Getting mobile connectivity while traveling in Italy requires a local SIM card. TIM is one of the major providers, offering both physical SIMs and eSIM profiles for tourists. This guide helps choose between TIM SIM options and sets up a functional Italian number, whether purchasing a physical TIM SIM Card or activating an eSIM online. Armed with the right SIM solution, you’ll be able to navigate Italy and stay connected during your trip.
Table of Contents
1. Quick facts about TIM
Telecom Italia Mobile (TIM) is the largest mobile network operator in Italy, with over 31 million customers. It is a subsidiary of Telecom Italia, the largest telecommunications company in Italy. TIM offers a wide range of mobile services, including voice, data, and messaging. It also offers fixed-line broadband services, as well as digital TV and pay-TV services.
Here are some quick facts about TIM Italy:
- Founded: 1994
- Headquarters: Rome, Italy
- Parent company: Telecom Italia
- Customers: Over 31 million
- Network coverage: 99% of the Italian population
- Services: Mobile voice, data, and messaging; fixed-line broadband; digital TV; pay-TV
TIM is a major player in the Italian telecommunications market. It is investing heavily in its 5G network, which is expected to be launched nationwide in 2023. TIM is also expanding its fiber-to-the-home network, which is expected to reach 20 million homes by 2025.
TIM is a popular choice for mobile subscribers in Italy. It offers a wide range of plans and services to meet the needs of different customers. TIM is also known for its good network coverage and customer service.
2. Italy TIM Coverage and Speed
To understand which TIM SIM option is best for your needs, it’s important to be aware of TIM’s coverage and speed capabilities across Italy.
2.1. TIM coverage in Italy
According to the Opensignal Italy Mobile Network Experience Report for May 2023, TIM has the second-best coverage of all five national operators in Italy:
- TIM users can find a signal in 94.2% of the locations they visit.
- TIM’s coverage is particularly good in urban areas (97.3 points), but also good in rural areas (88.2 points).
- TIM’s 5G Availability score is 90.5%, meaning that TIM users can find a 5G signal in 90.5% of the locations they visit.
Overall, TIM’s coverage is very good for both overall mobile access and 5G access. TIM users are able to find a signal in most of the locations they visit, and its coverage is particularly good in urban areas.
2.2. TIM speed
TIM has the fastest 5G download and upload speeds in Italy, according to the Opensignal Italy Mobile Network Experience Report for May 2023.
- 5G Download Speed: 270.4 Mbps
- 5G Upload Speed: 25.5 Mbps
This means that TIM users can download a 1 GB file in about 3.7 seconds on average, and upload a 1 GB file in about 40 seconds. TIM’s 5G speeds are significantly faster than those of the other four national operators in Italy.
TIM’s 4G speeds are also very good. TIM’s average 4G Download Speed is 105.2 Mbps, and its average 4G Upload Speed is 12.8 Mbps. This means that TIM users can download a 1 GB file in about 9.5 seconds on average, and upload a 1 GB file in about 78 seconds on average.
Overall, TIM has the fastest mobile network speeds in Italy, both for 5G and 4G. TIM users can enjoy fast and reliable mobile internet access, even in the most demanding situations.
3. TIM connectivity options for travelers to Italy
TIM offers both prepaid SIM cards and eSIM connectivity for tourists visiting Italy:
|Prepaid SIM card||A SIM card that you can load with credit and use for data, calls, and SMS.||Varies depending on the plan and amount of credit you purchase.|
|Tourist SIM card||A SIM card that is specifically designed for tourists and offers a discounted rate on data, calls, and SMS.||€20 for 40 GB of data, 200 minutes of calls, and 200 SMS, valid for 30 days.|
|eSIM||A digital SIM card that you can download and install on your phone without having to purchase a physical SIM card.||Varies depending on the plan and amount of data you purchase.|
Both options provide high-speed 4G access, calls, texts in Italy and roaming in Europe. But eSIM offers greater convenience by not requiring a physical SIM card.
4. Best TIM SIM cards for tourists & cost
The best TIM SIM card for tourists is the TIM Tourist SIM Card. It is specifically designed for tourists and offers a discounted rate on data, calls, and SMS.
|TIM SIM Plan||Price||Data||Local Calls||Messages||Validity||Total Cost (USD)|
|TIM Tourist SIM||~ 20 USD||40 GB||200 minutes||200 SMS||30 days||~ 20 USD|
5. Does TIM Italy support eSIM?
Yes, TIM was the first Italian provider to launch eSIM support in 2019. The TIM eSIM costs around 10 USD. TIM eSIM service is available for these models:
- iPhone XS, XS Max and above
- Latest Samsung Galaxy S20, S21, S22, Z Flip & Fold
- Google Pixel 4 and above phones
- Many newer Android models with eSIM
So customers with newer iPhones or Android phones can get a TIM eSIM for data in Italy. TIM eSIMs allow the use of mobile data through the app without a physical SIM card.
Currently, TIM eSIM is not supported for tourists, so visitors coming to Italy should consider TIM physical SIM cards or Italy eSIM from itay-esim.com.
6. Where can you buy a TIM SIM card and eSIM?
Locating places that offer TIM SIM cards and eSIM setup is the first step to getting connected during your visit to Italy.
6.1. Where to buy TIM SIM for Italy
As a tourist, you have two options to buy a TIM Visitor prepaid SIM in Italy:
- TIM stores: You can find TIM stores in all major cities and towns in Italy, as well as at some airports and train stations.
- Authorized retailers: TIM also sells its SIM cards through authorized retailers, such as newsstands, tobacco shops, and electronics stores.
- Online: You can also purchase a TIM SIM card online from the TIM website.
If you are buying your SIM card online, you will need to pick it up from a TIM store or authorized retailer once you arrive in Italy.
6.2. Where to buy Italy TIM eSIM
Call the Customer Service at 191 (for Professionals/VAT number) or at 800191101 (for Businesses) to activate a new line with the eSIM, or to request a SIM change. Then Receive the eSIM. By courier or at a point of sale.
7. How to activate TIM Italy SIM/eSIM
Now that you’ve obtained your TIM SIM or eSIM, the next step is to activate it so you can start using the connectivity features during your travels around Italy.
7.1 How to activate TIM Italy SIM card
Download the My TIM app on your device through the integrated store.
Open it, and after giving it the necessary permissions, tap on the “Activate SIM” option located in the lower left corner and enter your tax code in the appropriate field.
You should have internet access within a minute or two after inserting SIM if device is unlocked. The passport verification step is required by law in Italy for SIM activation.
7.2 How to activate TIM eSIM
Activating the TIM eSIM is simple. To activate a TIM Italy eSIM, you need to:
- Request the eSIM. Call the Customer Service at 191 (for Professionals/VAT number) or at 800.191.101 (for Businesses) to activate a new line with the eSIM, or to request a SIM change.
- Receive the eSIM. By courier or at a point of sale
- Configure the eSIM. Access the Settings menu on your smartphone and enter the new profile. Make sure the device is connected to the Internet (even via Wi-Fi).
- Scan the QR code. To download the eSIM to your smartphone.
- Activate the eSIM. Enter the PIN code on the voucher after completing the download.
8. Italy TIM call and SMS rates
TIM Visitor SIMs and eSIMs have different rates for calls and texts while in Italy:
|Destination||Call rate||SMS rate|
|Domestic||$0.19 per minute||$0.12 per SMS|
|European Union||$0.24 per minute||$0.06 per SMS|
|Rest of the world||$0.38 per minute||$0.08 per SMS|
Please note that these rates are for standard TIM plans. There may be different rates for other plans or for special offers.
9. Useful USSD codes for TIM Italy SIM card
TIM Italy prepaid SIMs allow checking balances by dialing *144#.
No need to register beyond passport verification. USSD codes work directly on TIM SIM card. eSIM users can check data balance in TIM app instead.
10. How to top up TIM Italy SIM card/eSIM
You have several ways to recharge and top-up a TIM SIM or eSIM in Italy:
- Online: You can top up your SIM card or eSIM online through the TIM website or the My TIM app.
- In-store: You can also top up your SIM card or eSIM at any TIM store or authorized retailer.
- Over the phone: You can call TIM customer service on 119 to top up your SIM card or eSIM.
- Using a scratch card: You can buy a TIM scratch card from any TIM store or authorized retailer and use it to top up your SIM card or eSIM.
11. Alternatives to Italy TIM SIM card
Some alternatives to get Italy SIM cards beyond TIM are:
- Vodafone Italy – Second largest provider, recommended for roaming
- Wind Tre – Italia’s third biggest operator, low costs
- iliad – French MVNO, cheap data-only SIM
- italy-esim.com – Allows eSIM activation through the app or website for selected devices like newer iPhones.
But TIM generally has better coverage and speeds than competitors. Their new eSIM feature is also a top reason for foreign tourists to choose TIM.
12. FAQs about getting TIM in Italy
Do I need to show a passport for SIM in Italy?
Yes, you need to verify your passport when purchasing any Italy SIM card including TIM Visitor or eSIM as per local regulations.
Can I use TIM SIM in Europe?
Yes, TIM cards work throughout Europe with roaming. However, data is limited to 7 GB per month when traveling outside Italy.
How to make calls on TIM eSIM?
TIM eSIM is data-only so you cannot make regular calls. Use VoIP apps like WhatsApp, FaceTime or Skype over data.
Does TIM SIM work in the USA or internationally?
No, TIM SIMs do not work outside Europe. You can roam across most of Europe.
How to get more data on my TIM SIM?
You can top-up data packs on TIM Visitor SIMs by entering the *124# code and selecting a bundle. For eSIM use the TIM app or website.
Does TIM SIM work for unlocked iPhones?
Yes, TIM provides excellent LTE speeds on all unlocked iPhones including the newest models. eSIM will also work.
In summary, TIM Italy provides excellent connectivity options for tourists. So if you need either a SIM card or eSIM for travel in Italy, TIM is the top choice thanks to great Italy coverage, network speeds, and eSIM support. Just insert a TIM SIM or activate an eSIM profile before the Italy trip for easy internet access!