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Make cheap calls, send text messages, and use WhatsApp cheaply in Brazil


Making calls, sending text messages, and using WhatsApp cheaply in Brazil with your travel companion, a new hostel friend, or Brazilian flame, is possible and easier to arrange than you think.

What do you have to do to accomplish this?

If you stay in Brazil for less than two months, these are the steps you need to go through. For those who stay in Brazil for more than two months, I explain what you have to do at the end of this article.

1. Buy a SIM card
To start with, you have to purchase a prepaid SIM card (pré-pago). You can choose from the following telecom providers: Claro, Vivo (my favorite), TIM or Oi. In almost all shopping malls, these brands have a store where you can do this. The SIM card costs between 8 and 10 reais.

2. SIM card registration
You must register the card in these stores. Bring your passport and an address. This can be the address of your hotel.

3. Buy minutes
Now that your SIM card is registered, you can buy minutes and Internet access at a news stand, supermarket or a pharmacy. The sales person will ask for your phone number and the amount you want to put on your phone. You can pay this using your debit card and you will be able to call immediately. A credit of 30 reais will last about two weeks with normal use.

Good to know
When you buy a SIM card in Rio de Janeiro, for instance, you can only make calls with it from Rio de Janeiro. Would you like to also make a call in São Paulo, then you will have to purchase an additional SIM card in São Paulo. However, you can send text messages, use WhatsApp, and the Internet, using only one SIM card throughout Brazil.

Will you stay in Brazil for more than two months? Then it is worthwhile to request a cpf.

With a cpf it is possible to take out a subscription. For example at TIM for 50 reais per month. With a subscription at TIM it is possible to use your number throughout Brazil. The use of WhatsApp is free. Facebook unfortunately not.


1. Do you want to go on holiday to Brazil safely?
Download the free e-book with 20 tips for a safe trip to Brazil.

2. Want to learn Brazilian-Portuguese quickly?
Check out our nine video lessons Brazilian-Portuguese for travelers.

3. Are you a single male?
Then Oi Bonita is definitely something for you.