CAN I BUY A SIM CARD IN CUBA?
Yes, you can buy a SIM card for your mobile phone when you are on holiday in Cuba.
WHERE CAN I BUY A SIM CARD IN CUBA?
You can go to any ETECSA office in Cuba to buy a Cuban SIM card.
I went to the ETECSA office located at the bottom of the FOCSA building in Vedado on calle M in Havana. When I arrived at the ETECSA office there were 2 queues. You need to know who is last in the queue so ask for “el ultimo”, this is a general rule in Cuba. The gentleman asked me what for “para que?” as each queue serves a different purpose so I said “para sacar una linea” and he pointed me to the relevant queue. The line-up for the queue was outside in the sun and a security guard inside the ETECSA office waved us in one at a time when there was a sales person available to deal with our enquiry.
I was lucky as I was in the queue for around 5-10 minutes, which is quick for Cuban standards, sometimes you can be in the queue at ETECSA for a lot longer, especially when going to an ETECSA office in the provinces around Cuba, so it is probably best to go to an ETECSA office in Havana.
In general, things in Cuba are not always available when you want them. Sometimes you can be waiting in a queue for 1 hour only to find out that there are no Cuban SIM cards available to buy when you get inside the ETECSA office. One way to avoid this from happening is to speak the security guard inside the ETECSA office and ask if there are any Cuban SIM cards for sale before you join the queue.
DO I NEED IDENTIFICATION TO BUY A CUBAN SIM CARD?
When you go to buy a SIM Card in Cuba, you need to take the following items with you:
- Cuban Casa address (where you are staying)
- a mobile phone / handset (the one you want to use when you are in Cuba)
- money to pay for the SIM card (Cuban Converitible Pesos – CUC)
HOW DOES THE CUBAN SIM CARD WORK?
There is only one telecommunications company in Cuba; ETECSA, there are no other service providers in Cuba offering mobile phone contracts (November 2017).
You have 2 options, neither options include a mobile phone or handset, so remember to bring a mobile phone with you to use in Cuba:
1. Permanent SIM Card
The permanent Cuban SIM card costs 40 CUC, it comes with 10 CUC credit. Before I leave Cuba if I add credit to my phone the line will remain active for 11 months, so when I return to Cuba I can use the same SIM card and Cuban mobile phone number. If I am away from Cuba for more than 11 months, I can charge the phone online via various online service providers (I tend to use DING or Cuballama) to keep the line activated.
2. Temporary SIM Card
The temporary Cuban SIM Card is 3 CUC per day. This is a good option for people who are on holiday in Cuba for a short time.
WHERE CAN I TOP UP MY CUBAN MOBILE PHONE CREDIT?
There are many private businesses acting as agents for ETECSA in Cuba. They can be working from their Casa or have a small shop. You will see small ETECSA signs posted on doors or windows, or you can ask your Casa host in Cuba to let you know where your nearest agent is so you can add credit to your Cuban SIM card.
SUPPORTING CUBAN BUSINESSES
Experience the Real Cuba offers cultural activities and programs in Cuba supporting local Cuban private businesses, as well as organising accommodation in Casa Particulares.