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Will my travel eSIM still work if I remove my physical SIM?

It will, but we recommend not to remove your physical SIM.

· 3 min read

Travel eSIMs have emerged as a convenient solution for travelers looking to stay connected without the hassle of physical SIM cards. eSIMs allow you to keep your primary SIM card in your phone while using the travel eSIM for your data needs, helping you to stay connected without incurring roaming charges. However, there are some travelers who might still feel anxious about accidentally incurring roaming charges, and would choose to entirely remove their physical SIM card from their devices. If you are thinking of doing the same, and wondering if your eSIM would still work without a physical SIM card, let's find out.

phone with sim

Can I still use my travel eSIM if there is no physical SIM?

Yes, you can!

Assuming you have an eSIM-compatible device, you will be able to use your eSIM regardless whether there is a physical SIM card in your phone. That means to say that even if you remove your physical SIM card from your device, you will still be able to continue using your eSIM as a source of data when you travel.

What does it mean if I use my eSIM without a physical SIM?

Now, before you proceed to remove your physical SIM card, it is important to note what that means for you.

Sure, removing your physical SIM card definitely also means you will not accidentally incur unnecessary roaming charges. But you should be conscious that removing your physical SIM card could bring about some inconveniences when you travel.

Since your primary SIM card is no longer in your device, it also means that you will not be able to receive any SMSes on your primary SIM - which to be fair, doesn't sound like a major problem, at least until you need to receive OTPs for your banking transactions.

It also means that if anyone attempts to call you on your primary number, you will not be able to receive those calls since your SIM card is no longer in your phone. But of course, today, there are many apps that allow you to make calls via the internet - and you can continue to do so using the internet connection from your travel eSIM, even if your primary SIM is no longer in your phone.

Lastly, it is important to take note of what services your travel eSIM provides. Most travel eSIMs are data-only, meaning they do not come with any call minutes. Again, this essentially means that you will not be able to make cellular calls using your travel eSIM; and since you don't have your primary SIM in your phone, you will essentially just not be able to make any calls via cellular. Again, there is always the option of making calls via messaging or social apps as long as you have data!

Instead of removing your physical SIM entirely…

Now, we get why you might want to remove your physical SIM card from your device entirely. It is definitely a way to make sure you will never get charged for international roaming.

But, removing your physical SIM card from your device brings about inconveniences and there is a chance that you might end up losing your physical SIM once it is out of your phone.

Instead, there are other things that you can do to avoid international roaming charges.

  • Configure your device settings to make sure you are using your travel eSIM for data. And on iPhones, make sure your cellular data switching option is turned off.
  • Turn off data roaming for your primary SIM card from your device settings.

If you are worried about having incorrect settings still, you can consider:

  • Update your device settings to disable your primary SIM card. If your SIM card is disabled from your device settings, it is essentially the same as removing your SIM card from your device, except it is still physically sitting in your device. This could be a much better option than removing your SIM card entirely, as it gives you the flexibility to just enable your SIM card again in case of unforeseen circumstances where you might need to use it.

Alternatively, you can also call up your service provider to get them to disable international roaming on your primary number. It is highly recommended that you only disable international data roaming, but still keep the option of international calls and SMSes. Of course, if you make international calls and send overseas SMSes, additional fees could be incurred — but having this option available could come in very handy at times of emergency.

Get a Nomad eSIM to help you stay connected on 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 $1.10/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.