A complete guide to choosing, buying and activating a Georgian sim card in Tbilisi, Batumi or Kutaisi. Includes a comparison of the best mobile providers, instructions for topping up, useful hacks, and recommended apps to download for Georgia.
Whether you’re travelling around for a short period and need to use maps and ride-booking apps, or you’re working remotely from Georgia and need a reliable home connection, I always recommend picking up a local Georgian sim card.
Whether you’re arriving in Tbilisi, Batumi or Kutaisi, the process is the same. In this guide, I’ll show you exactly how to buy, activate and use a Georgian sim card. I’ll also detail my favourite mobile provider, explain how to top up, and share a few useful hacks I’ve picked up whilst living in Tbilisi.
Please note: This post contains affiliate links, meaning I may earn a commission if you make a purchase by clicking a link (at no extra cost to you). Learn more.
Do you need a sim card for Georgia?
WIFI is ubiquitous in Georgia, especially in Tbilisi and Batumi. You’ll find free connections at most hotels, guesthouses, shopping malls, cafes and restaurants. In the capital, there’s also a free public network, Tbilisi Loves You, available in the centre of the city. It’s notoriously sketchy, but it can come in handy for emergencies.
Still, I highly recommend buying a sim card in Georgia so that you can use taxi booking apps, Google Maps and Google Translate on the go.
Power outages are not uncommon in Tbilisi (especially in older buildings) so if you’re working from home, it’s a good idea to have a sim data package to tether off as a back up in case your home network goes down.
Can you use an EU sim card in Georgia? The short answer is yes – but you may face exorbitantly high charges. Some EU carriers charge up to £6 per MB, making Georgia one of the priciest countries for data roaming.
Having purchased somewhere in the neighbourhood of 35 different sim cards over the past few years of travel, I can confidently say that Georgia is one of the easiest places in the world to register a local sim. The process is quick and relatively painless, and with mobile call/text and data packages so affordable, there’s really no reason not to pick up a Georgian sim card when you arrive in-country.
Important things to know before you buy a Georgian sim card
- If you want to use a Georgian sim card with your regular phone you’ve brought from home, you’ll need to make sure it’s unlocked.
- Tourist packages are available at Kutaisi and Tbilisi airports, but it’s better value to buy a regular sim and data package. I suggest you wait until you can visit a regular branch in the city. Keep reading for my recommended carriers and packages.
- When buying a Georgian sim card, you’ll need to present your passport for registration. Make sure you’re carrying it with you.
- Unfortunately there is no single carrier that services the whole Caucasus region. If you’re travelling through all three Caucasus countries, you’ll need to activate data roaming or buy separate sim cards (I recommend the latter).
Georgian sim card providers
Here is a quick comparison:
- Magti: Excellent coverage; fast speeds; good in-store service; slightly higher prices.
- Beeline: Best-value data bundles; good coverage; average in-store service.
- Geocell: Poor coverage (limited to cities).
Why Magti is my preferred provider
In the past whenever I travelled to Georgia, the first thing I did was pick up a Magti sim card. Now that I live here, I’ve been using Magti for two years with no issues.
Magti is my preferred mobile carrier for several reasons:
- Coverage: Magti is known to have the best network coverage in Georgia (over 90% of the country according to their website), including in remote and rural areas. (A notable exception is Mestia, which is known for having spotty coverage on all networks.) Magti works well underground, so you can use your phone in metro stations in Tbilisi (though not on the metro itself) and in most cellar restaurants.
- Easy activation & friendly service: Magti is extremely simple to activate – no codes or validation means you can be in and out of the store in a matter of minutes. I’ve always found Magti staff very kind and helpful, which is another huge plus.
- Competitive prices: Magti offers some incredibly good deals on both data and calls/texts. I also love their promotion packages – I recently bought unlimited data for 7 days for just 5 GEL (1.75 USD). Magti ‘Cocktail’ packages allow you to mix and match data, calls and SMS for a great price.
- Speed: Magti is currently on the ‘4.5G’ network. Speeds of up to 50 Mbps up/down are possible. My connection averages 25 up/down most days. Downtime is rare.
- Monthly packages: Most Magti packages have 30 days validity, which is great if you’re spending longer in Georgia than the 7 or 15 days a tourist sim card allows.
- Easy top up using the MyMagti App: Magti has a user-friendly mobile app for checking your balance and topping up, which means you’ll never have to go back to the store.
Should you take the free tourist sim?
All three providers including Magti have a promotion for tourists where they offer a free sim card as part of a preset data/call bundle. It can be tempting to purchase one of these packages when you first arrive at the airport, but it might not be the best choice for you.
Magti currently offers two ‘Welcome Packages’: One with 3GB of data plus free local calls and texts for 30 GEL; and another with 5GB of data plus free local texts for 15 GEL. These are available at Kutaisi Airport and Tbilisi Airport (more info on where to buy a sim card below).
The first thing to note is that a Magti sim card purchased separately only costs 2 GEL (70 cents). While a ‘free sim card’ sounds good, the value of the freebie really isn’t that high. I wouldn’t base your decision on this alone.
You should also ask yourself whether you’ll be using your phone for calls and texts. Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and other messaging apps are popular in Georgia, and it’s likely your Airbnb/guesthouse host uses at least one of them. If I ever need to make a call in Georgia, I do it through WhatsApp or the Skype app.
If your main concern is data, consider that the first Welcome Package gives you 3GB of data for 30 GEL (15 days), while a pure data package purchased separately gives you 20GB for the same price (30 GEL – and it’s valid for 30 days). You’ll need to buy the sim card separately, but remember that only costs 2 GEL.
Based on this, I recommend waiting until you get into the city to buy a sim card rather than buying one at the airport.
In 2021, Magti launched Georgia’s first eSIM as an alternative to the regular sim card system. An eSIM is more expensive and still requires a trip to the Magti store to set it up. Depending on your needs, it could be a good fit. Find more information here.
Recommended Magti bundles
- If you’re in Georgia for 7 days or less: I recommend the Cocktail 5 bundle (1GB plus unlimited calls and texts on the Magti network for 5 GEL for 7 days). Or you can ‘mix’ your own cocktail if you need more data, e.g. 3GB for 12 GEL. Remember the sim card is purchased separately for an extra 2 GEL.
- If you’re in Georgia for 7-15 days: I recommend the second tourist Welcome Package. It includes 5GB of data plus free local texts, and costs 15 GEL for 15 days validity (sim card included).
- If you’re in Georgia for more than 15 days and you only need data: I recommend one of the pure data bundles (e.g. 5GB for 12 GEL, 30 days validity). This is the option I usually go with.
- If you’re in Georgia for more than 15 days and you need to make calls: I recommend purchasing a data package as above then adding a separate minutes package (e.g. 60 minutes for 5 GEL, 30 days validity).
Note that for most these prepaid bundles, any unused data or call credit will rollover for 7 days until you top up again.
Check the Magti website for other Cocktail options and price updates.
Need more data?
If you find you need more data, you can purchase extra data packages separately through the MyMagti app or in-store. Note that if you top-up within 7 days, any remaining data you have left from the previous 30 days automatically rolls over.
- 1 GB – 5 GEL
- 3 GB – 9 GEL
- 5 GB – 12 GEL
- 20 GB – 30 GEL
- Unlimited – 5 GEL/7 days or 1 GEL/1 day
How to buy a Georgian sim card at Magti: Step by step guide
Once you’ve decided which package or bundle you want to buy (and I do recommend deciding before you arrive at the store), it’s time to visit a Magti shop and get set up.
The process is quick and painless. Every Magti branch has at least one staff member who can speak fluent English.
Remember to bring your passport and either cash or card for payment.
- Take a number from the electronic ticket dispenser and wait to be called. (You can switch the language to English or just hit the big red button on the screen.)
- Buy your sim and package. At this point, you can either choose your phone number (extra charges apply) or let the system select one randomly.
- Hand over your passport to register the sim. If you’re buying multiple sim cards, you only need one passport.
- Install your sim and check that it’s working. There’s usually no set up required with Magti, but it might take a minute to kick into gear. If it doesn’t appear to be working, ask for assistance right away (don’t leave the store without checking).
- Normally the clerk will write your phone number in marker pen on the plastic card your sim popped out of. Hold onto this because it also has your PUC code, which you’ll need in case you swap the sim to another phone.
- Sign the contract. There will be two copies, one for you and one for Magti. It’s in English so you can read it if you want – but it’s pretty standard. It’s a good idea to hold onto your copy.
- Make payment using cash or card.
Where to buy a Georgian sim card: Magti locations
In Kutaisi, you’ll find a Magti office at the north-west corner of the park.
And in Batumi, there is an office on Rustaveli Avenue near the boulevard.
Most Magti locations are open from 9am until 6pm on weekdays and 10am until 5pm on weekends.
Buying a Magti Georgian sim card at the airport
All major mobile carriers have desks inside the arrivals hall at Tbilisi Airport and Kutaisi Airport. But, these kiosks usually only sell tourist sims, which are not the best value for money. Occasionally they might allow you to buy a regular sim then top up with a minimum value of 30 GEL. But again, this isn’t good value.
I strongly recommend waiting until you get into the city to visit a regular Magti store.
What to do if you have a problem with your sim
If you have an issue with your sim card and it’s not functioning, try troubleshooting online first. If that fails, I recommend heading into a Magti store for assistance. Magti has offices across the country – see the full list here.
How to top up using the MyMagti App
One of the best things about Magti is the MyMagti App. I find it very user-friendly and easy to navigate (it’s all in English). I recommend downloading it as soon as you have your sim card installed.
Once you’ve downloaded the app, toggle to English in the upper right hand corner of the screen. Hit the registration button at the very bottom, then enter your phone number. You’ll then receive a 4-digit code by text message to validate.
Set up a password (I used a six-letter word, no numbers or special characters are required) then you will be redirected to your account. It will keep you logged in so you don’t have to sign on every time.
There are a couple of things you can do with the app. Firstly, you can monitor your data and calls balance. You can also use the app to purchase extra data and new bundles.
You can set an auto top up to reload credit when your balance reaches a certain threshold – although I personally never turn these on because I’d rather have control over when I’m charged.
To purchase through the app, you’ll need to put in your credit card details or top up your balance with cash using a paybox or Georgian bank account. I have my TBC app linked to Magti – it works seamlessly.
How to check your balance
If you need to check your data or credit balance on the go, you can either log into the MyMagti App and check the ticker, or dial *111*1# to receive a text message.
How to block spam SMS messages
Almost as soon as you active your Georgian sim card, you’ll start receiving spam SMS messages with special offers from pharmacies, grocery stores, banks, credit companies and more. This happens on all on networks, not just Magti. I usually get 3-5 of these messages EVERY DAY!
To disable SMS spam on Magti, dial *182# and enter 1 into the dialogue box when prompted. You should also dial *297# to turn off ads from a specific company called MS Group.
It’s also worth mentioning that expired phone numbers regularly get recycled in Georgia. So don’t be surprised if you get a phone call from someone expecting their friend or family member to answer! Some people are very persistent, too. Just tell them ‘Me ar vitsi’ – I don’t know.
Georgian sim card FAQ
- Why is my balance suddenly in the red? If you’re wondering why your balance suddenly goest down, it’s because all mobile users are automatically deducted 0.5 GEL per month to subsidise the country’s 112 emergency hotline. My balance always sits in the negative – it’s never had any repercussions on my service.
- How long before my sim card expires? If you’re making multiple visits to Georgia and you want to keep using the same sim, you can keep your Magti number active with a zero balance for up to 180 days. There’s also an option to pay 1 GEL to keep your number for longer. Info here.
- Will my sim card work in Abkhazia? No, Abkhazia and Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) have separate mobile networks. A regular Georgian sim card will not work in these areas.
- Will my sim card work in Armenia? As long as you activate roaming before you leave Georgia, your Magti sim will work in Armenia (and in many other countries). Internet roaming is reasonably priced and starts from 5 GEL/25 MB. I recommend buying a separate sim card for Armenia when you arrive to save money and hassle. In Armenia, I recommend using Beeline.
- Will my sim card work in Azerbaijan? No, you’ll need a separate sim card for Azerbaijan. Magti does not offer roaming in Azerbaijan. Buying a sim in Baku can be a harrowing process (on our last trip, it took us an entire morning to find a store that would sell us a sim card). Here are some helpful tips.
Recommended apps to download for Georgia
- MyMagti: To manage your balance and top up (download for iPhone; Android).
- Bolt: My preferred ride hailing app for Georgia (download for iPhone; Android).
- 112 Georgia: The official emergency app works in English, Georgian and Russian (download for iPhone; Android).
- Whatsapp: Probably the most popular messaging app in Georgia; comes in handy if you’re trying to get in touch with a host or guide.
- Google Maps: Essential for navigation.
- Moovit: More reliable for public transport than Google Maps (download for iPhone; Android).
- Yandex Translate: Translates Georgian text (not yet recognised by Google Translate) (download for iPhone; Android).
- TKT.GE: For buying train and concert tickets (download for iPhone; Android).
- Get Your Guide – Great for buying tours and tickets in Georgia on the go (download for iPhone; Android).
- Maps.Me: Handy for offline maps and remote areas, such as the Kazbegi to Gergeti Trinity trek (download for iPhone; Android).
- Wikiloc: Offline trail maps for popular hikes in Georgia (download for iPhone; Android).
- Wolt: My preferred food delivery app for Georgia (download for iPhone; Android).
- Wenu: Allows you to place an order at restaurants/cafes from your phone (an increasing number of venues in Tbilisi now use Wenu) (download for iPhone; Android).
Here are some of the websites and services I use when I’m planning a trip to Georgia and the Caucasus. Remember to check out my full list of travel resources for more tips.
– Find affordable flights to Tbilisi, Batumi or Kutaisi on Kiwi.com, a booking site that mixes and matches airlines to find the best route (there’s a money back guarantee if you miss a connection).
– Use iVisa to check if you need a tourist visa for Georgia and apply for an expedited visa online.
– Pre-book a private transfer from Tbilisi Airport to your hotel or from Kutaisi Airport to Tbilisi with my preferred partners at Friendly.ge.
– Get a great deal on a rental car in Georgia by using MyRentACar to find a local agent.
– Buy your tickets for the Tbilisi to Baku or Yerevan sleeper train online in advance through my partners at Geotrend (get a discount when you use the code in this post).
– Find the best Georgia hotel deals on Booking.com, book a Georgia hostel, or find a unique Airbnb.
– Find the best city tours and day excursions in Georgia.
– Compare mobile providers and pick up a local Georgian sim card.
– Order a copy of the new Lonely Planet Caucasus guidebook (published July 2020).
More Tbilisi travel resources
- The best things to do in Tbilisi – offbeat & quirky attractions
- Where to eat in Tbilisi – the best Georgian restaurants
- The best day trips from Tbilisi – escape the city
- How to get from Tbilisi airport to the city – Tbilisi airport guide
- Tbilisi’s best boutique hostels – beautiful budget accommodation
- What to pack for Georgia – and what to wear in Tbilisi
- The best Georgian souvenirs – where to do your Tbilisi shopping