Planning a trip to Tanzania and wondering what is the best way to stay connected? Don't end up with unnecessary high roaming charges or a slow overseas data roaming plan. This is a complete guide for finding the best way to stay connected when traveling to Tanzania in 2023.
Find out everything you need to know about buying a prepaid sim card for tourists in Tanzania, the best e-sim cards for Tanzania, where to buy a sim card, the best 4G/5G network, up to date prices as per August 2023, my recommendation, a vlog about my experiences, info about international sim cards and more.
Tanzania is the land of Kilimanjaro, Serengeti, the most friendly people and Zanzibar of course. One my first trip to Tanzania I came across so many happy souls, it made me fall in love with the country and its people. As part of my big overland trip in Africa I backpacked from the south to the north.
Staying connected when traveling is a must and it is the first thing I do when I get to a new country. Depending on the length of my trip I either get a local prepaid sim card or I quickly order an e-sim card. The internet is a vital resource for my spontaneous travel style, it makes life on the road so much easier.
I like to document everything about sim cards and because I am also on a journey to visit every country in the world you can already find more than 200 sim card guides on Traveltomtom from all around the world: Uganda, South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, Uganda, Kenya, Cairo, Cameroon, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Europe, Frankfurt, Germany, Amsterdam, London, United Kingdom, Istanbul, Turkey, USA, Dubai and many more.
So next time you are planning your adventure abroad come check out Traveltomtom for the latest prepaid and e-sim card advice for your holiday destination. Bookmark me!
Traveltomtom recommends a Vodacom sim card for traveling to Tanzania. Why? They have the best network coverage. Airtel is a good runner up. Sim cards with data are cheap in Tanzania, but the process of getting a prepaid sim card is time consuming.
Read more about my experiences buying a sim card in Tanzania at the end of this article and how my Vodacom Tanzania sim card actually caused a lot of problems. Then I tried buying Airtel (fail) and eventually ended up with Tigo for the last couple days of my Tanzania trip.
Therefore Traveltomtom recommends arriving prepared in Tanzania with an e-sim card or an international prepaid sim card. E-sim cards for Tanzania already start from $4.5 USD only and for $26 USD you get 10 GB data for 30 days.
Another great way of staying connected when traveling to Tanzania is a global sim card with data. Especially for those who do not have an e-sim compatible phone. Check out my guide for buying a global sim card with data for traveling in 2023. There are some great sim card deals for Africa.
Best e-sim cards for Tanzania
No doubt, the easiest way to get data on your phone when traveling to Tanzania in 2023 is an e-sim card. They are very affordable and you arrange before your trip to Tanzania. As soon as the plane lands you are online! Order a Tanzania e-sim card on the internet, receive a QR code, scan it, follow the simple steps and you are connected in no-time.
Check out the following e-sim card plans for Tanzania:
- 1 GB data for 7 days = $4.5 USD
- 2 GB data for 30 days = $8 USD
- 3 GB data for 30 days = $11 USD
- 5 GB data for 30 days = $15.5 USD
- 10 GB data for 30 days = $26 USD
Click here to order a Tanzania e-sim card directly online.
The above Tanzacomm e-sim cards are data-only and incoming and outgoing phone calls are not supported. Data is valid in Tanzania only and Tanzacomm operates on the 4G/LTE network of Vodacom, the best mobile data network in Tanzania.
There are also international e-sim cards that are in multiple countries. Some valid in 70 - 120 countries around the world, including Tanzania:
- 3 GB data for 30 days = $24.90 USD
- 5 GB data for 30 days = $34.90 USD
- 6 GB data for 15 days = $39.90 USD
- 10 GB data for 14 days = $39.90 USD
Another trusted e-sim card provider is Nomad and they offer the following e-sim card plans for traveling to Tanzania:
- 1 GB data for 7 days = $10 USD
- 3 GB data for 30 days = $17 USD
- 5 GB data for 30 days = $23 USD
- 10 GB data for 30 days = $37 USD
The Nomad e-sim cards are from eSIM Go and they operate on the Airtel network in Tanzania. This Tanzania e-sim card is data-only and incoming and outgoing calls are not supported. An ID or passport verification is not required.
Click here to order an e-sim card for Tanzania via Nomad.
Before ordering an e-sim card for Tanzania make sure your phone is e-sim compatible. If your phone is not e-sim compatible and you still would like to order a sim card for Tanzania on the internet then look for international prepaid sim cards for Tanzania. For $49.90 USD you get 10 GB data for 14 days. Click here to order a prepaid sim card for Tanzania online.
Why buying a sim card in Tanzania
Very simple example, the friendly people of Tanzania speak very limited English, so a translation app comes in handy but doesn’t work if you have no internet connection. Or what about getting around, finding hotels, transportation, restaurants, etc. Although it is often wrong, Google Maps will still be your best friend when traveling in Tanzania.
Apart from the above mentioned reasons for staying connected in Tanzania I strongly recommend you to not rely on free public WiFi. Even if you just want to update your social media in the evening, keep in touch with your relatives or check your emails. The WiFi in your hotel might be working, might not be working. Trust me, you will be very happy with your sim card for Tanzania.
RELATED: 12 Tanzania Travel Tips!
Mobile internet operators Tanzania
There are 4 different mobile internet providers in Tanzania. You can buy a local prepaid sim card from one of the following operators:
Some Tanzania sim card guides are still talking about Zantel, but these articles are very outdated as Zantel merged with Tigo already in the beginning of 2020. This guide for buying a sim card for Tanzania is up to date with the latest information as per August 2023.
Sim card registration in Tanzania
Every prepaid sim card in Tanzania needs to be registered on a passport. They will take a photo of your passport and upload it to their system. On top of that the mobile internet provider will need your fingerprint, also a photo will be taken of you on the spot. This is an inevitable process that you will have to go through when buying a sim card in Tanzania.
This registration process is a normality in Africa and happens in most African countries when buying a prepaid sim card. To avoid this order your sim card for Tanzania on the internet. Get yourself an e-sim card for Tanzania or an international prepaid sim card for Tanzania and you will only need your email address.
Because of these registration requirements not every kiosk or telecom booth you see on the side of the road is able to sell prepaid sim cards for tourists. Most of these kiosks don't have the fingerprint option and are therefore not able to help you.
Local prepaid sim cards in Tanzania do not cost more than 1500 Tanzania Schilling, less than $1 USD. There are also people on the borders that offer you prepaid sim cards for around $10 USD. Most of these sim cards are pre-registered and can cause problems when you are trying to put new credit on it. It even happened to me! More about that later.
Where to buy a sim card for Tanzania
Zanzibar or Dar es Salaam Airport
The most convenient place to buy a sim card in Tanzania is on arrival at the international airport of course. You pay a tourist price, but you are instantly connected and get the best service and staff that speaks English very well. Traveltomtom does not recommend buying a sim card at Zanzibar Airport though as prices are dumb expensive and start from $15 USD for 1 GB data.
Check out my complete guide for buying a sim card for Zanzibar in 2023 for more info.
At Dar es Salaam there are also phone shops from Halotel, Tigo, Airtel and Vodacom. So when arriving by plane in Tanzania and you would like to buy a sim card on arrival then you are good.
Personally I have never been to Kilimanjaro International Airport and from what I read on the internet there is no sim card shop and you will have to wait and hop in a mobile internet provider store in Arusha.
Phone stores mobile internet operators
If you want to buy a prepaid sim card in Tanzania then Traveltomtom advices you to go to an official retail store of one of the mobile internet providers. Hop into any store of Tigo, Halotel, Airtel, Vodacom and get your sim card there. At the official service centers they will make sure the registration process is done properly and you walk out with a working data connection on your phone.
Always put the Tanzania sim card in your unlocked phone and test if the data connection is working before you walk out of any sim card shop. When you find out it is not working and you left the store already, it is likely that you will have to do the whole registration AGAIN and trust me you don’t want that!
Buying a sim card in Tanzania and activating a data plan takes time. Just like most things in Africa, you can't expect things to go like in your home country. Make sure you have at least about 20 minutes time, often the sim card shops in Tanzania are packed with people and there is a long waiting line.
To avoid all this hassle of buying a sim card on arrival in Tanzania Traveltomtom advices to buy a sim card for Tanzania on the internet. As I mentioned already several times it is very easy to get a Tanzania sim card online. Getting yourself an e-sim card for Tanzania is the fastest and easiest way to stay connected when traveling to Tanzania. Or if your phone is not e-sim compatible an international prepaid sim card for Tanzania is what you are looking for.
Best 4G/5G network in Tanzania in 2023
The 4G network in Tanzania is still very much developing in most of the rural areas of the country. However, most of the tourist destinations in Tanzania now have a proper 4G signal. As of August 2023 there is also a 5G network available in Tanzania but it is very much limited to the city center of Dar es Salaam and a some areas in Zanzibar.
It is really hard to say who has the best mobile network in Tanzania as there is no up to date information available about the 3G/4G/5G network coverage so it is very hard to compare the mobile internet providers and find out which one has the best mobile data network in Tanzania.
After researching all the information online and came to a couple conclusions:
- Halotel has the weakest network in Tanzania
- Tigo claims to have the largest 4G network in Tanzania
- According to my own experiences Vodacom and Airtel have the best 4G network in Tanzania
Halotel 4G network
Unfortunately Halotel does NOT provide any data or information about their 4G network across Tanzania. But it is also a given fact that Halotel is the smallest mobile internet provider in Tanzania. For tourists it is therefore not recommend to buy a Halotel prepaid sim card for traveling in Tanzania. In most of the Tanzania tourist destinations I guess you will find a Halotel phone signal, but it is not guaranteed wether that is 2G, 3G or 4G
Tigo Tanzania 4G/5G network
Trying to get more info about the Tigo Tanzania 4G/5G coverage in the country I found out that Tigo claims to have the LARGEST and FASTEST 4G network in Tanzania. I can already tell you that is NOT true.
Unfortunately they don’t provide a detailed 4G coverage map, but they claim to have 4G in more than 20 cities around the country.
Most of the tourist destinations in north and east Tanzania have a Tigo 4G/5G connection. But if you are visiting for example Pemba Island or the more remote West side of Tanzania there won’t be a Tigo 4G signal. Tigo though is the first operator to offer 5G in Tanzania. Traveltomtom tried it in Zanzibar and was not convinced. Tigo may name it 5G, but it does not even come close to 5G! The Tigo data speed overall of was pretty disappointing.
Airtel Tanzania 4G network
In February 2021 Airtel announced to upgrade its 4G network across the country, investing 12 million USD and providing more than 500 towns with a 4G signal. Airtel has one of the best mobile internet network coverage of the country together with Vodacom. They have a provisional Airtel coverage map on their website. Check it out here.
Vodacom Tanzania 4G network
On their website Vodacom claims to have the FASTEST network in Tanzania. They actually do provide a 4G coverage map on their website. See what it looks like above.
However I can already tell you the above map is very outdated and their 4G network is much bigger than the above map says it is. I traveled mainly in West Tanzania and had a 4G signal in most of those areas, however they are not marked on the above 4G coverage map of Vodacom Tanzania.
From my experiences I can tell you that while traveling all around Tanzania Vodacom has the best mobile data network in Tanzania.
Prices Tanzania prepaid sim cards in 2023
The below info is updated as per August 2023 with the latest info. Prices are in Tanzanian Schilling: $1 USD = 2,500 TZS and 1,000 TZS = $0.40 USD.
When buying a Halotel prepaid sim card, data and voice packages are automatically included. They offer the following combo packages called HOT bundels:
- 4 GB data + 280 minutes + 50 sms for 30 days = 10,000 TZS - $4 USD
- 8.5 GB data + 400 minutes + 100 sms for 30 days = 20,000 TZS - $8 USD
- 22 GB data + 600 minutes + 200 sms for 30 days = 50,000 TZS - $12 USD
Halotel has the weakest network but the best prices for data sim card plans. Their prices compared to other mobile internet providers in Tanzania are much cheaper. Check the Halotel website for more info. Halotel does only provide physical prepaid sim cards, there are no e-sim cards available.
When buying a sim card in Tanzania and you want the most value for money then go for Halotel. If you only stay in Dar es Salaam or other touristy places Halotel is an ok option.
Buying a Tigo sim card in Tanzania will cost you 1,000 TZS and you will have to add credit on the sim card so you can buy data plans. Voice and data packages can be bought separate, as well as in so called combo packs.
- 7 GB data + 650 minutes + 100 sms for 7 days = 15,000 TZS - $6 USD
- 10 GB data + 800 minutes + 500 sms for 30 days = 20,000 TZS - $8 USD
Tigo also offers daily, weekly and monthly data only packages. These are the most common ones:
- 1 GB for 1 day = 2,000 TZS
- 6 GB for 7 days = 10,000 TZS
- 12 GB for 30 days = 20,000 TZS - $8 USD
- 24 GB for 30 days = 50,000 TZS - valid for 60 days
These are the 3 most common data-only bundles that I recommend for tourists if you decide to buy a Tigo prepaid sim card on arrival in Tanzania.
For checking your balance, topping up, etc dial *147*00# this is the main menu for Tigo Tanzania.
For more info check the Tigo Tanzania website. Tigo does only provide physical prepaid sim cards, there are no e-sim cards available.
An Airtel Tanzania sim card costs 1,500 TZS and you will have to buy extra packages to make your sim card work.
These are the most useful data & voice packages of Airtel Tanzania:
- 6 GB data for 7 days = 10,000 TZS - $4 USD
- 8 GB data for 7 days = 15,000 TZS - $6 USD
- 12 GB data for 30 days = 25,000 TZS - $10 USD
For more information check the Airtel Tanzania website. Airtel does only provide physical prepaid sim cards, there are no e-sim cards available.
Buying a Vodacom Tanzania sim card will set you back 1,000 TZS and will be activated in store for you. Data and voice bundles have to be added separately.
Vodacom Tanzania data bundles are daily, weekly and monthly:
- 3 GB data + 400 minutes + 100 sms for 7 days = 10,000 TZS - $4 USD
- 10 GB data + 1,200 minutes + 500 sms for 30 days = 30,000 TZS - $12 USD
- 19.9 GB data + 1,200 minutes + 500 sms for 30 days = 50,000 TZS - $20 USD
To check you remaining Vodacom data balance you can short dial: *149*60#. For more info check the Vodacom Tanzania website. Vodacom does only provide physical prepaid sim cards, there are no e-sim cards available.
Best sim card for Tanzania in 2023
As you have read between the lines Traveltomtom does not recommend Halotel for tourists traveling all around Tanzania because of their weak 4G/5G network coverage. However, Halotel has by far the cheapest prepaid sim card prices and data plans. It is up to you if you want to take a leap of faith, but don't start complaining about not having phone signal.
Tigo is not my preferred Tanzania sim card, as their prices rival more or less Airtel and Vodacom, but the Airtel and Vodacom 4G network are much stronger as of 2023.
That leaves us down to two options: Airtel and Vodacom. Because of my experiences with Vodacom and the advice from locals all over the country Traveltomtom rates Vodacom as the best sim card for Tanzania in 2023.
On Zanzibar Traveltomtom tried the Tigo 5G network and it was nowhere near proper 5G, not even close to good 4G+. It was disappointing. However, the first step towards 5G in Tanzania has been set, I am sure it will develop fast forwards from now on. For more info about buying a sim card for Zanzibar in 2023 check my complete guide in the link.
The process of getting a tourist sim card in Tanzania can be pretty time consuming and who wants to waste precious holiday time trying to buy a local prepaid sim card? That is one of the foremost reasons reasons why I advice to buy an e-sim card or an international prepaid sim card for Tanzania. That way you arrive prepared and don't need to worry about finding a way to get connected on arrival.
Even prices for Tanzania e-sim cards are actually very good as they already start from just $4.5 USD.
I also recorded a vlog about buying a sim card in Tanzania on my first trip to Tanzania. Check out this video guide on everything you need to know when buying a prepaid sim card in Tanzania.
For more inspiration about traveling to Tanzania see my Youtube Channel: Traveltomtom.
Order a sim card for Tanzania online
If your phone is not e-sim compatible but you still would like to buy a sim card for Tanzania on the internet then check out international prepaid sim cards for Tanzania. Arrive prepared and don't waste time on your Tanzania holiday trying to buying a prepaid sim card on arrival. With an international prepaid sim card you are online as soon as the plane lands.
You order them directly online and these pre-activated sim cards will be delivered to your home address before your trip to Tanzania:
- 6 GB data for 15 days = $39.90 USD
- 10 GB data for 14 days = $49.90 USD
Click here to order an international prepaid sim card for traveling in Tanzania directly online or get more info.
Also a last reminder that if your phone is e-sim compatible you can arrange everything online and no need to visit a sim card store and waste precious Tanzania holiday time and swap physical sim cards anymore. You can order a Tanzania e-sim card on the internet. Within just a couple clicks you can get an e-sim card for Tanzania via Airalo, SimOptions or Nomad.
My experience buying a sim card in Tanzania
As I already did the research in advanced about the best network in Tanzania and I chose to buy a Vodacom sim card when I entered Tanzania from Zambia. As my trip to Tanzania was part of my big Africa overland journey I reached Tanzania coming from Zambia at the town of Tunduma.
If you are interested in traveling Africa overland I recommend you to check out the video of the most horrible road in Africa on my YouTube Channel: From Lusaka, Zambia to Tanzania, a 19 hour trip on the worst roads in Africa!
It took a bit of time, but I found a kiosk that was able to sell me a prepaid sim card for tourists and activate it for me. Although he tried with my passport and my fingerprint, in the end he couldn’t register the Vodacom for some reason under my name.
He was also asking 5,000 TZS, little did I know then that it actually only was 1,000 TZS. But I had no choice, I wanted to get connected as soon as I arrived. And 5,000 TZS is just a little over $2 USD so I didn’t care!
I also added 7,5 GB data on it for 15,000 TZS. As I traveled in remote parts of Tanzania, around Lake Tanganyika, I was very happy with Vodacom and surprisingly they had service in most of those places, often even a 4G signal.
Talking to locals that had a smart phone they mostly had either Vodacom or Airtel, at least here in the Western part of Tanzania.
After 4 days I already ran out of credit, so I asked one of the staff of Lupita Island, a resort in Lake Tanganyika where I was staying, to add another 15,000 credit to my account so I could purchase 7.5 GB data again. It all worked smoothly and I activated the data package without problems. However, it was then that I found out the Vodacom sim card was actually NOT registered on my name.
A week later I ran out of MB’s again and tried to add credit to my Vodacom Mpesa account. It was then that I was asked for my PIN, which you should normally create when buying a prepaid sim card in Tanzania.
Of course I didn’t have one and although I put credit on my Mpesa account, I could not use it unless I had my PIN. Solution... I needed to go to a Vodacom service center, but guess what they just closed when I arrived.
As I had a lot of work to do and the hotel WiFi obviously didn’t work properly, I needed a new Tanzania sim card desperately. There was a nearby Airtel shop that was still open and as Tanzania sim cards are very cheap I was about to buy an Airtel sim card ‘quickly’.
I should have known… nothing is done quickly in Tanzania and after the whole process of 15 minutes, the girl said: ‘sorry, the Airtel system is down, come back tomorrow’! NO OPTION! So I ran to the Tigo store, that was about to close, but luckily they could help me.
Within 10 minutes it was actually fixed. Passport copy, finger print, data packages, etc. And so did I roam on the Tigo network the last days I spent in Tanzania before I crossed the border into Uganda.
Looking back now I should have obviously get an e-sim card for Tanzania. But e-sim cards were back then not so popular as they are nowadays. It would have solved all the problems in just a couple minutes.
I am sure all the above tips for buying a sim card for Tanzania in 2023 were helpful and I made it easier for you to decide which mobile internet provider in Tanzania you are going to pick for your next trip to Tanzania.
Curious about my endless travels and road to visit every country in the world? Click on the link to read a story from every country or check out my Instagram profile @traveltomtom. As of August 2023 I have visited more than 155 countries around the world.
Enjoy your trip to Tanzania!
Some links in this article about the best sim cards for traveling to Tanzania are affiliate links. If you buy any of the products after using an affiliate link I will earn a small commission. Don’t worry this is at absolutely no extra cost to you.