I sketched where to go from Johannesburg Airport International Arrivals

Where to Find SIM Cards at Johannesburg Airport, Map Included

Updated by Chris. Chris has so many South African friends, he's planning a trip to visit

A map and guide to help travellers to Johannesburg Airport figure out where to buy a SIM card and which one to buy. I’m a frequent traveller to new cities, I understand how confusing it can be. Hopefully this guide will fix that confusion.

SIM cards can be found at one of the three South African mobile phone providers that have shops at Johannesburg Airport:

Shop Location SIM Cards Available
6am - 10pm
Turn right after leaving customs, then continue right. The three shops are adjacent to each other.
  • Vodacom, from R105
6am - 10pm
Turn right after leaving customs, then continue right. The three shops are adjacent to each other.
  • MTN, from R120
Cell C
6am - 10pm
Turn right after leaving customs, then continue right. The three shops are adjacent to each other.
  • Cell C, from R1 with no additional credit
  • Hello Mobile, free with bundle
Locations of SIM card shops at Johannesburg Airport

The prepaid SIM card shops are located to the right after exiting the customs area. Follow the curved path around and continue right. The shops are adjacent to each other.

Three of the larger mobile phone network providers are represented by shops at Johannesburg Airport: Vodacom, MTN, and Cell C. I find Vodacom or MTN to offer the best deals for short term visitors to South Africa. There aren’t any better options if leaving the airport. Registration is required when purchasing a SIM card in South Africa.

Overall based on data, calls and coverage, I find Vodacom to offer the best option. It has a good rate for smaller amounts of data (less than 3GB), and very good international call rates. If looking for more data (say greater than 5GB), MTN offers the best gigabytes per Rand.

Data is added to these cards by bundle and a comparison rate is offered between the cost of data purchased as a bundle and the cost of data if not purchased as a bundle. Bundles last for 30 days. Vodacom SIM cards do not have a fixed expiry if in use.

More credit can be purchased at the provider’s store, or at retailers such as Woolworths, Spar, Checkers, and most petrol stations. In South Africa, SIM cards typically do not have short fixed expiry, and can last months with positive credit balance on them.

200 South African Rand is equivalent to approximately 14 US Dollars at time of writing

How do the SIM cards at Johannesburg Airport compare?

Overall it seems Vodacom is the best SIM card to get when visiting Johannesburg and South Africa for a short while.

MTN offers comparable plans and coverage, but it is not as easy to buy as Vodacom. Cell C seems to only offer good value on its longer term plans or through its partner Hello Mobile.

To compare these SIM cards from the perspective of a short-term traveller, I looked at:

  • Data (Vodacom generally, or MTN for lots of data)
  • Coverage (MTN is good, comparable to Vodacom)
  • Calls (also Vodacom)

If Hello Mobile is available at the Cell C store, it can be good value for visitors who are staying in the larger cities and towns throughout South Africa.

Data Comparison

Vodacom is slightly cheaper, some of their options include:

  • 500MB for R79
  • 1GB for R115
  • 3GB for R299

MTN, by comparison, offers:

  • 300MB for R60
  • 1GB for R149
  • 3GB for R299

If buying 10GB or more, MTN is the best value per gigabyte. With R499 for 10GB or R899 for 20GB3. Even when travelling for work, thanks to hotel Wi-Fi, I’d struggle to use this much data.

Coverage Comparison

MTN and Vodacom offer similar coverage, including major roads and towns across South Africa. It seems that for the best coverage, stick with Vodacom or look for MTN.

Telkom also offers good coverage of larger towns and major roads. Cell C only offers coverage in cities and larger towns. These smaller providers may use the networks of the larger providers in certain areas, though that use may be limited to 3G.

Calls Comparison

For international calls, I see Vodacom as better value. I haven’t had enough experience to comment on the quality of the phone calls however.

Vodacom offers another bundle for international calls for R5 per month. If making more than 1 international call, this bundle is worth it as it can reduce the price of calls by R3 per minute. Example prices include:

  • UK, for R1.79/minute
  • Australia or Netherlands, for R0.99/minute
  • Ireland, from R1.29/minute

MTN, for comparison, charges R30 for their bundle with call rates such as:

  • UK, from R1.49/minute
  • Netherlands, from R6.99/minute
  • Australia, from R1.99/minute
  • Ireland, from R2.99/minute

For local calls, Vodacom starts at R1.25/minute and MTN starts at R0.79/minute. Cheaper options are available by purchasing a bundle.

What are the other options outside the airport?

Telkom is the other major provider, it doesn’t have any shops inside Johannesburg Airport. A few smaller companies such as Virgin Mobile, Hello Mobile, and Trace mobile are also available after leaving the airport.

These smaller providers typically offer deals focussed at South Africans, rather than short term visitors.

I found Hello Mobile to offer a good data bundle, with 3GB of data for R249 being cheaper than MTN or Vodacom.

Getting to the city centre to buy a SIM card

Johannesburg Airport is connected to Johannesburg, Pretoria, and surrounds by train bus, Uber, and taxi. If taking a bus, I’ve included below some shops near the bus stop to purchase a SIM card. By taxi or Uber, SIM card shops may be available near the accommodation.

I’ve also looked at if it’s possible to get to the city centre while staying connected with Wi-Fi (it’s not).


Gautrain connects the airport to Sandton and Pretoria. Wi-Fi is not available on the train.

Sandton City, a large shopping mall adjacent to the train station, hosts shops from Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, and Telkom.

I couldn’t find any of the mobile phone providers close to Pretoria station.

Uber and ride-share, using the airport Wi-Fi to book

Uber appears to be available at Johannesburg Airport, though there is no pick up area at the international arrivals area. This means it’s a walk to another area to find the Uber. The free airport Wi-Fi may not include coverage of that area.

I don’t like to use Uber when it isn’t available at the terminal. Airport Wi-Fi often doesn’t stretch to remote Uber pick up locations (and I don’t like walking there with my luggage). If there is a problem finding the driver, it can be awkward walking back to the terminal to get Wi-Fi again.

I assume Wi-Fi is not available once in the car.

Alternatives to Uber in Johannesburg include Talixo and Bolt.


Taxis in Johannesburg do not have Wi-Fi.

Is Wi-Fi available at Johannesburg Airport?

Yes, free Wi-Fi is available at Johannesburg Airport. Connect to # AIRPORTS FREE Wi-Fi to use up to 1 gigabyte over 4 hours4. The service seems to work to book an Uber, though I don’t like to rely on airport Wi-Fi for this.

If in need of more data or time after that, connect instead to # AIRPORTS PREMIUM Wi-Fi and enter payment details.

Do I need ID to buy a SIM card at Johannesburg Airport?

Yes, identification is required to purchase a SIM card in Johannesburg, and generally anywhere in South Africa5.

Identification information is required to activate the SIM card, and I’ve found it’s generally better to have the shop attendant complete this step for you. A record of your address may also be required, showing details of your accommodation seems to suffice.

Can I roam with my South African SIM card to another country

Bundles for roaming appear to only be available with Vodacom, where rates start from R99 per day for 50MB6. This price appears to be better than MTN (I haven’t tried either), but for most people is more expensive than buying a local SIM card.

United Kingdom

The UK is included in Vodacom’s Travel Data Bundle, meaning the following are available:

  • R99 per day for 50MB
  • R199 per day for 100MB

I feel it’s better value to purchase a SIM card upon arrival in the UK, especially if staying more than 2 days. SIM cards are available on arrival in the UK from £20 (about R375).


The Netherlands is also included in Vodacom’s Travel Data Bundle. Prices are as above, R99 for 50MB or R199 for 100MB.


Australia too is included in Vodacom’s Travel Data Bundle. Prices are the same as above, R99 for 50MB or R199 for 100MB.

SIM cards are available upon arrival at most of Australia’s major airports. These start from $10 AUD (R100). Guides to getting a SIM card on arrival at Australian airports can be found here:




Written by Chris who travels frequently for work and understands what it can be like to arrive somewhere new and unfamiliar.

I wrote Landing Last Minute to help the hurried traveler get necessary information about any destination.