Saudi tightens rules on prepaid SIM cards for expats

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SAUDI telecom authorities recently tightened the rules for the use of prepaid SIM cards by expatriates living in the country.

Expatriates can now subscribe to a maximum of two prepaid SIM cards, whether voice or data. The cap applies only to new SIM registrations. Those who already own more than two numbers can continue using them, but will not be able to register more prepaid SIMs in their name. However, they can subscribe to any number of postpaid lines.

The norm set by the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) is confirmed by all telecom service provider outlets. Saudi Gazette has met several expatriates who were unable to obtain additional SIMs because of the new rule.

A senior official with the CITC told Saudi Gazette that the move was part of a security measure to prevent any abuse of SIM cards.

If someone wants to subscribe for an additional SIM card for use by his wife or children, they can only obtain it by personally visiting a telecom service provider outlet.

If one had obtained a SIM for voice or data in the past from any of the service providers and even if it is defunct, they have yet to cancel it by visiting the sales office of the concerned service provider in order to buy a new SIM.

Users can check how many SIM cards are registered under their name by sending SMS to their service provider. They can also do so by visiting

One reason for expatriates making multiple SIM purchases is frequent data and voice call promotions by specific service providers that cannot be utilized to make calls between rival networks without paying extra charges. Given this scenario, the number of prepaid subscribers is much higher compared with post-paid users.

Prepaid SIM cards are popular and preferred by expatriate workers as they can be easily obtained after biometric registration and also because the users can control their cost.

Another reason for the trend is the telecom service providers restricting unlimited data package in prepaid category. This prompts users, especially expatriates who spend hours together online making video and voice calls, to buy more than one SIM for data usage.


The deadline for fingerprint registration for mobile phone subscribers of all service providers in the Kingdom was July 20, 2016. The deadline was extended from April 17 previously, giving subscribers three more months to record their biometrics. Mobile phone connections of all types of subscribers, including post-paid and prepaid ones, who failed to register their fingerprints and update data were disconnected as no more extension of grace period was given. Earlier, CITC had extended the deadline for fingerprint registration for both post-paid and prepaid customers.

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