I read on this answer from RedBaron:

Pre-activated SIM cards are not sold in India. This means you have to buy a SIM card and then wait for some time for the number to get activated (this can vary from 2 to 24 hours).

How can I get a SIM card that gets activated within two hours or less in India?

If the location matters, I am located in Hyderabad (Telangana, India), specifically in Banjara Hills (I'm also interested in solutions located at the Hyderabad airport).

  • 1
    Activation time for new SIMs varies by each provider and 2-24 hours in the answer is the "maximum" window (across operators) in which your SIM will be activated. Vodafone says activation will happen in a few hours but it usually takes minutes. If buying direct from company store you can probably ask the executive to expedite the activation but again YMMV. This article about using India SIM card as tourist may interest you
    – RedBaron
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 5:04
  • 1
    @RedBaron This aligns with my experience as well, please add this as an answer. Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 6:38
  • 1
    @jpatokal Done!
    – RedBaron
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 7:33
  • The solution is to get a cheap roaming SIM in advance so that you're not nervous about the Indian one taking a long time to activate.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 15:47

2 Answers 2


There is no sure-fire way of guaranteeing the activation time for new SIMs in India. It depends on back-end systems and document processing and varies depending on the operator. The "2-24 hours" that is mentioned in the other answer is the range of "maximum" times taken by all operators to activate the connection. This range is applicable to all cards (prepaid, post-paid, numbers ported from another operator, numbers ported from prepaid to postpaid or vice-versa, replacement for lost cards etc.) and hence may seem long. The time taken to activate new pre-paid cards is usually considerably less. Vodafone, for example, says activation will happen in a few hours but it usually takes only minutes in my experience.

Indian residents can provide their Unique Identification Number while buying a SIM and this reportedly shortens the activation time considerably as the address and contact details are picked up from that database (There is a debate around the need to link this unique number with your mobile connection and many Indians prefer not to do so but this is not the place to bring that up).

As a foreign tourist, this avenue is not available to you. Your best bet is to buy direct from company stores (Airtel Store, Vodafone store, Jio Store etc), provide complete documentation and request the executive to expedite your case. As already said in the answer to your other question, there are a plethora of such stores in all big cities (and Hyderabad is a very big city) and Google will direct you to the nearest one.

As an aside, since you have a lot of questions about SIM cards in India, you can read this article (mirror) about using India SIM card as tourist for background information.

  • 4
    +1 and I'll add that activation will be much faster if you buy your SIM from a telecom company owned and operated store, rather than from a third party retailer. This is because third party retailers add an extra step in the activation process that can slow the process down.
    – crayarikar
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 12:34
  • Yes. And sometimes, retailers are also just clueless.
    – user38149
    Commented Sep 15, 2020 at 16:05

In India few popular telecom operator is Vodafone, Airtel and Reliance Jio. You can find the stores at Airport. Apart from that there are several stores are available in most of the locations. Please check the following link, that may help you - https://gadgets.ndtv.com/telecom/features/how-to-buy-sim-card-india-mobile-connection-prepaid-postpaid-1791953

  • 2
    Welcome to Travel.SE, Sudip, but you didn't seem to answer the question? Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 6:37
  • Sorry, I didn't mention the activation time. In India it takes few hours(2 to 6 hour) to activate the SIM card. I am using Vodafone at Hyderabad. Activation is faster for Vodafone as per my experience and even Less than two hour most of the times.
    – Sudip
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 8:41

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