North Macedonia used to be known as just Macedonia until the 12th of June 2018, when Greece and then Macedonia made an agreement that Macedonia would change its name to North Macedonia. That agreement was implemented 8 months later.
You are probably not going to visit North Macedonia just for its name. What can you do there? Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia, has the Ottoman Old Bazaar and many mosques. Ohrid has many medieval churches, and Bitola has many monasteries.
You probably want to share your North Macedonia experiences online, which you should! However, roaming with your provider can be expensive in many cases, which is why many travelers prefer to buy local SIM cards, like a North Macedonian one.
Mobile data is cheap for European standards, which is another reason why you should take advantage of it.
In this article, I will go over everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in North Macedonia. Let's do this.
Telecom Providers in North Macedonia
North Macedonia has 2 telecom providers:
- Makedonski Telekom (T-Mobile)
- A1 Macedonia
All operators have 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE networks. However, the 4G/LTE network is not widely available for prepaid customers with A1 Macedonia, except for 1 data package.
North Macedonia also has 2 Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs):
- Lycamobile North Macedonia
Lycamobile North Macedonia uses the A1 Macedonia network, while Telekabel uses the Makedonski Telekom network.
Which of these North Macedonian operators have the best prepaid SIM card and prepaid offerings?
If you want to buy a SIM card in North Macedonia, then A1 has the best prepaid offering. They are cheaper than Makedonski Telekom while having good coverage throughout the country.
However, if you are going to remote North Macedonia, go with Makedonski Telekom because they have the best coverage. Do note that they are the most expensive option in the country.
Lycamobile North Macedonia should be considered for even cheaper packages. 2 of their international packages come with 100 international minutes to 23 destinations, all included in the plans.
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Like most countries in the Balkans, and Europe in general, you have to show your passport when buying a North Macedonian SIM card.
A special reminder for those from the EU/EEA: North Macedonia is not part of the EU or EEA, which means that the Roam like Home rule does not apply in North Macedonia. Therefore, it is recommended that European citizens with EU SIM cards buy a North Macedonian SIM card instead of roaming with their providers. Some providers, however, offer free roaming in North Macedonia, 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.
Additionally, as of April 2019, some Balkan states, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia, agreed to cap roaming costs in their nations. As a result, you will pay €0.025 per MB (or €25.60 per GB), €0.19 per minute, and €0.06 per SMS when roaming with a North Macedonian SIM card in those other countries.
Although still expensive, their plan is to abolish roaming costs entirely by summer 2021 in other to join the EU/EEA roaming zone, which would then allow EU/EEA SIM cards to roam for free in these nations and vice versa.
In the meantime, you will be better off buying a local SIM card when visiting those countries instead of roaming with a North Macedonian SIM card.
With that said, let’s see what North Macedonia has to offer to us.
Makedonski Telekom (T-Mobile)
Makedonski Telecom, also known as Telekom Makedonski and T-Mobile Makedonski, used to be the clear market leader in the country. However, they now have a market share of around 50% because of heavy competition. Makedonski Telekom does have the best coverage throughout the country.
Makedonski Telecom has 3 types of prepaid SIM cards, which costs 399 MKD ($7.20) (voice & data), 499 MKD (data-only), and 1199 MKD (voice & data). They can be purchased in Makedonski Telekom stores, supermarkets, kiosks, corner shops, convenience stores, and gas stations. Top-up vouchers start from 100 MKD.
The 399 MKD SIM card and comes with 1 GB (+1 GB bonus via the Telekom MK app), unlimited on-net calls, 100 on-net SMS, and 181 MKD in credit valid for 7 days.
Those who prefer a starter pack with more data can take advantage of the 1199 MKD SIM card that comes with 15 GB and unlimited local calls for 30 days.
Finally, there is the data-only SIM card for 499 MKD that comes with 5 GB for 30 days.
Regardless of what SIM card you choose, the following data packages can be added to your cards. Do note that your data will be doubled if you activate a package through the Telekom MK app. The data allowances listed below are WITHOUT the bonus:
- 49 MKD: 1 GB for 24 hours. Activation: text DNEVEN to 140140
- 59 MKD: 500 MB for 7 days. Activation: dial *122#
- 99 MKD: 1 GB for 7 days. Activation: dial *122#
- 129 MKD: 2 GB for 7 days. Activation: dial *122#
- 129 MKD: 500 MB for 30 days. Activation: text MESECHEN S to 140140
- 249 MKD: 2 GB for 30 days. Activation: text MESECHEN M to 140140
- 499 MKD: 8 GB for 30 days. Activation: text MESECHEN L to 140140
A1 Macedonia (formerly one.VIP)
A1 Macedonia, just A1 and formerly known as one.VIP, was created as a merger between ONE and VIP. Then, they were known as one.VIP or VIP, but they rebranded in September 2019 to A1 Macedonia. Now, they have a market share of around 50%. Some quarters, they are bigger than Makedonski Telekom; sometimes, they are not.
A1 SIM cards are sold for 299 MKD in A1 stores. You get 10 GB, unlimited on-net calls for 7 days, 50 MKD in credit, and the A1 Friends package that comes with unlimited on-net calls (A1 prepaid numbers) for 30 days. Top-up vouchers are sold between 10 MKD to 100 MKD. TO top-up, dial *100*VoucherCode#. For example, if your voucher code is 123456, you would dial *100*123456#. Dial *101# to check your A1 balance.
A1 has 11 data packages, of which 1 allows you to use A1’s 4G/LTE network:
- 19 MKD: 100 MB for 24 hours. Activation: text DEN START to 1410
- 39 MKD: 1 GB for 24 hours. Activation: text DEN PROMO START to 1410
- 49 MKD: 200 MB for 7 days. Activation: text NEDELA 200 MB to 1410
- 79 MKD: 1 GB for 7 days. Activation: text NEDELA 1 GB to 1410
- 99 MKD: 500 MB for 30 days. Activation: text MESEC 500 MB to 1410
- 119 MKD: 2 GB for 7 days. Activation: text PROMO to 1410
- 199 MKD: 2 GB for 30 days. Activation: text MESEC 1 GB to 1410
- 399 MKD: 6 GB for 30 days. Activation: text MESEC 3 GB to 1410
- 499 MKD: 10 GB for 30 days. Activation: text START MESECN 10 GB to 1410
- 999 MKD: 15 GB for 30 days. Activation: text START MESECN 15 GB to 1410
- 999 MKD: 15 GB (4G) for 30 days. Activation: text 4G to 1410
Do note that these plans auto-renew if there is enough credit.
You can also get a USB stick that comes with mobile data. There are 3 monthly variants:
- 499 MKD: 5 GB at 5 Mbps download/1 Mbps upload
- 999 MKD: 20 GB at 20 Mbps download/5 Mbps upload
- 1999 MKD: 60 GB at 60 Mbps download/20 Mbps upload
If you are out of data, your speeds will be reduced to 64 Kbps, which is extremely slow for modern data usage. You also have the following data add-ons in case you are out high-speed data. These add-ons are valid until your plan renews:
- 99 MKD: 1 GB. Activation: text 1GB to 140444
- 249 MKD: 3 GB. Activation: text 3GB to 140444
Lycamobile North Macedonia
Lycamobile North Macedonia, just Lycamobile, is an MVNO using the A1 network. Lycamobile, as a brand, is known for offering low rates for international calls abroad.
You can get a Lycamobile SIM card for free in Lycamobile stores, convenience stores, and gas stations. However, you are expected to top-up the SIM card before you get it. Top-up vouchers are sold in any place that features the Lycamobile logo at the storefront, and it can be done online.
Lycamobile has National Bundles, Data Bundles, and International Bundles. Be aware that you can often get 50% off a bundle for the 1st month if you purchase the package with a new SIM card online.
Lycamobile National Bundles
Lycamobile has 11 National Bundles, and 10 of them come with data. You have the following options:
- 79 MKD: 1 GB and unlimited on-net calls and SMS for 7 days. Activation: dial *139*1071# or text 1071 to 3535
- 99 MKD: 100 MB, 50 local minutes, and 50 local SMS for 7 days. Activation: dial *139*1072# or text 1072 to 3535
- 149 MKD: 1 GB and unlimited local calls and SMS for 7 days. Activation: dial *139*1073# or text 1073 to 3535
- 279 MKD: 500 MB, 100 local minutes, unlimited on-net minutes, 100 local SMS, and unlimited on-net SMS for 30 days. Activation: dial *139*1021# or text 1021 to 3535
- 349 MKD: 1 GB, 100 local minutes, unlimited on-net minutes, 100 local SMS, and unlimited local SMS for 30 days. Activation: dial *139*1024# or text 1024 to 3535
- 489 MKD: 2 GB, 200 local minutes, unlimited on-net minutes, 200 local SMS, and unlimited on-net SMS for 30 days. Activation: dial *139*1022# or text 1022 to 3535
- 499 MKD: 5 GB and unlimited local calls and SMS for 30 days. Activation: dial *139*1023# or text 1023 to 3535
- 500 MKD: 10 GB and unlimited local calls for 30 days. Activation: dial *139*1026# or text 1026 to 3535
- 699 MKD: 10 GB and unlimited local calls and SMS for 30 days. Activation: dial *139*1026# or text 1026 to 3535
- 699 MKD: 15 GB and unlimited local calls and SMS for 30 days. Activation: dial *139*1025# or text 1025 to 3535
Lycamobile Data Bundles
The Data Bundles are data-only packages. There are 4 of them:
- 59 MKD: 1 GB for 7 days. Activation: dial *139*1007# or text 1007 to 3535
- 99 MKD: 3 GB for 7 days. Activation: dial *139*1032# or text 1032 to 3535
- 249 MKD: 6 GB for 30 days. Activation: dial *139*1005# or text 1005 to 3535
- 399 MKD: 8 GB for 30 days. Activation: dial *139*1006# or text 1006 to 3535
Lycamobile International Bundles
The International bundles come with data, local minutes, and international minutes to select destinations. There are 4 monthly international bundles, of which 2 of them come with data:
- 499 MKD: 1 GB, unlimited on-net minutes, and 100 international minutes. Activation: dial *139*1041# or text 1041 to 3535
- 699 MKD: 2 GB, unlimited on-net minutes, and 100 international minutes. Activation: dial *139*1042# or text 1042 to 3535
The international minutes can be used to the following 23 destinations:
- Hong Kong
- The Netherlands
- Puerto Rico
- The United Kingdom
- The United States
Telekabel is a television operator and an internet service provider. They started as an MVNO, on the Telekom Makedonski network, in 2019, making them the newest MVNO in the country.
Because the operator is still young, there is not much known about them. I assume you can get your Telekabel SIM card in Telekabel stores.
The following 3 monthly combo packages are available:
- 300 MKD: 1 GB and 200 local minutes
- 500 MKD: 10 GB and 500 local minutes
- 1500 MKD: Unlimited data and unlimited local calls
Other Ways to Stay Connected When Traveling in North Macedonia
So far, you have been informed about the SIM card options in North Macedonia. However, that is not the only way to be online in North Macedonia. I have already briefly mentioned that you can roam with your provider, although it can be expensive in most cases. Besides that, you can use free WIFI connections, mobile hotspots, or international SIM cards.
Roaming in North Macedonia with Your Provider
Roaming is a term used in wireless telecommunication that indicates a mobile device is outside the range of its home network and has connected to a different, available cell network. Let’s say your provider is Vodafone Iceland, then you would be roaming with Vodafone Iceland in North Macedonia.
You may have read horror stories of people coming back from a lovely holiday, only to be confronted with a roaming bill in the thousands. This can still be the case if you do not review your roaming options before going on a holiday. Luckily for you, I have written about the roaming options you have with various providers around the world, which you can read here.
Some operators offer roaming plans. Others allow you to roam for free in North Macedonia, while several operators let you use your plan’s allowance for a daily fee. As you can see, roaming does not have to be a horrific experience. If your provider is generous and lets you roam for free in North Macedonia, then you do not even need a local SIM card (although I would still recommend doing so, as your connection speed will be much slower as a roamer than someone who is a customer of the network).
No idea how roaming works? I made this comprehensive guide about what roaming is and how it works. It is worth the read – promised!
Pay As You Go roaming should be avoided, as that is how travelers get high roaming bills. One provider charges you about 1000 USD per GB in certain destinations, which is insane. If you really want to roam, check whether your provider has attractive roaming plans. Else, you will be better off with buying a local SIM card.
Using Free WIFI connections in North Macedonia
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. Nothing beats free stuff, right? Well, not so fast.
First, you need to find hotspots in North Macedonia. In some countries of cities, you will find so many hotspots that you can try them out one by one and find the one with the fastest speeds. In other places, however, WIFI connections do not seem to exist.
In the case of North Macedonia, you can find many hotspots in Skopje.
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 or learn more about NordVPN.
Using a Pocket WIFI (Mobile Hotspot) in North Macedonia
Pocket WIFI is a portable, 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.
Many companies have created mobile hotspots (just have a quick search on Amazon, for example, you will find many). Skyroam and Travelwifi are reputable pocket WIFI providers I know. You can get a discount if you rent a router through Skyroam by using coupon code PHONETRAVELWIZ. Cellular access with Skyroam starts at $8 a day. Travelwifi offers Teppy, the name of the pocket WIFI, starting from $7 per day. All these services cover more than 130 destinations around the world.
I recently wrote an article analyzing the 7 Best Mobile Hotspots for Travelers like yourself, which should be an interesting read if pocket WIFI is something you are considering. I do reviews of individual devices every now and then, so check out my mobile hotspot category to stay up to date.
Getting an International SIM card for Traveling in North Macedonia
International SIM cards are, as the name implies, SIM cards for international use. Well, that does not explain anything. Although most providers allow you to use your card abroad, some actually restrict this possibility. An international SIM card lets you go abroad without having to change SIM cards when visiting multiple destinations. They have been made with the traveler in mind.
All of this sounds lovely, but international SIM cards are much more expensive than local SIM cards in North Macedonia. Not only that, some offer poor service as well for high rates. Some reputable companies I know are OneSimCard, SimOptions, Surfroam, BNESIM, and SimCorner.
International SIM cards are appealing to those who travel frequently or are visiting multiple destinations in one trip. Many countries in Europe require you to register before you can use a SIM card, which can be a hassle for some. Additionally, the language barrier may be off-putting to some travelers, which is why an international SIM card can be handy. You order it before you depart and can use it in various destinations.
My recommendation, however, is to get a local SIM card if you are only visiting one destination. If you are visiting multiple ones, an international SIM card could be handy. If you want to learn more about international SIM cards, check out my international SIM card comparison article, where I analyze 10 international SIM card providers so that you do not have to.
The Preferred Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in North Macedonia
Getting a SIM card from A1 would do you well when considering a North Macedonian SIM card. Be sure to explore the roaming options your provider offers you, as they may offer free or cheap roaming bundles.
You could also consider getting an international SIM card or using a portable hotspot. International SIM cards are attractive for those visiting multiple destinations at once or within a year. Portable hotspots will be useful when traveling with multiple people so that not each individual has to get a SIM card but can use the hotspot.
Visiting other countries in Southern Europe? Check out my Southern Europe SIM card buying guide, covering other South European countries, such as Albania, Andorra, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Gibraltar, Greece, Italy, Malta, Montenegro, Portugal, San Marino, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, and the Vatican City (Holy See).
What about other places in Europe? My Europe SIM card buying guide covers all European destinations, such as Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Russia, Switzerland, and Turkey.
Going to other places around the world? Then you should also check out my sim card buying guides for other destinations around the world.
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 North Macedonia
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 North Macedonia.
Although low-cost carriers are a big thing in Europe, they are not the best way to experience Europe. Everyone knows that the European railway system is awesome. InterRail/EURail makes it much easier to explore Europe by train by having one ticket for participating countries instead of having to buy multiple tickets per country. InterRail is for European citizens and EURail is for non-European citizens.
Book Your Accommodation for North Macedonia
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 North Macedonia. At least, that is how I see it. Moreover, Airbnb can often be much cheaper than staying in a North Macedonian hotel.
Get Your Travel Insurance for North Macedonia
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 North Macedonia, 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 the local currency 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.
Enjoy your trip!