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Can I buy my travel eSIM before arriving at my destination?

You should definitely buy your travel eSIM ahead of time!

· 3 min read

Whether you are traveling for business or leisure, having access to reliable mobile data and communication services is a must. With the emergence of travel eSIMs, it has now become way more convenient to get access to mobile data and connectivity services when traveling. If you are new to travel eSIMs, a common question that you might have is whether it's possible to buy and activate an eSIM outside your destination. Let's delve into this topic to understand the options.


Understanding eSIM Technology

Before diving into the logistics of buying and activating eSIMs abroad, let's grasp the basics of eSIMs. An eSIM, or embedded SIM, is a small chip embedded within a device that functions similarly to a traditional SIM card but without the physical card.

It allows users to connect to mobile networks without needing to insert a physical SIM card in your device. eSIMs offer flexibility, convenience, and are increasingly supported by mobile carriers worldwide.

Buying Travel eSIMs Abroad

Traditionally, to get mobile connectivity when traveling, you might have chosen to purchase a local SIM card upon arrival at the destination. And so, you might be wondering if you have to do the same for an eSIM, and whether you can only buy an eSIM for your destination country only upon arrival.

The short answer is that it depends.

Buying an eSIM from a local carrier

In some destinations, the local carriers provide eSIM options for tourists, but how you purchase the eSIM varies from operator to operator.

Some providers might allow you to buy your eSIM online, and they will send you your installation QR code via email; some might allow you to buy your eSIM online, but will still need you to collect your installation code at the airport counters upon arrival; while others might only have on-site sales.

As this largely varies from provider to provider, it is recommended that you check the purchase conditions and policies of the local telcos before your trip.

Buying an eSIM from a travel eSIM provider

Now, if you are buying an eSIM from a global travel eSIM provider like Nomad, then you would be able to buy an eSIM even before you arrive at your destination! In fact, for some destinations, you can only buy the eSIM if you are outside of the country due to local regulations and restrictions.

If you are buying an eSIM from a travel eSIM provider, you can buy your eSIM online in advance even before you arrive at your destination, and you will receive your eSIM installation kit via email. That also mean that yes, you can go through the entire process of buying and installing your eSIM online without having to interact with a single person physically (for the introverts out there, this sounds great, doesn't it)?

Activating Travel eSIMs Abroad

If you have bought and installed your eSIM, your next question might then be whether or not you can activate your eSIM while you are still at home.

In most cases, you cannot. If you are buying your eSIM from a local carrier, the eSIM will usually be activated when it first connects to the local network, which means you wouldn't be able to activate your eSIM if you are not at your destination yet.

However, there could be some cases where manual activation of your eSIM is required. In such cases where you need to manually activate your eSIM, then it is possible for you to activate your eSIM before you arrive at your destination. And in fact, you should activate your eSIM before you arrive.

Should manual activation be required, you will likely also require a stable internet connection to complete the manual activation. It is important to note that successful activation of the eSIM does not necessarily mean you will be able to get connected while you at home, if your eSIM's data plan does not include coverage for your home destination.

Check the installation and activation instructions of your eSIM for more details.

Get a Nomad travel eSIM for your next trip

With a Nomad eSIM, you definitely can buy your eSIM even before you arrive at your destination.

Nomad offers data plans in over 170 countries, and you can be sure to find one that is suitable for your travel needs. And if you will be traveling across multiple countries, there are also regional plans available so you can stay seamlessly connected as you hop between countries. Data plans are available from as low as $1.10/GB.

The networks that Nomad's eSIMs use for each plan are stated on the plan details on the web store and apps, so you can check which networks are supported before buying your plan. Data sharing and tethering is also supported on Nomad's eSIM plans.

And, if you are unsure about how much data you need for your trip, Nomad also has a Data Calculator that can help you find the plan that is most suitable for you. Also check out our blog post on data-saving tips when traveling to keep your data usage in check when traveling.

Nomad also has a 24-hour customer support team. So, in the event where you face difficulties while using your eSIM, rest assured there will be someone available to help you resolve your issues!