What it takes to reach your SIM card limit in South Africa

Mobile networks in South Africa impose different limits on the number of SIM cards they allow an individual to register.

A MyBroadband forum member recently complained that he was unable to get a new SIM card from MTN because they informed him he already had 10 SIM cards registered to his name.

He managed to locate two of the SIM cards he no longer needed to use but claimed MTN was unable to assist him with having these deactivated.

Certain mobile users may have, over the course of several years, purchased multiple SIM cards.

In addition, the overall improvement in mobile data speeds means more consumers are opting to buy SIM cards for use in mobile routers to provide broadband connectivity.

MyBroadband asked South Africa’s major mobile operators how many SIM cards their subscribers were allowed to register and if it was possible to deactivate a SIM card.

According to the operators, RICA does not prescribe an official limit on the number of SIM cards an individual may register.

However, Cell C is the only operator which does not limit the number of SIM cards each of its customers may RICA.

The other three major operators impose their own limits as follows:

  • Vodacom – 100 per customer.
  • MTN – 10 per customer.
  • Telkom – 10 per customer.

Deactivating a SIM

All of the operators explained they had procedures in place for customers who wished to deactivate or deregister SIM cards.

However, MTN noted that the deregistration of a SIM card does not mean that the information is removed from the RICA profile against their name, only that the card itself can no longer be used.

MTN customers who want to increase their limit of registered SIM cards or deregister a SIM card in their possession, must contact MTN’s RICA Help Desk on 083 123 7422.

“A customer who wants to increase the limit will need to provide a written motivation,” MTN Executive for Corporate Affairs Jacqui O’Sullivan said.

For Vodacom customers, this requires that they visit a participating Vodacom outlet with the necessary RICA documentation – including an ID and proof of residence.

The ID number provided must match the original ID number that was used to register the SIM, the operator explained.

Alternatively, customers have the option of transferring ownership of the SIM to another person, which requires both the original and new owner to visit a Vodacom store with the same documents.

Telkom customer can dial its call centre on 081 180 and log a request to have the SIM that is no longer required deregistered against their name.

Cell C did not outline its exact procedure but confirmed there was a process available.

Exceeding the limit

There may be certain instances where businesses require more SIM cards than operators allow per individual, such as when they want to provide phones or devices that use SIM cards to their employees.

Businesses are considered juristic entities and have no specific limits on the number of SIM cards they are allowed to register.

The process for registering SIM cards as a juristic entity is set out by Section 40 of RICA.

Several documents, including a formal request on a company letter-head, and the ID copy of a nominated representative are needed to process such a request.

This will then be considered internally by the relevant mobile operator before being approved. Businesses must also keep a record of those SIMs and their particular users within the company.


Now read: The best and worst mobile networks in South Africa during lockdown

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What it takes to reach your SIM card limit in South Africa