What follows is a detailed description of our experience getting pre-paid SIMs for our cell phones in Norway.
I had looked up the major carriers in Norway thinking they would all offer prepaid SIMs. From what I could find online, I decided to go with Telenor as it has good coverage and I knew we were going to spend some time in remote locations. I found a Telenor store right by our AirBnB in a major shopping center, Bergen Storsenter. I found the store easily enough once we arrived in Bergen and asked about SIMs for our phones. The store clerk told us that we didn’t want to use Telenor (not sure, but I think they don’t do prepaid SIMs) and instead to go to Narvesen, which is a convenience store that competes with 7-Eleven in the country, to buy SIMs. There was a Narvesen in the shopping center, so we went there.
Sure enough, they had SIMs that we could buy from a company called MyCall, but the process is super weird. Basically, you pay a couple of dollars for the SIM. But to register the SIM, you have to fill out a form with your information (the form is inside the package you buy with the SIM card). You need your passport to get it set up. The store clerk verifies the form. You then take a photo of the form and email it to a specific email address (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Of course, without a local SIM, I didn’t have internet access, so I used the mediocre internet access in the Narvesen store. The clerk said it can take up to 24 hours to get the SIM registered. But, it was Saturday afternoon, so he said it may not happen until Monday. Ugh! I managed to get the forms signed, took photos of them, and sent them, and then we waited.
The clerk was correct. I didn’t get an email response back until Monday around mid-day indicating that just one of the three SIMs I had bought was registered. (They eventually registered the other two on Thursday, about 5 days after I emailed.) After the SIM is registered, you have to get on wifi somewhere (since you don’t really have service with MyCall yet, go to their website, and set up how much data you want (in gigabytes) as well as top up your balance. I don’t know what the balance is used for (that isn’t clear), but you have to do both. I bought 6gb of data and 400 kronor (about $40) for my balance as I knew I would be using my phone a lot. (We ended up setting up my wife’s phone later in the week with 1gb and 200 kronor for the balance).
I ended up using about half of the data I bought (3gb of the 6) during the two plus weeks we were in Norway.
MyCall also has an app that you can install on your phone that lets you add a credit card and top up your balance and your data that way. You can also see how much you have used. Once I got the email on Monday saying my SIM was registered, it probably took me 20 minutes on a wifi network to get everything worked out. Then I restarted my phone with the SIM in it (make sure you write down your SIM number (like 20 digits), your PIN, and your phone number). After restarting, I had service and the service was fast and available all over the country (I went to some pretty remote places and still had service).
Given the issues I was having, I actually tried to get my cell service provider in the US to make it so I could use my phone in Norway and I would pay roaming until I got MyCall working. I use Ting. They tried, but no luck with my phone. I love Ting, but this experience made me wonder whether I should switch providers as I do travel internationally some, and having my cell work is important.
Do note this was May 2022. By the time you travel, things may have changed.
4 thoughts on “Cell Service and SIMs in Norway – May 2022”
I recommend Google Project Fi. They offer compelling international roaming packages at $10 a GB or a high data limit package around 40 bucks which is the same cost in America and 160 foreign countries. I used it while in Japan and my bill was around $30 bucks. Also, I made calls to America for free by using Google Voice on cellular or wifi service. Reasonable prices on international calls, was about 8 cents a minute in Japan. It can be started or stopped at any time, and they only bill you by the day for usage, so you can use it over partial months if you prefer.
Also, the best international debit card is easily Charles Schwab Bank. They have ATM fee reimbursement, 0% transaction fees, and 24 hour phone banking services. Their people are excellent and have the authority and knowledge to resolve any issues you have without being passed around. Generally I hate banks, but Schwab is excellent.
I have considered switching to Google Fi for a long time. Maybe I need to. 🙁