If you have an "unlocked" or
"jailbroken" GSM mobile device
capable of operating in
the 900 Mhz and/or 1800
Mhz bands, or 3G 2100 Mhz band, you can probably
use it in Turkey via international
Buying a Turkish
SIM card (chip) and inserting it into
your phone—a quick, simple, inexpensive option in most countries—is a bit more complicated in Turkey, but not too bad.
Buying a Turkish SIM
Take your mobile device and your passport to a shop of any of the three mobile telephone operators in Turkey.
The clerk will photocopy two pages from your passport: the personal information and photograph page, and the page with the Immigration stamp showing the date of your entry into Turkey.
The clerk will insert a newTurkish SIM in your device and pair the SIM's unique identification number (MSISDN) with the identification number (IMEI) of your mobile device, meaning that the SIM can only be used with that device (at least in Turkey).
There is a charge for the SIM and account set-up. I paid TL41.
You then select the mobile service you want, often offered as a paket (package) with a defined maximum number of telephone minutes, SMS messages and, if you wish, Internet data (in Megabytes or Gigabytes), for a certain price.
I chose a paket offering 200 minutes of voice use, 1000 SMS text messages, and 2GB of Internet usage for TL25.
Within a few days after you begin using your Turkish SIM, you may receive an official government message (in Turkish) on your device informing you that, because your device is not registered with the government (and the tax paid), your device will be blocked from Turkey's mobile networks after 60 days. The message will contain an end date for your service, and will look like this:
123456789XXXXXX IMEI no'lu cihaz kayit disi listesinde oldugu icin 26.08.2015 da kullanim disi birakilacaktir. Hattiniz acik kalacaktir. Bilgi icin 4440532.
Here's a translation:
Because the device with the IMEI 123456789XXXXXX is on the list of unregistered devices, it will be blocked from service on 26.08.2015 [26 August 2015]. Your mobile line will remain open. For information, call 4440532.
"Your mobile lin will remain open," but it will do you no good, as your device will be blocked, and the SIM, paired with your device, cannot be used in any other device.
What is a SIM?
A SIM (Subscriber
Identity Module) card is a small electronic
chip and memory card that stores
information on a mobile device customer, the device's
account, country of usage, and data such as SMS (Short
Message Service) messages.
In effect, it's the "hard
drive" or "memory chip" of your
mobile device. When you turn on your mobile device, the
SIM tells the device which network to connect to, who
you are (so people can call you), and your phone usage
SIMs come in three forms: Standard, Micro, and Nano. Older phones may use the largest (Standard) SIM, many newer models take the Micro SIM, and the newest Apple iPhones and iPads require a Nano SIM, the smallest.
With an adapter, you may be able to use a smaller SIM in a phone designed to use a larger SIM, but you cannot use a larger SIM in a phone that requires a smaller SIM. For example, you may be able to snap a Micro or Nano SIM into an adapter for your phone that accepts only a Standard (large) SIM, but you cannot use any SIM but a Nano SIM in the iPhone 6.
Locked or Unlocked?
phones are either "locked" (you
can't change your SIM card), or "unlocked" (you
can remove your SIM card and replace
it with a different one).
If you phone is unlocked,
you will be able to remove (and save)
your current card, buy a new
Turkish SIM card, insert it
in your mobile phone, and use your
local Turkish rates for calls.
This is usually much cheaper than international
In Turkey, a mobile
phone shop—they seem
to be everywhere in the cities—may
be able to "unlock" or
kiliti kırmak) your "locked"
GSM phone so that you can put in
a Turkish SIM card. They may charge TL10
for this service.
Important note: unlocking your phone will void the warranty, and may cause problems with your home mobile phone company. Both of these are good reasons not to unlock your phone.
In Istanbul, the beating heart of
the mobile phone market—white, grey
and black—is the Doğu
Bank İş Hanı building, Hamidiye
Caddesi 10 [map].
Go here to buy, sell, crack/jailbreak, repair
or accessorize your phone. Not a lot
of English spoken, but they'll figure
out what you want.
Using a Turkish SIM
With a new SIM chip, you may
have to re-program all the phone numbers
you want in your phone, because the
SIM chip is where numbers are
stored on some devices.
Making calls is usually
pretty easy to figure out, and the
phone shop staff should help you with
that, too. Here's
some help. If all else fails, Turkish
mobile phone companies have customer
service numbers that connect
to English-speaking operators who
may be able to help you.
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