Note: on 01 September 2021 Colombia changed the national dialing system. All numbers whether landline or mobile are now 10 digits.
When calling to a landline (from another landline or a mobile) you need to first dial 60 then the digit of the city. Here are some examples:
- Medellin: 604
- Bogotá: 601
- Cali: 602
- Barranquilla: 605
- Pereira: 606
- Cartagena: 605
If you need to call a local business you should check that the number you have is 10 digits. As usual in Colombia, many businesses have not updated their websites and advertisements to reflect this change.
International Country Prefix: When calling Colombia the prefix for all numbers is 57. When using your mobile phone you can enter +57.
If you use your current mobile phone provider whilst in Medellin you may find yourself with a nasty bill when you return home. One of the first things experience travelers do once they get to Colombia is pick up a local simcard. It’s also a good idea to pick up a cheapie phone to avoid worrying about carrying your expensive smartphone around town for obvious safety reasons.
If your phone is not unlocked or you don’t want to risk losing your iphone, you can buy a basic Colombian mobile phone from any large retailers (such as Exito) for about $120,000 COP ($40 USD).
If you want to continue using your existing phone in Colombia, it is very easy to buy a simcard for as little as 5,000 COP and usually comes with 5,000 COP credit. You should check first that your phone is unlocked and not tied to any network. Sim cards are sold at many supermarkets, the offices of the cellphone networks, and sometimes are even carried by street vendors.
We don’t recommend you go to the official offices of the cellphone companies as they tend to complicate the process and may ask for your passport, address etc. If you’re staying in Poblado pop into the small internet cafe on Calle 10 (opposite Hotel Diez / Bancolombia), they are accustomed to helping foreigners and will make buying a sim a painless process. You simply need to tell them what network, how much credit you want to add and if you require a data plan, which usually comes in 1 or 2 Gigas.
Different networks offer different plans based on your needs however there is really not that much difference in service and price. When choosing a service provider, you might want to check with your local friends about their network, due to calls being cheaper between numbers from the same provider. However as a quick guide Claro is one of the largest providers, Tigo is the cheapest and Movistar is the popular amongst business users. There are also a few budget mobile carriers who piggyback off other networks Virgin Mobile, Móvil Exito and Uff Movil.
If you’re only in Colombia for fewer than a few weeks any mobile carrier should be fine - choosing whatever you can get hold of the quickest may be the most pragmatic approach.
Note: Colombians love using their phone. You’ll always see them making calls, messaging and surfing the net. However you’ll quickly discover that no one ever seems to have credit “minutes” on their phones so if a Colombian calls you, consider it a miracle. Instead most locals have a data plan that allows them to message and call you by whatsapp. If you don’t have whatsapp it should be the first thing you install - that’s if you want to stay in touch with new friends.
TIP: Instead of using public phone booths, here in Medellin there are street vendors who hire out their phone by the minute, usually 200 COP a minute.
The Colombian government has recently introduced several new policies aimed at preventing phone theft, one of which is the national registration of all phones being used in the country, referred to as homologation. If you're in Colombia for more than a few weeks, you may receive a message stating that you need to register your phone. If you don't register your phone, your service may be blocked. If you're using a model of phone that is not sold in Colombia, it may not be possible to register it. If you're unsure about whether your phone can be registered, it's a good idea to check with one of the network providers. By following these steps, you can help protect your phone and avoid any issues with your service.
Let’s face it, if you’re going to be mugged or lose something on your holiday, it’s probably going to be your phone. Brandishing an expensive smartphone, such as an iPhone, will make you more of a target for mugging. Please use common sense and don’t use your phone on busy streets, the metro, or anywhere downtown. Also, never leave your phone on tables at cafes or restaurants, especially when you go to the bathroom, even if you’re friends are at the table.
If your phone is stolen you should report it to the police - giving them the IMEI number. You can check any phone’s IMEI number by dialing *#06#. Do it now before you forget. Chances of finding your stolen phone are slim, however, you can check THIS WEBSITE to see if it's been found.
If you are planning on buying a second-hand Colombian phone, you should check THIS DATABASE to ensure it is being sold legally. Simply enter the phone's IMEI number to check. Remember you can check any phone’s IMEI number by dialing *#06#.
For visitors to Medellin with online jobs access to high-speed internet is essential. While Colombia doesn’t have a super modern internet infrastructure, it’s still decent, reliable and widely available.
Medellin is supposed to be the number one city in Colombia for access to public free wifi. There is even talk of connecting wifi services to all public transport services including the metro, metro cable, even taxis and buses. Meanwhile free wifi can be found in most cafes, hostels and hotels.
Most rental apartments have between 100 and 300 Megas. As a backup you may want to get a data plan for your phone and transferring the connection to your laptop. The average cost of a prepay 8 Gb mobile phone plan is pretty cheap at about 50,000 COP a month.