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.
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.
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. 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 you can use while in country to keep in touch with your driver, hotels, Journey Beyond Travel and the rest of your party.
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 a SIM card right in the airport, if you’re tired from the flight and don’t want to deal with it, 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
Written by Morocco expert, award-winning author and photographer Lucas Peters. Lucas has spent over a decade traveling Morocco. He is the writer and photographer of the popular guidebook Moon Morocco. He lives in Tangier with his wife and son.