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Prepaid Mobile Sim Card for Rio De Janeiro

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Prepaid Mobile Sim Card for Rio De Janeiro

Hello all. I'm going to be spending the next 3 months in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil for a study abroad program and I want to be prepared as possible.

Once I touch down at the airport in Rio I want to be able to communicate with family back home (in the USA) as well as classmates that will already be in Rio, so I'm looking into how to get a sim card to do so. Would rather get the card now and shipped to me so that I can have it handy rather than searching with my bags in tow to find a place to purchase in the airport or nearby in RIO.

I have heard of TIM but it appears their sim cards are out of stock on the website www.telestial.com/view_product.php…

Is there any other website where I can purchase a TIM prepaid sim card? They also don't mention anything about having data on their cards, which I think will be necessary for me as a student, so I am also interested in other carriers that are better about that.

Suggestions?

Rio de Janeiro
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31. Re: Prepaid Mobile Sim Card for Rio De Janeiro

If you're in Copacabana you will find many Americanas dimestores. One is on Copacabana Av. almost with the corner of Rua Figueredo Magalhães. There is another one on Copacabana Av. right after the Copacabana Palace Hotel and the third one is also on Copacabana Av. between Rua Miguel Lemos and Rua Djalma Ulrich.

Brooklyn, New York
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32. Re: Prepaid Mobile Sim Card for Rio De Janeiro

We are about to travel to Rio for the first time, and connectivity is critical for us -- both voice and data. Somebody on this thread mentioned that data is 2G only.

Is there a way to get 3G speeds on pre-paid? If so, how much should we expect to pay?

Rio de Janeiro, RJ
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33. Re: Prepaid Mobile Sim Card for Rio De Janeiro

Eugene,

I think the data is 3G nowadays even for pre-paid.

But maybe somebody else by here could deny or confirm that.

Rio de Janeiro, RJ
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34. Re: Prepaid Mobile Sim Card for Rio De Janeiro

Just going to add my experience from yesterday.

1) I went to the TIM store in Ipanema here: http://goo.gl/maps/ZFWxl

2) I asked for a pre-paid phone plan without a CPF. "Possou comprar pre-pago sem CPF?"

3) I got asked if I already have a phone. I said no. I picked out a droid for R$309. (Nothing cheaper than R$200)

4) I handed over my passport, he punched a bunch of stuff into the computer and I was out the door with Phone + TIM-chip installed, within 30 min. Total $339 with.... other charges... tax? Not sure.

They said they speak english there.... I believe they do... a little. So don't let that stop you.

The phone was able to make and receive calls 3 hours later. It only came with R$2 credit, so I still have to go to a place with a "Recargar TIM" sign (Americanas express and Newspaper kiosks are my go-to) and up it.

Edinburgh
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35. Re: Prepaid Mobile Sim Card for Rio De Janeiro

There are two ways to get a sim card ("chip" as it is called here). One is to go to a big service provider store such as TIM, Vivo, claro, vodaphone. The other is to buy one for a few pennies at a market stall. If you do the latter, you will need a Brasilian friend to activate it with their CPF (national I.D. number). If you go to a store (eg Shopping Rio Sul) take your passport and you'll probably be ok.

You can't buy one in advance and have it mailed - at least not without much hassle. Better to arrive with a (cheap) unlocked phone. If you are concerned about connectivity on arrival, get a prepaid international calling card sim before you leave (such as TalkTalk).

TIM have a terrible reputation just now - selling more than they can service. I've had no problems in the past but much trouble recently. Vivo has a better reputation just now. Don't take a microsim phone - added hassle to get a sim - and a cheap phone is better for security reasons in many ways.

Edited: 5:14 pm, March 22, 2013
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36. Re: Prepaid Mobile Sim Card for Rio De Janeiro

If you end up getting a SIM which is registered to your passport at Claro or Tim store, you'll have to refill them at the store also. Even though both Claro and Tim offer an online refill options via website or an app, these online options require CPF. I could not get either of the apps to accept my passport number. It seems that they validate if the entered number is a valid CPF before processing any online requests. Therefore, put enough credit on your SIM when buying it, or refill later at the store (no CPF or passport required then)

Rio de Janeiro, RJ
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37. Re: Prepaid Mobile Sim Card for Rio De Janeiro

Oh wow. Did not know that about web-recharge.

First, I want to add... When you say "the store" it's ambiguous. It doesn't have to be "the store where you bought it" it can be *any* store / kiosk where in-persona "recargar" is available.

Second, if you google for "Gerador de CPF" you will find lots of sites that come up with "fake" CPFs for this kind of thing. Obviously, it won't match your orig. passport number, so if the website verifies that as well, you're screwed. But, if it's just a dumb web-form with the standard "CPF" verify "hoop" to jump through, it might work.

Edinburgh
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38. Re: Prepaid Mobile Sim Card for Rio De Janeiro

I've not had that sort of problem. When you need a top up just buy one from a newspaper stand and, if you don't speak Porto, ask the newsagent to make the top up call from your phone for you.

CPFs can be checked very easily - not really worth getting a fake one.

California
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39. Re: Prepaid Mobile Sim Card for Rio De Janeiro

Just about to leave Brazil, tomorrow morning. This my experience with a SIM card in Brazil: I took with me my HTC 4G Sensation Andriod Phone with me which I made sure it was unlock before deciding to take it with me on my travel adventure. When I got to Buzios and reading some of these posts I went to a Americanas store and was sold a CLARO SIM card to find out it was not working. The representative at the Americanas store used his own cell in order to activate the SIM card but he was unsussesful. He went ahead and open another Claro SIM card and it not work on his cell phone. He returned my money back in the form of a store credit, which I did not mind. I did not give up my quest to get phone service. Went back to the store the next day and a different sales associate told me that I needed a CPF number if I wanted a SIM card from TIM. I ask her where and how I could get this CPF number and instructed me to go the post office. After asking directions on how to get to the post office and getting a yellow receipt, went back the next day to be told by someone else that yellow receipt didin't amount to much. I needed to wait 48 hours after issuance of this receipt or what it look like a cash register receipt and go to a government building or office called the "Receita Federal," (I think the spelling is right). Since I was getting ready to leave Buzios and depart to Rio de Janeiro, I decided to wait until arriving at Rio to take care of the CPF number. Once I got into Rio I went the Receita Federal Office and a CPF number was issued in my name. I went to a Americanas store that happened to be two blocks away and the cashier kept asking me for the number. It did not dawn upon me that every Sim card has its own number and with all the commotion of getting my phone to work I forgot the number back at the hotel. At this junction I am pist, mad and very angry I couldn't get my phone activated even though I had a passport, drivers license and a CPF number! I happened to be in the Ipanema area and saw a TIM store. I went in and ask talk to some one who could speak either Spanish or English. I directed to talk to a gentleman who appeared to be the manager and who happened to speak Spanish. I told him everything I have gone through since Buzios and he was perplex and dumbfound by everything I have gone to get my cellphone activated in Brazil. He informed me that there was no need for me to get a CPF number. So, in regards to getting a SIM card in Brazil it all depends to who you talk to in regards to this subject. One person tells one thing to find that somebody else tells you the opposite. There is a lot of ignorance among the people who are selling and or representing phone, cellular services in regards to SIM cards.

Edinburgh
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40. Re: Prepaid Mobile Sim Card for Rio De Janeiro

I'm sorry to hear about your hassle. The situation depends on who you talk to to an extent. As in most countries, there are different ways of doing certain things if you live there. If you buy a sim/chip in a general store like Lojas Americans or in the market, it's not being sold by the service provider. they assume you know how to get it working since for Brazilians it will not be a problem. They are not geared up to how things work for foreigners.

A CFP is a Brazilian Identity Number. Like a Social Security number or whatever you have in your country, but it is not intended for non-residents. Not every Brazilian has a passport but everyone has a CPF, so it is the practical way for the government and phone companies to make mobile phone usage more secure.

Individual phone companies have better options for secure processing. But they are going out of their way slightly to provide facilities for non-Brasilians. Brasil is not the US or Europe! One way is to think of it as a third world country trying to be (and appearing to be) a first world country. The bureaucracy is enormous and of a different nature to other countries.

If you can't be bothered with the hassle, there are companies that will hire you a phone and bill you - but at a cost! If you want to holiday in Brasil without VIP rates everywhere it is essential to learn patience as things can be very frustrating when they go wrong!

I don't know the exact stores you used. For future reference, I would suggest the TIM store in Rio Sul shopping centre near Copacabana/Botafogo. Allow yourself a whole morning even if it hopefully doesn't take that long. Go with a standard unlocked phone that takes a full size Sim/chip - not microsim or minisim. Have your passport and maybe something to show where you are living. Be prepared to wait in line and wait a bit longer for someone who speaks some English (OK here at Rio Sul). Let them set your phone up, install the sim, and pay for a top up there and then.

Just use your phone for calls and texts. (It is best that it's a cheap model anyway, for security.) For data, use your hotel WiFi or go to one of the many internet cafes in Copacabana.

Do not flash your phone in the street to much. Robberies occur even in crowded areas (daytime Centro is safer but not Copa, and Ipanema only slightly safer even though it looks upmarket).

If you are robbed, offer no resistance. Report it to the tourist police(takes several hours) for the sake of your insurance claim.

If you go out of the city, and especially out of the state, try not to use your phone as the credit will disappear faster than you can blink. For emergency, use the sim from your home country or, to minimize charges, take an international calling card with you.

Once you're comfortable with all that, welcome to Rio!