There are these networks operating in Belarus:
- MTS [МТС] (owned by Beltelecom & MTS Russia)
- Velcom (owned by Telekom Austria Group)
- Life:) (mostly owned by Turkcell)
- beCloud (partly state-owned, providing only 4G/LTE, for all providers above)
Many people in Belarus carry two mobiles, one with an MTS and the other with a Velcom SIM card to avoid paying for more expensive cross-network calls. Life is in 3rd place with a lower coverage but very good prices.
2G is on 900 and 1800 Mhz, 3G on 900 and 2100 Mhz. In 2016 the two major operators cover 53%, which has been extended to 97% in the meantime.
4G/LTE has started in 2015. A 4th state-owned provider called beCloud has a monopoly license for 15 years and is building up the 4G/LTE network on 1800 and 2600 MHz (bands 3 and 7), which is marketed by the private operators. MTS has been lauching its 4G/LTE marketing in 2015, life:) followed in 2016 and Velcom doesn't resell 4G/LTE yet.
BeCloud's 4G/LTE serves in 2018 almost 150 cities and towns, including the capital Minsk and settlements in the Minsk region, all regional centres, and the towns of Dobrush, Molodechno, Smolevichi and Shklov including such regional centres as Bobruisk, Borisov, Dzerzhinsk, Kobrin, Orsha, Polotsk, Soligorsk and others. In 2018 beCloud’s nationwide LTE network resold by MTS covered around 75% of the urban population, but is rare in the countryside.
The two major operators sell visitor or tourist SIMs that can be purchased and used without any registration.
It's forbidden to buy a SIM card in Belarus without showing your passport. All operators require this by the law. Be aware that some shops don't know how to deal with foreign (not Belarusian nor Russian) passports.
In July 2016 the currency was denominated and the new Belarusian ruble was introduced. They took away four 0s and 1 new ruble is now worth the same as 10,000 old rubles (BYR). From 2017 only the new Belarusian ruble (BYN) is valid. Therefore all prices given in this article are in new Belarusian rubles (BYN) now.
EU roaming Edit
Be aware that Belarus is not part of the EU, nor the EEA, where since June 2017 new international roaming rules have been enforced. Roaming rates on most European SIM cards are not capped or regulated in Belarus and can be much higher than anywhere else in Europe. So better buy a local SIM in the country instead.
MTS (or МТС in Belarusian "Мабільныя ТэлеСістэмы") is a joint venture co-owned by state owned Beltelecom and Russian owned MTS and the leading provider in Belarus. Its network coverage 98% on 2G and 95% on 3G: 2G 3G and 4G coverage map. 4G/LTE reselling of beCloud started in 2015 and gained 1 million users by 2017. In 2018 it covers 180 towns in the country by 4G together with beCloud.
SIMs cards on all tariffs expire after 180 days of non-use. You can keep it alive by sending a roaming SMS or a web text from MTS's web site. Since 6th July 2017, all tariffs except for the tourist tariffs and a children's tariff have roaming activated at the time the SIM is purchased. To top-up you can buy vouchers or do it online by internatl. credit card (VISA, MasterCard).
MTS has different visitor plans that don't require a registration with the authorities in Belarus, but you are still required to show your passport when buying the SIM card. Although these tariff offer pretty good rates, they don't allow international roaming, making it harder to keep the SIM card active after leaving Belarus.
Tourists arriving in the country are allowed to choose between 3 tariffs:
- Безліміцішча (Unlimited)
- Гасцявы 7 (Guest 7)
- Гасцявы 30 (Guest 30)
Безліміцішча (Unlimited): This tariff is at 16.37 BYR per month paid. 50 MB per day are free and a daily rate is trigged by any use of more than 50 MB as a flat fee of 0.50 BYR per day. From 16/11/2018 the rate will climb to 2 BYR per day. 400 mins to all networks are included in monthly fee. "Unlimited" internet is restricted by an obligation to use it in a smartphone or tablet, not a modem, video streaming is downscaled to 720p and torrents are banned.
Гасцявы (Guest): Their Guest plans come as a weekly or monthly tariff. Guest 7 contains 1 GB for 7 days at 6.18 BYR and Guest 30 has 2 GB for the 1st month included and 1,000 on-net minutes at 13,47 BYR. Data allowance goest down to 1 GB in the second month of use. To both Guest tariffs regular data packages (see below) can be added for extra data. Overuse is 0.0445 BYR/MB.
To get other tariffs, you need to be registered with the authorities in Belarus. A stamp by your hotel on the back of the immigration card in your passport is sufficient, and this is routinely done by hotels upon check-in. Some MTS shops, particularly outside Minsk, might insist that you instead take the Guest tariff with a foreign passport, even if you are properly registered, so be prepared to demand a second opinion. Though they may give better rates, some Russian language skills are mandatory to manage the SIM.
Most voice and data SIM cards have these daily options for data:
- МініБIТ (MiniBIT): 50 MB per day for 0.238 BYR per day, activation: *740#
- БIТ (BIT): 100 MB per day for 8.75 BYR per month, activation: *741#
- СуперБIТ (SuperBIT): 250 MB per day for 16.32 BYR per month, activation: *742#
- Безліміт VIP (Unlimited VIP): 1 GB per day for 29.2 BYR per month, activation: *743#
- Пікнік (Picknick): 1 GB per day for 1 BYR per day, activation: *744#
All these packages above are labeled "unlimited" as they are throttled to 256 Kbps after having reached quota. This is reset at the end of the day. All packages auto-renew. To stop send code *74?*0#.
Their cheapest data plan is simply called Internet (інтэрнэт), aimed at tablets and modems, but has voice and text too at high rates. You can change to this tariff by typing *111*13#. It doesn't have a monthly fee, but you need to add one of these packages for 30 days (overuse is charged at 0.02 BYN per MB):
- Mini - 4 GB: 8.30 BYN, activation: *534#, deactivation: *534*0#
- Midi - 8 GB: 10.47 BYN, activation: *535#, deactivation: *535*0#
- Maxi - 12 GB: 14.57 BYN, activation: *536#, deactivation: *536*0#
To know the remaining megabytes use code *558#. for the remaining credit code *100#.
Disabling useless optionsEdit
Those options are enabled by default and cost useless money:
- "Тонинг"/"Мелодия дня"(= ring-back tone): 0.72BYN per month. Disabling has a one-off cost. To disable *300# (for 0.006 BYN) or text "off" to number 300 (for 0.028 BYN)
- Voicemail: To disable enter ##002#.
- "Будь в курсе" (= spam message): This service is free, but if you press "OK" in any of the spam messages, you'll have to pay. To disable enter *987*0#.
- Possibility to go to negative credit. You don't want to owe money to mobile operator. To disable negative credit and be fully prepaid enter *150*0#.
- APN: internet.mts.by
- Username and Password: mts
- Website in English (showing only a part of the offers):
- Website in Belarusian and Russian (showing all offers): http://by.mts.by/
Austrian-owned Velcom is the strongest competitor of MTS in Belarus with almost the same 2G/3G coverage: Velcom 2G 3G coverage map. Velcom doesn't resell 4G/LTE yet.
Velcom's prepaid card is called Privet (Привет meaning hello/hi). Like MTS, Velcom has a tourist plan that doesn't require the customer to be registered with the authorities in Belarus.
Their new Tourist Plan is sold for 15 BYN at their service centers (Фирменные центры) (locator in English). 9.90 BYN of this are deducted for a 2 GB data pack and 100 domestic minutes to all networks for 10 days. The remaining 5.10 BYN can be used to purchase more services. Data by default is 0.4425 BYN per MB.
For extra data you can purchase another 2 GB plus 100 mins for 10 days at 9.90 BYN by *127*1#. The SIM expires one year after the last top-up. Check balance by *120# and data balance by *127*2#.
Other tariffs Edit
To get other tariffs, you need to be registered with the authorities in Belarus. Though they may give better rates, some Russian language skills are mandatory to manage the SIM.
Here is a good guide of their local data tariffs on other Privet tariff lines in English. They are too complicated to show them all and many visitors will stick to the visitor tariff without being registered. Default internet rate is 0.4557 BYN per MB outside of packages and these packages can be added for data:
|Volume||Price for 10 days||Price for 30 days|
|50 MB||1.67 BYN||2.13 BYN|
|250 MB||2.80 BYN||3.25 BYN|
|450 MB||3.25 BYN||3.92 BYN|
|900 MB||4.37 BYN||5.50 BYN|
|1.8 GB||7.74 BYN||9.76 BYN|
|3.6 GB||n.a.||18.74 BYN|
To activate type *121*1*6# Speed is up to 42 Mbps where 3G is available. To check the remaining data balance enter *120*3#. Overuse is 0.0336 BYN per MB in 50 KB increments.
Disabling useless optionsEdit
Those options are enabled by default and cost useless money.
- "Мелофон" (= ring-back tone): 0.04 BYN/day (1.2 BYN/month). To disable enter *424*5*1#.
- Voicemail: to disable enter *441*1#.
- "Что нового" (= spam messages): The service is free, but if you press "OK" in any of the spam messages, you'll have to pay. Go to SIM toolkit and choose «Что нового», «Настройки», «Сервис включен», «Отключить» and «Подтвердить».
- Possibility to go to negative credit: you don't want to owe money to mobile operator. To disable negative credit and be fully prepaid enter *145*9#.
- APN: wap.privet.by (for tourist line)
- Username and Password: privet
- Website in English (for Velcom)
- Website in English (for Privet)
life:)EditTurkish owned life:) is the smallest operator in Belarus. As its network is more limited, make a network scan before you buy a SIM card: Its 3G is still more limited to population centers as the 900 MHz frequency is not yet employed. Where available, they give data at better rates, but at a lower coverage: 2G/3G/4G coverage map..
4G/LTE reselling of beCloud by life has started in 2016, but can be used on special data packages shown below. You may need to change to a new SIM card, if it's not already LTE-enabled.
They have two visitor oriented tariffs for which you need to be registered with the authorities in Belarus. A stamp by your hotel on the back of the immigration card in your passport is sufficient, and this is routinely done by hotels upon check-in. Both starter packs are sold in their shops called salons (locator) at 2.50 BYN with 1.50 BYN credit loaded.
- World in your hand
The "World in your hand" SIM gives discounted international call rates and is aimed at visitors, while on the "start" pack, which is their regular domestic SIM card, domestic calls and texts are cheaper. You can activate the same data packs on both plans though. Change tariffs by *110#.
Data feature packagesEdit
For both plans/starters default internet rate is a high 0.70 BYN per MB outside of packages.
- daily packs for 24 hours:
- 250 MB: 1.50 BYN - activation: *8121#
- 2 GB: 2.90 BYN - activation: *8151#
- 3 GB: 3.60 BYN - activation: *8301#
- weekly packs for 7 days:
- 250 MB: 1.90 BYR - activation: *8257#
- 2 GB: 3.50 BYR - activation: *8157#
- 3 GB: 4.40 BYR - activation: *8307#
Packages auto-renew. To deactivate. type *110# and choose daily internet (Интернет на сутки).
On all plans these monthly packs can be activated, which have the same price as for local tariffs:
|100 MB||1.50 BYN||*8100#|
|500 MB||3.30 BYN||*8500#|
|1 GB||5.00 BYN||*8036#|
|2 GB (x3)||6.90 BYN||*8102#|
|3 GB||7.00 BYN||*8117#|
|4 GB (x3)||7.90 BYN||*8104#|
|5 GB||8.90 BYN||*8142#|
|8 GB (x3)||10.50 BYN||*8108#|
|10 GB||12.90 BYN||*8110#|
|12 GB||13.90 BYN||*8112#|
|16 GB||16.90 BYN||*8116#|
|20 GB||17.90 BYN||*8120#|
|30 GB||19.90 BYN||*8130#|
|50 GB||29.90 BYN||*8150#|
To check the balance type *100# and *105#. All packages marked (x3) are tripled in size for the first month after subscription. "Unlimited" is capped at 100 GB when speed drops to 512 kbps. All packages auto-renew. To stop, dial *110#.
Disabling useless options Edit
Those options may be enabled by default and cost useless money:
- Subscriber unavailable: to disable enter *120*5*3#
- Voicemail: to disable enter *120#.
- Who called?: to disable enter *120#
- automatic cost information after each debit (at 0.60 BYN per month): disable by *101#
- APN: internet.life.com.by
- Website in English: http://en.life.com.by/