Using a phone in Lebanon is expensive and sometimes very annoying. The lines are not well maintained and especially international phone calls are not cheap at all as well as malfunctioning.
If you are an expat who likes to keep in touch with the people back home, you will soon learn to retort to Skype instead of using your phone. Unfortunately, the internet lines aren't working that well either, so pretty soon you will realize that communicating with your loved ones will not only be a fun thing to do.
Locally, many people are using MC's (Missed Call) instead of calling. For this to work you should get into the habit of making sure beforehand that the person your MC'ing knows what it means. For example; One MC could mean: Yalla, am downstairs to pick you up. Get your ass down on the street ASAP. 2 MC's after each other could mean: Hurry up damn it, there is no parking and people are nagging…
Post and Prepaid cards
There are only two existing companies providing mobile phone lines in Lebanon; MTC and ALFA. Both of them offer pretty much the same services and prices.
In order to retrieve your new local mobile phone line the easiest way is to go to one of the many resellers spread around the country. Officially the reseller is obliged to take your information, such as name, address and passport details before they sell you your phone line, so be prepared to show your passport upon purchase.
Prepaid phone cards
If you prefer to get a prepaid phone line the price will land around 22-25 $. In order to get calling time there are different recharge options ranging from 12 $, valid for 10 days, to 136 $ with 90 days of validity before the card is expired.
You should know that if you didn't recharge your card before the expiration of the validity date (even if you still have calling time left), the phone line will be "burnt", and you will have to buy a new phone line (yes, your phone number will stop existing.) Both operators offers 5 days of grace period after the validity date before the line is burnt.
Postpaid phone cards
In order to get this type of line you have to show your passport and pay a 100 $ deposit, the minimum monthly fee is 50$. This options includes different payment methods. The major advantage of a postpaid line is that it will never be "burnt". You will keep you number even if you don't recharge all the time.
To get a phone landline installed in your home you will need to contact OGERO, the governmental phone company.
The installment fee for a landline phone is 57 000 LL (38 $), the regular usage fee ranges between 28 LL / min (9 PM to 7 AM) to 49 LL / min (7AM to 9 PM).
To upgrade you landline to a DSL internet line the installation fee is 252 000 LL (168 $)
In order to apply for a landline installment you need to provide, in person, the following documentation:
A copy of ONE of the following documents
- Identity Card
- Valid Passport
- Form (2) for Military Servants
A copy of ONE of the following documents
- The title deed.
- The building permit.
- The title of rent approved by the municipality or the notary.
- A sale contract certified by the Land Registry.
- A residence certificate provided by the mayor.
In addition to the previous document, Non-Lebanese nationals need to present a copy of ONE of the following documents:
- Residency Permit and home address abroad,
- A Property Ownership Deed with a copy of valid passport,
- Long-term rental agreement (non seasonal) with a copy of valid passport
After your application is filled and submitted, they will make a technical and administrational evaluation in order to ensure the feasibility of your connection. This means that they will have to visit your home, normally this process will not be over and done with until after one to three months (and that is if you're lucky.)
After they have made sure everything is in order, you will be requested to make your installation fee payment and then they will install your line and you will finally (Yeay !) be hooked up. From this moment and on you will be paying a quarterly invoice.
She is a 30 something who left her native Sweden for Lebanon 6 years ago. Now she is reinventing life in Beirut.