Are you planning your trip to Canada and looking for an e-sim card to stay connected and not waste money on high roaming charges when traveling to Canada? This is the ultimate complete guide with everything you need to know before buying an e-sim card for traveling in Canada in 2023.
In this guide you can find a comparison of the best e-sim cards for traveling to Canada with up to date prices as per October 2023, all the specifications per e-sim card, my recommendation and everything you need to know about using e-sim cards for traveling to Canada.
Also find out where and when to order an e-sim card, a comparison with local prepaid sim cards and of course links to directly order your e-sim card for traveling to Canada on the internet.
Since 2012 Traveltomtom is traveling around the world as a full time nomadic travel blogger, getting to new countries on a regular basis. In fact pretty much every week which always makes me figure out how to stay connected.
Looking for the best prepaid or e-sim card became part of life. In 2022 I visited for example 62 different countries in 1 year so imagine how many different prepaid and e-sim cards I used.
In the past I used to buy a local prepaid sim card on arrival in every country, but nowadays I mostly use e-sim cards for staying connected when traveling abroad.
Helping other travelers to save money while traveling the world is one of the reasons I started this travel blog. Providing essential travel tips is what made me start writing sim card guides from every country I visit and now on Traveltomtom you can already find more than 200 sim card guides from all over the world.
Of course I also wrote a complete guide for buying a sim card for Canada in 2023.
So next time you are planning your adventure abroad come check out Traveltomtom for the latest prepaid sim card and e-sim card advice for your holiday destination.
Let me first give you my e-sim card recommendation and a comparison of all the e-sim card plans for Canada, while later I will explain more about how e-sim cards work, the network coverage and 4G/5G data speed, some FAQ about e-sim cards, the difference between e-sim cards and local prepaid sim cards and everything else you need to know.
Traveltomtom recommends the following two e-sim cards for traveling to Canada in 2023:
Through SimOptions you can order this international e-sim card from Three Hong Kong with 20 GB data for 30 days valid in Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom and Hong Kong. This e-sim card comes with a phone number from Hong Kong (+852). Outgoing calls/sms are not supported, but incoming calls and sms are supported.
This is also the best sim card for visiting USA and Canada on the same trip.
Through Airalo you can order a Tuque Canada e-sim card. They have many different e-sim card plans starting from $6 USD for 1 GB data and 10 GB data for $35 USD. As you can see these Airalo e-sim cards are much more expensive than the above international e-sim card for Canada, but the big advantage about this Tuque Mobile e-sim card is that it supports 5G. In fact, it is the only 5G e-sim card for Canada and therefore recommended by Traveltomtom.
There are 2 very important things to check before ordering an e-sim card for Canada or in general before using an e-sim card.
Unlocked phones only
Make sure your phone is unlocked. E-sim cards only work in unlocked phones. If you are not sure if your phone is unlocked then contact your mobile internet provider in your home country.
In general phones from Europe, Asia and the Middle East tend to be unlocked. Phones from North America are often locked.
If your smartphone is locked that means it does not allow another prepaid sim card or e-sim card to operate in your device. You can easily unlock your phone, but depending on your mobile internet provider you will be charged a fee for unlocking your phone.
E-sim compatible phones only
Second, and equally important: e-sim cards only work if your smartphone supports e-sim cards, also called e-sim compatible. All newer smartphones support e-sim cards. If you are not sure if your phone is e-sim compatible then simply go to Google and type in your mobile phone model in the search bar and ask if it is e-sim compatible. You will get the answer instantly.
If your phone is NOT e-sim compatible then there is no other solution and you can NOT use an e-sim card for traveling to Canada.
However, you can still order a sim card for Canada on the internet before your trip. Check out Traveltomtom’s complete guide for buying a sim card for Canada in 2023 or find out everything you need to know about international sim cards for traveling abroad in 2023.
Comparison of the best e-sim cards for Canada
There are multiple website on the internet that sell e-sim cards for Canada. Traveltomtom recommends ordering an e-sim card for traveling in Canada from one of the well-known e-sim card providers that have proven to be reliable operators.
These are the 3 big e-sim card providers and they sell great e-sim card plans for traveling to Canada:
Nowadays, you can buy an e-sim card for pretty much every country around the world. Order directly from one of the above e-sim card providers and instantly receive your e-sim card in your email. But before you buy an e-sim card first read all my tips below.
SimOptions also offers international prepaid sim cards for Canada. These are pre-activated physical prepaid sim cards and will be delivered to your home address before your trip to Canada and it is plug and play when you arrive in the Canada.
Airalo and Nomad only sell e-sim cards for Canada.
SimOptions is a very reliable e-sim card provider and Traveltomtom has used SimOptions uncountable times in more than 50 countries around the world. I can totally recommend using SimOptions for ordering your Canada e-sim card.
Here are the SimOptions e-sim card plans for Canada for 2023:
- 1 GB data for 7 days = $9.90 USD
This data-only e-sim card with 1 GB data is provided by SimOptions and is only valid in Canada. Unfortunately SimOptions does not specify which mobile network operator in Canada they use, neither is there information if this e-sim card is 5G ready. Trust me, when it would be 5G ready SimOptions would mention it. So the max data speed on this Canada e-sim cards from SimOptions is 4G/LTE.
This e-sim card for Canada does NOT come with a phone number and it does not support incoming/outgoing calls or sms. The validity of this e-sim card is 1 year and the credit validity starts instantly after installing the e-sim card, even if you are not in Canada.
This 1 GB e-sim card plan from SimOptions is NOT recommended, but SimOptions offers amazing international e-sim cards for traveling in Canada. Check out the following:
- 10 GB data for 30 days from Three HK = $24.90 USD
- 20 GB data for 30 days from Three HK= $34.90 USD
- 6 GB data for 15 days from AIS = $39.90 USD
Click here to order an international e-sim card for Canada directly online.
The Three Hong Kong international e-sim cards are valid in USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom and Hong Kong. In Canada they operate on the Rogers 4G/LTE network. The Three HK e-sim cards come with a phone number from Hong Kong starting with +852.
They do not support outgoing calls/sms but they can receive phone calls and sms on the Hong Kong number.
Traveltomtom readers have recently reported that on the Three HK e-sim card they had problems login in to Tiktok. Because this Three HK is a Hong Kong based e-sim and TikTok is blocked in Hong Kong.
The AIS e-sim card is valid in more than 100 countries and comes with a phone number from Thailand starting with +66. They do not support outgoing calls/sms but they can receive phone calls and sms on the Thai number.
These international e-sim cards for Canada are valid for 1 year, but the credit validity starts only when the e-sim card connects the first time to a supported network. So you can instal the e-sim card even when you are not in Europe yet. For more info check the SimOptions website.
Airalo is another very reputable e-sim card provider that is very much recommended by Traveltomtom. Ordering your e-sim card for Canada through Airalo is done fast and easy. Traveltomtom has used Airalo uncountable times for staying connected when traveling abroad. Very reliable, never an issue and often some of the cheapest e-sim card deals.
Why using Airalo e-sim cards for traveling to Canada? Airalo is the only e-sim card that is 5G ready! All other e-sim cards only offer 4G/LTE.
Also, especially for those travelers that only use a little bit of data and need just 1 or 2 Gigabyte to stay in touch through WhatsApp, check their email and get directions from Google Maps, Airalo is a great e-sim card for traveling in Canada, as it is the cheapest.
Here are Canada e-sim card plans for 2023 from Airalo:
- 1 GB data for 7 days = $6 USD
- 2 GB data for 15 days = $11 USD
- 3 GB data for 30 days = $15 USD
- 5 GB data for 30 days = $18 USD
- 10 GB data for 30 days = $35 USD
Click here to order an e-sim card for Canada from Airalo.
The Airalo e-sim cards for Canada operate on the 4G/LTE network of Rogers and the 5G networks of Bell and Telus in Canada. Which means that the Airalo e-sim cards for Canada are 5G ready!
The Tuque Mobile are data-only e-sim card without a phone number, so any call/sms service is NOT supported. An Airalo e-sim card has to be installed within 1 month and after activation the credit validity starts when it connects the first time to a supported network. For more info check out the Airalo website.
Traveltomtom only recently discovered Nomad e-sim cards when looking for the best e-sim card deals and comparing e-sim cards for traveling to Canada. Traveltomtom has only used Nomad a few times now and is keen on experiencing more about Nomad e-sim cards because Nomad sometimes has one of the cheapest e-sim card plans.
Here are the Nomad e-sim card plans for Canada:
- 1 GB data for 7 days = $6 USD
- 3 GB data for 30 days = $12 USD
- 5 GB data for 30 days = $18 USD
- 10 GB data for 30 days = $28 USD
- 12 GB data for 30 days = $36 USD
Click here to order an e-sim card for Canada from Nomad.
The Nomad e-sim cards for Canada operate on the Bell and Telus 4G/LTE network, 5G is NOT supported. All the Nomad e-sim cards do not come with a phone number. Incoming and outgoing calls/sms are NOT supported.
The Nomad Canada e-sim cards have to be installed on your phone within 30 and after installation its validity starts when it connects for the first time to a supported network in Canada. Basically when the plane lands. For more info check the Nomad website.
Why did Traveltomtom already used more than 100s of e-sim cards? I told you before that I travel full time and I am on the road constantly which means I use about 40 to 50 sim cards per year. No better sim card specialist than Traveltomtom.
Traveltomtom is on the road to 197, meaning I would like to visit every country in the world. As of October 2023 I have visited more than 155 countries, still more than 40 to go, but no rush.
What is the cheapest e-sim card for Canada?
The cheapest e-sim card for Canada is an Airalo e-sim card plan with 1 GB data for 7 days for just $6 USD. It is only valid in Canada and it does not support calling and texting.
Why ordering an e-sim card for traveling in Canada
E-sim cards are the easiest way to stay connected when traveling to Canada in 2023 and you can arrange everything online in just a couple clicks. No more visiting a sim card shop and swapping physical sim cards. Order online, scan the QR code, follow the steps and you are connected in less than 2 minutes.
The most important reason to get an e-sim card is because we would like to stay connected on our trip to Canada without wasting money on high roaming costs. Our smartphones are pretty useless without a working data connection. Think about ordering a taxi through an app, finding nearby friends, restaurants, bars. Get directions from Google Maps or simply stay in touch with family back home, check your social media apps on long bus rides or banking apps when paying contactless.
One of the best things about arriving in Canada with an activated e-sim card is that you are online as soon as the plane lands. More about when to instal your e-sim card later.
There are so many reasons to stay connected when traveling to Canada, but the most important reason is that it makes your trip to Canada so much more convenient and fun!
At the same time we don’t want to waste money on high roaming charges. Many mobile internet operators still charge up to $3 USD per MB for data roaming, that means just opening the Instagram app will already cost you 25 MB * $3 USD = $50 USD! Not kidding… this is still very common in 2023.
E-sim cards are the easiest way to avoid high roaming charges!
International data roaming plans
So what about overseas data roaming plans? Well, not recommended! Why? Did you read the small letters at what data speed you can use data roaming? Pretty much all mobile internet operators limit the data speed for overseas data roaming plans, which means you end up with 3G data speed. There are already Canada e-sim cards that operate on the 5G network of Canada.
Uncountable times travel friends asked me: “can I use your hotspot? My data roaming plan is so slow, it is barely working!” Trust me, get yourself an e-sim card or an international prepaid sim card for traveling to Canada.
Where to buy an e-sim card for Canada?
You can only buy an e-sim card for Canada on the internet through an e-sim card provider. There are multiple e-sim card providers for Canada. Traveltomtom compared 6 e-sim card providers and concluded that the above mentioned ones are the best e-sim card providers for traveling to Canada in 2023: SimOptions, Airalo, Nomad.
On arrival in Canada
When you arrive in Canada and you want to buy an e-sim card for tourists then you will have to go to an official retail store of an internet provider. How to locate the nearest one to you hotel? Use Google Maps. Not all providers in Canada offer e-sim cards for tourists. Most tourist sim card plans are only available as a physical sim card.
For the best prepaid sim card for tourists in Canada in 2023 click on the link to read my complete guide and comparison of all the mobile internet providers in Canada, including a comparison of the 4G/5G network.
How to activate an e-sim card
Installing and activating an e-sim card is made as simple as possible. Everyone can activate an e-sim card and the instructions on how to are very detailed and will be send to you instantly by email.
When you order an e-sim card plan for Canada you instantly receive a summery of your order including a QR-code after the payment is processed.
You will see a summary of your e-sim card order including a QR code on your screen and at the same time you will also receive an email with the same QR code. The email contains instructions on how to instal and activate your Canada e-sim card.
But installing an activating an e-sim card is as easy as scanning the QR code with the same phone where you want to activate the e-sim card on. The QR contains all the information about your Canada e-sim card.
Once you scan the code you will be guided through a couple simple steps and within less than 1 minute your e-sim card is successfully installed. Very important is that you are connected to the internet when installing your e-sim card otherwise you will get an error and issues can occur.
Tip: if you order an e-sim card with the same phone where you want to instal the e-sim card on then ask a friend or someone nearby to take a photo of the QR code and then you scan the QR code from his/her phone and start the installation.
When to order an e-sim card for Canada?
You can order an e-sim card for Canada pretty much any time you want. Most e-sim cards have to be installed on a phone within 1 month after purchasing, some even within 1 year, so you have time.
More important therefore is when do you instal/activate the e-sim card. The validity of some e-sims start straight after the installation, other e-sim cards only start their validity when they connect the first time to a supported network.
Traveltomtom advices to instal your e-sim card on the day of departure to Canada. Or if you want to maximise your validity then activate your Canada e-sim card on arrival after you connect to the free WiFi of the airport on arrival in Canada. All international airports in Canada have free public WiFi.
Looking to buy a sim card on arrival in Canada then check out my guide for buying a sim card at Toronto Airport.
Things to know before ordering an e-sim card for Canada
Here are some general tips for using e-sim cards when traveling abroad. These tips do not only apply for Canada e-sim cards, but are important things to know before buying an e-sim card in general.
Make sure your phone is unlocked
To make sure you didn’t miss this, let me say this again: e-sim cards only work in UNLOCKED phones. If your phone is unlocked then you can use any e-sim card without any problems.
If your phone is locked then ask your mobile internet provider from your home country to unlock your phone before your trip to Canada. It is likely that your mobile internet provider will charge you a fee for unlocking your smartphone.
If you are unable to unlock your phone you can look into getting a pocket WiFi for staying connected when traveling to Canada or bring a second unlocked phone on your trip to Canada and use it as a portable WiFi device.
Which smartphones support e-sim cards?
Another very important thing you have to check before buying an e-sim card is if your smartphone supports e-sim cards. If you have any of the latest mobile phones then there is no need to worry, all new smartphones support e-sim cards.
The fastest way to find out if your phone is e-sim compatible is by asking Google the question: is my (your phone model) e-sim compatible? Simple as that!
Can I trust these e-sim card providers?
All the e-sim card providers for Canada recommended above SimOptions, Airalo, Nomad are reputable e-sim card providers reviewed and tested by Traveltomtom. All of them are licensed third party companies and resellers that partner or work directly with the mobile internet providers in Canada.
Traveltomtom has successfully partnered for many consecutive years with SimOptions and Airalo. Nomad is a fairly new partner of Traveltomtom, but has so far proven to be a reliable e-sim card provider. All e-sim card providers have their own Helpdesk which you can contact may you encounter any problems or in case you want to claim a refund.
Traveltomtom does NOT sell Canada e-sim cards, only RECOMMENDS you to use e-sim cards for traveling to Canada.
Can I keep my phone number from home with a Canada e-sim card?
Yes, you can and this is for many people a reason to order an e-sim card to stay connected when traveling to Canada. An e-sim card can be used next to your physical or e-sim card from your home country at the same time. You do not need a dual-sim phone for using an e-sim card.
So you can have multiple e-sim cards installed on your phone? Yes, no problem at all!
For example: you can turn off the mobile data from your sim card from home but still use it for texting and calling. Canada e-sim card you can be used at the same time just for data to ensure you are not wasting money on high roaming costs.
Switching between physical and e-sim cards is a matter of turning them on/off in the settings.
Can I make phone calls with a Canada e-sim card?
Unfortunately none of the by Traveltomtom recommended Canada e-sim cards support outgoing calls and sms.
There are few e-sim card providers on the internet that offer e-sim cards for Canada including calling and texting. Traveltomtom has never tried these specific e-sim cards.
If making phone calls is important for you then you will have to buy a prepaid sim card on arrival in a phone store in Canada or at the airport on arrival.
Much more expensive but these prepaid sim cards for tourists often including unlimited calling and texting within Canada. More hassle and more expensive. Check out my guide for buying a sim card for Canada in 2023.
Does a Canada e-sim card come with a phone number?
This depends on the type of e-sim card that you buy. There are e-sims that come with a phone number and they support incoming calls and sms.
All the e-sim cards from Nomad and Airalo are data-only and do NOT come with a phone number.
However, the e-sim cards for Canada from SimOptions come with a phone number from either Hong Kong (+852) or Thailand (+66) and therefore these e-sims can receive incoming phone calls and sms.
In the above Canada e-sim card comparison you can find all the specifications per e-sim card.
Can I use 5G on a Canada e-sim card?
Yes, you can use 5G on a Canada e-sim card, but only the e-sim cards from Airalo are 5G ready. The e-sim cards from SimOptions and and Nomad only support 4G/LTE max data speed.
Are there e-sim cards for Canada with unlimited data?
None of the by Traveltomtom recommended Canada e-sim cards for tourists include unlimited data.
There are e-sim card providers that offer e-sim cards for Canada with unlimited data but always make sure the unlimited data is on max data speed. I can tell you already that is pretty much never the case, the data speed is capped after you used X amount of Gigabytes in total or per day.
Holafly is an e-sim card provider that sells e-sim cards with unlimited data, but does NOT specify what is the exact so-called Fair Use Policy (FUP).
Traveltomtom does NOT recommend Canada e-sim cards with unlimited data plans. There are always restrictions. And on Holafly sim cards I experienced a reduce in data speed after using more than 2 GB per day. When I contacted support they explained me that I had to wait for 24 hours until my data speed was restored to normal.
Those 24 hours were a nightmare as my data speed was barely enough to use WhatsApp. Social media apps were not even loading!
There are a lot of different specifications per e-sim card. Another reason why I advice you to take a close at my comparison of the best e-sim cards for traveling to Canada in 2023 before choosing your favorite.
Are e-sim cards the best way to stay connected when traveling to Canada?
E-sim cards are the easiest and fastest way to get data on your phone when traveling to Canada, but are e-sims also the best way to stay connected when traveling to Canada?
There are 3 ways to stay connected when traveling to Canada:
- Local prepaid sim cards
- International prepaid sim cards
- E-sim cards
Let’s compare e-sim cards, local prepaid sim cards and international prepaid sim cards for you to make understand what is your preferred way to stay connected.
Local prepaid sim cards
If you use a lot of data then local prepaid sim cards are in general a cheaper way to stay connected, depending on the length of your trip. Local prepaid sim cards often offer bigger data plans than e-sim cards. However, local prepaid sim cards can only be purchased on arrival in Canada.
More info about the best Canada sim cards for tourists can be found in my complete guide for buying a sim card for Canada in 2023. However, the simple conclusion of my research is that e-sim cards for Canada are the best buy and they give you much more value for money than local prepaid sim cards.
On Traveltomtom you can also find a guide for buying a sim card at Toronto Airport. They only sell physical prepaid sim cards at Toronto Airport, no e-sim cards for tourists.
The advantage of local prepaid sim cards is that you buy them directly from the mobile internet provider. You get unlimited local calls & sms included and the fastest data speed. However, local prepaid sim cards for tourists in Canada are still NOT all 5G ready and are extremely expensive if you use a lot of data. Most operator only allow prepaid sim card users to use the 4G/LTE network.
International prepaid sim cards
If your smartphone is not e-sim compatible you can order an international prepaid sim card for traveling abroad. Some of these international prepaid travel sim cards are great for using in Canada and you can easily order them online.
A pre-activated physical sim card will be delivered to your home address before your trip. You put this physical sim card in your phone and as soon as the plane touches the ground and the sim card connects to a supported network you are online. Plug and play!
The advantage of an international prepaid sim card is that it often includes calling and texting. E-sim cards are mostly data-only sim cards and do not support outgoing calls and sms.
There are two different e-sim cards:
- E-sim cards that you buy on the internet through a third party
- E-sim cards that you buy in Canada in a mobile internet provider store
The big difference is that e-sim cards provided by the local internet operators in Canada: Bell, Telus Rogers and Virgin Mobile can only be purchased at one of their phone stores around Canada.
However, as of October 2023 e-sim cards are not available for prepaid tourist sim cards. Very disappointing but when reading through my article about buying a sim card for tourists in Canada you will see that it looks like Canada is a 3rd world country when it comes to tourists sim cards.
E-sim cards vs. local prepaid sim cards
Ordering an e-sim card online is the easiest and cheapest way to stay connected when traveling to Canada, no doubt! You arrange everything online within just a couple click. Right here, right now and you are all set for your trip to Canada. You arrive prepared and there is no need to visit a sim card shop on arrival. As soon as the plane lands, you are online.
But what is cheaper? An e-sim card or a local prepaid sim card for tourists? When we compare Canada e-sim card prices with local prepaid sim cards for Canada Traveltomtom comes to the conclusion that in fact e-sim cards for Canada are much cheaper. They already start from just $6 USD for 1 GB data and 20 GB data costs just $34.90 USD.
The best local prepaid sim card you can buy in Canada is from Telus and 20 GB + unlimited calls/sms in Canada = $52 USD. That is $18 USD more expensive.
On top of that after a long flight you just want to go to your hotel and it is often a big task to go to a sim card store and get connected.
Therefore a lot of travelers simply get an e-sim card for Canada. Faster, easier, cheaper and less stress!
Another difference between a local prepaid sim card and an e-sim card is that e-sim cards are often through a third party, a so called MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator). These MVNO’s operate on the network of one of the main mobile internet operators and basically buy bandwidth.
This may sound a little bit too technical, but what it means is that e-sim cards through an MVNO are the last ones in line when the line is busy. Especially during peak times, the performance of an e-sim cards is less compared to a local prepaid sim card you buy directly from a mobile internet operator.
Bottomline: the data speed of e-sim cards can be less compared to a local prepaid sim card.
I am sure some of the above tips for finding the best e-sim card for your trip to Canada were helpful. I hope that after reading through my comparison, tips and tricks it was easier to make a decision and order your e-sim card right away.
If you still have any questions about e-sim cards for Canada then please leave me a comment below or reach out to me on social media and I am more than happy to help you out.
Curious what it looks like trying to visit every country in the world? Go check out my Instagram account @traveltomtom and follow along. As of Ocotber 2023 I have visited more than 155 countries, so still a long way to go.
Enjoy your trip to Canada!
Some links in this article about the best e-sim cards for Canada are affiliate links. If you buy any product after clicking on an affiliate link I will earn a small commission. Don’t worry this is at absolutely no extra cost to you!