Afghanistan is a travel destination for those who love adventure and thrill nowadays. There are plenty of YouTubers who visit this country, and it amazes me how friendly the locals are towards travelers.
Unfortunately, Afghanistan may not be a travel destination for the regular traveler. Travel restrictions, expensive plane tickets, and the high probability of kidnappings, bombings, or petty theft make many not want to go to the country, which is understandable.
However, that does not mean you should not visit Afghanistan at all. Drew Binsky, for example, had a good time while visiting Afghanistan back in 2019. I assume many will wait until the situation will get better. Or you are planning on going soon because you are reading this article right now ;) .
Anyway, there are plenty of things to do in Afghanistan. Kabul, the capital, is full of palaces and gardens. Bamyan has many archaeological sites. Mazari Sharifs has many shrines, and Band-e Amir National Park is a must-see, I would say.
What you may not want to do is to roam with your provider in Afghanistan. Roaming can be expensive in many cases, which is why many travelers prefer to buy an Afghan SIM card.
There is not much information about buying SIM cards in Afghanistan. If you search buy SIM card Afghanistan (which you probably did to find this article), you will find many results about expensive international SIM cards covering Afghanistan, or outdated information from the 2000s.
With a lot of effort trying to contact locals and chats with friends who are still in Afghanistan or who were in Afghanistan recently, I managed to write this guide for you so that you can easily select the Afghan SIM card of your liking.
In this guide, you will learn everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in Afghanistan. Let's get started, shall we?
Original publication: 1st of March 2020. Last updated: 15th of September 2022.
Table of Contents
Telecom Providers in Afghanistan
Afghanistan has 6 telecom providers: Roshan, MTN Afghanistan, Etisalat Afghanistan, Afghan Wireless, Wasel, and Afghan Telecom. Wasel uses CDMA, which is incompatible with GSM (most phones use GSM), which is why they will not be discussed any further in this article.
All the other operators have 2G and 3G networks. Afghan Wireless was the first operator to start 4G/LTE services in 2016. Others have started too, but their 4G/LTE coverage may be lacking.
Speaking of coverage, coverage is decent with all providers in the capital, Kabul, in the north and east of Afghanistan.
What SIM card should you buy when visiting Afghanistan? If you want to buy a SIM card in Afghanistan, I would recommend going with Roshan because they have the best coverage throughout the country.
Despite popular belief, it is relatively easy to get an Afghan SIM card. The telecom industry is booming right now. Just like most countries in South Asia, you have to show your passport when buying an Afghan SIM. Additionally, you need to bring a colored passport-sized photograph as well.
Make sure to buy your SIM card at official retailers, as there are a lot of bogus resellers out there.
Afghan SIM cards are sold for around 300 AFN ($4) nowadays. It used to be a couple of hundred dollars a few years ago.
With that said, let’s see what Afghanistan has to offer to us.
Roshan is the largest operator in Afghanistan. They have more than 6 million subscribers, and their network covers all Afghan provinces. 60% of the population is covered by Roshan.
Roshan is building its 4G/LTE network, but it is mainly limited to large cities and towns at the moment.
Roshan sells 2 types of SIM cards. Aali and Yaaran. Aali SIM cards are available to everyone, while Yaaran is targeted for the youth. Yaraan SIM cards come with unlimited off-peak calls (after being billed for 2 minutes), and cheaper rates for SMS.
The following short-term Roshan Aali data bundles are available:
- 15 AFN: unlimited data for 1 hour. Activation: text 1Hr to 555
- 30 AFN: 200 MB for 1 day. Activation: text D200 to 555
- 75 AFN: 512 MB for 1 week. Activation: text W512 to 555
You can also get one of the following Roshan Aali monthly data bundles:
- 250 AFN: 1 GB and 200 MB for Facebook. Activation: text M1 to 555
- 350 AFN: 2 GB. Activation: text M2 to 555
- 450 AFN: 3.5 GB and 300 MB for Facebook. Activation: text M3 to 555
- 600 AFN: 5 GB and 500 MB. Activation: text M5 to 555
- 800 AFN: 7 GB and 700 MB. Activation: text M7 to 555
- 1100 AFN: 10 GB. Activation: text M10 to 555
- 1500 AFN: 15 GB. Activation: text M15 to 555
- 1500 AFN: 30 GB (1 GB/day). Activation: text 30GB to 555
To deactivate a Roshan data plan, add U in front of the activation code. For example, if you want to deactivate the 1500 AFN 15 GB plan, you would text UM15 to 555.
You can also get one of Roshan’s Aali Facebook bundles, which all auto-renew when there is enough credit:
- 5 AFN: 50 MB and 50 SMS for 1 day. Activation: text S5 to 555
- 6 AFN: 100 MB for 1 day. Activation: text DFB to 555
- 15 AFN: 200 MB for 1 day. Activation: text S6 to 555
- 45 AFN: 200 MB for 30 days. Activation: text FB50 to 555
- 60 AFN: 300 MB for 30 days. Activation: text FB A to 555
- 100 AFN: 500 MB for 30 days. Activation: text S100 to 555
The deactivation codes for these Roshan Facebook bundles are US5, UDFB, U6, UFB50, FB D, and U100, respectively, to 555.
In case data does not work with your Roshan SIM card, you have to do the following. Text GPRS ON to 167. Then you have to send your phone’s model to 167. Afterward, text 3G to 555 and restart your phone. 3G will be activated now.
MTN Afghanistan, just MTN, is a large operator in Afghanistan. They have more than 6 million subscribers, which makes them a popular provider amount Afghans.
MTN, a South-African company, is mainly active in Africa, but also has a small presence in the Middle East (Syria and Yemen) besides Afghanistan.
MTN seems to have more towers than Roshan, especially in the north and east.
The following MTN data bundles are available:
- 15 AFN: 1200 MB (“unlimited”) for 1 hour. Activation: dial: *344*6#
- 15 AFN: 85 MB for 24 hours. Activation: dial: *344*12#
- 90 AFN: 425 MB for 1 week. Activation: dial: *344*22#
- 300 AFN: 870 MB for 1 month. Activation: dial: *344*30#
- 400 AFN: 2.1 GB for 1 month. Activation: dial: *344*31#
- 500 AFN: 4 GB for 1 month: Activation: dial: *344*32#
- 725 AFN: 7.3 GB for 1 month. Activation: dial: *344*35#
- 1400 AFN: 12.7 GB for 1 month. Activation: dial: *344*34#
All plans, except for the hourly plan, auto-renew. To deactivate a plan, dial *344*8#. You can check your data balance by dialing *344*7#.
Etisalat Afghanistan, just Etisalat, is another popular operator in Afghanistan. It is not clear whether Etisalat or MTN has more customers. Either way, Etisalat is loved by the locals as well.
When Etisalat was allowed to enter that Afghan market in 2007, it rapidly built its network and became the fastest-growing operator for many years.
It covers 30 of the 34 provinces and has more than 12 000 outlets, meaning that you will easily come across an Etisalat store.
The most towers can be bought in the north and east, just like with the other providers.
Etisalat sells 3 types of SIM cards: Mumtaz, Mubarak, and Elite. In terms of data, it does not matter which SIM card you choose.
The Etisalat site is outdated (and looks like it was last updated in 2013, based on its design). It mentions different types of data packs that are conflicting with each other. Either way, I will list the ones that seem to be active (based on the chats I had with some Etisalat customers) them.
The Etisalat Mukammal bundles are combo plans that come with a lot of on-net-only minutes:
- 20 AFN: 100 MB and 50 minutes for 1 day. Activation: text 806 to 3378
- 45 AFN: 500 MB and 100 minutes for 1 day. Activation: text 45 to 3378
- 299 AFN: 500 MB, 1500 minutes, and 500 SMS for 30 days. Activation: text 299 to 3378
- 450 AFN: 2 GB, 2000 minutes, and 2000 SMS for 30 days. Activation: text 450 to 3378
- 499 AFN: 3 GB, 500 minutes, and 500 SMS for 30 days. Activation: text 499 to 3378
- 799 AFN: 6 GB, 1000 minutes, and 1000 SMS for 30 days. Activation: text 799 to 3378
All these plans auto-renew when there is enough credit. To deactivate a plan, add PU in front of the activation code. For example, if you want to deactivate the 450 AFN plan, you would text PU 450 to 3378.
There are also standard Etisalat data packs:
- 40 AFN: 25 MB for 1 day. Activation: text GD to 3378 or dial *661#
- 150 AFN: 125 MB for 1 week. Activation: text GW to 3378 or dial *662#
- 350 AFN: 500 MB for 1 month. Activation: text GMS to 3378
- 850 AFN: 2 GB for 1 month. Activation: text GMM to 3378
- 1400 AFN: 4 GB for 1 month. Activation: text GMF to 3378
- 3500 AFN: 20 GB for 1 month. Activation: text UNL to 3378
But there are also these data bundles, from hourly bundles to monthly bundles.
The following hourly Etisalat data bundles can be purchased:
- 0.5 AFN: 20 MB. Activation: text HS to 3378
- 5 AFN: 200 MB. Activation: text HL to 3378
Want data for a whole day? Then these daily Etisalat bundles could be interesting:
- 5 AFN: 50 MB. Activation: text 50MB to 3378
- 50 AFN: 1 GB. Activation: text D50 to 3378
Staying in Afghanistan for a whole week? Get one of these weekly Etisalat data packs:
- 45 AFN: 200 MB. Activation: text 200MB to 3378
- 150 AFN: 1.5 GB. Activation: text 149 to 3378
You can also get a monthly Etisalat data pack:
- 100 AFN: 3 GB at night only (10 PM until 6 AM). Activation: text NBS to 3378
- 250 AFN: 1 GB. Activation: text A1 to 3378
- 300 AFN: 1.5 GB. Activation: text 1HGB to 3378
- 450 AFN: 3 GB. Activation: text 3GB to 3378
- 500 AFN: 4 GB. Activation: text 4GB to 3378
- 600 AFN: 5 GB. Activation: text 5GB to 3378
- 800 AFN: 7 GB. Activation: text 7GB to 3378
- 1000 AFN: 10 GB. Activation: text 10GB to 3378
- 1500 AFN: 20 GB (15 GB high-speed data), then throttled to 265 Kbps for the remaining 5 GB). Activation: text 20GB to 3378
Afghan Wireless is Afghanistan’s first mobile operator. It started in 2002 and used to hold a monopoly until the other operators started, but they still have more than 5 million subscribers (including broadband subscribers).
If you decide to roam with your provider in Afghanistan, you will most likely be roaming on the Afghan Wireless’ network because they have roaming agreements with more than 400 providers in more than 120 countries.
Afghan Wireless was also the first operator to launch 4G/LTE to its customers in 2015. It is also the provider with the most towers in the Southeastern part of the country, but the best coverage can be found up north or east.
Afghan Wireless has 3 monthly combo packs, called Kahkashan Combo, which come in the following variants:
- 200 AFN: 1 GB, 30 on-net minutes, and 300 SMS. Activation: dial *477*198*1#
- 350 AFN: 1.5 GB, 60 on-net minutes, and 500 SMS. Activation: dial *477*349*1#
- 500 AFN: 3 GB, 120 on-net minutes, and 1000 SMS. Activation: dial *477*499*1#
All plans auto-renew if there is enough credit. Do note that 50% of your allowance is reserved for nighttime use only from 12 AM until 7 AM. This means that if you get the 1 GB plan, you can use 512 MB whenever you want and 512 MB at night only.
Additionally, Afghan Wireless has many data packs you can choose from. The following daily packs are available:
- 10 AFN: 60 MB. Activation: dial *477*1*1#
- 30 AFN: 200 MB. Activation: dial *477*2*1#
- 45 AFN: 1 GB. Activation: dial *477*46*1#
You can also get a weekly data pack:
- 100 AFN: 500 MB. Activation: dial *477*3*1#
- 150 AFN: 1.5 GB. Activation: dial *477*30*1#
Finally, these monthly packs are available:
- 250 AFN: 2.5 GB. Activation: dial *477*4*1#
- 400 AFN: 4.5 GB. Activation: dial *477*5*1#
- 600 AFN: 7.5 GB. Activation: dial *477*6*1#
- 800 AFN: 9.375 GB. Activation: dial *477*8*1#
- 1100 AFN: 15 GB. Activation: dial *477*10*1#
- 1800 AFN: 20 GB. Activation: dial *477*16*1#
- 2700 AFN: 30 GB for 30 days. Activation: dial *477*27*1#
Those who love Facebook can get one of these Facebook plans:
- 2 AFN: 35 MB for Facebook. Activation: dial *232*1*1#
- 15 AFN: 140 MB for Facebook. Activation: dial *232*7*1#
- 40 AFN: 250 MB for Facebook. Activation: dial *232*2*1#
Night owls can get one of these night plans, which can be used between 12 AM and 7 AM:
- 25 AFN: 500 MB for 1 night. Activation: dial *477*25*1#
- 75 AFN: 1.5 GB for 7 days. Activation: dial *477*75*1#
- 200 AFN: 4 GB for 30 days. Activation: dial *477*199*1#
All plans, except for the monthly plans, auto-renew if there is enough credit. You can deactivate a plan by replacing the 1 in front of # with a 2. For example, if you want to deactivate the 2 AF 35 MB for Facebook plan, you would dial *232*1*2# instead of *232*1*1#.
To check your data balance when a plan is active, replace the 1 in front of # with a 4. Using the same example, you would dial *232*1*4#. Confusing? I think so too.
Salaam by Afghan Telecom
Afghan Telecom is the smallest operator in Afghanistan. Their mobile brand is called Salaam. There is not much more to say about the operator, except for the fact that they bought 70 of Etisalat’s towers to improve their own coverage.
Salaam SIM cards are sold for 100 AFN in Salaam and Afghan Telecom stores. They come with 50 AFN in credit as well.
Salaam has 2 monthly combo packs:
- 500 AFN: 1 GB, 1000 on-net minutes, 50 off-net minutes, and unlimited SMS. Activation: text A 500 to 741
- 1000 AFN: 3 GB, 3000 on-net minutes, and unlimited SMS. Activation: text A 1000 to 741
These plans auto-renew if there is enough credit. To deactivate a plan, replace A with D. For example, if you want to deactivate the 1000 AFN plan, you would text D 1000 to 741.
Salaam offers 5 different data packs:
- 35 AFN: 250 MB for 2 weeks. Activation: text A 250MB to 740
- 115 AFN: 1 GB for 1 month. Activation: text A 1GB to 740
- 230 AFN: 3 GB for 1 month. Activation: text A 3GB to 740
- 345 AFN: 5 GB for 1 month. Activation: text A 5GB to 740
- 520 AFN: 10 GB for 1 month. Activation: text A 10GB to 740
All these plans auto-renew if there is enough credit. To deactivate a plan, replace A with D. For example, if you want to deactivate the 230 AFN 3 GB plan, you would text D 3GB to 740.
Finally, there are Salaam night bundles, which can be used from 11 PM until 7 AM:
- 50 AFN: 1 GB for 7 days. Activation: text A SML to 740
- 90 AFN: 2 GB for 30 days. Activation: text A MDM to 740
- 200 AFN: 5 GB for 30 days. Activation: text A LRG to 740
- 350 AFN: 10 GB for 30 days. Activation: text A XTR to 740
Unlike the other plans, Salaam night plans do not auto-renew and cannot be deactivated.
The Best Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in Afghanistan
Getting a SIM card from Roshan would be your only when considering an Afghan SIM card.
Local Prepaid SIM Card in Other Asian Countries
Visiting other countries in Asia? Check out my region-specific SIM card buying guides:
- Central Asia
- East Asia
- (Middle East)
- South Asia
- Southeast Asia (revamped in September 2022)
- West Asia
Or check out my SIM card buying guides for individual Asian countries:
Going to other places around the world? Then you should also check out my sim card buying guides for other destinations around the world.
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