When traveling in Italy, you need a local SIM card for mobile connectivity. The TIM is one of the most common service providers giving out physical SIMs and eSIM profiles to travelers. This guide assists in choosing between TIM SIM options while creating an Italian number either purchasing a physical TIM SIM Card or activating eSIM online. With the right SIM solution, you will be able to move around in Italy and keep connected while traveling.

1. Quick facts about TIM

TIM is the largest mobile network operator in Italy with over 31 million users. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Telefonica O2 Italy, the biggest telecommunications company. TIM provides diverse mobile services such as voice, data, and messaging. It also offers fixed-line broadband, digital TV, and pay TV.

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 leading communication company in Italy. It is heavily investing in its 5G network to be released nationwide in 2023. TIM is also expanding in the fiber-to-the-home market, expected to reach over 20 million homes by 2025.

TIM is highly preferred by most mobile subscribers due to its wide network coverage, excellent customer care, and multiple packages for diverse needs.


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

Italy Mobile Operator Coverage
Italy Mobile Operator Coverage

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:

  • In 94.2% of the places visited by TIM users, they will receive a signal.
  • TIM’s coverage is especially dense in cities, but also decent in rural areas.
  • TIM’s 5G Availability rating is 90.5%, thus, TIM users can pick up a 5G signal in 90.5% of the places that they frequent.

In summary, TIM has good overall mobile access as well as good 5G access. The signal can be found in many sites that one visits across the country with particular emphasis on the urban areas.

2.2. TIM speed

Italy Mobile Operators Speed
Italy Mobile Operators 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

TIM offers very fast 5G and 4G speeds. The average TIM user takes only 3.7 seconds to download a 1GB file and 40 seconds to upload on 5G. TIM’s 5G speeds are much faster than other Italian operators.

On 4G, TIM averages 105.2 Mbps for downloads and 12.8 Mbps for uploads. This means a 1GB file takes 9.5 seconds to download and 78 seconds to upload on average for TIM users.

In general, TIM boasts of being the best when it comes to Italian mobile network speeds, at least 5G and 4G. TIM users have mobile internet access at a very fast speed that is reliable in the most challenging of circumstances.

3. TIM connectivity options for travelers to Italy

TIM offers both prepaid SIM cards and eSIM connectivity for tourists visiting Italy:

Option Description Price
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 give fast 4G in Italy; roaming in Europe. However, one of the advantages that eSIM offers is that there is no need to have a physical SIM card.

4. Best TIM SIM cards for tourists & cost

The TIM Tourist SIM Card is the best TIM SIM card for tourists. It is uniquely targeted for tourists to allow them to purchase cheap data, voice, and text.

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.
TIM store
TIM store

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 the SIM if the 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 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 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 a TIM SIM card. eSIM users can check their data balance in the 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
  • WindTre – 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.

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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.

13. Conclusion

To wrap it all up, TIM Italy is a good provider of connectivity alternatives for tourists. Therefore, if you may require either SIM card or eSIM for traveling to Italy, TIM is the best choice with great Italy coverage, network speeds, and eSIM support. Insert a TIM SIM card or activate an eSIM profile for hassle-free internet access on an Italy trip!