Pakistan Travel

How to Get a SIM Card in Pakistan (Plus 1 Problem for Tourists)

In Pakistan, you can’t just get a SIM card at any store. You must go to certain offices that have the ability to issue SIM cards to foreigners.

On my 3 trips to Pakistan, I have used Zong 4G Pakistan. It’s the best network in Pakistan. I’ve never had an issue with their coverage and their 4G speeds average 5-10 Mbps download and up to 16 Mbps upload. 4G download speed is however capped in Kashmir, it’s around 1 Mbps or less.

I’ve also used Ufone and had no issues and similar speeds tool.

Another option is Jazz, but I’ve not had a reason to try them yet. There’s also Telenor, but their coverage is said to be bad.

The following two stores I have personally used to get tourist SIMs.

Backside of Zong 4G Pakistan SIM Card
Backside of Zong 4G SIM Card

Where to get a SIM in Islamabad?

Zong Customer Service Centre, Blue Area, Islamabad. Right next door is the Jazz office too.

Where to get a SIM in Lahore?

Ufone Head Office, Mini Market, Lahore
A Ufone Service Centre in Mini Market, Lahore.

If you want a Zong sim, get your hotel to call the nearest Zong store and check if they can sell to foreigners – some branches don’t. I used to recommend their store in Liberty, but it’s closed now.

One other store that I know sells to foreigners is Ufone near Mini Market.

International credit cards are accepted in the app and in stores. English can be limited depending on which sales executive you land up with.

When you enter the store, a security guard will give you a ticket with a number on it. Your number will be called out when it’s your turn.

Documents needed for SIM card in Pakistan

To get a tourist SIM you need to present your passport and Pakistani VISA.

How long do new SIMs take to work?

New SIMs are activated anywhere from immediately to 1-2 hours once your passport and VISA have been verified.

How much do SIMs in Pakistan cost?

There are 4 basic plans, then all sorts of data, voice, and SMS add-ons are available if you run out on your plan.

There’s no cost to buy the SIM itself. But Zong does take a security deposit ranging from Rs. 500 to 2500 depending on the plan you take. You can spend this deposit on add-ons.

I just buy the lowest package so I don’t have to give a massive deposit and buy 20GB data add-ons to upload my videos to YouTube.

Ufone 4g data plans
Ufone 4G data plans.

Does Zong have an app?

Yes, you can manage your account, buy add-ons, topup, and check balance with the My Zong app on Android and iPhone.

The app does accept payment via international credit cards.

Inside the My Zong app

Can you use international roaming in Pakistan?

Yes, but it can be very expensive. Check with your mobile provider.

Can you roam on an Indian SIM card in Pakistan?

No. Indian SIMs do not work in Pakistan, I’ve tried.

They do work near the border, within a radius of 2 km. Like at Kartarpur Sahib for example. But it’s patchy.

The big issue for returning tourists to Pakistan

I returned to Pakistan to find out my phone’s SIM card slot had been disabled for use in Pakistan!

If you don’t pay tax on your foreign phone within 60 days of arriving your SIM card tray (its unique identifier, called its IMEI number) gets blocked on Pakistan’s mobile networks!

Pakistan’s Telecommunication Authority is trying to stop people importing phones and not paying duty on them. Unfortunately, this affects foreign tourists returning to Pakistan to find their phone banned.

I was lucky, I have two SIM card slots. So one was still working. But it’ll be banned soon too.

So, you either pay the tax to Zong, around Rs. 25,000, buy a cheap phone PTA approved phone in Pakistan, or buy a 4G portable WIFI device and carry it around and keep your phone connected to it. Not ideal.

Tourist SIMs expire once your VISA expires, so it makes no sense to ban tourists’ phones from the mobile network. I hope this will change in the future.

Have any more questions about SIMs in Pakistan? Drop a comment.

By Karl Rock

Karl Rock, is a Hindi speaking Kiwi ex-pat who take viewers behind the scenes of incredible India and its neighbours. He has visited every state and union territory in India, and its culturally similar neighbours – Pakistan and Bangladesh, and aims to make others fall in love with India and the subcontinent.

13 replies on “How to Get a SIM Card in Pakistan (Plus 1 Problem for Tourists)”

Hi Karl, you said that the mobile speeds in Kashmir are limited to Dial-Up. Is that restriction strictly for foreigners because although Mobile Networks in Pakistani Kashmir are different to Mainland Networks (and are worse) there is no speed restriction?

Bro I’m kirtin you repelyed me in your vidio about indian sim not working in pakistan can you say how to buy a safe sim in Pakistan for tourist with all the procedure and make a vidio in youtube

Hi Karl
I heard that tourists dont have to pay tax on mobile phones. You only need to register your mobile phone to the authorities. Is that correct?

Not as far as I know. I asked Zong and a local cell phone seller in Lahore. You get 60 days free, then you have to pay tax to continue using that SIM card IMEI. If you find information otherwise, please let me know.

Hi Karl, another question please – do you have a location of Zong office for obtaining a sim card in Karachi? Thanks.

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