Where in Rio de Janeiro can I buy a SIM card for my cell phone? (Dec 2010)

by Carolyn
(United Kingdom)

I'm traveling to Rio in the near future, and need to buy a SIM card for my cell phone. Do you know where I can get one or should I buy one at home before my trip?

Oi Carolyn,

If you own a no contract cell phone, you can buy a SIM card/chip at the TIM retail cell store located in Ipanema on Rua Visconde de Piraja about a block from the park named Nossa Senhora da Paz (Our Lady of Peace). It's on the same side of the street as the park.

Update October 2012: To purchase a SIM card you will need a Brazilian CPF number (similar to a social security number). This is being done to thwart the Brazilian drug dealers who use the pre-paid cell phones. This may change for tourists in 2013, as you may be able to present a passport to secure the SIM card. You can still buy Brazilian SIM cards from an online vendor prior to your trip, but this is expensive and not always reliable. We are currently not recommending any particular service.


TIM (pronounced 'cheem') is Brazil's largest cell service provider. You can buy a air time card at any newspaper kiosk to re-charge the SIM chip, but you have to buy the chip at one of the TIM stores that sells phones and offers service plans.

You will see the red/white/blue TIM sign at several places, but again, only their retail stores sell the SIM chip. They pretty much give away the chip when you buy airtime in $R 15 increments. They will install the chip and assign you a local Rio phone number which is valid forever as long as you add minutes at least every 4 months. Incoming calls, including those from overseas are free.

There is a retail TIM store in Copacabana on the street NS de Copacabana, but we're not sure exactly where it is.

Please visit our International Cell Phone page for more information.

Good luck and have a nice trip!

The Editors of Rio de Janeiro Travel Information

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