Buying a Prepaid SIM Card in Mauritania Guide

Logos of Telecom Operators in Mauritania: Maurital, Chinguitel & Mattel

Mauritania sometimes gets confused with Mauritius. While Mauritania is a large country in North Africa (or Northwest Africa), Mauritius is a small island nation in East Africa in the Indian Ocean.

What can you actually do in Mauritania? Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania, has many markets and beautiful beaches. Chinguetti has challenging hiking trails, and Nouadhibou is a hub for kite surfers. As you can see, there are plenty of things to do in Mauritania.

You probably want to stay connected when traveling in Mauritania (which is why you searched for Buying a SIM card in Mauritania). Getting a local SIM card is almost always the cheapest way to stay connected when traveling abroad, especially when compared to roaming with your provider because roaming can be expensive in many cases.

Mobile data rates are low in Mauritania, compared to the world average, which is a good reason alone to get a Mauritanian SIM card. However, there is much more to learn about mobile data in this country.

In this guide, I will go over everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in Mauritania. Let’s go.

Telecom Operators, Networks, and Frequencies in Mauritania

Mauritania Flag

Mauritania has 3 telecom operators:

  • Mauritel
  • Chinguitel
  • Mattel (La Mauritano-Tunisienne des Télécommunications)

All operators have 2G and 3G networks. 4G/LTE is not available in Mauritania.

The following frequencies are used by the Mauritanian operators:

  • 2G: 900 MHz & 1800 Mhz
  • 3G: 900 Mhz & 2100 MHz

The Best SIM Card in Mauritania

If you want to buy a SIM card in Mauritania, then Mauritel is the best because they have the best coverage.

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SIM Card Registration Regulations in Mauritania

Like most countries in North Africa, and Africa in general, you have to register your SIM card with your passport details when buying a SIM card in Mauritania.

The State of the Mauritanian Telecom Market

Do note that the network quality of all Mauritanian operators is poor. In fact, the telecom operator, ARE, fined the 3 operators in early 2020 for “failure to maintain adequate quality of service (QoS) on their respective networks.” Moreover, internet speeds are slow too. One should not expect speeds higher than 1 Mbps, which says enough about the state of the network (and broadband speeds are not much faster either).

Since 2018, the Mauritanian government has been planning on awarding 4G/LTE licenses to the incumbent operators and potentially new players. The government reopened bids in 2019 because nobody placed bids, including the 3 incumbent operators. In 2020, no update related to the 4G/LTE licenses could be found, meaning that it can take years before mobile data speeds can become manageable in Mauritania.

Currency in Mauritania

Mauritania uses the Mauritanian Ouguiya with the symbol MRU (which will be used throughout this article). Prices in Mauritania are listed in UM. Sometimes, you will see “N-UM” and “A-UM.” A-UM (MRO) refers to the old version of the Mauritanian Ouguiya, which is pegged 10:1 to the new version (10 A-UM (Old) = 1 N-UM (New)).

Although the old version of the currency should have been out of circulation in mid-2018, it is still actively advertised. If, for example, a Mauritanian site solely states “UM,” you can assume the site is referring to the new version of the currency. In this article, only the new version of the Mauritanian Ouguiya will be used to minimize confusion.

For reference, below are some exchange rates between MRU and USD (US Dollars):

  • 1 MRU = 0.02 USD
  • 10 MRU = 0.25 USD
  • 100 MRU = 2.50 USD
  • 1000 MRU = 25.10 USD
  • 10 000 MRU = 251.30 USD

For up-to-date MRU:USD exchange rates, search MRU to USD on Google, or replace USD with the currency you use.

Mauritanian Prepaid SIM Cards

Below, I will guide you through Mauritel, Chinguitel, and Mattel and go through:

  • Background information
  • SIM card types, prices, and availability
  • Recharge/top-up information
  • Combo plans, data plans, and special packs (such as social media packs)   

With that being said, let’s see what Mauritania has to offer to us.

Mauritel

Mauritel Logo

Mauritel is the largest operator in Mauritania. Mauritel has the best coverage throughout Mauritania, covering 90% of the population.

You can get a Mauritel SIM card, called El Jawal, for 50 MRU in Mauritel stores. You can also get your SIM card Nouakchott International Airport after leaving the customs area. Recharge cards are sold from 10 MRU to 1000 MRU, which are widely available.

Mauritel has several combo plans and data-only plans, which are:

  • Les Forfaits GratiPlus
  • Grati-FLEX
  • Pass Confort
  • Grati-Media
  • Les Forfaits Grati-Net

Let’s go through each of them.

Mauritel Les Forfaits GratiPlus

The Forfaits GratiPlus are combo plans that come with data, minutes, and SMS for all-net use. The following 4 options are available:

PriceDataMinutesSMS
10 MRU10 MB10 minutes10 SMS
20 MRU20 MB20 minutes20 SMS
30 MRU30 MB30 minutes30 SMS
50 MRU60 MB60 minutes60 SMS

GratiPlus plans can be activated with a GratiPlus recharge card. To activate a GratiPlus plan, dial *123*VoucherCode*1#. For example, if your voucher code is 123456, you would dial *123*123456*1#.

Mauritel Grati-FLEX

The Grati-FLEX combi plans are monthly plans that come with data and minutes for all-net use and international use. There are 4 variants:

  • 200 MRU: 200 MB and 4 hours of airtime
  • 300 MRU: 300 MB and 6 hours of airtime
  • 500 MRU: 500 MB and 10 hours of airtime
  • 1000 MRU: 1 GB and 20 hours of airtime

If you want to call internationally, you have to be aware of the following 7 zones:

  • Zone 1:
    • Gulf Countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar & the United Arab Emirates)
    • Middle East (Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Sudan, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine & Turkey)
    • North America (Canada & the United States)
    • West Europe (unspecified & with exceptions)
  • Zone 2:
    • Asia Pacific (Unspecified & with exceptions)
    • East Europe (Unspecified & with exceptions)
    • Latin America (Unspecified & with exceptions)
  • Zone 3:
    • Africa (Unspecified & with exceptions)
  • Zone 4:
    • Belarus, Croatia, Czech Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kiribati, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Switzerland, and Zambia
  • Zone 5:
    • Bosnia & Herzegovina, Burundi, Chad, Cuba, the Gambia, Latvia, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, San Marino, Tunisia, and Vanuatu
  • Zone 6:
    • Thuraya (Satellite)
  • Zone 7:
    • The Cook Islands, Lithuania, Sao Tome & Principe, Seychelles, the Solomon Islands, Satellites (except for Thuraya), and Tonga

Grati-FLEX plans can be activated with a Grati-FLEX recharge card. To activate a Grati-FLEX plan, dial *123*VoucherCode*3#. For example, if your voucher code is 123456, you would dial *123*123456*3#.

Mauritel Pass Confort

The Pass Confort passes are data-only passes. They come in 5 variants, which can be activated by calling 154:

  • 500 MRU: 500 MB for 3 days
  • 1000 MRU: 1 GB for 7 days
  • 3000 MRU: 3 GB for 30 days 
  • 10 000 MRU: 15 GB for 60 days
  • 20 000 MRU: 45 GB for 90 days

Mauritel Grati-Media

The Grati-Media plans are social media plans with unlimited for WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. They come in 3 versions:

  • 20 MRU: Unlimited social media data for 2 days
  • 30 MRU: Unlimited social media data for 4 days
  • 50 MRU: Unlimited social media data for 6 days

Grati-Media plans can be activated with a Grati-Media recharge card. To activate a Grati-Media plan, dial *123*VoucherCode*5#. For example, if your voucher code is 123456, you would dial *123*123456*5#.

Mauritel Les Forfaits Grati-Net

The Forfaits Grati-Net are data-only plans. You get double the data amount from Fridays to Sundays. For example, if you buy a 1 GB data plan, you can use 1 GB from Monday to Thursday, and 2 GB from Friday to Sunday. The following 10 Grati-Net plans are available:

PriceData (Monday-Thursday)Data (Friday-Sunday)Validity
10 MRU100 MB200 MBUntil midnight
20 MRU200 MB400 MB1 day
30 MRU300 MB600 MB2 days
50 MRU500 MB1 GB3 days
100 MRU1 GB2 GB7 days
200 MRU2 GB4 GB20 days
300 MRU3 GB6 GB30 days
500 MRU5 GB10 GB30 days
1000 MRU15 GB30 GB60 days
2000 MRU45 GB90 GB90 days

Grati-Net plans can be activated with a Grati-Net recharge card. To activate a Grati-Net plan, dial *123*VoucherCode*2#. For example, if your voucher code is 123456, you would dial *123*123456*2#.

Mauritel APN Settings

In most cases, your phone will retrieve the correct APN settings automatically. If you need to enter it manually, then you need the following details (do not add anything not mentioned below):

  • APN: web.mauritel

RELATED GUIDES

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Chinguitel

Chinguitel Logo

Chinguitel is the second-largest operator in Mauritania. They have good coverage throughout the country.

You can get a Chinguitel SIM card, called Mauritani, for 500 MRU in Chinguitel stores. Recharge cards are widely available. To top-up, dial *222*VoucherCode#. For example, if your voucher code is 123456, you would dial *222*123456#. Dial *222# to check your Chinguitel balance.

Make sure NOT to get the Zaki SIM card because that SIM card works only with CMDA phones (almost all phones are GSM phones nowadays, which Mauritani supports).

Chinguitel has several data plans, called Offres 3G Mobile – Maurinet, which can all be activated by dialing *2#:

  • 5 MRU: 20 MB until midnight
  • 10 MRU: 100 MB for 1 day
  • 20 MRU: 200 MB for 2 days
  • 50 MRU: 500 MB for 5 days
  • 100 MRU: 1 GB for 10 days
  • 200 MRU: 2 GB for 18 days
  • 300 MRU: 3 GB for 30 days
  • 500 MRU: 6 GB for 30 days
  • 1000 MRU: 12 GB for 30 days

Chinguitel APN Settings

In most cases, your phone will retrieve the correct APN settings automatically. If you need to enter it manually, then you need the following details (do not add anything not mentioned below):

  • APN: internet3g.chinguitel.mr

Mattel

Mattel Logo

Mattel is the oldest operator in Mauritania, but they are now the smallest operator. They have decent coverage throughout Mauritania.

You can get a Mattel SIM card, called Alèze, for 200 MRU in Mattel stores.

Mattel has several combo plans and data plans, which are

  • Forfaits Max Plus
  • Forfaits Max Net
  • Les Forfaits Internet

Let’s go through each of them.

Mattel Forfaits Max Plus

The Forfaits Max Plus plans are short-term combo plans with data, minutes, and SMS. They come in 4 variants:

PriceDataMinutesSMSValidityActivation
10 MRU10 MB10 minutes10 SMS24 hours*167*1#
20 MRU20 MB20 minutes20 SMS24 hours*167*2#
30 MRU30 MB30 minutes30 SMS2 days*167*3#
50 MRU60 MB60 minutes60 SMS3 days*167*4#

You can check your Forfait Max Plus balance by dialing *167*0#

Mattel Forfaits Max Net

The Forfaits Max Net plans are combo plans with data and minutes. They come in 4 versions:

PriceDataMinutesValidityActivation
100 MRU1 GB60 minutes3 days*168*1#
200 MRU2 GB120 minutes7 days*168*2#
300 MRU3 GB180 minutes15 days*168*3#
400 MRU4 GB240 minutes30 days*168*4#

You can check your Forfait Max Net balance by dialing *168*0#

Mattel Les Forfaits Internet

The Forfaits Internet plans are data-only plans. The following 6 Forfaits Internet plans are available:

PriceDataValidityActivation
10 MRU100 MB24 hours*160*1#
20 MRU200 MB48 hours*160*2#
50 MRU500 MB5 days*160*3#
100 MRU1 GB10 days*160*4#
300 MRU3 GB30 days*160*5#
1000 MRU10 GB60 days*160*6#

You can check your Forfait Internet usage by dialing *160*0#

Mattel APN Settings

In most cases, your phone will retrieve the correct APN settings automatically. If you need to enter it manually, then you need the following details (do not add anything not mentioned below):

  • APN: web.mattel

RELATED GUIDES:

Other Ways to Get Online When Traveling in Mauritania

Although getting a Mauritanian prepaid SIM card will be the most affordable way to stay connected when in Mauritania, you could also:

International SIM Cards & Travel SIM Cards

International SIM cards and travel SIM cards can be a convenient way to stay connected when traveling around multiple countries. Many countries require those buying local prepaid SIM cards to go through a registration procedure, like in Mauritania. This can be time-consuming and bothersome.

Moreover, you will have to deal with multiple numbers and SIM cards when traveling, which makes it hard for friends and family to stay in touch with you when not using messaging apps.

However, international SIM cards can be expensive because they may charge unfavorable rates. Below are some reputable international SIM card companies and travel SIM card resellers, which are Surfroam, SimOptions, SimCorner, and OneSimCard.

Surfroam

Surfroam has a SIM card that allows you to use data for as little as €0.01/MB (or €10.24/GB) in over 200 destinations. It is my go-to SIM card before buying a local SIM card. Surfroam SIM cards do not expire if you top-up at least once a year. Surfroam SIM cards will be delivered to your home. Check out my article covering OneSimCard in detail.

Surfroam Banner

SimOptions

SimOptions sells short-term travel SIM cards that cover multiple countries in a region for reasonable prices for the allowances you get. Travel SIM cards sold by SimOptions will be delivered to your home. Check out my article covering OneSimCard in detail.

simoptions banner
SimOptions also sells travel SIM cards for other destinations around the world, not just Europe.

SimCorner

SimCorner sells short-term travel SIM cards and also local SIM cards of the destination you are going to, which are not short-term. They ship SIM cards all over the world to your doorstep. Check out my article covering OneSimCard in detail.

SimCorner Banner

OneSimCard

OneSimCard SIM cards are single SIM cards that can be used in many countries around the world and do not have short-term expiry. You can buy multiple phone numbers for a single SIM card, which makes an OneSimCard SIM card a diverse international SIM card. OneSimCard ships their SIM cards all over the world. Check out my article covering OneSimCard in detail.

OneSimCard Banner

Mobile Hotspots

Mobile hotspots are battery-powered wireless router that allows you to connect your phone, laptop, or tablet without needing multiple SIM cards for those devices to be connected to the internet. They are compact and lightweight so that you take them along with you whenever you need internet access on the go.

There are many mobile hotspots that you can buy or rent. I do not use mobile hotspots myself often, so when I do, I rent them. I recommend mobile hotspots for those traveling in large groups. There are two mobile hotspot companies I would recommend: Travelwifi & Skyroam

Travelwifi offers Teppy, the name of the pocket WIFI, starting from $7 per day, covering more than 130 destinations around the world.

Travelwifi banner

Cellular access with Skyroam starts at $8 a day. You can get a discount if you rent a router through Skyroam by using coupon code PHONETRAVELWIZ. Skyroam covers more than 130 destinations in the world.

Skyroam banner

Roaming

Roaming with your provider is something we are all familiar with because it often results in expensive bills. However, that does not always have to be the case. Your operator may offer attractive roaming packages. That way, you do not have to deal with multiple SIM cards and can be reached to the phone number your friends and family are familiar with.

I have an article explaining why roaming is so expensive. I also have many articles covering the roaming options of operators around the world, and make a verdict saying roaming can be worth it or not. Finally, I discuss many phone travel tips to keep your phone bills low when traveling.

Free WIFI Hotspots

This does not require a lot of explanation, but using free WIFI connections is the cheapest way to connect to the internet because you do not have to pay anything. However, free WIFI hotspots can be unsecure and unreliable.

You will not find many hotspots in Mauritania. If you find any, they will be extremely slow.. Additionally, public WIFI hotspots are unsecure. They are a prime target for hackers to steal your data and use it for illicit purposes.

That is I use, and would recommend you to start using, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) if you connect to a public hotspot. What a VPN does is creating an encrypted tunnel between your device and the hotspot so that your data will stay private. I use NordVPN, and you can get up to 70% off when you get a NordVPN subscription. Get your subscription now!

The Preferred Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in Mauritania

Getting a SIM card from Mauritel (best coverage) would do you well when considering a Mauritanian SIM card.

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Local Prepaid SIM Card in Other African Countries

Going to other countries in North Africa? Check out my North Africa SIM card buying guide, covering other North African nations, such as

Be sure to check out this guide covering all African countries, such as these popular African travel destinations:

Otherwise, I have many guides covering countries all over the world. Get my SIM card recommendation sheet by signing up for my newsletter!

What is next?

Looking for the best companies and gadgets to enhance your travel experience? Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! Save money on plane tickets, bus rides, cruises, and accommodation. Besides that, I also list services and items I use to make my life easier – and I believe they will help you too!

Book Your Flight for Mauritania

It is time to book your flight. Find cheap flights with AirWander so that you can add free or cheap stopovers in destinations you have not considered yet before going to Mauritania.

Book Your Accommodation for Mauritania

I am a huge fan of Airbnb because it allows me to live with a local or get a local place for myself. Staying in someone’s house or apartment feels much different than being in a ho(s)tel, especially in Mauritania. At least, that is how I see it. Moreover, Airbnb can often be much cheaper than staying in a Mauritanian hotel.

Get Your Travel Insurance for Mauritania

You will regret not having travel insurance once you actually need it and “forgot” to get it. Nowadays, travel insurance is cheap and comprehensive unlike back in the days. World Nomads is by far the best travel insurance for adventurous travelers like yourself. You can even get insured WHILE already traveling in Mauritania, which is not something many insurance companies allow you to do.

Get a Travel Debit Card

Travel Cheques are outdated. Paying with your credit card or debit card can be expensive because of all the exchange commissions banks charge you. TransferWise allows you to convert your main currency to Mauritanian Ouguiya for a small fee (up to 8 times less than with your bank!) Getting a Transferwise Borderless account is FREE, so you will get an instant return on your investment.

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Enjoy your trip!

Ernest Adu

Ernest Adu, going by just Adu, is the founder and editor at Phone Travel Wiz. He has been a traveler for 6 years. Although from Europe, the Netherlands, Adu's favorite region in Asia, in particular, East and Southeast Asia. He currently lives in Tainan, Taiwan, and plans on exploring Oceania and more of East and Southeast Asia.

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