Sri Lanka SIM Card Buying Guide

Sri Lanka's captivating destinations warrant a local prepaid SIM card, averting international roaming costs. Affordable options from Dialog, SLTMobitel, Airtel, and even a free Hutch SIM make staying connected hassle-free. Tourist SIM cards, found at the airport and local stores, provide convenient access for travellers.

Purchasing a SIM Card as a Visitor in Sri Lanka

Buying a local SIM in Sri Lanka is easy for tourists, ensuring seamless communication during their stay.

  • Age Requirement and Documentation: Visitors aged 16 and above can obtain a prepaid SIM by presenting standard documentation like a passport or national identity card.
  • Simple Acquisition Process: The process is straightforward – tourists can buy a prepaid SIM over the counter by providing necessary documentation, making it convenient for travellers.
  • Mandatory Registration Compliance: To meet legal requirements, visitors must comply with mandatory registration laws, verifying their identity at the point of sale.
  • Choice of Carriers and Plans: Tourists can choose from leading carriers such as Dialog, Mobitel, or Hutch, with staff assistance for signing up for plans, providing flexibility to users.

Obtaining a Sri Lankan SIM Card Upon Arrival

Local SIM cards are readily available at major entry points like Bandaranaike International Airport and Colombo port, offering visitors immediate connectivity upon arrival.

  • Dedicated Counters by Leading Operators: Prominent mobile operators such as Dialog, Mobitel, and Hutch operate dedicated counters at key airports and seaports, ensuring accessibility for tourists.
  • Efficient Activation Process: The activation of prepaid plans is swift and efficient, facilitated by courteous staff who capture mandatory identity documentation and fingerprints, expediting the process for visitors.
  • 24/7 Availability at Airports: International airports feature 24/7 mobile retailer outlets providing SIM cards for all carriers, accommodating the varied arrival times of visitors and offering competitive rates.
  • Convenient City-Center Access: Authorised resellers and standalone franchises in city centres and commercial areas make SIM card acquisition hassle-free. Uniformed sales representatives streamline the purchase and activation process, minimising wait times for visitors.

Mobile Device Compatibility in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's adoption of European mobile frequencies across 2G to 5G networks ensures compatibility with a wide range of global device models, providing international travellers with diverse device support.

  • Convenient Prepaid Plan Access

International travellers have universal access to prepaid plans in Sri Lanka, offering convenience and flexibility for those seeking mobile connectivity during their visit.

  • Quad-Band Ideal Connectivity

Devices with quad-band receptivity spanning 850MHz to 2100MHz, coupled with 3G, 4G/LTE, and 5G NR capabilities, ensure ideal and uninterrupted coverage for users in Sri Lanka.

  • Considerations for America's-Purchased Devices

Devices purchased in the Americas, especially quad-band models, seamlessly connect, while dual or single band models may face connectivity challenges based on specific frequency support.

  • Popular Brand Reliability

Recognizable brands like iPhones, Samsung, and Xiaomi reliably fulfil the ideal requirements for uninterrupted coverage in Sri Lanka, ensuring a seamless connectivity experience for users.

The Current State of 5G Services in Sri Lanka

Despite successful long-term 5G trials conducted by prominent Sri Lankan carriers, widespread next generation public networks remain formally unavailable. However, through government partnerships, leading operator Dialog currently provides select users free-of-charge experimental 5G services in central zones of Colombo, Galle and Kandy.

Understanding Sri Lanka's Segmented Data Allowances 

Sri Lankan prepaid plans uniquely compartmentalise granted monthly data into separate allotments with specific applicable periods or network types. Categorizations include Anytime data, Nighttime data, Bonus 4G/LTE data and App-specific data.

Sri Lanka's Segmented Data Allowances





Anytime Data:

General data usable 24/7


Most basic allowance, consumed first.

Nighttime Data:

Bonus data usable between specific night hours


Overrides leftover 4G/Anytime data; great for streaming.

Bonus 4G/LTE Data:

Limited high-speed data for specified apps or websites


Consumed after App data but before Anytime data.

App-specific Data:

Dedicated data for select apps (e.g., WhatsApp)


Consumed first, independent of other allowances.

Using Local Currency for Mobile Services in Sri Lanka 

As an island nation welcoming many foreign visitors, Sri Lanka broadly accepts international payments but utilising local currency often proves most economical. Telecom services like prepaid plans require payment in the official Lankan Rupee, denoted by the symbol LKR or abbreviations like Rs.

Exploring Sri Lankan Prepaid SIM Cards

Delving into the telecom services provided by Dialog (Axiata), SLTMobitel (by Sri Lanka Telecom), Hutch Sri Lanka (formerly Etisalat Sri Lanka), and Airtel (Sri) Lanka, we will examine:

Dialog (Axiata) in Sri Lanka

Dialog, the predominant mobile operator in Sri Lanka, stands as the largest in the country. Serving as the local arm of the Axiata Group based in Malaysia (recognized as Celcom Malaysia), Dialog has gained prominence. Notably, in 2018, it emerged as the swiftest mobile operator, surpassing SLTMobitel, which was known as Mobitel at that time.

Dialog (Axiata) in Sri Lanka

Extensive Coverage of Dialog Sri Lanka

Dialog Sri Lanka boasts the most comprehensive 4G/LTE coverage in the country, rivalled only by SLTMobitel. Their combined network provides widespread accessibility, ensuring that 4G/LTE reception is essentially available nationwide. This robust coverage enhances the mobile experience for users across various regions in Sri Lanka.

Extensive Coverage of Dialog Sri Lanka

Diverse Array of Packages, Plans, Bundles & Offers from Dialog Sri Lanka

Dialog Sri Lanka presents a comprehensive selection of 15 data-featured prepaid plans catering to various user preferences and needs. These include:

  1. Blasters (Combo)
  2. Budget Packs (Combo)
  3. Data Blaster (Combo)
  4. My Plan (Customizable Combo)
  5. Daily Rental Packages (Data)
  6. Internet Cards (Data)
  7. Mobile Data Plans
  8. Nighttime Packages (Data)
  9. All Unlimited Data Plans (Unlimited data at restricted speeds)
  10. Fun Blaster (Social Data)

SLT Mobitel (Sri Lanka Telecom)

SLT Mobitel, previously recognized simply as Mobitel and distinct from Mobitel in Belgium or Slovenia, holds the position of the second-largest mobile operator in Sri Lanka. The acronym SLT represents Sri Lanka Telecom, initially a fully state-owned entity. Presently, the government maintains a 49.50% ownership stake, while Maxis Communications from Malaysia, also known as Hotlink, holds 44.98%.

SLT Mobitel (Sri Lanka Telecom)

Extensive Coverage of SLTMobitel (Sri Lanka Telecom)

SLTMobitel, in collaboration with Dialog (Axiata) Sri Lanka, boasts the most comprehensive 4G/LTE coverage in the country. Their combined network ensures widespread accessibility, positioning SLTMobitel as a provider with extensive coverage. This collaborative effort enhances the availability of 4G/LTE reception, providing a robust and reliable network experience for users across various regions in Sri Lanka.

Extensive Coverage of SLTMobitel

Diverse Array of Packages, Plans, Bundles & Offers from SLTMobitel

SLTMobitel presents a comprehensive selection of 12 data-featured prepaid plans tailored to cater to diverse user preferences and requirements. These plans include:

  1. Mobitel Max (Combo)
  2. 30 Day Pocket Pack (Combo)
  3. Boosters (Combo)
  4. Oneshot (Combo)
  5. Triple Max Plan (Combo)
  6. Anytime Plans (Data)
  7. Prepaid Daily Plans (Data)
  8. Time Based Plans (Data)
  9. Unlimited Plans (Unlimited data at restricted speeds)
  10. 9-In-1 Non-Stop Lokka (Data with unlimited social media)
  11. Work & Learn Data Plans (Data)
  12. Unlimited Social Media Plans (Social Data)

Hutch Sri Lanka (formerly Etisalat Sri Lanka)

Hutch Sri Lanka, commonly known as Hutch, holds the position of the third-largest mobile operator in Sri Lanka. In 2018, Hutch successfully concluded its acquisition of Etisalat Sri Lanka. The company operates under the ownership of the Hong Kong-based entity CK Hutchison, which also possesses the brand "3" active in various countries, including Austria, Denmark, Hong Kong, Ireland, Indonesia, Macau, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

Hutch Sri Lanka (formerly Etisalat Sri Lanka)

Coverage of Hutch Sri Lanka (formerly Etisalat Sri Lanka)

Hutch Sri Lanka provides reliable coverage across the country, ensuring a decent network presence. The availability of 4G/LTE reception is widespread, with coverage extending to most areas in Sri Lanka. This ensures that users can experience seamless connectivity and high-speed data services in a majority of locations served by Hutch Sri Lanka.

Coverage of Hutch Sri Lanka

Range of Packages, Plans, Bundles & Offers from Hutch Sri Lanka

Hutch Sri Lanka provides a diverse selection of 11 data-featured prepaid plans, catering to a variety of user preferences and needs. These plans include:

  1. Super All-In-1 (Combo)
  2. My Plan (Customizable Combo)
  3. Day & Night Plans (Data)
  4. cliQ 3G Break Free Plans (Short-term unlimited data at restricted speeds)
  5. Data Cards
  6. Unlimited Downloader (Nighttime unlimited data)
  7. Any Time Data
  8. Long Validity Plans (Data)
  9. cliQ 4G Break Free Plans (Short-term unlimited data at restricted speeds)
  10. Work, Study & Zoom Data Plan
  11. Non-Stop Social Media & YouTube (Social Media Data)

Airtel (Sri) Lanka

Airtel Lanka, commonly referred to as Airtel, stands as the smallest mobile operator in Sri Lanka. Notably, it entered the 4G/LTE arena in 2020, making it the last among local mobile operators to do so. In contrast, Dialog Axiata Sri Lanka had already introduced 4G/LTE services in 2013, establishing a seven-year gap. 

Airtel (Sri) Lanka

Insights into Airtel Lanka's Coverage

Airtel Lanka currently experiences the least favourable coverage among mobile operators in Sri Lanka. Although it was once considered the best in certain rural locations, competitors have largely caught up, and Airtel's delayed entry into the 4G/LTE domain has further impacted its coverage compared to other providers. 

Insights into Airtel Lanka's Coverage

Range of Packages, Plans, Bundles & Offers from Airtel Lanka

Airtel Lanka presents a selection of eight data-featured prepaid plans designed to cater to diverse user preferences and needs. These plans include:

  1. Basic Packs/Freedom Packs (Combo)
  2. Weekly Packs/Freedom Packs (Combo)
  3. Monthly Packs/Freedom Packs (Combo)
  4. Freedom Plus/Freedom Packs (Combo)
  5. Work From Home Plans (Data)
  6. Unlimited Data Plans (Unlimited data at restricted speeds)
  7. Data Top-Ups/Freedom Packs (Data add-ons for Freedom Packs)
  8. Social Media Data Pack


Purchasing a local SIM card in Sri Lanka is recommended to avoid expensive international roaming fees. It allows you to enjoy local rates, share your experiences online, and stay connected affordably.

Major providers in Sri Lanka, including Dialog, SLTMobitel, Airtel, and Hutch, offer SIM cards. Dialog and SLTMobitel provide options for purchase ranging from 98 LKR to 999 LKR, while Hutch offers a free SIM card with a plan purchase.

Yes, tourist SIM cards are available at Colombo-Bandaranaike International Airport and local stores, providing convenient options for travellers. Prices typically range up to 3500 LKR.

While possible, international roaming can be expensive. Opting for a local SIM card is advisable to enjoy more cost-effective local rates for calls, texts, and data.

Yes, obtaining a SIM card in Sri Lanka is straightforward. Major providers have widespread availability, and tourist SIM cards are conveniently sold at the airport and local stores.

Sri Lanka is known for having one of the lowest average costs of data globally. Enjoy affordable data rates, making it cost-effective to stay connected and share your experiences online.