If you’re travelling to Turkey, having the right SIM card can save you lots of money. We review the best value SIM cards for using your mobile phone in Turkey.

Every year, more than 2 million Brits make a visit to Turkey. Whether you’re travelling to experience the culture or to enjoy the seaside resorts, whether it’s to enjoy the local Turkish cuisine or to absorb all of the history, it’s useful being able to use your mobile phone whilst you’re there so you can stay in touch with friends and family members. It’s also useful having a phone to find your way around with maps.

The costs of using your mobile phone in Turkey can often be high as it isn’t an EU country where roaming charges are regulated. In this article, we’ll compare the multiple ways you can use your mobile phone in Turkey and the costs of international roaming on different UK-based SIM cards. We’ll also look at the SIM cards you can buy upon arrival from the local mobile networks in Turkey.

Using a UK Smartphone on Turkish Mobile Networks

There are currently three mobile networks in Turkey: Turkcell, Vodafone Türkiye and Türk Telekom. Because the mobile networks in Turkey use the same bands and frequencies that are in use within the UK, a smartphone that you normally use in the UK will also be compatible with the mobile networks in Turkey. This includes accessing 2G, 3G and 4G coverage.

  • For Turkcell, your handset will need to support one of the following:
    • For 2G: GSM 900
    • For 3G: WCDMA 2100
    • For 4G: LTE bands 1, 3, 7, 8 and 20
  • For Vodafone Turkey, your handset will need to support one of the following:
    • For 2G: GSM 900 and 1800
    • For 3G: WCDMA 2100
    • For 4G: LTE bands 3, 7, 8 and 38
  • For Türk Telekom, your handset will need to support one of the following:
    • For 2G: GSM 1800
    • For 3G: WCDMA 2100
    • For 4G: LTE bands 3, 7, 8, 20 and 38

The Two Ways Of Using Your Smartphone In Turkey

There are two different ways to use your smartphone in Turkey: either roaming on your UK-based SIM card or using a SIM card that you purchase locally upon arrival in Turkey.

  • Roaming on a UK SIM card is the simplest and easiest way to use your mobile phone in Turkey. If you’re using a Vodafone Unlimited Max SIM card, you’ll be able to use your normal UK price plan at no extra cost when travelling in Turkey. The SIM card can be set up before you depart on your trip, meaning there’s no need to buy a SIM card on arrival. There’s also no need to undergo the registration of your SIM card or the registration of your device with the authorities in Turkey. Other mobile networks including EE, O2 and Three will charge you substantially more. You’ll have a UK phone number, beginning with +44.
  • Buying a SIM card upon arrival in Turkey will give you a local phone number starting with +90. You can choose from either a Turkcell, Vodafone Türkiye or Türk Telekom SIM card. You’ll need to buy a SIM card upon arrival, normally with an upfront price of about 150 Turkish Lira (about £20). Some government-issued ID such as your passport is required to register the SIM card, with a charge of 1500 Lira (about £200) becoming due if you’d like to use your mobile phone in Turkey for more than 120 days.

Roaming on Your UK SIM Card

The easiest way to use your smartphone in Turkey is through international roaming on a UK-based SIM card. The cost of roaming depends on your home UK network, with Vodafone being the best value option as they allow you to roam in Turkey at no extra charge if you have an Unlimited Max plan. Other mobile networks will normally charge you substantially more to roam in Turkey:

Network Making a Phone Call Receiving a Phone Call Sending a Text Mobile Data
BT Mobile £1.40/minute £1.25/minute 40p/text £5/MB
EE £1.80/minute £1.80/minute 60p/text £6/day for 500MB
giffgaff £1.00/minute £1.00/minute 30p/text 20p/MB
O2 £2.00/minute £2.00/minute 50p/text £7.20/MB
Plusnet Mobile £1.30/minute 70p/minute 40p/text £8/MB
Sky Mobile £6/day to use your UK allowance of minutes, texts & data
Tesco Mobile 79p/minute 69p/minute 40p/text £5/MB
Three £1.40/minute 99p/minute 35p/text £3/MB
Virgin Mobile £1.00/minute Free 50p/text 50p/MB
Vodafone UK
Unlimited Max
Included Included Included Included
Vodafone UK
Other Plans
£6/day to use your UK allowance of minutes, texts & data
VOXI 60p/minute 36p/minute 8p/text 12p/MB

Comparison of roaming charges when using your UK-based SIM card in Turkey. The costs shown are for calling the UK and for sending a text message to the UK. It’s always free to receive a text message wherever you are in the world.

The Best Network For Roaming In Turkey

For anyone who is making a trip to Turkey, we’d strongly recommend getting an Unlimited Max SIM card from Vodafone UK. The Unlimited Max plan comes with Vodafone’s Global Roaming Plus. This allows you to use your normal UK allowances at no extra cost when travelling to Turkey (up to a maximum of 25GB of data per month).

NetworkMinutesTextsDataMonthly
Cost
VodafoneUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited£23.00
24 months
VodafoneUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited£33.00
12 months
VodafoneUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited£41.00
1 month

On Vodafone’s other SIM-only deals, you can use your mobile phone in Turkey through the Roam-further offer. With Roam-further, you’ll pay £6/day to use your normal UK allowances in Turkey.

Buying a Turkish SIM Card On Arrival

If you regularly travel to Turkey and would like a phone number based in that country, you can buy a SIM card from one of the local Turkish networks (either Turkcell, Vodafone Türkiye or Türk Telekom).

There are some important things to know before buying a SIM card in Turkey:

  • You’ll need to provide an official form of ID to register your SIM card. When buying your SIM card from one of the local mobile networks in Turkey, you’ll need to provide some government-issued ID. For instance, you may need to provide your passport in order to obtain and register a SIM card. There will usually also be an upfront cost for the SIM card.
  • There’s a fee of 1500 Turkish Lira (approx. £200) to register your phone. This must be done within 120 days of entering the country. If you’d like to use your mobile phone on one of the Turkish mobile networks, you’ll need to pay a fee of 1,500 Turkish Lira to register it (approximately £200). To do this, you’ll need to find out the IMEI number of your smartphone (dial *#06#). You can then visit your nearest tax office (vergi ofisi) to pay the registration fee. Once you’ve received your mobile phone registration certificate from the tax office, bring it to a shop that’s operated by your Turkish mobile network to complete the registration process. For short-term visitors, the good news is there’s a 120-day grace period over which your mobile phone will work on the Turkish mobile networks without registration. This means it might be possible to avoid registration if you’re only planning to visit Turkey for a short amount of time. It isn’t necessary to register your mobile phone if you’re roaming on a UK-based SIM card.
  • There’s an upfront fee for the SIM card, which might be negotiable. Some shops may also charge additional commission for airtime credit (kontör) purchases. For instance, you might be charged 22 Turkish Lira for a top-up that is worth 20 Turkish Lira. This may increase the amount you need to pay against the advertised price.

Turkcell

Turkcell is Turkey’s largest mobile network and tends to offer the best coverage if you’re travelling outside of the major cities.

If you’re a tourist, you can buy Turkcell’s Tourist Welcome Pack. This gives you 200 minutes for calling locally, unlimited texts for messaging within Turkey and 20GB of data to use on your phone. The Tourist Welcome Pack costs 149 Turkish Lira (approximately £20) and includes the cost of both your SIM card and airtime. The Welcome Pack is valid for 30 days.

Network Minutes Texts Data Monthly
Cost (TRY)
Approx
Cost (GBP)
Turkcell 200
to Turkey
Unlimited
to Turkey
20GB 149₺ £19.36

Find a Turkcell store to get your Tourist Welcome Pack SIM card.

Vodafone Türkiye

Vodafone Türkiye is the second largest mobile network in Turkey. Though it’s part of the Vodafone Group, like Vodafone’s UK mobile network, Vodafone’s Turkish network is run as a totally separate business with different SIM cards and price plans from the UK network.

As a tourist, you can sign up for Vodafone Turkey’s Holiday plan. For 80 Turkish Lira (around £10), you’ll get 750 minutes for use within Turkey, 1000 local text messages and 20GB of data. The Holiday plan lasts for 30 days.

Network Minutes Texts Data Monthly
Cost (TRY)
Approx
Cost (GBP)
Vodafone Türkiye 750
to Turkey
1,000
to Turkey
20GB 80₺ £10.39

Find a Vodafone retail store in Turkey to get one of their Holiday Plan SIM cards. There are also a range of prepaid plans available if you’re staying for an extended amount of time.

Note that a handset locked to Vodafone UK will not work with a Vodafone Turkey SIM card without first being unlocked.

Türk Telekom

Türk Telekom is the smallest mobile network in Turkey. Previously known as Avea, they tend to offer slightly patchier coverage compared to Turkcell and Vodafone Türkiye (particularly so when you travel outside the major cities).

On Türk Telekom, there isn’t a specific SIM card for tourists. Instead, you can get a regular prepaid SIM card for the upfront price of 150 Lira (about £20). Once you’ve gotten your SIM card, you can then buy a relatively cheap one-month bundle for as little as 23 Lira (around £3/month). All-in-all, you’d be paying about £22 for one months usage, but the average cost per month will come down over time if you continue using the SIM card.

The following table shows the bundles available on Türk Telekom:

Network Minutes Texts Data Monthly
Cost (TRY)
Approx
Cost (GBP)
Türk Telekom 750
to Turkey
1,000
to Turkey
4GB 23₺
+ 150₺ upfront
£3.00
+ £19.50 upfront
Türk Telekom 750
to Turkey
1,000
to Turkey
7GB 27₺
+ 150₺ upfront
£3.51
+ £19.50 upfront
Türk Telekom 750
to Turkey
1,000
to Turkey
10GB 32₺
+ 150₺ upfront
£4.03
+ £19.50 upfront

You should visit a Türk Telekom retail store to get your Türk Telekom SIM card.

Our Recommended Deal

For the vast majority of visitors to Turkey, we’d recommend getting a SIM card from Vodafone in the UK.

On Vodafone’s Unlimited Max plan, you’ll be able to use your normal UK allowances at no extra cost when travelling to Turkey. You can also order and activate the SIM card before your departure from the UK, meaning there’s no need to visit a phone store upon arrival. You can also bypass all of the complexity of registering your SIM card and device with the Turkish government (as this isn’t required when roaming on a UK-based SIM card).

The following table gives a summary of the two options we’ve discussed:

Roaming on your UK SIM card Buying a Turkish SIM card on arrival
Best option for the majority of users. Best option for frequent travellers to Turkey.
There’s no need to register your phone or SIM card with the authorities in Turkey. Everything can be set up before you leave the UK. You’ll need to register your SIM card with official ID. You may also need to register your phone after 120 days, at a cost of 1500₺ (around £200).
You’ll have a UK phone number (starting with +44). You’ll have a Turkish phone number (starting with +90).
We recommend a Pay Monthly SIM card from Vodafone UK (Unlimited Max for inclusive roaming in Turkey). SIM cards are available to buy from Turkcell, Vodafone Türkiye and Türk Telekom.
Starts from £30 per month. Starts from 80₺ (about £10.39) for 30 days usage.
Inclusive calls to both UK and Turkish phone numbers. Inclusive calls to Turkish phone numbers only. Extra charges apply for calling UK-based numbers.
You can continue using the SIM card in the UK after the end of your trip. The SIM card you buy from Turkey normally won’t work after you return to the UK.

If you’re not currently a customer of Vodafone, you can order a SIM card through the following link. Place the SIM card inside an unlocked smartphone to benefit from roaming when you travel to Turkey.

Order Vodafone SIM Card (Pay Monthly) →

More Information

For more information about the cost of using your mobile phone in Turkey, please see your UK mobile network’s website. For most people, we’d now recommend getting an Unlimited Max SIM card from Vodafone in the UK. This is because you’ll be able to use your price plan in Turkey at no extra charge.

Your Comments 8 so far

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 8 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  • David Coles said:

    Also you could add smarty to your chart as they are best alternative for data charges @ 10p a mb:

    Using Internet or Data 10p/ mb
    Call to UK Landlines 50p/ min
    Call to UK Mobiles 50p/ min
    Call to UK Other 50p/ min
    Call to Turkey Landlines 50p/ min
    Call to Turkey Mobiles 50p/ min
    Call to Turkey Other 50p/ min
    SMS to Turkey numbers 20p/ sms
    Receiving calls from any number 5p/ min
    Receiving texts from any number FREE MMS to UK numbers 20p/ mms

  • Nicola Bonnet said:

    Can u update or remove yr original info above pls as it’s completely wrong for Turkey now.
    Anyone looking for advice like I was would have bought either voxi or vodaphone and not been able to use it.

  • Rodney Breckon said:

    Vodaphone have just withdrawn the inclusion of Turkey in their roaming plan. I’m disgusted – how can a company change the terms like this, mid-term? Shouldn’t be allowed.

  • There is a typo in your last table: Best option for frequent travellers to the US.

    The change is a few months old now but it is still worth pointing out that VOXI no longer has an age restriction.

    • Hi Pete,
      Whoops… thanks a lot for letting me know about that error – I’ve just amended it. Also, a good point of clarification around VOXI’s removal of the age restriction. *Hopefully* I don’t think there should be too much confusion as the age limit has been gone for nearly a year (we also mention this in our full review of VOXI). I’ll definitely add it in, however, if other readers seem to be getting confused about it…
      Ken

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