Buying a SIM Card in Estonia

By Lauren Juliff Get Connected5 Comments


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Perhaps more than any other country in the world, Estonia loves the Internet.

The capital city of Tallinn and much of the country rolled out free public Wi-Fi back in 2005, there are more mobile phones than people, and cell providers now offer LTE-A that reaches speeds of up to 300Mbps. No, that’s not a typo.

Depending on where you go in the country, you may not even need to bother with a local SIM. Tallinn alone has over 30 free hotspots, with download speeds of 15Mbps.

In fact, as a Guardian article from a few years ago states: “You could walk 100 miles – from the pastel-coloured turrets here in medieval Tallinn to the university spires of Tartu – and never lose internet connection.”

If you do want to pick up a SIM card while you’re in the country, though, here’s what you need to know.

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Companies


  • We recommend Elisa for most travelers
  • Consider Tele2 for short trips

There are three cell networks in Estonia, operated by EMT, Elisa, and Tele2. All three providers offer LTE service covering the vast majority of the population, and prices are low enough that it doesn’t matter all that much which company you choose.

Elisa was offering the best rates at the time I visited, so that’s who I went with. Since then, however, Tele2 has brought out a particularly cheap option for anyone who only needs data and is in the country for a week or less.

How to Buy a Prepaid SIM in Estonia


There are several places to buy Elisa SIMs, including many supermarkets, R-Kiosks, and the company’s own stores. After arriving in Tallinn, I sought out a Rimi supermarket — there are several located in the Old Town.

The guy behind the counter spoke excellent English, understood exactly what I wanted, and sorted out absolutely everything for me, including entering in the following APN details:

APN: internet
No username or password

Easy! He handed it back to me and I was all done in under two minutes!

If you’re opting for Tele2 instead, you can also find their SIMs at R-Kiosks, as well as post offices, some supermarkets (although not Rimi), and the company’s branded stores.

Prefer to spend your vacation sightseeing instead of buying SIM cards? Grab one in advance to stay connected in Estonia and across Europe.

This Orange SIM includes 20GB of data, 1000 international texts, and two hours of international calls. The price includes US delivery, and it's valid for two weeks in 30 European countries. Use the code EUCPO10 at checkout to get 10% off!

Other options are available if you're traveling for longer, need a portable hotspot, or want a different mix of calls, texts, and data. Either way, you'll be connected with a minimum of fuss before you've left the airport.

Prepaid SIM Costs


I paid €1 for the SIM card, with 15GB of data valid for a month costing €7. Speeds are limited to 2Mbps, but for faster data, there’s an 8GB package with no speed restriction for the same price. It’s cheap to get connected in Estonia!

There are no calls or texts included with this. You can either buy a different package that includes them, or just add extra credit and pay per call/text. Local calls and texts cost a few euro cents each.

Given how much English is spoken, at least in Tallinn, you’ll be able to ask about other data, call and text options if you need something different.

If you’re in Estonia for a week or less and only need data, Tele2 offers the best deal. For €3.95 including the SIM card, you’ll get 5GB of full-speed LTE data, valid for seven days.

Additional data costs €0.99/GB per day, and you can buy additional 7 or 30-day bundles if you decide to extend your stay. SMS and calls are also available, on a pay as you go basis — just top up with additional credit beforehand.

Topping Up


You can buy top-ups from many different stores in Estonia: supermarkets, post offices, kiosks, and more. Just look for the Elisa sign on the window.

Coverage and Data Speeds


I was impressed with the coverage I received with my Elisa SIM card — I had a full-strength signal pretty much anywhere I went in Tallinn.

When it came to speeds, I was a little disappointed. I’d often receive faster speeds through connecting to the free public Wi-Fi, due to that 2Mbps throttle on my cell data. It was fast enough for email, maps, and basic browsing, but much slower than usual when uploading photos.

Throttled Elisa data speeds in Estonia
Throttled Elisa data speeds in Tallinn

EU Roaming


Estonia is part of the European Union, so EU roaming regulations apply. These “roam like at home” rules ended roaming charges across much of Europe in 2017, letting you use a SIM card from any EU country across all the others at no extra charge.

When it comes to roaming elsewhere in the EU with an Estonian SIM, though, beware. The low price of cell service in Estonia allows providers to restrict the amount of roaming data they provide for free, or opt out from the roaming regulations entirely. Be sure to double-check the exact details at time of purchase.


Check out our guides to buying SIM cards in many other countries here.

About the Author
Lauren Juliff

Lauren Juliff

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Lauren is a physicist turned digital nomad who's travelling and working her way around the world on a permanent basis. She's the clumsy member of the team -- if there's a camera to be dropped, a Kindle to be stood on or a laptop to pour a drink over, she'll be the one to do it. You can read more about her travel misadventures over at Never Ending Footsteps.

Comments

  1. Avatar

    April 2016 update: we have just been in Estonia and bought the €1 SIM from Elisa. A 7 day 4G data pack with 1GB allowance is now €5 which worked very well and gave us 50 Mbit/s speeds.

    We had some difficulties setting up. After you purchase €5 of credit, the instructions have you sending an SMS to 95000 with a code denoting the data package you wish to purchase (for us, NET4G7). For some reason our phones kept failing when trying to send to this number. We found an Elisa shop and the sales guy ended up putting the SIMs in his own phone to initiate the data pack.

    Once this was done we reinserted in our phones and were up and running.

    Great deal.

  2. Avatar

    Great post! Exactly what I was looking for. Im going on a Baltic States trip, so made a little research myself as well. Found out, some providers from other two countries. In Latvia LMT (https://www.lmt.lv/lv/internets-telefona). There you buy sim for 1€ with 1 € credit inside and charge it for more, if you wanna have internet or more calls. In Lithuania I found Ežys (http://www.ezys.lt/en/). There you buy a sim for 2,29 € and there are already 1 GB of internet and 250 min local calls and 6000 SMS.

  3. Avatar

    Firstly, the title says “Estonia” and the information here is about Latvia!

    Can you please let me know if there’s a SIM card that would work in all 3 Baltic countries – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania? Or do I have to get different SIMs? I will be visiting all 3 countries, but for 2 days EACH.

    Thanks

    1. Dave Dean

      Ooops! Sorry about the Latvia info – that’s an embarrassing mistake I made while moving across to the new design a few weeks ago. All fixed now!

      Any SIM card you buy will work across all three countries, but you’ll usually pay roaming charges outside the country you bought it in. Fortunately those charges have dropped significantly lately, so it’ll likely only be one or two euros a day unless you’re using a lot of data.

      Elisa’s roaming prices are here, but if you want to be certain, just go into a store (probably an official store is best) in whatever country you’re starting in, check the roaming options you’ve got, then top up with enough money to last the duration.

  4. Avatar

    My experience with Elisa has been very different: the Rimi employee who provided the SIM card left it to me to figure out how to navigate the Estonian and Russian only website. I don’t speak or read either and see that the Elisa store nearest me isn’t convenient.

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