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Recommended By

Date Recommended

6 May 2021

Date Updated

10 July 2021


Getting a mobile Phone SIM Card

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General Information


If you arrive in Brasilia, or in any foreign country or city, and you plan to stay for a while, it is advisable to buy a local prepaid subscriber identity module (SIM) card. That will keep the costs down and a unwanted high phone bill when you return.

You can buy this SIM card at any news stand or mobile phone store and they are very cheap. The main mobile phone network operators are Claro, Oi, Vivo and TIM.

But there is a catch; to activate the sim card in your phone you will need a CPF number (Cadastro de Pessoas Físicas). This CPF is issued to all Brazilian residents over the age of 12 and is used for tax identification purposes; it is like a social security number but is used much more widely. Unlike a SSN, every cashier will ask you for your CPF, regardless of the size of the purchase. It is not a problem to give them this number.

If you do not have a CPF and you are planning to stay for a while, we recommend that you get one. The process is straight-forward and does not take long. Please see on how to obtain a CPF in Brazil under General Information.

If you do not want to obtain a CPF but still want to get a Brazilian SIM card there is one way to do it: The mobile phone network operator TIM developed a system for foreign nationals to buy and activate a SIM card during the football World Cup in 2014. This system allows you to buy a TIM SIM card and use your passport number to activate it.

There are several TIM stores around Brasilia and easy to access and they have several different plans on offer.

Once you have purchased your TIM SIM card you have to dial 144 and give your passport number and your temporary address in Brasilia. To top up your credit you have to dial *241. You can choose your language option between Portuguese, Spanish and English.

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