The British Virgin Islands, also known as simply the Virgin Islands or BVI, is a British Overseas Territory in the Caribbean. They should not be confused with the US Virgin Islands, which is a territory of the United States.
The British Virgin Islands is, besides is attractions, known for being a tax haven. However, that should not be a reason not to visit it.
Tortola is the largest island in the British Virgin Island and also has the capital called Road Town. You can find many yachts there and beautiful white-sand beaches.
Jost Van Dyke is a great spot for sailing and has many dive sites. Anegada is a coral island with flamingoes and lobsters. Being in the British Virgin Islands will be an experience not to forget.
What will also not an experience you will forget is getting an expensive roaming bill from roaming with your provider in the British Virgin Islands. Roaming can be expensive in many cases, which is why many travelers prefer to buy local SIM cards, even in the British Virgin Islands.
In this article, I will go over everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in the British Virgin Islands. Let's get this done.
Telecom Providers in the British Virgin Islands
The British Virgin Islands has 3 telecom providers; Digicel BVI, Flow British Virgil Islands, and CCT Wireless. All operators have 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE networks.
What SIM card should you buy when visiting the British Virgin Islands? If you want to buy a SIM card in the British Virgin Islands, I would recommend going with any operator. They all have good coverage and speeds throughout the islands. The prices of the operators are similar, and they all over a few unique perks that the other operators do not offer. As a result, there is no explicit best operator in the British Virgin Islands.
Like most countries in the Caribbean, you have to show your passport when buying a SIM card in the British Virgin Islands.
There is not much more to say about the British Virgin Islands, so let’s see what the British Virgin Islands have to offer to us.
Tip: Looking for cheap flights? Book with AirWander and add stopovers! Not in a hurry yet? Set up flight alerts with Airfarewatchdog and get notified when ticket prices for your preferred route(s) drop!
Digicel BVI, just Digicel, has become the most popular provider since they entered the British Virgin Islands in 2008. Before that, Flow British Virgin Islands had a monopoly. Now, Digicel has a market share of almost 50% and provides excellent coverage throughout the islands.
You can buy a Digicel SIM card for $20 in Digicel stores. Recharge cards are sold all over the nation. You can also top-up online with a credit card or with PayPal. To check your balance, dial *120#.
Digicel has several Big Data Bundles, which are their combo plans. Most plans offer minutes and SMS. The following Big Data Bundles are available:
- $5: 1 GB and unlimited on-net calls for 1 day
- $15: 1 GB and 1 GB App Data, unlimited on-net minutes, 15 minutes Flex Talk, and unlimited on-net SMS for 3 days
- $30: 3 GB and 1.5 GB App Data, unlimited on-net minutes, 150 minutes Flex Talk, and unlimited on-net SMS for 3 days
- $80: 8 GB and 3 GB App Data, unlimited on-net minutes, 300 minutes Flex Talk, and unlimited on-net SMS for 3 days
You can activate a Digicel Big Data Bundle by dialing *284# or on the My Digicel App.
What does App Data and Flex Talk mean?
- Digicel App Data is a separate data allowance for SMAX, PlayGo, and D’Music
- Digicel Flex Talk allows you to call to any local off-net number, call to Canada, Digicel Caribbean, Puerto Rico, the United Kingdom (fixed lines only), the United States, and the US Virgin Islands
Digicel Caribbean includes the following territories:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- The Cayman Islands
- French Guiana
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Saint Lucia
- Saint Vincent and Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
- Turks and Caicos
Finally, these Big Data Bundles allow you to add a SWIFT bundle (Snapchat, WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter). Once you have added SWIFT, data usage from those apps will not count towards your data bundle.
The $15 plan (1 day) can add SWIFT for $3, the $30 plan (7 days) for $5, and the $80 (30 days) plan for $15.
Only need data? Then a Digicel LTE Mobile Data plan may be attractive:
- $3: 75 MB for 1 day
- $11: 350 MB for 7 days
- $19: 750 MB for 7 days
- $22: 750 MB for 30 days
- $30: 1.5 GB for 30 days
- $45: 3 GB for 30 days
- $75: 5 GB for 30 days
You can buy a Digicel LTE Mobile Data Plan by dialing *284# or on the My Digicel App.
Flow British Virgin Islands
Flow British Virgin Islands, just Flow, is the original provider in the British Virgin Islands and held a monopoly for a long time. Now, it is on the second spot in terms of subscribers.
Flow SIM cards are sold for $20 in Flow stores. Ask for the 4G SIM card if you plan on using Flow’s 4G/LTE network. Top-up cards between $6 to $55 are sold in many stores throughout the nation, but you can also top-up online. Check your balance by dialing *120#.
Flow offers several Always On Prepaid Plans, which are their combo plans that come with unlimited social messaging (SWIFT – Snapchat, WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter):
- $5: 1 GB, 25 minutes, and 25 SMS for 1 day. Activation: dial *244*0#
- $12: 1 GB, 200 minutes, and 200 SMS for 3 days. Activation: dial *244*1#
- $28: 3 GB, 350 minutes, and 350 SMS for 7 days. Activation: dial *244*2#
- $85: 10 GB, 1000 minutes, and 1000 SMS for 30 days. Activation: dial *244*3#
Only want data? You can get one of Flow’s Prepaid Data Plans:
- $3: 100 MB for 1 day
- $10: 500 MB for 3 days
- $20: 3 GB for 7 days
- $32 1.5 GB for 30 days
- $50: 4 GB for 30 days
CCT Wireless is, unlike Digicel and Flow, a local operator. They were the first operator to offer 4G/LTE in the British Virgin Islands.
You can get a CCT Wireless SIM card for $20 in CCT stores. Recharge vouchers are widely available, and you can top up online.
CCT has several CCT Hero Plans, which are their combo plans that come with local calls, calls to Puerto Rico, the United States, and the US Virgin Islands. Additionally, unlimited SMS is offered. CCT Hero Plans can be activated by dialing *611#:
- $5: 300 MB and 50 minutes for 1 day
- $30: 2 GB and 300 minutes for 7 days
- $70: 4 GB and 750 minutes for 30 days
CCT Wireless allows you to make your own plan with local minutes, calls to Puerto Rico; the United States; and US Virgin Islands; or minutes to the Dominican Republic. Additionally, data can be added or bought without any voice option:
- $2.50: 100 MB for 2 days
- $10: 500 MB for 7 days
- $20: 2 GB for 30 days
You can set up your own plan in a CCT store, online, or by dialing *611#.
Other Ways to Stay Connected When Traveling in the British Virgin Islands
Now you know everything about buying a SIM card in the British Virgin Islands, but what are your other options? Although buying a local SIM card is almost always the cheapest option, the cheapest option would be using free WIFI connections in the British Virgin Islands, but you can also roam with your provider in the British Virgin Islands, use an international SIM card in the British Virgin Islands, or use a mobile hotspot in the British Virgin Islands. Let’s see what our options are.
Using Free WIFI hotspots in the British Virgin Islands
Using something free is always better than paying for something. However, sometimes, free stuff may be of bad quality. Sure, you do not have to pay anything for using a free hotspot (unless you are required to purchase a beverage or meal at an establishment), but it may be a challenge to find a free hotspot. Moreover, the connection may be so slow that it is practically useless.
In the case of the British Virgin Islands, you can find many hotspots throughout the islands.
Do note that public hotspots are unsecure. Hackers love to steal sensitive information on unprotected connections because it is apparently easy to do so. That is why I use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when using a public hotspot, and I would encourage you to do so too.
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 NordVPN subscription now!
Roaming with Your Provider in the British Virgin Islands
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 Moldcell from Moldova, then you would be roaming with Moldcell in the British Virgin Islands.
Roaming may be the most convenient way of using your phone abroad. You do not have to buy a new SIM card, which, in turn, means you do not have to swap SIM cards. As a result, your friends and family from home can easily reach you on your cell. With many providers, the only thing you need to do is to turn on the data roaming setting on your phone, and you are good to go.
No idea how roaming works? I made this comprehensive guide about what roaming is and how it works. It is worth the read – promised!
Although roaming with your provider may be the most convenient way of staying connected in the British Virgin Islands, it can also be the most expensive option. There have been many horror stories where people have racked up roaming bills up in the thousands and even more than ten thousand.
Luckily, many providers have affordable roaming plans, allow you to roam for free in some destinations like the British Virgin Islands, or allow you to use your plan’s allowance in the British Virgin Islands. For example, with Virgin Mobile Canada, you can use your plan’s allowance for 12 Canadian dollars per day. This may be affordable in some destinations for a small number of days, but it will be expensive for prolonged periods.
If you are unsure about the roaming options of your provider, I have written many articles about roaming with various operators around the world. I analyze them in-depth and give you my advice on whether you should roam with your provider or not. If yes, I also state for how long you should roam to take the most advantage of the offer.
One thing that should be avoided at all costs is to Pay As You Go roaming where you pay per minute, SMS, or MB. This is how many people get expensive roaming bills because the roaming prices for data are usually extremely high.
If you want to roam, make sure to get a roaming plan. Unless your provider offers extremely low Pay As You Go roaming rates, which is only a handful of providers, then you can consider doing so. Furthermore, if your provider lets you roam for free in the British Virgin Islands, then you should go for it. Just note that your speeds will be lower as a roamer than if you were to buy a the British Virgin Islands SIM card.
Using an International SIM Card in the British Virgin Islands
International SIM cards are SIM cards that work internationally. Most SIM cards do work abroad, but then you have to roam with your provider. International SIM cards, however, let’s you use one SIM card in many destinations around the world for, often, the same price. This way, your friends and families can still reach out to you while traveling.
International SIM cards are, however, much more expensive than buying a local SIM card in many cases, but they are often cheaper than to roam with your provider. There are many international SIM card providers out there, but a few providers I can recommend are OneSimCard, SimOptions, Surfroam, BNESIM, and SimCorner.
International SIM cards are useful for those who frequently travel for leisure or for business. That way, everyone can reach you on one number instead of a handful of local numbers scattered around the world.
Moreover, many destinations in the world require you to register yourself before you can buy a local SIM card. In some countries, the process is quick, while others require much more of your time. Furthermore, the registration process may be cumbersome in countries.
Finally, the language barrier may be off-putting to some. It can be a challenge dealing with a salesperson who does not understand you. They may try and sell you the most expensive option out there. Luckily, you know the prices of SIM cards and packs in the British Virgin Islands, so you cannot be taken advantage of.
My recommendation, however, is to get a local SIM card if you are only visiting one destination. If you are visiting multiple destinations in one trip, 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.
Using a Mobile Hotspot in the British Virgin Islands
A mobile hotspot 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, Vision Global Wireless, 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 while using a Vision Global device starts at $2 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 often recommend mobile hotspots to those who are traveling in groups or with families. They can save groups a lot of money if they are visiting destinations where buying multiple SIM cards would become an expensive endeavor.
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.
The Best Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in the British Virgin Islands
Getting a SIM card from either Digicel, Flow, or CCT Wireless would do you well when considering a British Virgin Islands 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 like OneSimCard, SimOptions, Surfroam, BNESIM, and SimCorner are attractive for those visiting multiple destinations at once or within a year. Portable hotspots like Skyroam, Vision Global Wireless, and Travelwifi 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 the Caribbean? Check out my Caribbean SIM card buying guide covering the other Oceanian destinations, such as Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, the Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Bonaire, the Cayman Islands, Cuba, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, French West Indies, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Puerto Rico, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin (French) & Sint Maarten (Dutch), Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, and Turks and Caicos. 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 the British Virgin Islands
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 the British Virgin Islands. If you are not ready to take off yet, set up flight alerts with Airfarewatchdog, and they will notify you once ticket prices to the British Virgin Islands drop.
Book Your Accommodation for the British Virgin Islands
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 the British Virgin Islands. At least, that is how I see it. Moreover, Airbnb can often be much cheaper than staying in a British Virgin Islands hotel.
Get Your Travel Insurance for the British Virgin Islands
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 the British Virgin Islands, 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!