Uzbekistan is a unique country on its own. Mosques in Samarkand, the Timur Museum in Tashkent, and the Ark citadel in Bukhara. There is so much history in Uzbekistan – a history lover will not be bored when exploring this country.
What you may not want to do, however, is roaming with your provider. Roaming can be expensive in many cases, which is why many travelers prefer to buy a local SIM card so that they can enjoy local rates. In this article, I will go over everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in Tajikistan. Let's do this.
Telecom Providers in Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan has 4 telecom providers; Ucell, Beeline Uzbekistan, Mobiuz, and UzMobile. All operators have 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE networks. You may have read that UzMobile is a CDMA-only operator, but that has changed since 2015, so they are a provider you can consider now.
Perfectum and EVO that use CDMA and WiMAX, respectively, which are not compatible with GSM (which is what most phones use nowadays). Therefore, they will not be discussed in this article.
What SIM card should you buy when visiting Uzbekistan? If you want to buy a SIM card in Uzbekistan, I would recommend going with Ucell because they have the best coverage throughout Uzbekistan.
Just like other countries in Central Asia, you need to show your passport when buying a SIM card. It is recommended to buy your card at an official outlet so that you do not get a SIM card registered to someone else’s name (and you may get a package/deal you cannot do anything with).
Do note that plans in Uzbekistan are usually daily. However, weekly and monthly packages are also sold. The validity of each pack will clearly be mentioned when discussing the operators in detail.
Some operators may ask for a confirmation that you are staying in a hotel, so bring that with you if you can to speed the process up.
With that said, let’s see what Uzbekistan has 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!
Ucell is the largest operator in Uzbekistan in terms of subscribers. They also have the most extensive network in the country, which is why they are recommended to visitors. 4G/LTE can be found in some of the larger cities, while 2G and 3G cover most of the population.
An Ucell SIM card is sold for 3000 UZS ($0.30), 4500 UZS ($0.45), or 6000 UZS ($0.60). The first SIM comes with no balance, whereas the others come with 1500 UZS and 3000 UZS in credit, respectively.
Ucell sells SIM cards to travelers like you in these locations. Your passport and hotel registration is required when purchasing a SIM.
The following daily Ucell data packs can be added, which automatically renew:
- 337 UZS: 1 MB
- 590 UZS: 8 MB
- 842 UZS: 15 MB
- 1474 UZS: 35 MB
- 1895 UZS: 55 MB
- 2947 UZS: 85 MB
- 3579 UZS: 110 MB
- 4210 UZS: 130 MB
You can also select one of these Ucell weekly plans:
- 8420 UZS: 80 MB
- 12 630 UZS: 160 MB
- 16 840 UZS: 320 MB
Finally, Ucell 30-day and 60-day packs are available, which are listed below:
- 5263 UZS: 50 MB for 30 days
- 12 630 UZS: 150 MB for 30 days
- 18 945 UZS: 300 MB for 30 days
- 25 260 UZS: 500 MB for 30 days
- 42 100 UZS: 1 GB for 30 days
- 50 520 UZS: 1.5 GB for 30 days
- 63 150 UZS: 2 GB for 30 days
- 105 250 UZS: 4 GB for 30 days
- 147 350 UZS: 8 GB for 60 days
- 189 450 UZS: 16 GB for 60 days
- 231 550 UZS: 32 GB for 60 days
- 294 700 UZS: 64 GB for 60 days
In areas where 4G/LTE is available, you can add the following monthly Ucell 4G/LTE packs:
- 42 UZS: 5 GB (only once to try Ucell’s 4G/LTE network)
- 63 150 UZS: 5 GB
- 105 250 UZS: 10 GB
Beeline Uzbekistan, just Beeline, covers around 90% of the population with its 2G network and more than 55% with their 3G network. 4G/LTE can be found in major towns. The best SIM card for data costs 280 UZS per week and comes with nothing included. The following short-term data packs can be added:
- 1390 UZS: 30 MB for 1 day
- 4210 UZS: 150 MB for 1 day
- 5052 UZS: 50 MB for 7 days
- 9262 UZS: 200 MB for 7 days
You can also add one of the following monthly Beeline packs:
- 7157 UZS: 60 MB
- 13 472 UZS: 260 MB
- 23 155 UZS: 800 MB
- 31 575 UZS: 1.5 GB
- 42 100 UZS: 2.1 GB
- 54 730 UZS: 4 GB
- 84 200 UZS: 6 GB
- 113 670 UZS: 8.5 GB
- 138 930 UZS: 13 GB
If you want a lot of data that is specifically designed for 4G/LTE, you can get one of their 4G packs that also work on Beeline’s 2G and 3G networks:
- 168 400 UZS: 15 GB
- 210 500 UZS: 30 GB
- 252 600 UZS: 60 GB
You can also get a Beeline tourist SIM called Welcome. The SIM card costs 30 000 UZS per 32 days and comes with 3 GB, 1 GB for Telegram, WhatsApp, and Viber, and 100 minutes. This plan can be extended by visiting a Beeline store.
Mobiuz, formerly known as UMS, started to rebrand in 2019. It is the third operator in Uzbekistan. Their coverage is rather limited, and you should only consider going with them if staying in the bigger cities and towns. A Mobiuz SIM card is sold for 5000 UZS and comes with the same amount in credit. A base plan has to be added. The cheapest plan costs 169 UZS per day. The following daily data packs can be added:
- 4111 UZS: 50 MB
- 6316 UZS: 100 MB
You can also add one of the following Mobiuz weekly plans:
- 8421 UZS: 100 MB
- 12 632 UZS: 200 MB
- 16 842 UZS: 300 MB
Finally, monthly Mobiuz packs can be added:
- 18 947 UZS: 300 MB
- 25 262 UZS: 500 MB
- 33 383 UZS: 1 GB
- 50 525 UZS: 2 GB
- 67 366 UZS: 3 GB
- 84 207 UZS: 5 GB
- 126 311 UZS: 10 GB
- 227 358 UZS: 20 GB
Mobiuz also sells the Uzbekistan pass, which is their tourist SIM. For 5 USD or 21 000 UZD, you get 2 GB and 50 minutes. For 10 USD or 42 000 UZD, you will get 5 GB and 100 minutes. Unfortunately, I do not know how long these plans last.
UzTelecom (formerly UzMobile)
UzTelecom, formerly UzMobile, is owned by a state-owned company. They are the smallest operator with the “worst” coverage, although it is improving with the development of their 4G/LTE network. A monthly base plan has to be added, which are listed below. They come with some perks, although some are not interesting for those who want data:
- 10 USZ: 10 MB and 10 minutes per month
- 3360 UZS: 40 MB
- 33 600 UZS: 1200 on-net minutes, 600 domestic minutes, and 2 GB
- 99 000: 20 GB
The following UzTelecom data packs can be added:
- 2940 UZS: 50 MB for 24 hours
- 6310 UZS: 150 MB for 24 hours
- 10 000 UZS: 500 MB for 30 days
- 11 360 UZS: 300 MB for 24 hours
- 15 000 UZS: 1.5 GB for 30 days
- 24 000 UZS: 3 GB for 30 days
- 32 000 UZS: 5 GB for 30 days
- 41 000 UZS: 8 GB for 30 days
- 50 000 UZS: 12 GB for 30 days
- 65 000 UZS: 20 GB for 30 days
- 75 000 UZS: 30 GB for 30 days
- 85 000 UZS 50 GB for 30 days
- 110 000 UZS: 75 GB for 30 days
Other Ways to Stay Connected When Traveling in Uzbekistan
I have discussed the relevant providers in Uzbekistan in this article because using an Uzbek SIM card would be much cheaper than roaming with your provider… in most cases. However, buying a local SIM card is not the only way to stay connected in Uzbekistan. You can buy an international SIM card, use a mobile hotspot, or use free WIFI connections. Below, I will discuss the alternative options to use your phone in Uzbekistan.
Roaming in Uzbekistan 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 Tcell from Tajikistan, then you would be roaming with Tcell in Uzbekistan.
The issue with roaming is that it can be expensive. There have been many horror stories where people had to pay thousands in roaming fees when coming back from their holidays, which is just a shame, in my opinion. However, roaming does not always have to be expensive, especially when visiting a neighboring country.
Many providers offer roaming plans. Some allow you to roam for free in Uzbekistan, while others would offer you a roaming bundle with a set number of minutes, SMS, and data. Finally, several operators let you use your plan’s allowance for a daily fee.
As you can see, there are many options out there, so be sure to explore the roaming options your provider has. Conveniently for you, I have reviewed the roaming options of many providers (and many more to come) and discussed everything you need to know about roaming with your provider. If you are lucky, you may not even have to buy a SIM card in Uzbekistan and can roam for free there.
No idea how roaming works? I made this comprehensive guide about what roaming is and how it works. It is worth the read – promised!
One thing I would not recommend doing is to Roam As You Go. Just like prepaid cards where you can buy bundles or Pay As You Go (as in, charged per minute, SMS, or MB), Roaming As You Go can be insanely expensive (that is how people get expensive roaming bills). So far, there are a handful of providers I have reviewed that offer affordable Roam As You Go rates. But generally, avoid it. Get a roaming plan if you can or buy a SIM in Uzbekistan.
Using an International SIM Card in Uzbekistan
International SIM cards are cards that have been made for travelers so that they do not have to deal with roaming costs.
The number of international SIM card providers is too many to count, but international SIM cards give you the same convenience as roaming with your provider. A few providers I know are OneSimCard, SimOptions, and Surfroam.
They allow people to call you at one number instead of five in case you are exploring multiple countries in one trip. Moreover, you do not have to deal with multiple SIM cards you will never use again. In short, international SIM cards have been made for the international traveler in mind.
Although this sounds fabulous, international SIM cards are much more expensive than local SIM cards in Uzbekistan. Some international SIM card providers charge ridiculous fees (sometimes, even more than roaming with your provider), while others offer awful service. It is, therefore, important to go with a reputable company so that you do not have to deal with surprised when traveling around the world.
On the other hand, international SIM cards are appealing to those who travel frequently or are visiting multiple destinations in one trip. All countries in Central Asia 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.
Using Portable Hotspots (Pocket WIFI) in Uzbekistan
Portable hotspots, also referred to mobile hotspots or pocket WIFI, are routers small enough to bring with you everywhere you go. They are portable, battery-powered wireless routers that allow 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.
Just like with the number of international SIM card providers, there are so many mobile hotspots out there that it is challenging to keep track of them all. Skyroam and Vision Global Wireless are reputable pocket WIFI providers. 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. Both services cover more than 130 destinations around the world.
The first time I used a portable hotspot was when I was in Bangkok, Thailand, with my dad. He uses the Dutch telecom provider called KPN, which does not let you roam for free in Thailand. I was with 3 Denmark (3 Danmark), which also did not allow me to roam for free. The router was offered for free by our Airbnb host. Let me tell you how convenient that thing was!
I do not remember the exact brand router we used, but we could connect our phones to it, explore Bangkok, and upload highlights of our trip on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and WhatsApp without the need of connecting to unsecure and slow connections in Thailand.
That is why I often recommend those who are traveling in groups or with families to consider getting a pocket WIFI device so that each individual does not need to buy a local SIM card and data packages. In some countries, the cost of getting a local SIM card or packages is so low that it is not even worth getting a mobile hotspot. In others, it could save you money.
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.
Connecting to Free WIFI Networks in Uzbekistan
Finally, we have the most cost-effective way to stay connected in Uzbekistan which is using free WIFI networks.
Using WIFI networks should not cost you any money (unless you are connecting to premium hotspots), which is why it is a popular option for travelers. Go to a local café, buy a coffee, connect to their WIFI, and post your pictures to Facebook or Instagram. Straightforward, right? Well, let’s see if that is indeed the case.
First, you need to find hotspots. In some regions, they are readily available. In others, you cannot find any, require you to give your personal details (for commercial purposes), are restricted for those who are a subscriber of an operator’s, or are so slow that you wished you never connected to them.
In the case of Uzbekistan, you can find many hotspots in the big cities. Some of them are slow, while others are excellent.
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.
The Best Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in Uzbekistan
Getting a SIM card from Ucell would do you well when considering an Uzbek 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 places in the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States)? Check out my CIS SIM card buying guide, covering the CIS with nations like Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
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 Uzbekistan
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 Uzbekistan. If you are not ready to take off yet, set up flight alerts with Airfarewatchdog, and they will notify you once ticket prices to Uzbekistan drop.
Book Your Accommodation for Uzbekistan
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 Uzbekistan. At least, that is how I see it. Moreover, Airbnb can often be much cheaper than staying in a Uzbek hotel.
Get Your Travel Insurance for Uzbekistan
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 Uzbekistan, 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 currency of your destination 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!