Every country has different rules made by their respective telecom departments. Such ministries and departments write, propose, and bring laws by which the telecom companies and the subscribers in the country need to abide. One such rule is regarding how many SIM cards users can have in their name, and, unsurprisingly, the number may differ vastly. Since we can’t cover them all, we’ll use India for the analysis.
DoT (Department of Telecommunications) is the Indian authority that regulates the telecom sector in the country. DoT comes under the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. In 2018, it raised the number of SIM cards an adult person can possess in their name. You can have 18 SIM cards under one name out of which 9 are for normal mobile communications and the rest are for M2M (Machine to Machine) communications.
What if you keep more than 9 SIM cards in India?
The central government’s order is to disconnect all the SIM connections of the consumers who have more than 9 cards in their name. As per the latest orders, the officials will verify multiple SIMs first. In case they are unverified, they will all be deactivated except the one the consumer chooses to keep. For the people living in Jammu, Kashmir, and the northeastern states of India, only 6 SIM cards are allowed, i.e., the officials will verify only 6 SIM cards. In the case of non-verification, their SIM connections will be terminated except for one.
It doesn’t matter whether the consumer has SIM cards from the same mobile operator. DoT said in an order that if during the data analytics, it is found that a customer has more than nine (six in the case of J&K, northeastern states, and Assam) active SIM cards in their name, all will be flagged for re-verification. If the customer turns up for verification and exercises the option to surrender them all, then these flagged SIM cards will be suspended within 30 days, and the incoming services in 45 days.
If the customer doesn’t show up for re-verification, the flagged number will get deactivated within 60 days to be counted from December 7, 2021. Moreover, if the subscriber is on international roaming, hospitalized, or has some physical disability, they will receive additional 30 days for re-verification as per the order.
Why can’t Indian consumers keep more than 9 SIMs?
The question may arise in your mind as to why the government doesn’t allow the citizens to keep more than 9 SIM cards. There are some genuine reasons behind this rule. The government takes such steps to check the incidences of fraud, pesky calls, financial crimes, or automated calls. The rule is in favor of the subscribers at the macro level. Some people may have trouble due to this rule, but the masses get benefit from this.
Furthermore, the mobile numbers which are flagged by the law enforcement agencies or by any government-recognized financial institution will be suspended immediately. Such SIM cards will get their outgoing call feature suspended within 5 days and incoming call functionality in 10 days. Also, if no one turns up for verification the SIM card will be disabled within 15 days.
How to check the number of SIM cards activated in your name?
In 2019, DoT developed a system called Telecom Analytics for Fraud Management and Consumer Protection, abbreviated TAF-COP. This system is in the form of a portal website to help the subscribers check how many mobile connections are in their name so that they can take the necessary action to regularize their additional mobile SIM connections. Here is how to do it:
- Customers having more than 9 SIM cards in their name will receive an SMS notification. Such subscribers should visit the official web portal of TAF-COP using any internet browser.
- Log in to the website using your mobile number.
- In the “Request Status” box, enter the “Ticket ID Ref No” given in the SMS you received in step 1.
- You will receive a one-time password (OTP) you need to enter.
- Using your Aadhaar number you can now see the details of all mobile numbers linked to your Aadhaar card.
The legal age in India to obtain a SIM card is 18 for all Indian citizens. Earlier it was mandatory to link your SIM card with your Aadhaar card and all the SIM cards were allotted after the Aadhaar based e-KYC (Know Your Customer) process. But in 2018, due to persuasion of the Supreme Court of India, DoT discontinued this practice. However, it is still a popular, voluntary way to obtain a SIM card in India using the Aadhaar card voluntarily.