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Old Oct 7, 08, 12:34 pm   #1
 
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Do they have pre paid mobile phones in Brazil?

I would like to have a local phone while in Brazil, instead of using my US phone. I cannot switch SIM cards in my US based phone, as I will need to receive incoming calls.
Do they have prepaid mobile phones in Brazil? Are they fairly inexpensive?
Other options?
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Old Oct 7, 08, 5:55 pm   #2
 
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I have seen rental phones advertised at some of the airports. Not sure of the cost, though.

If you have a GSM quad band phone with SIM, you can get a pre-paid sim card. I would check with your US provider and ask if they can forward your US calls to the international number if you provide it to them. (Likely a cost for this, too. Talk isn't cheap! )

Depending on how long you will be in Brazil, how many folks will be calling you from the US? If only a few, give them the number of your Brazil SIM if you get one. (Call one person in the US and ask them to let others know) Even getting a call on your US based phone will cost you more, as will making them. I have international calling and roaming on my US plan, but getting the local SIM is cheaper.

Depending on your US provider, your US SIM may automatically pick up a local carrier, but dialing can be complicated. For instance, you would not be able to automatically call your voicemail. At least that was my experience with AT&T.

If you use up the time on the prepaid Brazil SIM card, you can go to numerous places in Brazil to replenish it. And with the Brazil SIM, you are only charged for outgoing calls, not incoming calls!!! Another thing to consider is if this is a one time trip or will you be making more?

Additionally, will you be making calls in Brazil? A local isn't going to want to call you using your US phone number.

There are several providers in Brazil, TIM, Oi, VIVO to name a few of the major ones.
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Old Oct 8, 08, 3:54 pm   #3
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by realworld View Post
Do they have prepaid mobile phones in Brazil? Are they fairly inexpensive?
Other options?
Short answers, in order: yes, not really, it depends.

Now, the long answers. All mobile phone companies offer prepaid phones. However, they cost a lot, because you get to pay the full price for the handset, instead of the discounted price you would get with a contract. I just did a quick search on the website for Claro, which happens to be my current operator, and you can find simple models for around R$ 160,00 (about US$ 80,00 at current exchange rates, getting cheaper each day with the current madness in financial markets). Be aware, however, that buying a prepaid phone or a prepaid SIM card requires you to register with the phone company with a Brazilian address and maybe a Brazilian CPF (our taxpayers registry number, equivalent to your SSN).

A cheaper option would be getting only a SIM card, but this requires an unlocked phone. You could swap cards only when you need to call, keeping your original SIM in order to receive calls with your U.S. number. For the record, a SIM card costs around R$ 15,00 for most operators (less than US$ 8,00).

Making calls with your original phone (in roaming mode) should not be difficult, local providers can even provide detailed instructions (see, for example, this page from Claro at http://www.claro.com.br/internationalvisitors/eng.html). For voice mail, you should check with your local operator if there is a special number to call when you are overseas (mine works that way when I am abroad, I call a number in Brazil that redirects me to my voice mail based on my caller id).

Can you tell me where are you heading in Brazil? I could look up more info from the carriers that operate at the cities you'll visit.

Regards,
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Old Oct 8, 08, 4:07 pm   #4
 
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i got such a sim when i was there once..it was exceedingly difficult as i dont speak portuguese. they were very helpful but when i finally got the thing up and running it was regionally limited..i could only ring between sao paulo and rio and one other city which ive forgotten.
nowadays i have a skype number and people ring me on that and i collect my voicemail from skype a couple of times a day and return the call on skype. internet cafes are common in brazil and people are entirely accustomed to people wearing headphone/mics sitting and making calls
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Old Aug 14, 12, 10:28 pm   #5
 
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I know this is an old thread but what are the current best options for a local SIM card? I need coverage in Vitoria, Goiania, Cuiaba, Pantanal (if possible), Alta Floresta, Itatituba, Santarem and Belem-are there national carriers that have this?

Do they sell SIM cards at either GRU or GIG? I be transiting both places enroute to my final destinations. I don't need international calls, just want to be able to call hotels, guides, send local text messages.
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Old Aug 15, 12, 4:59 am   #6
 
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Why not simply buy a phone card in each city to use an "orelhao" (phone 'booth' on the street), which are plentiful in most Brazilian cities?
If you get a chip in Rio, for example, local calls in Belem would be long distance.
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Old Aug 15, 12, 10:26 pm   #7
 
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Originally Posted by VidaNaPraia View Post
Why not simply buy a phone card in each city to use an "orelhao" (phone 'booth' on the street), which are plentiful in most Brazilian cities?
If you get a chip in Rio, for example, local calls in Belem would be long distance.

That wouldn't work for me as I need to send text messages to guides and other people in Brazil-for example to alert them that the bus is 5km from town so please come and get us. Or to be able to call airport hotels once the plane lands and they allow calls so the transport will be there by the time we get off the plane.
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Old Aug 16, 12, 5:00 am   #8
 
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Originally Posted by Tiki View Post
I need to send text messages to guides and other people in Brazil-for example to alert them that the bus is 5km from town so please come and get us. Or to be able to call airport hotels once the plane lands and they allow calls so the transport will be there by the time we get off the plane.
You can simply call the guide from an orelhao. You can do the same for the hotels. Your transport person is going to be at the airport or bus station waiting for you well ahead of your scheduled arrival time anyway, if for no other reason than the pace of Brazilian life.
Phone cards are sold at every kiosk on the street and in all airports. You can find an orelhao or two on every block in any city, and in every part of the airports all over the country. I know it might seem primitive to those used to the latest in modern technology, but many people in Brazil actually still use them--successfully !

Charges are quite expensive for "refillable minutes" phones. I can easily go through U$10/day+ in just a few local calls. And as mentioned, AFAIK, with a chip from one city, all other calls would be charged at long distance rates.
These chips/phones are supposed to be activated only with a CPF (Brazilian tax ID) number (supposedly to keep track of criminals using cell phones for kidnap threats, etc), so you also have to find a dealer who is willing to use a number they have or accept your passport number to do so. It's been reported that the Lojas Americanas chain of department stores do this for foreign purchasers, but not all sellers will.

Last edited by VidaNaPraia; Aug 16, 12 at 5:08 am..
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Old Aug 17, 12, 10:35 am   #9
 
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Public phones will be also useful if you have to call from some small villages where there is no cellular coverage, if you travel by road.
They sell SIM cards at GRU and GIG for sure, but I don't know if you can get them without a CPF from there. Look for the telecom's logos at the shops (TIM, Claro, Oi, Vivo). But, as already mentioned, If you buy a card from Sao Paulo and go to other states, it will be a long distance call (and roaming charges, when receiving calls).
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Old Aug 23, 12, 9:19 pm   #10
 
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I'm in the same boat. Will in in SP for a week in a couple of months and am looking to have a number for local calls. I have an unlocked phone to bring with me that I could put a local SIM in, I just don't know if I'll be able to get one (no CPF).

if that isn't an option because of the lack of a CPF, how common is wifi access? I'd be ok with paying for a skype number for this too.
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Old Aug 23, 12, 10:42 pm   #11
 
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Tiki: I'd recommend buying the SIM card on your destination city, because a SIM card from one state will incur in roaming charges if used in another state.

Quote:
Originally Posted by austinrob View Post
I'm in the same boat. Will in in SP for a week in a couple of months and am looking to have a number for local calls. I have an unlocked phone to bring with me that I could put a local SIM in, I just don't know if I'll be able to get one (no CPF).
You can buy a prepaid SIM Card from a kiosk without a CPF. Unfortunately the SIM will only work only for receiving calls and texts until you activate them with a CPF. The activation will be needed to make calls.

If you are staying just for a week, perhaps it could be easier to ask a Brazilian friend to 'borrow' you his/her CPF number, or for the friend to activate the phone for you rather than going through the obtaining-the-CPF-process.

It is possible to obtain a CPF as a non-resident foreigner, but that process can take some time, so that'd be better option if staying in Brazil for longer. The instructions [portuguese] from the Receita Ferderal (Brazilian IRS) can be found here.

http://www.receita.fazenda.gov.br/pe...srespostas.htm

According to those instructions (I didn't do the process mself), you'll need a valid ID from your country of origin and a certified translation. The process can be done in Brazil at the Receita Federal and your CPF number should be available 48 hours later. Alternatively it could be done through a Brazilian Embassy.

Last edited by higo; Aug 23, 12 at 10:48 pm..
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Old Aug 25, 12, 6:24 am   #12
 
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Originally Posted by higo View Post
You can buy a prepaid SIM Card from a kiosk without a CPF. Unfortunately the SIM will only work only for receiving calls and texts until you activate them with a CPF. The activation will be needed to make calls.
That might just work. I mainly want to be able to be contacted locally by my local contact folks.
Quote:
If you are staying just for a week, perhaps it could be easier to ask a Brazilian friend to 'borrow' you his/her CPF number, or for the friend to activate the phone for you rather than going through the obtaining-the-CPF-process.
I'll ask one of the local contact folks if they'll activate the SIM for me after I get there. Even if they won't, being able to receive calls was my primary motivator. I was even looking into getting a skype number for brazil, but they are not available.
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Old Aug 26, 12, 9:28 am   #13
 
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Well, I have only tried this with TIM, but if you go to a TIM store and buy the SIM card there, they can input a passport number instead of a CPF.
It's also not difficult to get the details of someone on the Internet. Just google CPF and a common name. If you don't have to present the documents, it might just work.
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Old Aug 26, 12, 1:16 pm   #14
 
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Originally Posted by C010T3 View Post
Well, I have only tried this with TIM, but if you go to a TIM store and buy the SIM card there, they can input a passport number instead of a CPF.
I'll try that. If it doesn't work, I'll just use it for inbound calls. That's the most important thing anyway.

Thanks!
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Old Aug 27, 12, 7:39 am   #15
 
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One of my local contacts tells me that TIM will indeed register a SIM for me without a CPF.
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