As in most parts of the world, using the phone from your hotel room is an invitation to a gouging at the checkout desk. Premiums almost always apply, and can sometimes reach extraordinary levels. Public phones in Brazil can be found everywhere and are called orelhões. To use these phones you need a phone card, for sale at all newsstands. Ask for a cartão telefonico.
To call Brazil:
1. Dial the international access code (011 in the U.S. and Canada, 00 in the U.K., Ireland, and New Zealand, or 0011 from Australia).
2. Dial the country code: 55.
3. Then the area code without the 0 (for example, 21 for Rio, 11 for São Paulo).
To call within Brazil:
Dialing a local number is straightforward: dial the number without the area code. However, for long-distance dialing, telephone numbers are normally listed with a three-digit prefix, followed by the area code, followed by the seven- or eight-digit number (for example, 0XX-21-5555-5555). Since phones were deregulated, a number of very competitive companies have sprung up. The two digits that fill in the XX are the number of the appropriate service provider (in Portuguese this is called the prestadora). Any phone can be used to access any service provider. In some cities there may be a choice of two or three providers. The only code that works in all of Brazil (and the only prestadora code you need to remember) is the one for Embratel -- 21 (which also happens to be the area code of Rio). So, if you were dialing long distance to a number in Rio, you would dial 0-21 (selecting Embratel as your provider), 21 (Rio's area code), and 5555-5555 (the number). Dialing long distance to a number in São Paulo, you'd dial 0-21-11-5555-5555.
To make international calls:
Dial 00 + 21 + the country code (U.S. or Canada 1, U.K. 44, Australia 61, New Zealand 64) + area code + phone number.
International collect calls can be requested by dialing 000-111, or automatically by dialing 90 + 21 + country code (U.S. or Canada 1, U.K. 44, Australia 61, New Zealand 64) + area code + phone number. Major long distance company access codes are as follows: AT&T tel. 0800/890-0288; MCI tel. 0800/890-0012; Sprint tel. 0800/888-8000; and Canada Direct tel. 0800/890-0014.
International GSM cellphones work in most parts of Brazil. Charges can be high -- usually US$1 to US$1.50 per minute. A better option is to buy a local SIM card, which gives you a local Brazilian number and allows you to pay local Brazilian rates (about R$1 per minute for local calls, R$1.40 for long distance). There is no charge to receive calls if you are in your home area. Outside your area code, roaming charges of about R$1 per minute apply. There are a number of cellphone providers that sell SIM chips in Brazil, but the only one that provides service throughout the country is TIM (www.tim.com.br). There are TIM kiosks in all major malls, and airports and department stores. Note that after you buy a TIM SIM chip, you will have to call and register your account (as part of its anti-crime laws Brazil does not allow anonymous cellphone accounts). You will need to give your name and passport number. Cards that allow you to add credit to your account are available at newsstands throughout Brazil.
Internet & E-Mail
Wi-Fi is becoming increasingly common in Brazil. Many hotels offer it either in the lobby or the rooms, or both. A few hotels offer the service for free; many more charge a daily access fee. While Wi-Fi is becoming the norm, many hotels still only offer the old cable plug-in. Remember to bring your cable.
Wi-Fi hot spots are far less common. There is free Wi-Fi on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, and paid Wi-Fi in airports in Rio and São Paulo, and other sites (generally with an access fee) in some bookstores and cafes in the larger Brazilian cities.
Internet cafes (called cyber cafés in Brazil) are quite common everywhere in Brazil, from the Amazon to the big cities. Prices range from R$.55 to R$2 per hour; luxury hotels usually charge the most, anywhere up to R$30 per hour.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.