How to buy a local SIM card in Russia

BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN RUSSIA
Online helper for travelers
Mobile network in Russia
Even if you are making a short trip to Russia, we recommend to buy a local SIM card, as roaming in Russia is very expensive. It's cheap - for about 10 USD (payment in rubles), you can purchase a SIM with few hundred minutes of domestic calls and often unlimited Internet connection.

Russian cellular operators uses European frequencies throughout its country - 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE (mainly in the cities). The quality of communication is, mainly, good. However, the mobile network may not be present at a distance from population centers.

If your device is not compatible with networks used by Russian operators or locked by its original carrier, purchase an inexpensive smartphone (costing in the range of 2 000-3 000 roubles / 30-50 USD). Of course, this phone is not a high quality, but it is enough for working with the Internet.
Also, for access to the Internet is possible purchasing a Wi-Fi router to act as a mobile hotspot. But these are typically locked to a specific carrier.

Ordinary mobile phone cost ~1 000 roubles (15-20 USD).

Cellular operators
In Russia are several mobile operators active, but we recommend the three most common carriers, between which there are no differences in the quality of of sound, internet connection and the rates is also similar. They are called as "The Big Three".

MegaFon (in Russian - МегаФон, green logo at the top) has the nationwide coverage and good speeds in cities. Many Russians consider this network to be the best in the country. MegaFon covered almost all regions, except Crimea.

MTS (in Russian - МТС, red logo with egg). The biggest carrier in Russia - about 110 mln customers. It`s present in all regions of the country. It`s the only Russian operator that can be used in Crimea.

Beeline (in Russian - Билайн, logo is black-and-yellow striped circle) is Russia's third-largest mobile operator. Working in most regions of the country.

All carriers of "Big Three" have free english-speaking support for foreign customers.

where and how to buy a russian sim card
How to book tickets correctly
HOW TO BOOK TICKETS VIA KASSIR.RU AGENCY

Why this company? Kassir.ru is the largest, well-known and reliable Russian company selling tickets for various events.
Unfortunately, tickets booking form is available only in Russian. But, this is not a problem - we will help you!

First, read the event description. Translate the page into English or another language directly in the browser or using Google Translator - copy and paste the link into field 'RUSSIAN'.

If everything suits you, return to the original page and proceed with purchasing tickets.
Pay attention! You will not be able to complete the booking via translated page! For correct reservation use only the original site in Russian.

Use our detailed instructions for
desktop screens and for mobile devices
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Rates - how to choose the best
Almost all mobile plans in Russia are prepaid, so try no need to worry about possible damages.

Carriers offer special packages for foreign citizens, but we do not recommend buying them, because they are not profitable. It's best to buy a SIM card with a package aimed at the resident population - for a small fee you will get a lot of local minutes and SMS often unlimited traffic.

Below we present the most interesting tariff plans of the "Big Three" operators. All offers of any of the operators can be found by clicking on the carrier name above
Note! For every region of the country, each of the providers has different prices for even the same plan. In Moscow they are the highest, in other cities you can to pay less.
Note! Information is actual for August 2019! In presented packages only monthly prices for domestic calls and SMS are indicated!

For international calls and messages use the Internet connection and one of the instant messaging apps (Viber, WhatsApp, Skype and others). Calls and SMS abroad in usual way are very expensive!
Note! Information is actual for August 2019. In presented packages only monthly prices for domestic calls and SMS are indicated!

For international calls and messages use the Internet connection and one of the instant messaging apps (Viber, WhatsApp, Skype and others). Calls and SMS abroad in usual way are very expensive!
in MOSCOW
in ST PETERSBURG
Note! Information is actual for August 2019. The digit 0 in packages means that tariff plan includes free mins or SMS, but they are valid when calling or sending messages only to the phones of the province in which the sim card was purchased.
Any value greater than zero means that the package is valid when calling or sending messages to any provinces (phones) of Russia.
* -
1) Megafon Govori - unlimited WhatsApp, Viber, FB Messenger, Snapchat for free
Megafon Obshaysa - unlimited Facebook, FB Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat for free. The package includes calls to mobile numbers. Calls to fixed phones - 5₽/min.
2) Prices of the Megafon carrier are valid for all Russia, except regions of Crimea, Magadan, Sakhalin, Yakutia, Chukotka, Kamchatka, Norilsk, Taimyr.

** -
1) MTS X - free unlimited Facebook, FB Messenger, Youtube, Twitch, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, Viber, Skype, Snapchat, Google Music, Apple Music.
Subscription fee in the first month - 17 roubles (~0.25 USD) per day. From the second month, the price is 500 roubles (~7.5 USD) a month.
2) MTS Tarifishche - you can change packages of data and mins yourself.

*** -
1) Super Unlim - subscription fee is 30 roubles (~0.45 USD) per day.
2) Prices of the Beeline carrier are valid for all Russia except regions of Crimea and Chukotka.

Note! Information is actual for August 2019. The digit 0 in packages means that tariff plan includes free mins or SMS, but they are valid when calling or sending messages only to the phones of the province in which the sim card was purchased.
Any value greater than zero means that the package is valid when calling or sending messages to any provinces (phones) of Russia.

*
-
1) Megafon Govori - unlimited WhatsApp, Viber, FB Messenger, Snapchat for free
Megafon Obshaysa - unlimited Facebook, FB Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat for free. The package includes calls to mobile numbers. Calls to fixed phones - 5₽/min.
2) Prices of the Megafon carrier are valid for all Russia, except regions of Crimea, Magadan, Sakhalin, Yakutia, Chukotka, Kamchatka, Norilsk, Taimyr.

** -
1) MTS X - free unlimited Facebook, FB Messenger, Youtube, Twitch, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, Viber, Skype, Snapchat, Google Music, Apple Music.
Subscription fee in the first month - 12,5 roubles (~0.2 USD) per day. From the second month, the price is 370 roubles (~5,5 USD) a month.
2) MTS Tarifishche - you can change packages of data and mins yourself.


*** -
1) Super Unlim - subscription fee is 22 roubles (~0.35 USD) per day.
2) Prices of the Beeline carrier are valid for all Russia except regions of Crimea and Chukotka.

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Where to buy a domestic SIM card

Moscow, St Petersburg, other cities
where to buy a russian sim card
The "Big Three" companies have their own sales networks. Find the store nearest you by clicking on the link (select your city in Russia) -
MegaFon | MTS | Beeline

Besides, there are many others stores of mobile networks. The two most widespread of them are called:
Evroset` (in Russian - Евросеть / in English - Euronetwork) - store and logo at the top, and
Svyaznoy (in Russian - Связной / in English - Messenger) - store and logos at the bottom.
There you can buy a SIM card of any operator, except for MTS, which sells sim-cards in its own offices only.

Everywhere are many cell communication sale offices, so you can find them very easy - at the airport and railway stations, near subway, in shopping centers and just on the street. Prices, within the same city, are the same and no matter where you buy a contract. Choose the first store that you see.

Do not forget that the types of SIM cards are different (standard, micro, nano for Apple devices). If you are not sure, show your phone to the staff and / or ask the seller to put the SIM card in your device and activate it. Russian phrases here.

Note! In order to purchase a SIM card, one has to produce your passport. This is dictated on the Russian law. Do not buy SIM cards in random places! Only purchase from official mobile and operator shops and stalls are recommended.
IN MOSCOW
IN ST PETERSBURG
How to call a taxi from airport or train station without knowing Russian?
1) You can learn Russian
2) You can read this article
3) Or just book a private transfer ↓


Prompt
! By default, Domodedovo Airport Moscow DME and Central District of Moscow are listed as the points of departure and destination. Replace the data in the form, if necessary. Specify address of your location / your hotel name.

Specify the right direction! (copy&paste)
SVO - Sheremetyevo Airport Moscow
VKO - Vnukovo Airport Moscow
ZIA - Zhukovsky Airport

If the booking system cannot find your exact address, then first specify in the form the name of the District of Moscow as the point of departure or arrival (how to find out the name of the district) and next enter the exact address of departure / arrival in the next step of booking.

Click here to see prices for all most popular transfer routes in Moscow.
Have questions? FAQ
How to call a taxi from airport or train station without knowing Russian?
1) You can learn Russian
2) You can read this article
3) Or just book a private transfer ↓


Prompt
! By default, Pulkovo Airport St Petersburg LED and Central District of St Petersburg are listed as the points of departure and destination. Replace the data in the form, if necessary. Specify address of your location / your hotel name.

Specify the right direction! (copy&paste)
Trains to/from Moscow/Tallinn - Moskovsky Train Station
Trains to/from Helsinki - Finlyandsky Train Station
Main cruise harbour - Passenger Port Marine Facade
Ferry harbour (Moby - SPL) - Saint Petersburg Bolshoy Port

If the booking system cannot find your exact address, then first specify in the form the name of the District of St Petersburg as the point of departure or arrival (how to find out the name of the district) and next enter the exact address of departure / arrival in the next step of booking.

Click here to see prices for all most popular transfer routes in St Petersburg.
Have questions? FAQ
Adding / Topping up
adding topping up russian sim card
Almost all mobile plans in Russia are prepaid - service stops when the phone account balance reaches zero. A SIM card which has not been used for 2 to 6 months, depending on the operator, is blocked automatically.

All mobile operators offer USSD commands for customers to check the balance for free, and also 24/7 support (all numbers are free), including in English language:

MegaFon
Balance check USSD: *100#
Support: 8800 550 0500

MTS
Balance check USSD: *100#
Support: 8800 250 0890

Beeline
Balance check USSD: *102#
Support: 8800 700 0611

How to top up a account

  • By credit card or by cash at carrier-specific or general mobile stores
  • By card in ATMs of almost every bank (typically do not charge commission or small fee)
  • Directly through the carrier's website by card: MegaFon | MTS | Beeline
  • By cash in private payment terminals (e.g. via cashbox like on a picture). Not recommended. Although they are located almost everywhere, they charge a high commission - from 15 to 50 percent (in airports)
Useful phrases in Russian
| Note - Pronunciation
Want to know more? All basic phrases in Russian
English-Russian online translator and vocabulary. How to ask in Russian. Useful phrases in Russian.
How to ask something in Russian, if you don`t know a single word in Russian? There is an exit! We have collected for you all necessary words and phrases in English and translated them into Russian.

Open the dictionary and click the desired phrase or word. You will see the translation into Russian, as well as the phrase in Russian in Latin letters. Dashes below indicate stress (accent) a certain syllable in a word.

Pay attention to the rules of pronunciation. Transliteration is given for the classical Latin alphabet and does not match with the rules of orthography and pronunciation of English.

If you doubt the correct pronunciation, click on the live audio link in Russian
Link to sound
You will be presented with a short slide show with the correct pronunciation from a native speaker.
Transliteration & pronunciation
Please note!

The following transliteration and pronunciation is given for the classical Latin alphabet and does not match with the rules of orthography and pronunciation of English.

Therefore do not pronounce Russian words how to you like represent sounds in English.

For example:
The Latin letter U should not be pronounced as the English word you.
U = YOU = OO

If you doubt the correct pronunciation, click on the live audio link in Russian
(Link to sound )
CLICK TO VIEW
Goog morning / good afternoon / good evening!
[ DOBRAYE UTRA / DOBRYI DEN / DOBRYI VECHER ! ]

Доброе утро / добрый день / добрый вечер!

Link to sound
Hi / Hello!
[ PRIVET ! ]

Привет!

Link to sound
Do you speak English?
[ VY GAVARITE PA ANGLIYSKI ? ]

Вы говорите по английски?

Link to sound
I don't speak Russian
[ YA NE GAVARYU PA RUSSKI ]

Я не говорю по русски

Link to sound
Please help me
[ PAMAGITE MNE, PAZHALUSTA ]

Помогите мне, пожалуйста

Link to sound
I want to buy a SIM card
[ YA KHACHU KUPIT SIM KARTU ]

Я хочу купить сим карту

Link to sound
I need a tariff plan... (name of carrier / plan)
[ MNE NUZHEN TARIFNYI PLAN... (name of carrier / plan) ]

all tariff plans here

Мне нужен тарифный план... (название оператора / плана)

Link to sound
I need a standard (micro / nano) SIM card
[ MNE NUZHNA STANDARTNAYA ( MIKRA / NANA) SIM KARTA ]

Мне нужна стандартная (микро / нано) сим карта

Link to sound
I don`t know the type of SIM card
[ YA NE ZNAYU TIP SIM KARTY ]

Я не знаю тип сим карты

Link to sound
Put the SIM card in my device and activate it (please)
[ VSTAFTE I AKTIVIRUITE SIMKU (pazhalusta) ]

Вставьте и активируйте симку (пожалуйста)

Link to sound
I want to buy a - cheap smartphone / ordinary mobile phone
[ YA KHACHU KUPIT - DESHOVYI SMARTFON / KNOPOCHNYI MOBILNIK ]

Я хочу купить дешёвый смартфон / кнопочный мобильник

Link to sound
How much it this?
[ SKOLKA ETA STOIT ? ]

Сколько это стоит?

Link to sound

additional info
Figures are here, and the currency converter is here

Very expensive! Too expensive!
Very expensive -
[ OCHEN` DORAGA ]

Too expensive -
[ SLISHKAM` DORAGA ]


Очень дорого / Слишком дорого

Link to sound
I`m buying it!
[ YA ETA PAKUPAYU ! ]

Я это покупаю !

Link to sound
I will pay - with cash / by credit card
[ YA ZAPLACHU - NALICHNYMI / KARTOY ]

Я заплачу - наличными / картой

Link to sound
Yes / No
[ DA / NET ]

Да / нет

Link to sound
Ok! / Good!
[ KHARASHO ]

Хорошо

Link to sound
Thank you (very much) !
[ (Balshoye) SPASIBA ! ]

(Большое) спасибо!

Link to sound
Goodbye!
[ DASVIDANIYA ! ]

До свидания!

Link to sound
Bye (bye-bye) / So long !
[ PAKA (paka-paka) ! ]

Пока (пока-пока)!

Link to sound
Questions? Answers are here!
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