Can I Get a Local eSIM for Tourists in Canada?
You can, but it is troublesome.
· 3 min read
Planning a trip to Canada and looking for a local eSIM to help you stay connected during your trip? Let's take a look at the different telcos in Canada, which ones offer eSIMs for travelers, how to get one, and what your alternatives are!
Overview of Telcos in Canada
There are three main carriers in Canada, and a couple of MVNOs that ride on the infrastructure of the three main carriers. These three main carriers are: Telus, Rogers, and Bell Canada.
- Telus: Generally known to be the best mobile carrier in Canada, providing stable and good connectivity, with extensive coverage throughout the country. There are many other MVNOs that also leverage the Telus network.
- Bell Canada: One of the biggest companies in Canada, and they are known for their relatively cheaper plans. Bell is also known to provide one of the best 4G coverage throughout the country, although connection in rural areas could be a little choppy.
- Rogers: Smallest of the three, but still owns a decent market share in Canada. They offer lower prices for prepaid plans and are often the go-to choice for budget travelers.
Do Canadian Telcos offer Tourist Plans?
All three telcos do not offer 'tourist plans'. But, they offer prepaid options that you will be able to purchase as a tourist. These prepaid plans are available in both physical SIMs and eSIM options.
Can I get a prepaid eSIM from Telus, Rogers, or Bell Canada?
All three carriers offer eSIM options for their prepaid plans, so it is technically possible for you to get a prepaid eSIM from any of these carriers from their website.
However, it is not straightforward. And there are some things that you should be aware of:
- You will need to pay for an empty eSIM. This means you are paying for just the eSIM voucher which does not come with any data — any other prepaid plans you will be purchasing will be on top of this cost.
- On Telus and Rogers, the eSIM voucher with the QR code will be shipped to you so you will need to provide a mailing address. And unfortunately, they do not recognise a non-Canadian address. Alternatively, you can check out their counters at the major international airports to get your eSIM.
- With Bell, you will be able to get and activate an eSIM via their website if you create an account. You will need to provide your IMEI and EID number so that they can validate the device before provisioning the eSIM.
- Note that you will likely need to provide identity documentation to purchase and activate your eSIM.
Troublesome, huh? What are my alternatives?
One of the biggest cases for using an eSIM on your travels is that it is convenient. The beauty of eSIMs being fully digital means that you should be able to easily provision your eSIM profile without having to wait or queue at the counters at the airport.
Unfortunately, getting a prepaid eSIM from any of the three Canadian telcos take away the biggest advantages of using an eSIM.
And to add to that, the prepaid plans offered by the telcos are not cheap. Imagine having to pay 35CAD for 1GB of data! And it is not just the plan that is expensive, don't forget, you will have to pay for the empty eSIM as well.
A better alternative for your trip will be to get a Nomad travel eSIM for Canada. With a Nomad eSIM for Canada, you can:
- Receive your installation QR code in your email within 5 minutes after you complete your purchase! And all without verification and identity checks. This means, you can even wait till right before you depart to make your purchase. Though, we wouldn't recommend that you wait till the last minute, as you will need a stable internet connection to make the purchase and install your eSIM in your device.
- Get data at much more affordable rates, and with no hidden costs! With Nomad, you can get 10GB of data at 41CAD, or 5GB at 23CAD — much cheaper than if you were to get a prepaid plan from the local telcos. And yes, in case you were wondering, compared to other providers of travel eSIMs, Nomad offers one of the best deals for Canada.
- Tap on multiple networks. Nomad's eSIMs work with multiple carriers in Canada, and you are not tied to a single network. You can easily switch between networks in just a few taps on your device.
Get a Nomad travel eSIM Canada
Nomad provides a variety of eSIM data plans for Canada with different data volumes at affordable rates from as low as USD3/GB. Nomad's eSIMs will automatically hook on to the network that provides the best signal strength, so you don't have to worry about the lack of coverage as you travel through Canada.
It's easy to get a Nomad eSIM. Simply create an account on the Nomad Web Store or iOS/Android apps, find a plan that is suitable for your needs, and proceed with the check out! Upon successful purchase, you will receive an email that includes the installation and activation instructions for your plan.
Note that since you will need a stable internet connection to purchase and install your eSIM, it is advised to buy your eSIM before you fly, so that you don't have to worry about not getting connectivity at the airport after landing.
And in case you need a number to send or receive text messages while in Canada, Nomad also offers SMS plans for Canada.