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eSIMs 101: Can you use your eSIM overseas?

And how to use your eSIM overseas.

· 4 min read

The idea of using an eSIM in another country is a pertinent question for travelers, expatriates, and digital nomads alike. The convenience of eSIM technology offers a promising solution to the hassle of switching physical SIM cards when traveling abroad. If you are new to the concept of travel eSIMs or international eSIMs, you might have a few questions about whether your eSIM would work when overseas.


What is an eSIM?

Before delving into international use, let's first understand what an eSIM is.

An eSIM is a small, programmable chip embedded directly into a device, such as a smartphone, tablet, or smartwatch. Unlike traditional SIM cards, which are physical and must be inserted into a device, eSIMs are virtual and cannot be physically inserted or removed from a device. Instead, to use an eSIM, you will need to download an eSIM profile which will contain the necessary information that will allow your device to connect to the network.

However, aside from the form in which they exist, eSIMs and physical SIM cards do not have significant differences in functions.

eSIMs and International Travel

Now that we know what eSIMs are, we can now look at some of the common questions that you might have about whether you can use an eSIM overseas.

1. Do all countries support eSIMs?

The ability to use an eSIM is not so much country-dependent than it is device-dependent the telco-dependent.

If your device is eSIM-compatible, and the telco that you are on offers an eSIM option, then yes, you can use an eSIM!

What you might want to take note of is that a device's eSIM-compatibility could differ depending on where you purchased the device from. For example, some devices that may be eSIM-compatible in the US may not be if you bought the Chinese variant of it. But, this definitely doesn't mean that you cannot use an eSIM in China!

Whether or not your device can connect to the network while you are overseas primarily depends on whether your plan allows you to connect to the foreign network. It doesn't matter if you were using a physical SIM or eSIM.

So yes, that also means that if you were using an eSIM for your primary line, and you had international roaming turned on, you can continue using that eSIM while you are traveling overseas!

Similarly, if you were using a travel eSIM or international eSIM, you will be able to continue using it as long as the eSIM includes coverage in the country that you will be traveling to!

2. Can I use my eSIM overseas?

Yes, you can, but only if your eSIM has coverage in the country that you are in.

It really is no different from how you would be able to use a physical SIM card overseas, provided the plan associated with your SIM card allows you to connect to an overseas network.

Conversely, if the eSIM profile that you have installed on your eSIM does not allow you to use the foreign network, then you wouldn't be able to use it overseas.

For example, if you had bought a travel eSIM for Singapore with coverage only in Singapore, and you wanted to use it in the United States, that wouldn't be possible - because that eSIM does not provide coverage in the United States!

3. How do I use my eSIM overseas?

eSIMs are a great way to stay connected as you travel internationally.

If you are planning to use roaming on your eSIM for your primary line, all you need to do is to ensure that your plan supports roaming, and that you have roaming turned on on your device. If you are planning to do this, be mindful that international roaming charges will be incurred.

If you are intending to use a travel eSIM for your international trip, you can do so in a few simple steps:

  1. Buy your travel eSIM: Ensure that the travel eSIM that you bought includes coverage in the destinations that you will be traveling to.
  2. Install your travel eSIM profile on your device: You will need to install your travel eSIM profile on your device after you have successfully completed your purchase. How to install your travel eSIM could vary slightly from provider to provider, but most providers would provide you with an installation QR code which you can simply scan to download and install the eSIM profile.
  3. Activate your travel eSIM, if required: Again, this step varies largely across providers. Some travel eSIMs will automatically activate when it first connects to the local networks; while others might require you to manually activate them. Double check the installation and activation guide of the eSIM plan that you have purchased to confirm your activation steps.

Get a Nomad travel eSIM for your next trip

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 $1.50/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.

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!