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TIM for Visitors Italian SIM

I just returned from a 3 week trip to Italy. I purchased a voucher from TIM on their website. TIM for Visitors Card is valid for 30 days and includes 4 gigs of data, 100 minutes of calling and a €5 credit for €30. I redeemed the voucher at the TIM store at FCO and it took about 15 minutes for the employee to inserte the card into my phone and activate the service. The store is located in the Boarding Area B concourse before leaving the airside so if you have a connecting flight, you don’t have to go through security.

Service was great in the areas where I travelled - Sicily and Orvieto south to Paestum. On rare occasions coverage dropped from 4G to 3G. The plan does not include SMS, so messages are charged at 15€/cents each - charged against the €5 credit. I used the phone constantly for research, mapping, GPS, streaming (not too much), email, social media, calls. In the time I was there, I usd 3.5 gigs of the data allowance and still had a €4 credit left.

If you are arriving at FCO, you’ll have your phone up and running before you leave the terminal.

EDIT: I landed in terminal 3 but the TIM store is actually in boarding area B in terminal 1. I didn’t realize that the terminals were interconnected on the airside. Just follow the signs to B and you’ll be fine - but it can be a loooong walk.

Posted by
8014 posts

This is terrific. When we got new iPhones we didn't turn in one of our older iPhones. I wonder if we can get a TIM card for it as we'll spend a month in Italy next year? Usually we get ani yet national plan for one of our iPhones but your idea sounds much better,

Posted by
1331 posts

To use a phone with an European SIM card your phone must be "unlocked".

Posted by
4958 posts

That's great info Philip especially about the FCO logistics for tourists arriving in Italy.

But one question: why did you feel the need to buy the TIM voucher ahead of time? Did it just save you time? Couldn't you simply walk into the TIM store without a voucher and buy the same SIM and plan at the same price? I assume it isn't cheaper to buy the voucher - or is it?

Posted by
2741 posts

Andrew, TIM has numerous different plans available and I read that some TIM stores tried to steer you into other plans or were not familiar with the Visitor plan. I believe you can buy the Visitor plan once you land in Italy, though I’m not certain. I thought it would be easier to just use the prepaid voucher and it proved to be simple and efficient. I handed the voucher to the clerk, she entered the voucher number into their system and within 15 minutes, I was on my way. No need to try and explain what I wanted or answer any questions, just present the voucher and passport.

Posted by
607 posts

You need to make sure your phone is unlocked . You can test by inserting a sim from a friend's different carrier to see if it can work. Your carrier can unlock for free or fee. I have used eBay unlocking services which are cheaper than carrier.

I also suggest buying from a Tim dealer closest to hotel after you settle instead of at the airport. I had an experience in Venice where the system took several hours to activate. When sim finally activated, a feature had turned on which sent a reporting text to my phone every time i made a call costing me 15c and eating up my 5€ credit. I had to go back to the same dealer a few times to fix.

Posted by
823 posts

"You need to make sure your phone is unlocked . You can test by inserting a sim from a friend's different carrier to see if it can work."

This is not a reliable method of testing whether a phone is unlocked or not.

Most smartphones produced after 2013 are unlocked for service OUTSIDE North America but they may (or may not) accept a SIM from another North American carrier. The thought behind this (and the substance of an FCC ruling) is that other North American carriers are competitors while carriers outside North America are not.

To completely avoid this, I purchase only unlocked phones and avoid using the carriers that require you to purchase or lease phones through them - and I save an enormous amount of money in the process.

Posted by
4958 posts

I agree with funpig. Inserting another SIM from a different US mobile network should be a reliable way to see if the phone is unlocked. However, you need to use a SIM not just from a different company but that uses a different network. For example, if you have an AT&T phone, inserting a Cricket SIM into the phone isn't a good test, because Cricket runs on AT&T's network too. You don't need to unlock an AT&T phone to use a Cricket SIM. But if you insert a T-Mobile SIM into an AT&T phone (or vice versa) - that would be a good test.

Unlocked phones can be a good deal or not, depending on what kind of phone it is and what kind of price you get from the carrier. I just bought an unlocked Moto E4 only to get the Sprint BYOD 1 year free deal - and they only accept certain models of certain phones. Otherwise, there are cheaper versions of the same phone that can be unlocked cheaply (buy an unlock code on eBay in many cases).

Posted by
2741 posts

Regarding unlocked phones, if you are unsure if yours is unlocked, call your carrier or stop into a phone store that services your carrier. My iPhone was supplied by a third party and paid for by them; I could not find out from AT&T but a call to Apple answered the question.

Posted by
319 posts

My TIM experience was less desirable than I expected. Short version: TIM stores are not corporate stores, so you may not get service for a card bought at FCO at a store away from the airport.

The details:
I recently bought my SIM card at the FCO TIM store. When i needed service I stopped in another TIM store. On my first trip to store #2 the assistor could not find my phone number in the system. i left without an issue resolution: inability to call the USA. On the second visit the other assistor found my number in an alternate database and mybissuebwas resolved.

However, I bought what I READ is an International 30 day plan that gave me 1000 calling minutes, 300 of which are international. However, I am charged .15 centimenti per minute for calls to the US. I don’t understand it. I am frustrated by it. But I am not letting it ruin my trip.

I did not have similar frustrations with Vodafone in Spain. So. Vodafone is my future EU Carrier.

And another takeaway: research carrier websites beforre leaving home.

Posted by
4958 posts

Becky, I'm sorry to hear about your frustrations with your TIM SIM card.

I feel like I mention this in every post about European SIM cards...but I use the Google Hangouts app to call any US number for free, even landlines, with a smart phone. If you have a flip phone then you can't use it - but if you are American and have a smart phone, I'm not sure why you wouldn't use Hangouts to make calls. It works on WiFi or with mobile data but doesn't use much data, and it seems to work pretty well even on so-so WiFi connections. I have been using it most of the time for a year for all of my US phone calls. (Incoming, too, with a Google voice number.)

The only catch with Hangouts in Europe: you may need to add a +1 to the front of US numbers to call them.

Posted by
38 posts

No matter what, you will run out and need to recharge your sim. In the past I used rechargemysim.de but they are no longer in business. I did this because the TIM website did not take US credit cards. Thanks for a post on RIck Steve's I found that they now do if you use the full web site , not the mobile and look to translate to english and remember ricarica means recharge. Here is the link from my blog. https://gregsitaly.blog/2018/04/09/cell-phone-bargains-in-italy/

Hope this may be of help.
Visit gregsitaly.blog for more info on Italy travel.