Local SIM: Israel Edition


according to the Prepaid With Data wiki page for Israel, i should have been able to buy an Orange SIM card at the post office at the airport, but alas, i couldn’t find said post office. i asked where i could buy a SIM card at the information counter and they pointed me to a kiosk on the arrivals level (after you exit baggage claim) that sells and rents SIM cards. in retrospect i should have asked for the post office, but by the time i realized that, we were already waiting for the rental car shuttle that was dispatched for us.

the rental price including unlimited data was ₪30 per day, or, at seven days here, ₪210. that’s over $60. i passed on it. and then started twitching on the drive to Jerusalem because i had no connectivity. yes, i’m addicted.


we decided to stop by the Old City while we waited for check-in time at our airbnb and parked near the Damascus Gate. i’d been on the lookout for cell phone stores and post offices but the only post office i saw was not easily accessible/parkable. on the way in through the gate, though, i saw large a large orange sign in Arabic across the street and voila, there was indeed a cell phone store, Dr. Phone/iPhone (i only checked because it reminded me of the cell network Orange). the restaurant in the Google Street View image below has closed, i guess, as that’s where the large orange signs were. i don’t think they actually had anything to do with Orange the network, but it drew my attention nonetheless and got me where i needed to be.

The storefront says Dr. Phone, but the business card he gave me says Dr. iPhone. Movin' on up?

The storefront says Dr. Phone, but the business card he gave me says Dr. iPhone. Movin’ on up? [click for full Google Maps]


Orange via Dr. iPhone. really helpful and efficient (to the point of being WAY too speedy) employees, very good English by the person who i dealt with. there were three people working this tiny kiosk doing anything and everything cell phone related, from selling SIM cards/phones/accessories to troubleshooting apps to fixing shattered backs. the guy who helped us was doing three things at once and never got lost or confused — i was really impressed!

photo (6)

Orange Bigtalk FUN SIM

what you need

nothing. no passport, no forms, no signature.


i ended up getting a SIM card for ₪20 and 3 GB of data (definitely overkill, now that i think about it) for ₪80, so a total of ₪100 ($28.72) or less than half of what they wanted at the airport. 1 GB of data was available i think for ₪20 less. note, there is no allowance for voice as far as i know, which is fine with me, though i am able to accept calls. my dad bought a SIM card with call credit, ₪60 including ₪53 of usable funds. we paid a total of ₪180, so i think he charged ₪10 commission per card (he was speaking very quickly — but not trying to deceive — just working really fast). i did sign my dad up for the 100 MB plan (₪27.17) just now (hours later) in case he has data turned on which will slowly eat away at his balance and because i know he’ll never use up ₪53 of credit. instructions for adding that package are on the Prepaid With Data wiki page (tl;dr, call *4555 for automated service).


immediate. the man was ridiculously adept at navigating through my phone and verifying everything was set up correctly.

coverage and speeds

so far, so good! there are parts in Old Jerusalem where i was surrounded by high walls and i dropped down to GPRS  but for the most part i have 3 to 5 bars of solid 3G.

Dial *111# for a balance update. My dad, who only has call credits, has a monetary balance show up on his instead of a remaining data balance.

Dial *111# for a balance update. My dad, who only has call credits, has a monetary balance show up on his instead of a remaining data balance.

here’s Dr. iPhone’s business card (since he gave me one, i figured why not share it.)

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12 Comments on "Local SIM: Israel Edition"

  1. Although I usually don’t read your posts – I am one of those fuddy-duddies who believes in caps when English calls for them and I tend to get put off when they are missing from anything but text messages – the title drew me in, since I have lots of experience with SIM cards in Israel.

    One tip – at least for the Orange network – is to make sure you leave at least a shekel or two on the account when you depart. Then the number will stay active and not be given to someone else. We were told a number can stay active that way for a year but our experience has had numbers staying active even longer than that. On a future trip, you can just bring the SIM card along and then buy more minutes/data to add to the account.

    We travel to Israel relatively frequently, and this way we always know the number we’ll have there (we’ve used the same two numbers since 2007). It is also cheaper to just add minutes than to buy another starter pack, which, by the way, can vary in price at different cell phone stores. And we have lent our SIM cards to others who will be in Israel, so they can use the number while there. That resets the clock as well, giving us another year (or so) before the number could become inactive or gets assigned to someone else.

    Your experience at the store is quite typical. Our favorite store is near Mahane Yehuda (the outdoor market) on Agrippas Street and the people who work there know every phone and every plan, multi-tasking their ways through the day at lightening speed, as they sell phones and SIM cards to Israelis, foreign workers, tourists and new immigrants, conversing in a variety of languages to get it all done.

    Enjoy your stay! The tunnels tour under the Western Wall is great, as is the outdoor market (shuk). And I’d suggest parking that car someplace and just walking – Jerusalem is really a pretty small city, parking can be extremely frustrating, and there are very few places you can’t easily get by foot or bus!

  2. You’re welcome! And thanks for those capitals in your reply 😉 !

  3. Elaine and Wanderlusty,
    I left Israel at the end of 2010 and am heading back in a couple of weeks. I had a couple of Orange sim cards that I’d like to put back in service. Do you know how to check if the sim card is still active (before put down $$ for a recharge that might not work)?

    • hm! i don’t know if it’s possible to check online (i did a quick look at their website and it appears that if you want to register it will send an SMS to your phone as part of the registration process — i suppose, though, that’s a way to see if it’s still active, although it may not be able to roam in the US…).

      my guess, though, would be no. i’d be very surprised if a SIM card lasted longer than a year without a reload (i think most expire after 3 or 6 months).

      have a great trip, though!!!

    • Just take the SIM cards with you to Israel. When you get there, any of the phone stores can help you figure out if the number is still working. If so, you can buy a card at the phone store to reload the number with minutes (shekels). If not, you can buy a new SIM card at the store, as well as load it. During our last visit, we used a number from the Orange network that had not been used for 9 months. And it was fine.

      The main problem with this approach is you won’t know until you get to Israel if the number is good. If you must know your number ahead of time, I guess you’ll need to buy a new SIM online. I have found that doing it that way is a lot more expensive than buying it in Israel.

      My favorite phone store in Jerusalem is at 40 Agrippas. It is called the Connection Center. We’ve gotten great help there and their prices are very good. They’ve helped us load the phone with shekels, set up voicemail, etc. We’ve also dealt with similar stores in Tel Aviv but I don’t have the names; all the main streets have them.

      Good luck!

  4. I thought you’d like to know how it worked out. I had this GENIUS idea to call our old numbers (we actually had two) and lo and behold I reached our old voice mail on both. I was guessing they would both still work. Unfortunately, once we got to Israel, one of them could not find the network (SIM had died, I guess). The other worked fine and still had 60NIS on it. Since we had one working phone, we didn’t bother with the other. Thanks for your tips!

  5. Completely off topic, but the photo used on the SIM is one of my fiancees photos, thanks for sharing it on the www, as otherwise we would never get to see it back here in Europe 🙂

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