New Caledonia – often regarded as a tropical island paradise, is a country in Oceania. It is also somewhat part of France – even though it is more than 17 000 km away from Metropolitan France.
There is so much to explore in New Caledonia. From the Kanak heritage in Nouméa, the capital of New Caledonia, to the Oro Bay natural pool in the Isle of Pines.
You can also explore jungles on Lifou Island or caves in Lifou.
And, of course, you can snorkel, scuba dive, or simply swim around the beaches because they are simply stunning.
You will most likely share your beach-life photos on social media to make your friends and family jealous – and that is your right!
But do know that international roaming can be expensive. There is no need to add expensive bills in addition to your pricey holiday in New Caledonia.
Luckily, one way to avoid roaming rates is by getting local SIM cards, like a New Caledonian one.
However, New Caledonia is not cheap. And the same can be said for its SIM cards.
You can get a New Caledonian SIM card for as little as 6195 XPF (61.35 USD) in Mobilis/OPT-NC (partner) stores. You can also get the tourist SIM cards for 3180 XPF (31.50 USD). 1 GB of data valid for 7 days will cost you 1500 XPF (15 USD).
Yeah, that is not cheap at all – not even close. But, even spending 31 USD or 60 USD on a SIM card and just 15 USD for data will still be cheaper than international roaming in most cases.
So, better start saving before you head to New Caledonia – you will need it.
In this guide, I will go over everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in New Caledonia. Let's get started, shall we?
Original publication: 30th of January 2020. Last updated: 22nd of July 2021.
Table of Contents
Can You Buy a SIM Card in New Caledonia?
Everyone is allowed to buy a New Caledonian SIM card, including tourists and visitors.
You do need to be aware that you have to go through a SIM card registration procedure. Additionally, you need a phone that supports the frequencies used in the country (preferably all of them to have the most optimal experience while in New Caledonia). Finally, you need to have a SIM-lock-free (unlocked) phone to use local SIM cards.
Where Can You Buy a SIM Card in New Caledonia?
You can get a New Caledonian SIM card in OPT's official stores and partner stores. It is also possible to get SIM cards at Nouméa – La Tontouta International Airport (Aéroport de Nouméa – La Tontouta).
You can expect to pay the following for New Caledonian SIM cards:
- Mobilis by OPT-NC: 6195 XPF
The following operators also have SIM cards targeting tourists:
- Mobilis by OPT-NC: 3180 XPF
Can You Use Your Phone in New Caledonia?
New Caledonia uses GSM technology for mobile communications. CDMA phones will not work in New Caledonia. However, there is a 99% chance your phone supports GSM (if your phone has a SIM card slot, then it supports GSM).
Besides that, you need to be aware of the ITU regions to determine whether your phone will work in other parts of the world.
Although there are three ITU regions, you only need to know these two terms: American Frequencies and European Frequencies.
If you bought your phone in Africa, Asia, Europe, or Oceania (ITU regions 1 & 3), you should not experience any issues with using your phone in New Caledonia.
If you purchased your phone in the Americas (ITU Region 2) and have a low/medium-end device (without Tri-Band or Quad-Band) support, then there is a possibility you cannot use your phone when in New Caledonia or can only use slower networks (3G or 2G).
If you have a medium/high-end device with Tri-Band or Quad-Band support, you can use your phone in New Caledonia (to some extent) – also on 4G/LTE.
Mobile Operators, Networks & Frequencies in New Caledonia
New Caledonia has one mobile network operator:
- Mobilis by OPT-NC (Office des Postes et Télécommunications de Nouvelle-Calédonie)
The following frequencies are used in New Caledonia:
- 2G: 900 MHz (to be phased out in 2023)
- 3G: 900 MHz & 2100 MHz
- 4G/LTE: 800 Mhz (Band 20), 2100 MHz (Band 1) & 2600 MHz (Band 7)
You can learn more about frequencies in the video below.
To check whether your phone will work in New Caledonia, check out this page by Will My Phone Work (may be outdated or inaccurate at times).
Again, make sure your phone is unlocked. Otherwise, you will not be able to use any SIM card except the one from your home operator (meaning you have to roam internationally or buy another unlocked phone that does support the frequencies listed above).
If you want to learn how international roaming works, this guide explains it in-depth. If you wonder why it is often so expensive to roam, this article explains the hidden reason they do not want you to know.
5G NR in New Caledonia
5G NR is not available in New Caledonia as of 2021, and the New Caledonian government has not made any indications of when they will auction 5G licenses.
Best SIM Card in New Caledonia
If you want to buy the best SIM card in New Caledonia, then Mobilis by OPT-NC is your only option. It is the only mobile operator in New Caledonia.
EU Roaming in New Caledonia
New Caledonia is a French sui generis collectivity. Although explaining the exact definition of that term is beyond the scope of this guide, it is something to be aware of.
Unlike French overseas regions (ROMs) or French overseas departments (DOMs), French sui generis collectivities do not enjoy the same privileges and status as metropolitan departments.
As a result, New Caledonia is not part of the European Union (EU) nor the European Economic Area (EEA).
Therefore, the EU/EEA Roam Like At Home roaming regulation does not apply in New Caledonia. Therefore, you should not expect to roam for free if you have an EU/EEA SIM card while traveling in New Caledonia.
This also means that you can not roam for free in the EU/EEA with a New Caledonian SIM card.
SIM Card Registration in New Caledonia
SIM card registration, with the use of your passport information, is mandatory in New Caledonia. This will be done at the point of purchase.
New Caledonia Mobile Internet Prices & Insights
Oceania used to be a region where the cost of mobile data was incredibly cheap or insanely expensive. This had to do with the remoteness of the Pacific nations.
However, things have become much better in the region in terms of prices and speeds.
So how much will data cost you in New Caledonia?
The average price for 1 GB of data in New Caledonia is 6.49 USD, around the Oceanian average of 5.51 USD. The world average is 4.07 USD.
Around 200 countries worldwide have a lower average. However, not many countries are 1500 km away from land.
OPT-NC is committed to installing 4G/LTE equipment on all its sites by the end of 2021. Right now, OPT-NC covers 95% of the population already and is planning on reducing dead zones.
Even then, you should not expect blazing fast speeds when in New Caledonia. But speeds are significantly better than other Pacific nations in the region.
Overall, you should have a smooth network experience when in New Caledonia.
Currency in New Caledonia
French Polynesia uses the CFP Franc standing for French Pacific Franc with the symbol XPF (which will be used throughout this guide) – but the CFP Franc also has the symbol CFP. However, prices are often listed as just F. For example, 25 XFP = 25 F. For reference, below are some exchange rates between XFP and USD (US Dollars):
- 1 XFP = 0.01 USD
- 10 XFP = 0.10 USD
- 100 XFP = 1.00 USD
- 1000 XFP = 10.15 USD
- 10 000 XFP = 101.65 USD
For up-to-date XFP:USD exchange rates, search XFP to USD on Google, or replace USD with the currency you use.
Note that the US Dollar (USD) and Euro (EUR) are generally accepted in New Caledonia. If taken, you will always get change back in XFP. Do note that the exchange rate when paying with USD or EUR will rarely be in your favor.
If your credit/debit card charges you foreign exchange fees, get yourself a Wise Borderless Account and Debit Card. Their fees are MUCH lower than banks, and credit card companies charge you (and Wise is transparent about their fees, unlike banks). I have saved literal THOUSANDS of Euros, my main currency, when using Wise abroad when traveling compared to my debit and credit cards. Open a Wise account FREE!
New Caledonian Prepaid SIM Cards
Below, I will guide you through Mobilis by OPT-NC and go through:
- Background information
- Mobile coverage
- 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 New Caledonia has to offer to us.
Mobilis by OPT-NC
Mobilis uses the following frequencies:
- 2G: 900 MHz (to be phased out in 2023)
- 3G: 900 MHz & 2100 MHz
- 4G/LTE: 800 Mhz (Band 20), 2100 MHz (Band 1) & 2600 MHz (Band 7)
Coverage – Mobilis by OPT-NC
Mobilis has extensive coverage throughout New Caledonia.
Below is Mobilis' 2G coverage map:
Here is the 3G map:
Then we have the 4G/LTE map:
Here is the map of locations where you can get faster 4G/LTE speeds:
Here we have a coverage map of all the technologies (2G, 3G & 4G/LTE) combined:
I always like to compare the official coverage map(s) with the one of Speedtest because some operators like to be generous with their coverage:
SIM Card Price – Mobilis by OPT-NC
You can get a Mobilis SIM card, called Kit Prépayé Liberté, for 6195 XPF with 3000 XPF in credit in Mobilis/OPT-NC stores and Mobilis partner stores. It is also possible to get SIM cards at Nouméa – La Tontouta International Airport.
Short-term visitors and tourists can also get the Mobilis Tourism Card – Mobilis' tourist SIM card. For 3180 XPF, you will get 1500 XPF in credit. The SIM card is valid for 3 months, and exclusive Internet Mobile à la Demande (Mobile Internet on Demand) plans can be added.
Mobilis SIM cards get deactivated if there has been no activity for 90 days (no top-up for 90 days or no activity for 90 days).
Top-Up, Recharge & Balance Check – Mobilis by OPT-NC
The following top-up options are available:
|1000 XPF||1050 XPF||N/A||120 days|
|3000 XPF||3150 XPF||10 SMS||150 days|
|5000 XPF||5250 XPF||20 SMS||180 days|
To top up your Mobilis SIM card, call 1088, select option 2, and enter the Voucher Code.
Call 1088, select option 1, and choose option 1 again to check your Mobilis balance.
Packages, Plans, Bundles & Offers – Mobilis by OPT-NC
Mobilis has two data-featured plans: Internet Mobile à la Demande/Mobile Internet on Demand (data-only) & Internet Mobile à la Demande Tourism Card/Tourism Card Mobile Internet On Demand (data-only).
Internet Mobile à la Demande (Mobile Internet on Demand) – Mobilis by OPT-NC
The Internet Mobile à la Demande (Mobile Internet on Demand) plans are data-only plans.
The following Internet Mobile à la Demande plans are available:
|90 XPF||1h d'internet||“Unlimited” 1||1 hour||IMD to 1110|
|400 XPF||24h d'internet||“Unlimited” 1||24 hours||IMD to 1111|
1 undisclosed fair use policy
Internet Mobile à la Demande Tourism Card (Tourism Card Mobile Internet On Demand) – Mobilis by OPT-NC
The Internet Mobile à la Demande Tourism Card (Tourism Card Mobile Internet On Demand) plans are data-only plans exclusive to the Mobilis Tourism Card.
The following Internet Mobile à la Demande Tourism Card plans are available:
|500 XPF||250 MB||3 days||IM to 1101|
|900 XPF||500 MB||5 days||IM to 1102|
|1500 XPF||1 GB||7 days||IM to 1103|
|2000 XPF||2 GB||10 days||IM to 1104|
APN/Internet Settings – Mobilis by OPT-NC
- Name: OPT
- APN: IM
Note: leave anything not mentioned above untouched.
Other Ways to Stay Connected When Traveling in New Caledonia
Getting a New Caledonian SIM card is the best way to stay connected in the country. You have learned that SIM cards are cheap, plans are generous, and speeds are blazing fast.
But sometimes, getting a local SIM card is not possible. Perhaps you have a SIM-lock phone. The operator you prefer to go with does not support the frequencies your phone uses, or you cannot be bothered to deal with SIM card registration in every country you are visiting.
Luckily, there are other ways to get online when in New Caledonia.
However, these methods may be more expensive than getting a SIM card from the local operators.
International roaming is the most convenient way to stay connected when traveling in other countries because you do not have to buy a new SIM card, have to deal with SIM card registration regulations, nor have multiple phone numbers to deal with.
However, international roaming has proven to be expensive in many cases, especially compared to buying local SIM cards. That is why many travelers are not fond of international roaming.
International roaming has its pros and cons. However, it is important to know how it works. This in-depth guide explains it all.
Find out whether your mobile operator has attractive roaming rates for New Caledonia here.
Using an International SIM Card or Travel SIM Card
International SIM cards are SIM cards made for the traveler in mind. Using them is often cheaper than international roaming. However, they are almost always more expensive than using a local SIM card.
There are many other advantages and disadvantages of getting international SIM cards, which you can learn about here.
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.
The Preferred Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in New Caledonia
Getting a SIM card from Mobilis would be your only option when considering a New Caledonian SIM card.
Local Prepaid SIM Cards in Other Oceanian Countries
Visiting other countries in Oceania? Check out my Oceania SIM card buying guide, covering other Oceanian nations, such as:
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
Looking for the next steps to enhance your phone travel experiences? Here is what to do:
Check Out My Resource Page
Looking for the best companies and gadgets to enhance your travel experience? Check out my travel resources page for the best companies to use when you travel! Save money with international SIM cards, 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!
Start Your Own Online Business – Make Money While Traveling
Do you want to learn how I started an online business that allows me to generate income while traveling? In my starting an online business guide, I tell you which tools, services, and products I have for this site and my YouTube channel. If I can start a business about something I am passionate about (phone travel), then you can do it too!
Learn About Your Phone Travel Options
You can buy local prepaid SIM cards, international SIM cards, mobile hotspots, or roam internationally. Each of these options has its pros and cons. Learn more about them, and find the best option for you.
Phone Travel Tips, Tricks & Hacks
I have written many articles with tips and hacks to save money on mobile costs while abroad. You surely want to check them out!
Sign Up for the Phone Travel Wiz Newsletter
Sign up for my newsletter: Get an excel sheet of the best SIM cards of over 230+ destinations around the world! Moreover, I send you many tips and tricks on how to save money while traveling every now and then.
Let's Be Social
Did you know that I have a YouTube channel covering everything you need to know about traveling with your phone? A lot of useful videos are uploaded multiple times a week, and you do not want to miss out on them!
Learn More About Who Adu Actually Is
Who is the guy behind Phone Travel Wiz? Well, find out on the Ernest Adu about page!