Now, more than ever, it’s easy to stay connected with your loved ones back home while you’re traveling to Morocco. Sporting a very robust network, with 4g cellular capability in major cities as well as much of the countryside, you should have no problems using popular programs like WhatsApp and Facetime to keep in touch. And where 4g is unavailable, a surprisingly quick 3g connection is often found. There are not too many dark spots in coverage, though a few do exist in a few of the really far-flung reaches of the country, such as the top of Mount Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa.
Here are some phone basics for your to know:
Using Your Phone in Morocco Before Arrival:
- If you are using an International Plan with your home carrier, your phone should work without issue in Morocco. Double-check with your provider to ensure coverage before your departure
- If you are looking to swap SIM cards with your phone from back home, you will want to make sure it is unlocked. Check with your local cellphone provider if you are unsure about this.
- If you are using an eSIM card (embedded SIM), it is helpful to get this set up at home and activate it the day before you travel (or the day of), this way you can have coverage as soon as you hit the ground without having to worry about finding a wifi hotspot. (Read more about eSIM cards, what they are, and how to use them here: https://www.pcmag.com/how-to/what-is-an-esim-card )
Getting an eSIM Card for Your Phone
In the last few years, the advent of the eSIM has made it easier than ever to stay connected. You don’t have to fuss with little fidgety plastic things to shove in your phone. You don’t have to worry about “unlocking” your phone from your carrier. Nor do you have to fuss around with finding a little needles or safety pin to pop open the tray for your SIM card. These days, you can just download an eSIM from a provider, select the sort of coverage you want, and then voila! You have a second phone line for your cellphone for another country.
For most travelers, an eSIM is going to be the most logical solution moving forward. Plans are very reasonable and coverage fairly excellent. We have used these ourselves around Morocco and other parts of the world. Here are a few companies to check out that offer coverage in Morocco:
Using Your Phone in Morocco Upon Arrival
You will find local carriers upon arrival in every airport. Not only do these local carriers have booths and small stores, but a lot of times there are also promos running where they will have representatives with clipboards giving out SIM cards with 20Dh of credit for free. Moroccan carriers are: Maroc Telecom, INWI and Orange.
- If you don’t get a free SIM at the airport, a SIM will run you 20Dh just about anywhere. This credit will be good for a couple of phone calls, but that’s about it.
- When you charge you phone, you will want to ask to make sure that they are charging your Internet (stupidly, in Morocco when you charge your phone, there are two options: telephone and Internet… what you charge on one does not apply to the other). Most travelers are happy only charging their Internet and use popular programs available online, such as WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook, to keep in touch.
Using Your Phone in Morocco While You’re in Country
Many of the guesthouses and hotels have free wifi, though the Internet coverage in the rooms can be very spotty because of the lack of high-powered routers and old, thick walls. Most phones will allow you to tether, so you can use your phone as your own private hotspot. We use our phones a lot for tethering our laptops, iPads and other devices to the Internet. I still have an iPhone SE and find the Internet perfectly useable to upload high-res photos, work online while in the field, and even to stream the occasional movie.
- Most country roads have some black spots in coverage, though these are not very big.
- Using Orange in the Sahara, it is possible in some areas to get limited 4g coverage. There is nothing like making a video call from the back of a camel just before sunset to your family back home!
- If you’re working at a café, keep a close eye on your belongings, particularly if you have your cellphone out to tether to another device. This can be a tempting “snatch and run” for thieves, especially in the big cities.
- If your phone breaks or you need to buy a replacement phone, this is possible, though Morocco charges a 20% VAT (value added tax) on imported goods, so what might normally be a $500 cellphone could cost $700 or more. We are also usually a few months behind the latest technology trends in Morocco.
- If you run out of credit on your phone, nearly every small grocery store (hanoot) has phone credit for sale. You will be able to ask your accommodation or driver to help you get more credit if needed.
- Our driver all have cellphones to make it easy to keep in touch with them, your hotels, all of us at Journey Beyond Travel and the rest of your party.
- If you need a cellphone while traveling, contact us and we can arrange for this as well.
A couple of other general observations on phone use in Morocco:
- We find Maroc Telecom to be the most reliable provider with the most robust network, though the speeds offered by Orange are noticeably faster in the desert.
- We usually charge 100Dh (about $12) on our phones and that gives enough credit to last a month, sometimes longer, with pretty heavy Internet usage. We do a lot of uploading/downloading of photos, some video chats with the family, but we only stream maybe 1-2 movies or TV shows a month. If you use video, you might find yourself needing a bit more credit. You will find branches of the local carriers in all major cities.
Of course, if you travel with us, we’ll do our best to take care of your connectivity needs. Your driver will be able to sort you out with whatever SIM card or connection you might need. Though it can be helpful to get an eSIM before you travel or an SIM card right in the airport, if you’re tired from the flight and don’t want to deal with it or can’t figure it out, just let your driver know what you would like and he’ll get it done for you as soon as possible. All of our drivers are equipped with hotspots, so even if you plan on relying on public wifi, you’ll have a backup at your disposal.
About the Author
Text and photos by award-winning writer, photographer, and Morocco expert, Lucas Peters. Except for the last photo. That is a great shot by our own Amina Lahbabi! After spending years traveling to the distant corners of Morocco and writing about his adventures, Lucas penned the 1st and 2nd editions of the best-selling guidebook Moon Guidebooks: Morocco as well as Marrakesh and Beyond published by Hachette. He edited and contributed to the Our Morocco anthology and helps the travelers of Journey Beyond Travel experience the adventure of a lifetime. He lives in Tangier with his family.