How to Get a SIM Card in Mauritius

First, there’s a bit of story on the obstacles we faced when trying to buy a Mauritian SIM card. Click here to skip over that and go directly to the how-to for buying a Mauritian SIM card. FYI, the country code for Mauritius is +230

Our Experience Buying a SIM Card in Mauritius

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December 3rd till 6th, 2021

Buying a SIM Card in Mahébourg on the Day of Arrival?

We arrived in Mauritius on a Friday afternoon. After checking into our Airbnb, we went out to get money from an ATM and buy two SIM cards and run other errands. Our host had told us that shops close quite early in Mauritius. The weekend was around the corner and I thought it was important to immediately do the annoying things.

After we got cash from an ATM, we began asking people where to buy a my.t SIM card. There were loads of shops with a my.t sign hanging outside, so how hard could this be?

We went into one shop, asked: “Avez-vous des cartes SIM?” and the answer was “Non.” Followed by some stuff that was more difficult to understand. “Ok, merci.” and we left.

In the next shop with a my.t sign hanging out, we asked the more specific question “Avez-vous des cartes SIM my.t?” since I’m not interested in any other prepaid SIM cards. The answer remained the same.

Then I figured that some of the my.t signs hanging outside of shops said “my.t money” while others said “my.t mobile” or both. I guess we can skip all the shops that don’t say my.t mobile.

We tried that, but the answer was still no. I tried asking if not here, where can I buy a SIM card, but my high school French failed me. I looked at Jonas since his French is much better. The sudden heat shock coming from the northern hemisphere was getting to me.

Someone said “Allez a le Telecom.” and pointed out a route that led to a local mosque. That was also not it. We kept asking until someone pointed us in the direction of the covered market area. But she said “C’est fermé maintenant. Demain dans le matin c’est ouvert.” There was a Mauritius Telecom building there, but we didn’t approach it to look at the opening times. We just said we’d try tomorrow after work and before lunch.

Buying a SIM card on a Saturday?

We fucked up.

At 13:00 after working for a few hours, we walked into town to the telecom shop to a closed door. This time, we did the due diligence we should have done the day before: look at the opening times. On Saturdays, the shop apparently opens for only three hours from 9:00 till 12:00. And on Sundays, it’s closed. So we’ll have to wait till Monday before we try again. Four days without mobile internet!

But our home WiFi is very fast and so is the WiFi in many restaurants, such as Le Bazilic nearby the telecom shop.

To mitigate the trouble of not having a SIM card in Mauritius for the first few days, I asked Jonas to also download an offline map of Mauritius. That way, we can still find places and our way around without the internet.

In the evening, we went to a restaurant. And what the hell, I found a my.t SIM card on the bathroom floor before washing my hands. A little gross but also desperate, I brought it back to our table and showed the find to Jonas. We later popped it into a phone and to our surprise, it wasn’t a dead SIM. It asked us for a pin code and Jonas was ready to give up. Knowing that most SIM cards have a standard code and not a random one, I said “Try 0000”. It was wrong. “Now try 1234,” I said. Jonas thought it was a shit thing to block the SIM card. Voilà, it worked! But the SIM card somehow had no signal, so we ejected it and accepted our fate.

No Internet Sunday

On Sunday, we did a day trip to Blue Bay without mobile internet. We took a bus there and back and navigated simply with our offline maps. That sufficed.

It’s Monday and finally, we’re buying a SIM card in Mauritius!

SIM card in Mauritius Telecom Shop in Mahébourg Grand Port

Come Monday, we knew we had to be at the telecom shop before 16:00. We again worked till the afternoon. Both of us packed our passports.

There was a small queue outside the building but there was a bit of shadow. The guard regularly visited people in the queue to ask why they were there. If you were there for the my.t money service, you could skip the line and enter after sanitizing your hands. When we told her we were there to buy SIM cards, she asked if we had our passports with us. We said yes and then she told us to keep queueing.

When it was our turn, we used the hand sanitizer and sat down at the appointed booth. Jonas did most of the talking.

Nous veulons deux cartes SIM prépayées.

The friendly young woman asked us for a passport. One passport was enough to obtain two SIM cards. But she only had one prepaid SIM card at her desk. So after paying for the first SIM card, she sent Jonas on a mission to queue elsewhere to obtain a second one. Meanwhile, I just sat there waiting for Jonas to come back with the extra SIM card starter kit while the lady typed up some information from the passport. She asked me our address, and I confidently said “Rue Shivananda.

SIM card in Mauritius Telecom my.t office SIM queue Mahébourg Grand Port

She replied: “À Mahébourg?” and I said “Oui.” But I could only give a crossing street and no house number because we frankly don’t know the house number. There are some advantages of just staying in a well-known guest house or hotel instead of an Airbnb. I showed her the location on the map and I think she solved the issue by making something up.

Meanwhile, Jonas faced a man who asked with which booth he was. Jonas pointed at the booth I was sitting at, but it wasn’t clear to him. The guy ended up calling his colleague, asking Jonas random questions like what his nationality is. He eventually walked over to give his colleague the SIM card starter pack and Jonas paid separately for the second SIM card. Would it have been much easier if she had just called her colleague or walked there herself to get it? Yes, it would have been.

Jonas asked just to check that this SIM card included 15GB starter internet valid for one week. That’s when she got into her explainer mode and wrote down some information about the balance, how many texts are included, and the code to check the balance *122#. That last thing is very useful.

One SIM card costs Rs. 100. That comes down to €2.05 or US$2.32. Incredibly cheap and a low barrier of entry—as it should be and completely the opposite of getting a SIM card in Turkey. On top of that, of those Rs. 100, Rs. 86 is balance! Meaning the actual SIM card only costs Rs. 14 or €0.29 or US$0.32.

Activating our Mauritian SIM cards

We walked to Le Bazilic to have a cold drink and to open up our phones to install the SIM cards. To activate, we had to call the phone number 124 and then listen to a robot voice that said “Your SIM card is now active, yada yada.”

Getting a SIM card in Mauritius Africa success my.t

Jonas had read something online about the 15GB for one week to sometimes only kick in after three days. My patience to test the mobile internet ran out in about 20 minutes, when I used some of that Rs. 86 to book a 24-hour unlimited internet package by texting “15” to 8684 for only Rs. 13. I received it immediately and it worked.

A literal minute after activating this small package, both of us received the text that the free weekly unlimited 15GB had just dropped. If only I’d waited another minute…

1 my.t SIM card in Mauritius activation 2 my.t sim activation first 15gb data mauritius 3 USSD code Mauritius Telecom 2021 sim card in Mauritius

And the worst part of this is that the 24-hour unlimited internet package will renew automatically if you don’t text “stop 15” to the same number. I learned that the following day.

But yes, we finally got SIM cards and mobile data! Mission accomplished.

FAQ SIM Card in Mauritius + Internet Freedom

Which provider should I choose?

There are three providers: Chili/MTML, Emtel, and my.t. All of them are cheap, so there are no major savings to be gained. The only major difference between the providers is coverage. If you choose to stay only on Mauritius island, it doesn’t matter which provider you choose.

We have not yet seen a single shop that sells Chili/MTML and also it doesn’t have coverage outside of Mauritius main island. Emtel is a little better because it provides service in Mauritius and Rodrigues. We have also seen several Emtel shops that look shiny and will probably have better service to buy that SIM.

But if you’re hoping to visit Mauritius, Rodrigues, and possibly even Agaléga, it’s best to choose the original telecom provider in Mauritius: my.t. Originally, it’s the national/state-owned provider and first sold products under the brand name Orange. You can sometimes still find locations called “Orange Shop Telecom” on Google Maps despite the rebranding in 2017. They have coverage to the farthest reaches of the spread-out territory and it’s still very cheap.

We had already decided to choose my.t before we boarded the flight to Mauritius.

my.t sim card starter kit

Where can I buy a SIM card in Mauritius?

We expected to see a shop at the airport and even to meet a pushy vendor, but that didn’t happen. Nevertheless, we would not have bought a SIM card there; it’s much more expensive to buy a SIM card at the airport than if you go to the “telecom” office.

Once you’ve chosen your provider, check out their locations. Since you need to bring documents to obtain a SIM card, you cannot just buy one at a simple kiosk even if they have a sign hanging out. Here is the store locator of my.t with a nice map and business hours. I can highly recommend downloading an offline map (see OpenStreetMaps on Apple Store and Google Play) of Mauritius before you fly. Then you can find your nearest store beforehand, mark the address on the map and just walk there after arriving.

My.t SIM card in Mauritius map opening times telecom shops

Know that the opening times in Mauritius are all on the early side, so there’s no use in trying to buy a SIM card in Mauritius after 16:00 on weekdays. And on the weekend, you shall be shit out of completely if you like sleeping in. There’s no way around this but to have patience.

If you’re asking people on the ground where to buy a SIM card, they’ll tell you to go to the “telecom”. Telecom is local shorthand for the government-associated my.t, not any other provider.

If you’re not yet sold on getting my.t, here is the store locator for Emtel, and here is the intimidatingly large list of retailers for Chili/MTML.

What documents do I need to buy a SIM card in Mauritius?

The person who will sell you a SIM card needs the following:

  • Passport
  • Local address in Mauritius

Nothing else should be required.

How do I activate the SIM card?

mauritian sim card my.t digital nomads

Pop open the SIM card tray in your phone and put the new one in. First, your phone will ask you to unlock your SIM card. The pin code to unlock a my.t SIM card is always 1234. After that, you must call 124 to activate the SIM. Listen to the robot voice that tells you your balance, etc.

Should I download the my.t top-up app?

Generally, yes, we recommend it. It has a nicer user interface and you don’t need to remember the top-up and balance check codes. You can top up your balance and book packages in the app. Here’s the link to the Google Play Store (Android) version and here is the link to the App Store (iOS) version.

BIG HOWEVER: in 2021, there is a problem with the Android version of the app. Every time you re-open the app, it asks you to re-authenticate your SIM card because it thinks your SIM card has changed. So for now, if you’re an iOS user, use the app for everything and if you’re on Android, just use the USSD codes to check your balance and book packages.

Though we haven’t yet gone through the top-up yet, we can already see in the app that it’s possible with a credit card, mobile money, or scratch cards. I will update this section once I have gone through the process.

How do I check my my.t balance?

You go into the app to check your balance.

Alternatively, run the USSD code. Call *122# and you’ll receive carrier info with your balance in Mauritian Rupees and the validity of your balance. A minute later, you’ll also receive a text with the same information.

Lastly, you can text “Query” to 8684 and you’ll receive a text with the same info.

How do I top up my my.t balance?

In the app, you can recharge your own or someone else’s SIM card. If you choose to do it by credit card, the app only works with Visa and MasterCard.

Alternatively, you can go to any shop that sells my.t scratch cards. We have yet to try this method, but I’m sure it will lead to some fun exercise in communication.

How do I book mobile internet packages? Which package should I buy?

First, you should know how long you’re staying in Mauritius. If you’re not staying longer than a week, the already included weekly 15GB internet package should suffice.

If you’re staying for a month, you can top up your phone balance after the first week of included internet. The monthly unlimited internet package of an astounding 75GB costs Rs. 315 (€6.45 or US$7.29). We are heavy internet users and that’s an amount of data even we can’t finish in 30 days.

And if you’re like us and staying in Mauritius for longer than a month, the 3-month unlimited 270GB package might be for you. It costs Rs. 815 (€16.70 or US$18.87). It’s valid for the full 90-day visa-free stay many nationalities enjoy in Mauritius.

Note: all packages auto-renew after they expired. To stop this, text “stop [number of rupees your package cost] to 8684. For example, the monthly unlimited package of Rs. 315 is “stop 315”.

What happens if I use more internet than the package allows?

The internet speed drops to 1 megabit per second. Normally, it’s 30.28 Mbit/second. But again, if you’re one person and finish this much data… wow, I’m impressed.

Does the Mauritian SIM card allow sharing mobile data?

Great question. I shared my mobile internet from my phone to my computer for a good hour and there were no angry text messages from my.t. This company does not seem passionate about squeezing every last rupee out of you for things you already paid for.

I like calling people. How much does that cost?

The calling fee is Rs. 3 per minute (€0.06 or US$0.07). If you want to call someone who also has a my.t phone number, you can book a special love package for Rs. 39 (€0.80 or US$0.91). All you do is text “Buy lovepack” to 8684 like a total weirdo.

The info I’m looking for about my.t SIM cards is missing in this article…

Then please comment below the article with your question and I’ll try to answer it. If you need an answer urgently, check the excellent my.t website.

I don’t want to buy a SIM card in Mauritius, where can I get WiFi?

First of all, your hotel, guest house, or Airbnb probably has WiFi. You can look for this before you book your accommodation.

Most businesses such as restaurants have WiFi. The network names are often “HUAWEI-[some random numbers]”, which means that they’re also just sharing mobile data.

In addition to restaurants, there are 350 internet hotspots all over Mauritius main island (I don’t have info on Rodrigues). The Mauritian government launched the WiFi hotspot program in 2017. Here’s a map with the hotspot locations of free WiFi across Mauritius. Note: I have not tried out this Mauritian hotspot WiFi and can’t vouch for its reliability or speed.

mauritius wifi hotspot map

Is the internet blocked or monitored in Mauritius?

Generally, the internet is free, unblocked, and unmonitored in Mauritius. There have been concerns about a plan to monitor social media in Mauritius in order to ‘regulate’ it. This is, of course, not great. As of writing, I haven’t found proof that this policy has been implemented.

Monitored social media is of course not a problem if you have a VPN app. Just put your VPN on a socially accepted country the app suggests and this forms an extra protective layer to your internet usage.

Should I download a VPN before going to Mauritius?

I think it’s never a bad plan to have a VPN. Sometimes, websites you might commonly use block traffic from certain countries. Mauritius can be one of these countries because web developers don’t often think about Mauritius. Using a VPN might slow down your internet speed a little bit.

We use ExpressVPN and we’re happy with it. If you want to try ExpressVPN for 30 days for free, you can sign up via this link. It’s a referral link, so if you sign up I might, might, receive €8 from ExpressVPN for pointing you in their direction. Of course, this 30-day free trial isn’t long enough if you’re staying in Mauritius for many months as we intend to do.

Feeling reassured? Consider buying me a Pearona!

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Getting a SIM card in Mauritius easy steps

 

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