Moldova is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe. The country is known for its amazing wine (at least, according to many – I do not like wine).
Chisinau, the capital of Moldova, has many parks and national museums. It also has the Nativity Cathedral. Wine lovers will love visiting Old Orhei, which has many wineries.
Soroca has many monuments and castles. Cricova has lovely vineyards and monasteries. Tipova has cool waterfalls and caves. You will have a great time in Moldova.
What may ruin your good time is dealing with an expensive roaming bill from roaming with your provider in Moldova. Roaming can be expensive in many cases, which is why travelers prefer to buy a Moldovan SIM card when visiting Moldova.
Those with a SIM card from a country from the European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) should especially watch out with deciding to roam in Moldova.
Moldova is neither part of the EU nor the EEA, so they are not bound to the 2017 roam like at home regulation. Be sure to check whether your operator offers free roaming in Moldova before receiving an expensive roaming bill, as your operator is not required to offer free roaming in Moldova.
What about Transnistria? Transnistria is considered to be a breakaway state as a territory east of the River Dniester. The territory is internationally not recognized, but they do have their own telecom provider.
Just like Moldova, Transnistria has many wineries, monuments, and monasteries. Most operators will not even mention this region in their roaming list because they (1) either do not know it exists or (2) believe it is part of Moldova. Additionally, they are also not part of the EU/EEA, so roaming can be expensive there.
In this article, I will go over everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in Moldova and Transnistria. Let's go.
Telecom Providers in Moldova
Moldova has 3 telecom providers: Orange Moldova, Moldcell, and Unité. All operators have 3G and 4G/LTE networks. Orange Moldova and Moldcell also have 2G networks, while Unité does not.
What SIM card should you buy when visiting Moldova? If you want to buy a SIM card in Moldova, I would recommend going with Moldcell because they offer 4G/LTE to prepaid customers, while Orange does not. Do note that Moldcell’s coverage is slightly worse compared to the one of Orange.
Unlike most countries in Eastern Europe, and Europe in general, you do not have to show your passport when buying a Moldovan SIM card.
A special reminder for those from the EU/EEA: Moldova is not part of the EU or EEA, which means that the Roam like Home rule does not apply in Moldova. Therefore, it is recommended that European citizens with EU SIM cards buy a Moldovan SIM card instead of roaming with their providers. Some providers, however, offer free roaming in Moldova, but this is not the case for all. Be sure to check your provider’s site to learn whether you can roam for free or not.
There is not much more to say about Moldova, so let’s see what Moldova has to offer to us.
Orange Moldova, just Orange, is the incumbent operator and also the most popular provider with a market share of around 60%. Do note that although Orange has a 4G/LTE network, it is not offered to prepaid customers. Additionally, prepaid speeds are not as fast as subscribers/postpaid users due to deprioritization.
Orange SIM cards, called Orange PrePay, can be bought for 50 MDL ($2.80) with 50 MDL in credit in Orange stores across the country. Top-up vouchers are sold from 30 MLD to 200 MDL. To recharge, you have to dial *144*VoucherCode#. For example, if your voucher code is 123456, you would dial *144*123456#.
The following Orange packs are available, which can be activated by dialing *100# or through My Orange:
- 10 MDL: 1 GB for 1 day
- 25 MDL: 2 GB for 7 days
- 40 MDL: 500 MB, 60 minutes, and 60 SMS for 30 days
- 50 MDL: 1 GB and unlimited calls for 15 days
- 60 MDL: 1 GB, 100 minutes, and 100 SMS for 30 days
- 150 MDL: 20 GB and unlimited calls for 7 days
You can also get an Orange data-only SIM card, called Internet Acum PrePay, for 50 MDL, which comes with 3 GB for 30 days, which is also the only add-on available.
Moldcell SIM cards, called Cartela Moldcell, can be bought for 50 MDL with 50 MDL in credit in Moldcell stores. Top-up vouchers ranging from 50 MDL to 200 MDL can be purchased in many stores. To check your balance, dial *444#.
Moldcell offers several monthly combo plans, which are called Super Cartela:
- 40 MDL: 500 MB, 120 minutes, and 120 SMS
- 60 MDL: 1 GB, 180 minutes, and 180 SMS
- 80 MDL: 2 GB, 240 minutes, and 240 SMS
You can activate any of these Moldcell Super Cartela plans by sending an empty SMS to 555.
If you are only interested in data, then you can get a data plan, called Pachete Internet, by dialing *202#:
- 10 MDL: 500 MB for 1 day
- 20 MDL: 250 MB for 30 days
- 25 MDL: 1 GB for 7 days
- 50 MDL: 1 GB for 30 days
- 90 MDL: 3 GB for 30 days
- 100 MDL: 5 GB for 30 days
- 140 MDL: 10 GB for 30 days
- 200 MDL: 20 GB for 30 days
All Pachete Internet plans auto-renew if there is enough credit. To cancel the auto-renewal, text 1 to 5678.
You buy a monthly social media plan offering unlimited Facebook, Twitter, Vkontakte, and Odnokassniki, for 15 MDL. Combined with a Pachete Internet, the usage of these apps will not count towards your data allowance.
Moldcell also has a data-only SIM card, called Internet ca lumea, for 50 MDL that comes with 4 GB.
Unité is the smallest operator in Moldova. It also has limited coverage throughout the country, which is why I do not really recommend them if you are planning on exploring Moldova instead of staying in the big cities and towns.
Unité SI cards, called Cartela Unité Prepay, come in two variants:
- 30 MDL: 200 MB, 200 on-net minutes, 200 minutes to landline numbers, and 5 MDL in credit
- 50 MDL: 500 MB and 50 MDL in credit
Make sure not to buy a Unité Connect SIM card because that is only compatible with phones that support CDMA (almost all phones support GSM nowadays).
Unité top-up cards are sold from 20 MDL to 300 MDL. The more you top up, the more free stuff you get:
- Top-up between 15 and 24 MDL: 100 on-net minutes and 100 landline minutes
- Top-up between 25 and 48 MDL: 1 GB, 100 on-net minutes, and 100 landline minutes
- Top-up between 49 and 98 MDL: 2 GB, 500 on-net minutes, and 500 landline minutes
- Top-up is or more than 99 MDL: 5 GB, 500 on-net minutes, and 500 landline minutes
These bonuses are valid for 1 month.
If that is not enough data for you, then you can buy a Unité data pack by dialing *200#:
- 15 MDL: unlimited data for 24 hours
- 20 MDL: 1 GB for 30 days
- 35 MDL: 2 GB for 30 days
- 75 MDL: 5 GB for 30 days
- 125 MDL: 10 GB for 30 days
Telecom Provider in Transnistria
Transnistria has 1 telecom provider, which is Interdnestrcom (Интерднестрком) or IDC for short. This operator uses CDMA for their 2G network, EVDO for their 3G network, and regular 4G/LTE for 4G (800 MHz on Band 20). As a result, you need a device that is 4G/LTE enabled and supports 800 MHz on Band 20. Else, you cannot use Interdnestrcom.
What SIM card should you buy when visiting Transnistria? If you want to buy a SIM card in Transnistria, Interdnestrcom would be your only option.
If you have a Moldovan or Ukrainian SIM card, there is a high probability that you can still use your SIM card in this area, so there may not be a need to buy a SIM card in Transnistria.
Unlike Moldova, you do have to show your passport when buying a SIM card in Transnistria.
Moreover, Transnistrian uses Transnistrian Rubles (PRB) instead of Moldovan Leu (MDL). 1 USD is 16 PRB, and 1 MDL is 0.91 PRB.
Let’s see what Interdnestrcom has to offer to us.
Interdnestrcom is the sole operator in Transnistria, but you may not need to get their SIM card if you already have a Moldovan or Ukrainian SIM card. Remember that your device needs to support 4G/LTE at 800 MHz on Band 20. Else, you cannot use an Interdnestrcom SIM card.
Interdnestrcom SIM cards can be bought for 56 PRB in Interdnestrcom stores. The following monthly data packs, called Mobitel, are available:
- 22.4 PRB: 1 GB. Activation: dial *888*3211#
- 56 PRB: 3 GB. Activation: dial *888*3221#
- 86.9 PRB: 6 GB. Activation: dial *888*3231#
- 112 PRB: 9 GB. Activation: dial *888*3241#
- 168 PRB: 15 GB. Activation: dial *888*3251#
To check your data balance, dial 868.
Other Ways to Stay Connected When Traveling in Moldova and Transnistria
The cheapest way to get online in Moldova and Transnistria is to get a SIM card from one of the three mobile operators. However, local SIM cards are not your only method of staying online when abroad.
Below are some other options to consider.
Roaming is the most convenient way to stay connected. You do not have to buy a new SIM card, and people at home can easily reach you on your current phone number.
However, roaming has many downsides as well. It can be insanely expensive.
International/Travel SIM Cards
International SIM cards or travel SIM cards are SIM cards made for travelers. The rates charged are often lower than international roaming, but they are almost always higher than what local operators will charge you.
Mobile hotspots, or pocket WIFI, are small devices that connect to the local operators of the country you are visiting. Mobile hotspots are ideal for families or those traveling in a large group, as they allow you to connect multiple devices to one hotspot without the need of each traveler having to buy a SIM card.
Free WIFI Networks
Nothing beats free, right? Paying nothing to stay connected may be the best option. Until you remember that free hotspots are not available everywhere (especially when on the move) and that free connections are often extremely slow.
Just make sure to protect your internet traffic with a VPN when connected to open WIFI connections. It is worth it.
The Preferred Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in Moldova and Transnistria
Getting a SIM card from Moldcell would do you well when considering a Moldovan SIM card. In Transnistria, IDC is your only option.
Local Prepaid SIM Cards in Other European 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.
Next Steps to Enhance Your Travel Experiences
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Learn About Your Phone Travel Options
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