Tuvalu is a small island nation in Oceania consisting of 9 islands. Although tiny, it is not a boring destination for those who love beaches, as you will find them anywhere.
While the temperature seems to be stable throughout the year, the rainy season from November to April makes it a relatively seasonal travel destination.
Many travelers prefer to buy local SIM cards because roaming with your provider can be expensive in many cases, including Tuvalu. That is why I will go over everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in Tuvalu so that you can avoid those expensive roaming rates. Let's investigate.
Telecom Provider in Tuvalu
Tuvalu has 1 telecom provider, which is Tuvalu Telecom Corporation (TTC). TTC runs 3G and 4G/LTE networks on the main islands. Initially, TTC relied on two relatively slow satellite connections for its mobile internet. Nowadays, speeds have significantly improved, but you should not expect insanely fast speeds because Tuvalu still uses satellites instead of submarine cables.
What SIM card should you buy when visiting the Tuvalu? If you want to buy a SIM card in Tuvalu, your only choice would be Tuvalu Telecom Corporation.
The main issue with the internet in Tuvalu is bandwidth. The more people who are trying to use the web, the slower the experience will be for everyone else. Bandwidth should be improved over the coming years, but you will not be able to enjoy high-speed 4G/LTE speeds like other nations in Oceania, like Australia.
Like most nations in Oceania, you do not have to show your passport when buying a SIM card in Tuvalu.
With that said, let’s see what TTC has to offer.
Tuvalu Telecom Corporation (TTC)
Tuvalu Telecom Corporation, just TTC, has a monopoly on broadband internet and mobile internet. Coverage can be found on Funafuti, Nukulaelae, and Vaitupu. TTC got rid of its 2G network because of capacity issues.
Right now, their 3G can only handle a handful of current data connections and calls, so do not be surprised when you cannot make calls or use the web. 4G/LTE can only be found in the capital of Tuvalu, Funafuti.
You can buy a TTC SIM card at the main office of Tuvalu Telecom, which is close to close to Funafuti International Airport. Opening hours are 9 AM until 3 PM on weekdays, 10 AM until 1 PM on Saturdays, and 2 PM to 5 PM un Sundays – do not wait too long with buying your SIM card.
TTC SIM cards cost 10 AUD ($6.70) and come with 5 AUD in credit. Recharge cards can be bought at TTC stores. To redeem your voucher, dial *211*VOUCHER CODE# and your voucher will be activated. For example, if my voucher code is 123456, I would dial *211*123456#. You can check your balance by dialing *767#. Standard Pay As You Go data rates are 0.05 AUD per MB or 51.20 AUD per GB. You would be better off buying one of the following monthly data packs:
- 5 AUD: 250 MB (for 15 days)
- 10 AUD: 700 MB (for 15 days)
- 20 AUD: 1 GB
- 50 AUD: 2.5 GB
- 100 AUD: 5 GB
- 200 AUD: 12 GB
- 300 AUD: 18 GB
- 500 AUD: 32 GB
- 750 AUD: 60 GB
As you can see, mobile data is expensive in Tuvalu. You can activate your pack of choice by texting HELP to 123.
If you need to change your TTC APN settings manually, then you need to add the following under APN, username, and password: “ttc”.
TTC’ WIFI hotspots provide faster speeds than mobile data. You can read more about their WIFI hotspots in the Free WIFI connections section of this article.
Other Ways to Stay Connected When Traveling in Tuvalu
The Preferred Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in Tuvalu
Getting a SIM card from TTC would be your only choice when considering a Tuvaluan 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 Oceania? Check out my Oceanian SIM card buying guide covering the other Oceanian destinations, such as American Samoa, Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati, Micronesia, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu, and Wallis and Futuna. 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 Tuvalu
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 Tuvalu. If you are not ready to take off yet, set up flight alerts with Airfarewatchdog, and they will notify you once ticket prices to Tuvalu drop.
Book Your Accommodation for Tuvalu
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 Tuvalu. At least, that is how I see it. Moreover, Airbnb can often be much cheaper than staying in a Tuvaluan hotel.
Get Your Travel Insurance for Tuvalu
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 Tuvalu, 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 Australian Dollars 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!