If you’re planning a trip to Canada, having a sim card with internet access is essential for seamless navigation in new cities. With internet connectivity, you can effortlessly find the finest restaurants, locate your accommodation, hail a taxi, and even share memorable photos with your loved ones while on the move.
While roaming is a viable option, the costs can quickly escalate when traveling internationally, so we highly recommend acquiring either an eSIM or a local sim card to take advantage of the local phone rates.
The good news is that obtaining an eSIM or local sim card in Canada is incredibly straightforward. To assist you in making the best choice, this comprehensive guide offers insights into purchasing sim cards in Canada, encompassing up-to-date pricing information and identifying the optimum sim card option for your needs.
Canada is one of the unique countries where purchasing a physical prepaid sim card in Canada is a lot more expensive then purchasing an eSim. For this reason, I strongly recommend purchasing an Airalo eSim here before you arrive in Canada.
The Airalo eSim in Canada offers various price and data points to enable you to purchase just the amount of data you require, however, for most travellers we recommend the 5GB plan for $24 CAD.
If your mobile phone is not eSim compatible (most phones can use eSims by the way, including all iPhones since 2018) then you will have no choice but to purchase a sim card in person. In this case, Telus, Rogers and Bell are all suitable options with identical plans. Unfortunately, 4.5GB data will cost you $45 CAD which is significantly more than the Airalo eSim, plus you will lose precious travel time visiting a store.
A Tourist Sim Card in Canada costs between $8 CAD and $24 CAD in February 2024, however, the exact price will often depend on the store you visit and the plan you choose.
Alternatively, an eSim in Canada will cost between $6 USD and $35 USD. This, again, depends on how much data you require and which eSim provider you choose.
I generally recommend this Airalo plan for most tourists visiting Canada which includes 5GB of data which is valid for 30 days and costs $18 USD.
In Canada, the main SIM card providers are Telus, Bell Canada, and Rogers. Telus is one of the leading telecommunication companies and offers a variety of SIM cards for both regular and prepaid plans. They have an extensive network coverage across the country and provide reliable services. Bell Canada is another major player, known for its wide range of SIM card options for different plans and devices. Their coverage is also quite extensive, ensuring reliable network access for their customers. Rogers Canada is a prominent provider as well, offering various SIM card options to cater to different needs. They provide strong network coverage and have a reputation for delivering quality services.
Telus is one of Canada’s largest telecommunications companies, offering reliable network coverage across the country. They provide tourist sim cards designed to cater to the needs of international travelers. With competitive rates, unlimited talk and text, and generous data allowances, Telus sim cards allow tourists to stay connected throughout their trip. Whether exploring vibrant cities or venturing into remote landscapes, Telus ensures seamless communication, making it a reliable choice for travelers visiting Canada.
The price of a Telus tourist sim card in Canada is $45 CAD.
The plan offered by Telus stores includes 4.5GB 4G data + unlimited calls & texts valid for 30 days.
Bell Canada is a leading telecommunications company in Canada. They offer tourist sim cards for travelers visiting Canada. These sim cards provide access to Bell’s extensive network coverage throughout the country. With competitive rates, tourists can stay connected with family and friends, browse the internet, and make local and international calls. Bell Canada’s tourist sim cards are tailored to fit the needs of visitors, ensuring a seamless and convenient communication experience while exploring Canada.
The price of a Bell Canada tourist sim card in Canada is $45 CAD.
The plan offered by Bell Canada stores offers 4.5GB 4G data + unlimited calls & texts valid for 30 days.
Rogers Canada offers tourist SIM cards that cater to international travelers visiting Canada. These SIM cards provide convenient access to reliable cellular services during their stay. With various options and competitive rates, tourists can enjoy uninterrupted connectivity, making it easier to navigate and stay connected with loved ones back home. Rogers Canada’s commitment to customer satisfaction ensures a hassle-free experience for tourists, enhancing their overall travel experience in Canada.
The price of a Rogers Canada tourist sim card in Canada is $45 CAD.
The plan offered by Rogers Canada stores includes 4.5GB 4G data + unlimited calls & texts valid for 30 days.
Identify mobile providers: Telus, Bell Canada and Rogers Canada are your best options in Canada.
Find your nearest store: Locate a store or retailer by searching on Google Maps for your nearest store or asking at your hotel reception. I’ve never had issues finding a store as they can usually be found in major cities, shopping centers, or tourist areas. If possible, I always recommend to to avoid airports and head in to an official store in the city.
Bring the necessary documents: It is always a good idea to carry your passport or identification documents for sim card registration purposes. We’ve found most providers will need to confirm your identity to provide a sim card and it can be a major hassle to head to a store only to have to come back again later with your passport.
Choose your plan: Either request the plan you are after or consult with the staff in the store to select the right plan for you. My recommendations at the beginning of this guide are a good starting point, but the staff will usually be able to suggest the best option.
Pay and activate your card: Pay for the SIM card and plan, and the staff will activate it for you.
Test: It’s always a good idea to check that you can access the internet before you leave the store. I always search for something on Google then refresh my Instagram feed to check it’s working fine.
Buying a prepaid sim card for Canada at the airport is usually considered the most convenient option for travellers arriving by plane.
However, airport stores selling sim cards are almost guaranteed to charge inflated prices, so if you are a cost-conscious traveller then you should definitely buy your sim card from a store in the city center.
In addition to this, we would argue that buying physical sim cards at all aren’t particularly convenient now that most people use esim compatible phones. If you are looking for the most convenient option, then buying an esim before you arrive or with the airport wifi is much easier and will save you having to queue up or communicate with staff.
If you must purchase a sim card at the airport in Canada then you will be in luck. All major international airports in Canada have stores selling sim cards. Despite the prices being higher than normal, the staff are knowledgable and will be able to get you set up with the correct sim card relatively quickly.
If you want to avoid the inflated sim card prices you’ll find at the airport and your phone isn’t esim compatible, then you’re going to need to head in to a store to buy your sim card.
I recommend visiting one of the official retail stores of the mobile internet operators such as Telus, Bell Canada and Rogers Canada. Your best option is to enter their names into Google Maps and find the branch closest to your hotel or accommodation. Typically the staff in the official stores in Canada are knowledgable and helpful which means you can ensure you’ll walk away with a functioning sim card.
Despite this, it’s always a good idea to check your internet is working before you leave the store by loading a Google search results page and your preferred social media app. You should also ensure you always bring your passport with you when purchasing a sim card in case they need to register it.
If you like to be prepared and would prefer to arrive in Canada with your sim card all sorted and your phone ready to connect to the internet immediately then you should look into purchasing a sim card online.
The first option is to buy your sim card in advance via SimOptions, which is a company that will prepare and ship a sim card directly to your door. It’s a reliable and effective service, but with the invention of eSims it’s becoming obsolete.
The better option is to purchase an eSim online. We’ve written more on that below!
An eSim is a digital version of a traditional sim card and is most likely the future of connectivity for mobile devices. The convenience of no longer visiting a store, handing over your passport and purchasing a physical sim card is quickly making physical sim cards obsolete in favour of eSims.
We recommend Airalo’s eSim when travelling to Canada. The Airalo Canada eSim offers fast internet speeds, wide coverage and extremely competitive prices making it a far more compelling option than purchasing a physical sim card from any of the local sim card providers.
In order to get set up with an Airalo eSim, all you need to do is visit Airalo here and purchase the eSim online (the $18 USD plan is suitable for most travellers). Once you’ve purchased the sim card Airalo will email you instructions and a QR code. Following these instructions should take just a couple of minutes, then you’ll have a sim card in Canada without having to venture outside.
Our preferred eSim provider in Canada is Airalo. We used them, alongside a local sim card on another device, for our most recent trip to Canada and found the service to be equal to the local sim card but without the hassle of acquiring a sim card in a store.
Airalo’s Canada eSim uses the Rogers, Bell & Telus network to provide data and connect users to the internet. You can expect very good coverage and reliability with the Rogers, Bell & Telus networknetwork as they are amongst the best mobile internet operators in Canada.
Here are the plans and prices for Airalo’s Canada eSim:
1GB data valid for 7 days – Price: $6 USD
2GB data valid for 15 days – Price: $11 USD
3GB data valid for 30 days – Price: $15 USD
5GB data valid for 30 days – Price: $18 USD
10GB data valid for 30 days – Price: $35 USD
For most travellers we recommend the 5GB data plan for $18 USD which is valid for 30 days. Some travellers may prefer a larger plan, whilst travellers visiting for just a couple of days may be fine with a smaller plan.
An alternative eSim provider we can recommend is Holafly.
Holafly’s eSim is a suitable option for travellers who require large amounts of data, such as digital nomads and people who work online while they travel. All of Holafly’s Canada eSims offer unlimited data.
Holafly’s Canada eSim uses the Rogersnetwork to provide data and connect users to the internet. This network will provide reliable speeds and coverage while in Canada
Here are the plans and prices for Holafly’s Canada eSim:
10GB data valid for 30 days – Price: $34 USD
20GB data valid for 30 days – Price: $44 USD
An eSIM, or embedded SIM, is a digital SIM card integrated into a device, such as a smartphone, tablet, or smartwatch. Unlike physical SIM cards, eSIMs do not need to be physically inserted or removed from the device.
Instead, eSIMs are integrated directly into the device’s hardware and can be remotely activated and programmed by a mobile network operator. This allows users to easily switch between different mobile networks or plans without the hassle of physically swapping SIM cards.
eSIM technology offers convenience, flexibility, and ease of use, particularly for frequent travelers or individuals who often switch between mobile networks or travel internationally. It eliminates the need to purchase and insert physical SIM cards, making it more convenient to manage multiple mobile connections on one device.
To activate an eSIM, users can either scan a QR code provided by their mobile network operator or manually enter the activation details. Once activated, the device can connect to the chosen mobile network and access voice, data, and messaging services, just like with a traditional SIM card.
There are multiple reasons why using an eSIM can be advantageous. Firstly, it offers convenience as there is no need to physically insert or remove a SIM card when switching networks or plans. This is beneficial for frequent travelers who require different networks or local SIM cards in various countries. Secondly, eSIM allows for dual SIM functionality, meaning two active mobile numbers can be utilized on one device. This can be valuable for separating personal and work numbers or for managing multiple phone lines. Additionally, eSIMs are space-saving as they are embedded within the device, eliminating the need for a physical SIM card slot. Manufacturers can therefore create smaller devices or use the additional space for other components. Furthermore, eSIMs enable remote provisioning, allowing the activation and management of mobile plans to be done over the air. This removes the requirement for a physical SIM card or a visit to a store, providing greater flexibility and convenience in managing mobile connectivity. Moreover, eSIM technology is future-proof as more mobile networks and service providers offer support for eSIMs. By using an eSIM-compatible device, users can take advantage of new services and offerings as they become available. Overall, eSIM technology offers flexibility, convenience, and future-proofing in mobile connectivity, making it an appealing choice for many users.
eSIM technology is becoming increasingly popular and is supported by a growing number of smartphones and other devices. Here are some examples of eSIM-compatible phones:
Apple iPhone series (iPhone 11, iPhone 12, iPhone 13, etc.): Apple was one of the early adopters of eSIM technology and offers support for eSIM on various iPhone models.
Google Pixel series (Pixel 3, Pixel 4, Pixel 5, etc.): Google’s Pixel smartphones also support eSIM functionality, allowing users to activate and use eSIMs.
Samsung Galaxy series (Galaxy S22, Galaxy Note 20, etc.): Many of Samsung’s flagship devices now come with eSIM support, enabling users to utilize eSIM technology.
OnePlus devices (OnePlus 7, OnePlus 8, etc.): OnePlus has included eSIM support in some of its smartphone models, offering users the flexibility of using eSIMs.
Motorola Razr (2020): The latest iteration of the iconic Motorola Razr features eSIM compatibility, enabling users to use eSIMs for cellular connectivity.
These are just a few examples, and the list of eSIM-compatible phones continues to expand as more manufacturers embrace this technology. There’s a very strong chance your phone supports eSims so if you’re unsure we recommend looking it up on our list of eSim supported phones.
Using an eSim is new for many travellers, however, the good news is it’s surprisingly easy to get set up – even for the technologically challenged!
Here’s a general guide on how to use an eSIM:
Check eSIM Compatibility: Ensure that your device supports eSIM functionality. Many newer smartphones, smartwatches, tablets, and other devices are eSIM compatible including all iPhones produced since 2018.
Obtain an eSIM: There are multiple ways to acquire an eSIM. You can purchase an eSIM online from a provider like Airalo (which we recommend) or directly from a mobile network operator. Some devices also allow you to scan a QR code provided by your carrier to download the eSIM profile.
Activate the eSIM: Your eSim provider will send you instructions to activate the sim. This will usually involve scanning a QR code, entering an activation code, or downloading the eSIM profile directly onto your device.
Set up the eSIM: Once activated, your device will guide you through the eSIM setup process. This typically involves selecting the eSIM as your preferred mobile plan, configuring settings like data roaming, and entering any necessary authentication details.
Enjoy the Connection: Once the eSIM is set up, you can use it as you would with a physical SIM card. Make calls, send messages, browse the internet, and use data services as needed. You can also switch between eSIM profiles if you have multiple eSIMs installed on your device.
Hi, I’m Mitchell. I’m a full-time traveller, explorer and travel blogger. Travel Sim Expert is a blog dedicated to helping you find the best sim card for you, no matter where you are or what your budget is.