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, and recommended apps to download for Georgia.
It’s easy to stay connected in the Caucasus thanks to affordable data packages and good coverage, even in remote mountain areas.
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 connection, I always recommend picking up a local Georgian sim card.
If 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 share my favourite mobile provider, show you how to top up, and recommend a few useful apps to download.
In This Post
- Do you need a sim card for Georgia?
- Important things to know before you buy a Georgian sim card
- Georgian sim card providers
- Why Magti is my preferred provider
- How to buy a Georgian sim card at Magti: Step by step guide
- Where to buy a Georgian sim card: Magti locations
- How to top up using the MyMagti App
- Georgian sim card FAQ
- Recommended apps to download for Georgia
- Georgia essentials
- More Tbilisi travel resources
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.
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 painful, 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 sim cards are available in Georgia, but in my experience, it’s often better value to buy a regular sim. 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.
- Georgian sims only work in Georgia – not in Armenia or Azerbaijan. Unfortunately there is no single carrier that services the whole region. If you’re travelling through all three Caucasus countries, you’ll need to buy and activate separate sim cards.
Georgian sim card providers
Once you’ve decided to buy a sim card in Georgia, the first step is choosing a mobile carrier. There are three providers in Georgia: Magticom (Magti), Geocell, and Beeline. All of them are represented throughout Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Batumi.
Magti – Excellent coverage; fast speeds; good in-store service; slightly higher prices.
Beeline – Best value data bundles; good coverage.
Geocell – Poor coverage (limited to cities).
Why Magti is my preferred provider
Whenever I travel to Georgia I always pick up a Magti sim card. 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), including in remote and rural areas. I’ve never encountered a problem using my Magti sim in the mountains. It also works well underground – so you can use your phone on the metro in Tbilisi and in basement 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).
- 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, 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 only 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 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.
Recommended Magti bundles
- If you’re in Georgia for 7 days or less – I recommend either the Simple 5 bundle (1GB plus unlimited calls and texts on the Magti network for 5 GEL for 7 days); or the Zhangbadi bundle (1GB plus 1000 texts for 3 GEL for 7 days). For both these bundles, sim cards are 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. 20GB for 30 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 plus adding a separate minutes package (e.g. 30 minutes for 5 GEL for 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.
I do my best to keep this information up to date, but I recommend double checking the Magti website for any changes.
Need more data?
If you find you need more data, you can purchase extra data packages separately through the MyMagti app or in-store.
- 1 GB – 5 GEL
- 3 GB – 9 GEL
- 5 GB – 12 GEL
- 20 GB – 30 GEL
- Unlimited – 150 GEL
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 in-store), it’s time to visit a Magti shop and get set up.
The process is quick and painless. Note that Magti staff 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.
How to disable spam SMS messages
Almost as soon as you active your 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.
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.
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.
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 sim card at the airport
All major mobile carriers have desks inside the arrivals hall at Tbilisi Airport and Kutaisi Airport. These desks sell tourist sims as well as regular bundles.
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.
You can also access promotions through the app, including very affordable unlimited data bundles. We recently bought one of these when the internet at our Airbnb dropped out.
To purchase through the app, you’ll need to put in your credit card details.
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.
Georgian sim card FAQ
- 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 may be able to keep your Magti account dormant then re-load it. There’s no clear information about this online, but I assume like most providers the sim will stay active for a certain period even with a zero balance.
- Will my sim card work in Abkhazia? No – Abkhazia and South Ossetia have separate mobile networks. A regular Georgian sim card will not work in the breakaway territories.
- Will my sim card work in Armenia? No – You’ll need a separate sim card for Armenia. Similarly, Armenian sim cards don’t work in Georgia. For Armenia, I recommend Beeline.
- Will my sim card work in Azerbaijan? No – You’ll need a separate sim card for 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
- Get Your Guide – Great for buying tours and tickets in Georgia on the go (download for iPhone; Android).
- Google Maps – Essential for navigating the cities and using public transportation (metros and buses in Tbilisi are linked up with Google Maps).
- Maps.Me – Handy for offline maps and remote areas, such as the Kazbegi to Gergeti Trinity trek (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.
– 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 (use this link to sign up and get $55 AUD off your first Airbnb booking).
– Find the best city tours and day excursions in Georgia.
– Compare mobile providers and pick up a local Georgian sim card.
– Pre-order the new Lonely Planet Caucasus guidebook (coming out in June 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