a SIM card in China is usually a straightforward process. You can find SIM cards at telecom stores, kiosks, and even at the airport. The staff at these locations are generally accustomed to assisting foreigners with the setup process.

  • Local Services and Apps:

  • Some local services and apps may require a Chinese phone number for registration and verification. This includes services like mobile payments and certain social media platforms.

  • WeChat is an all-in-one messaging and social media app developed by Tencent. It's not only used for messaging but also for making payments, sharing moments, and accessing various services.

  • Alipay, operated by Ant Group, is a popular mobile payment platform. It's widely used for online and offline transactions, including shopping, bill payments, and more.

  • Didi is a ride-sharing app that allows users to book taxis, private cars, and other transportation services.

Ctrip (now rebranded as Trip.com携程):

  • Ctrip is a major online travel agency in China, offering services for booking flights, hotels, trains, and more. It has a user-friendly app available in both English and Chinese.

Meituan Dianping(美团):

  • Meituan Dianping is a comprehensive platform that started as a group-buying and restaurant review service. It has expanded to include hotel bookings, travel services, and more.

Baidu Maps (百度地图):

Baidu Maps is a popular navigation and mapping app that provides directions, real-time traffic information, and local business listings.

Gaode Map (高德地图):

  • Developed by AutoNavi, a subsidiary of Alibaba Group, Gaode Map is one of the most widely used navigation apps in China. It provides real-time navigation for drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists, along with traffic updates, points of interest, and more.

  • Emergency Services:

  • In case of emergencies, having a local number ensures that you can easily reach local emergency services.

  • In China, the emergency services can be reached through the following phone numbers:

  1. Police: 110

  • For reporting crimes, accidents, or seeking police assistance.

  1. Medical Emergency (Ambulance): 120

  • If you need immediate medical assistance or an ambulance.

  1. Fire: 119

  • For reporting fires and requesting firefighting services.

Before purchasing a SIM card, it's essential to check the specific requirements of the carrier, any associated costs, and the coverage in the areas you plan to visit


Is it difficult to buy a SIM card as a foreigner in China ?

in Fact, buying a SIM card in China as a foreigner is generally not difficult, but there are specific procedures that need to be followed. The process may vary slightly depending on the carrier and location, and regulations can change. Here are some considerations if you planning to stay here in China for a long term:

  1. Bring Your Passport:

  • Foreigners are required to present their passport when purchasing a SIM card in China. Make sure to carry it with you.

  1. Choose a Carrier:

  • China has several major telecom carriers 电信运营商 (Diànxìn Yùnyíngshāng), including

  • China Mobile:

  • 中国移动 (Zhōngguó Yídòng)

  • China Unicom:

  • 中国联通 (Zhōngguó Liántōng)

  • China Telecom:

  • 中国电信 (Zhōngguó Diànxìn) You can choose the carrier based on your location and specific needs.

  1. Visit an Official Store:

  • Visit an official store or authorized reseller of the chosen telecom carrier. These stores are commonly found in cities and major towns.

  1. Select a Plan:

  • Choose a suitable plan based on your data and call/texting needs. The staff at the store can help you understand the available options.

  1. Fill Out Registration Form:

  • Complete a registration form. This form usually requires your passport information, local address (like your hotel or temporary residence), and other basic details.

  1. Receive and Test the SIM Card:

  • Once the registration process is complete, you will receive the SIM card. Test it in your phone to ensure it's working properly.

  1. Top Up Your Account:

  • Depending on the carrier and plan, you might need to top up your account with a certain amount of money to activate the service.

  1. Keep a Copy of Registration Form:

  • It's a good idea to keep a copy of the registration form, as it might be required if you need to troubleshoot any issues with your service.

  1. Check the Internet Access:

  • Ensure that your data services are working, and if necessary, configure the APN settings on your phone. The store staff can assist you with this if needed.

Remember that procedures might vary slightly depending on the carrier and location, so it's always a good idea to ask the store staff for assistance. Also, be aware that regulations can change, so it's advisable to check for any updates or changes in the process.


Nihao Mobile

If you're looking for a short-term mobile solution in China, you might be interested in Nihao Mobile. they especially provide service for foregners in china or you can also call  the big 3 telecom carriers 电信运营商 listed above to ask a customer service in English to provide reasonable short term price plan.


Hopefully the information above can be helpful for you, if you are still confused, you can chat with Dao Mandarin, our customer service would love to help you out.


If you are also looking for a Chinese Teacher to help you to learn some basic Chinese to make your life easier in China, you can also send a message to us, or simplely book a class with one of our Mandarin Teachers online.




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