If you are coming to China for travel, work, study or living – chances are you’ll need a local SIM card to access the internet and make phone calls. Popular messaging apps like WeChat rely on internet data to function. Unless it’s an emergency we would advise you to not buy a SIM card at the Airport.
There are two leading mobile carriers in China:
StayInShanghai customers benefit from our special aftercare service. If you are a StayInShanghai customer, we can personally assist you with applying for a SIM card and picking the best deals suited to your needs to ensure a smooth and easy process.
When applying for a SIM card in an official carrier store it is important you bring the following documents:
Note: Temporary residence permit is not required but recommended as your exact Chinese address is needed when registering a SIM card. Usually it’s the easiest solution to bring the permit along.
Usually most staff will speak basic English, however if communication is an issue there is a brochure located on every desk that contains all the information for the package best suited to your needs.
Due to our ever increasing reliance on the internet - we recommend the China Unicom Ice-cream package. 99 RMB per month gets you unlimited local data, 3GB national data and 700 minutes national calls!
When you are about to run out of data, an automated SMS message will be sent to your number reminding you to top up your phone. The best option for topping up your SIM card is to use WeChat / Alipay. Under the “wallet” section, there is an option to top up your mobile phone. For this you will need a bank card linked to your WeChat or some funds in your WeChat account.
You could also ask a Chinese friend to help you out with this, since any Wechat / Alipay account can be used to top up any phone number.
The other alternative is to go into a China Mobile / Unicom store and top up locally.