Russia’s Ministry plans stricter rules for foreigners buying SIM cards

Russia’s Ministry for Digital Technology, Communication, and Mass Media has proposed a new bill aimed at tightening regulations on SIM card purchases for foreigners. The bill mandates biometric data submission, limits the number of SIM cards per person, and requires purchases to be made in person at physical telecom locations.

Russia flag is depicted on the screen with the program code

Russia’s Ministry for Digital Technology, Communication, and Mass Media has unveiled a draft bill aimed at tightening regulations surrounding the purchase of SIM cards by foreigners and non-citizens.

One of the provisions of the bill mandates that foreigners and non-citizens must provide biometric data to the government as a prerequisite for concluding a service contract. This requirement is likely intended to enhance security measures and facilitate government oversight of telecommunications services.

The bill will impose restrictions on the number of telephone numbers that can be registered by a single foreign individual. Specifically, it suggests capping the number of registered numbers at ten per person. Further, purchasing SIM cards would be limited to physical telecom locations, with online purchases prohibited. This shift from online to in-person transactions may serve multiple purposes, including better verification of identity and reducing the potential for fraudulent activity.

If the bill is enacted into law, all foreigners and non-citizens currently holding telecom agreements with service providers will be required to adhere to the new rules. They must be notified of these changes by 1 February 2025. Moreover, they will need to sign a new contract reflecting the updated regulations by 1 March 2025. Failure to comply with these deadlines could result in disconnection from telecommunications services.

Another notable aspect of the proposed legislation is the inclusion of a unique international identifier (IMEI) tied to each SIM card. This identifier will be associated with the specific device containing the SIM card. If the SIM card is inserted into a different device, service providers will be prompted to deactivate the connection for that subscriber. However, the bill also allows for the issuance of the IMEI code, which can be facilitated at any branch of the respective service provider.

    Overall, these proposed regulatory changes represent a concerted effort by the Russian government to enhance security measures and ensure greater oversight of telecommunications services utilized by foreigners and non-citizens within the country.