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The Best Ways to Get a Chinese Phone Number Easily [2024 update]

In today’s interconnected world, having a Chinese phone number can be a game-changer for business professionals, travelers, and expats. This 2024 guide is your comprehensive resource for acquiring a Chinese phone number with ease. 

Navigating through the complexities of international telecommunication can be daunting, but this guide simplifies the process. Whether it’s for staying connected with colleagues in Shanghai or keeping in touch with new friends in Beijing, this article offers practical solutions. 

We will explore the most efficient and hassle-free methods to get you connected, ensuring you stay in touch in the Middle Kingdom. Welcome to your go-to guide for seamless communication in China!

The Chinese Telecom Landscape

In China, the telecommunications sector is dominated by three major providers: China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom. Each of these giants offers a range of services and has a vast network covering urban and rural areas alike.

Latest Telecom Trends in China

China is leading the way in the rollout of 5G networks, quickly broadening its reach across the country. Alongside this, there’s a growing trend towards eSIM technology. These digital SIM cards serve as a modern substitute for the traditional physical SIMs, simplifying mobile service management with their flexibility and ease of use. 

Moreover, the concept of China Virtual Phone Numbers is gaining traction, providing users with a local phone number that can be used globally, enhancing convenience for international communication. 

Physical SIM Card Options

how to get chinese phone number

How to get Chinese phone number? If you’re in China, you can buy a SIM card from a local telecom provider like China Mobile, China Unicom, or China Telecom. You’ll need to provide your passport as identification. This is the most straightforward way to get a Chinese number.

Step-by-Step Guide to Obtaining a SIM Card in China

  • Required Documents: To purchase a SIM card in China, you primarily need your passport for identification. This is a standard requirement across all telecom providers to register the SIM card in your name.
  • Where to Purchase: You can easily buy SIM cards at various retail stores or at airport kiosks upon arrival in China. Major telecom providers like China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom have outlets conveniently located in these areas.
  • Activation Process: After purchasing the SIM card, the store staff usually activates it for you on the spot. If not, you can activate it yourself by following simple instructions provided by the telecom operator, which typically involve making a call or sending a text message.

eSIM Technology

How to get Chinese phone number? eSIMs. eSIMs, or Embedded Subscriber Identity Modules, are a modern alternative to physical SIM cards. They are built into your device and can be activated digitally. Benefits include the ease of switching between carriers and plans, no physical swapping of cards, and better compatibility with a range of devices.

How to Acquire a Chinese eSIM?

  • Eligibility Criteria: First, verify if your current mobile carrier supports eSIM technology and if your smartphone is eSIM-compatible. Not all carriers and devices have eSIM capabilities, so this step is crucial.
  • Supported Devices: Ensure that your device is equipped to handle eSIMs. Popular newer models of smartphones usually have this feature, but it’s always good to check your device specifications.
  • Activation and Setup Process: To activate an eSIM, follow your carrier’s instructions. This usually involves scanning a QR code provided by the eSIM provider and then adjusting your phone settings to complete the setup.

Virtual Phone Number

How to get Chinese phone number? Get a virtual phone number. A China Virtual Phone Number is a versatile communication tool that operates independently of traditional SIM cards or wired connections. Utilizing Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology, it can be a local, mobile, or toll-free number. 

An essential requirement for its use is an active internet connection, allowing the number to be used across various digital devices simultaneously​​.

Types of China Phone Numbers

  • Local Phone Numbers: These are geographically specific numbers with local area codes. They can be landline numbers, formatted as +86-area code-local numbers, or mobile numbers, following the format of +86-1-local numbers​​.
  • Toll-Free Numbers: Ideal for businesses, these numbers are free for callers within China. There are two types: 800 numbers, commonly used for marketing and customer service, and 400 numbers, often employed for public service hotlines. Charges for 400 numbers may vary based on the caller’s mobile plan​​.
  • Mobile Phone Numbers: As part of the local phone numbers, these follow the +86-1-local number format, where ‘1’ signifies the mobile carrier code.

How to Get a Chinese Virtual Numbers?

To obtain a Chinese virtual number, you typically need to:

  • Select a virtual phone number provider.
  • Choose the type of number you need (local, toll-free, or mobile).
  • Register with the provider, providing any necessary personal or business details.
  • Complete the setup process, which might involve verification and payment.
  • Configure the number according to your needs, including call forwarding, voicemail, etc.

Top Virtual Number Providers in 2024

1. Global Call Forwarding

 Global Call Forwarding

Known for its trustworthiness and extensive experience, Global Call Forwarding offers numbers in over 150 countries. They provide a 15-day free trial, simple ordering process, competitive pricing, dedicated account management, and 24/7 technical support​​.

2. TollFreeForwarding.com


This service stands out for its adaptability, offering plans for both individuals and businesses. It allows users to choose from local or toll-free numbers in various countries. However, be mindful of the higher per-minute rates if you exceed your plan limits​​.

3. Sonetel


A popular choice for businesses of all sizes, Sonetel offers a cloud-based phone service with features like instant messaging, voice and video calls, voicemail, call recording, and call forwarding. It provides numbers from over 70 countries, including China​​.

These providers offer a range of options suitable for different needs, whether for personal use or for business communications in China.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Q. Can I use a Chinese virtual phone number for SMS verification?

A. Yes, most Chinese virtual phone numbers can be used for SMS verification for services within China. However, it’s advisable to check this feature with your specific provider.

Q. Is it possible to port an existing Chinese number to a virtual number?

A. Porting an existing number to a virtual service depends on the provider’s policies and Chinese telecom regulations. Contact your current provider for details.

Q. How long does it take to activate a Chinese virtual number?

A. Activation time can vary, but it’s typically quick, often within a few minutes to a few hours after completing the required setup process.


This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about how to get Chinese phone number in 2024. 

From obtaining physical SIM cards and exploring eSIM technology to the advantages of Chinese virtual phone numbers, the article provides detailed, step-by-step instructions for each option. 

It explains the types of phone numbers available, including local, toll-free, and mobile numbers, and offers a clear guide on acquiring a Chinese virtual number. 

Additionally, the article highlights the top virtual number providers of 2024, ensuring readers have the most current and practical information for staying connected in China.