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Phone & Communication

When traveling to a new destination, it is essential to have access to the internet and phone. This can help with navigation, staying in touch with loved ones, and work-related purposes such as using maps and Uber and searching for valuable information for your trip. Therefore, before traveling, it’s crucial to understand how communication works in your destination. Here’s some info on the internet, phone, and communication in Medellin.
Firstly, it’s important to note that major Latin American telecom operators like Claro, Movistar, and Tigo have coverage in Colombia. If you already have a plan with one of these operators in your home country, you can check if they offer international roaming for data usage and calls.
If you don’t have a roaming plan or seek more affordable options, you can purchase a local SIM card upon arrival at the airport, starting from around 6,000 pesos. Some prepaid SIMs come with data and call packages for an additional cost. Remember that your phone must be unlocked for this, but if you prefer convenience, you can buy an inexpensive phone at any mall starting from 500,000 pesos.
We recommend avoiding official cellphone company offices, as they often require extensive paperwork and personal information like your passport. Instead, consider visiting small shops, especially in Poblado, where they are accustomed to assisting foreigners with minimal paperwork. Just specify your preferred network, desired credit amount, and whether you need a data plan, usually available in 1 or 2-giga options.
Different networks offer similar plans in terms of service and price. If you’re unsure which one to choose, seek recommendations from local friends, as they may suggest the most cost-effective option for calls within the same network. Typically, Claro is prominent, Tigo offers budget-friendly options, and Movistar is popular among business users. You can also explore budget carriers like Virgin Mobile, Móvil Éxito, Wom, and Avantel, which offer competitive deals.
You might be wondering if it’s necessary to pay for data while traveling to Medellin. Unlike many countries, Colombia has limited free public internet access, mainly available in select cafes, malls, and hotels, and only 17 stations on the Medellin Metro currently offer free Wi-Fi. Therefore, for safety and to avoid hefty bills upon returning home, having your own connection is advisable.
However, if you’re still hesitant about buying a SIM card, there’s another option available. Street vendors sell mobile minutes, and stationery shops offer minutes and even computer connections.

Local Communication

In Colombia, phones are practically an extension of people’s hands. They’re constantly used for texting, calling, and browsing. Surprisingly, many Colombians don’t have traditional call minutes on their phones. Instead, they rely heavily on messaging apps like WhatsApp for their communication needs. WhatsApp has become ubiquitous in Colombia, so if you find yourself without it, it’s definitely worth downloading if you want to stay connected with the locals.

Making Local Calls

To make a call to a landline in Colombia, whether you’re using another landline or a mobile phone, you’ll need to follow a specific dialing pattern. First, dial 60, then input the city code. Here are some examples of department codes:
  • Cundinamarca 601
  • Bogotá D.C 601
  • Antioquia 604
  • Santander 607
  • Valle 602
  • Boyacá 608
  • Bolívar 605
When contacting a local business, it’s essential to ensure that the number you have consists of 10 digits. In Colombia, many companies have yet to update their websites and advertisements to reflect this change; it must be: 604 123 45 67
For international calls to Colombia, the country prefix is 57. If you’re using a mobile phone, simply enter +57 before the Colombian number to initiate the call.

City of Medellin, with the partnership of US Embassy now has a 911 number you can call English speaking help. Just released in Feb 2024

Security Tips

No place is immune to crime, so here are some common-sense tips for a safe trip:
  • Cell phone theft is the most common and daily crime in Medellin and all over the country, so it is essential to take some precautions, such as not using your latest model Iphone while riding public transportation or on the street
  • If you enjoy working at cafes, it’s important to be careful about where you sit. Avoid tables that are too close to the street, and be cautious about leaving your belongings unattended when you need to use the restroom
  • Add tracking applications to your devices

If your phone gets stolen, it’s crucial to report the theft to the police and provide them with your device’s IMEI number. You can easily retrieve any phone’s IMEI number by dialing *#06# on the keypad. Take a moment to do it now to have the information handy. While the chances of recovering a stolen phone are slim, you can check here if it has been found.

If you’re considering purchasing a second-hand Colombian phone, it’s wise to verify its legality through imeiColombia to Register your cell phone. Simply input the phone’s IMEI number to conduct the check. Remember, you can obtain any phone’s IMEI number by dialing *#06# on the device’s keypad.