Buying a prepaid SIM card in Brazil
In Brazil there are four main mobile network operators: Claro, TIM, Vivo, and Oi and for most travelers we recommend Claro because it's the most popular network with fair prices and good coverage and other carriers might not want to register a pre-paid SIM card for non Brazilian residents without the CPF number.
CPF (Cadastro de Pessoa Fisica) is a registration number of a person resident in Brazil used for identification purposes and it's required for most SIM card registrations, but Claro seems to be fine without it.
How to buy and register Brazilian SIM card
The easiest way to by a Claro SIM card is at their shop that are available across the country. In order to buy and register a SIM card you need to provide a valid passport and the seller will register the card for you on the spot.
Please note that it could be problematic to find a SIM card seller at Brazilian airports and you'll probably need to go outside of the airport to find a shop selling them.
Some sellers might also decline selling you a SIM card without the CPF number, so please bear that in mind.
Data speeds and coverage
Brazil is a very big country, and the coverage is relatively good across Brazil excluding the extremely remote areas, where there are huge coverage gaps. Please keep that in mind if you plan to travel to remote areas.
Brazil has a relatively modern cellular network and LTE and 3G is usually available everywhere with fair connection speeds.
How to top up
You won't be able to top-up your phone online without the CPF number, so the only option left is to visit a local mobile shop or a convenience store and buy the top-up credit there.
Prices change frequently so please make sure to check Claro's website for current pricing.
In Brazil there is an unusual phone number convention where numbers take the following format: +55 (AA) 9 xxx xxx xxxx
- +55 is Brazil's country dial code
- (AA) is the area code (yes, mobile numbers also have an area code in Brazil)
- 9 indicates it's a mobile number
- xxx xxx xxxx is the actual phone number
It's worth noting, that In Brazil a very popular way of communication is What's App that you can use to contact businesses and institutions.