Making phone calls in Colombia


When settling in Colombia, one of the priorities is to be able to make phone calls.

How to proceed to get a landline installed in Colombia?

What are the mobile operators?

What is your average monthly budget?

Thank you in advance for sharing your experience,


Getting a landline in Colombia is not an easy process for expats because it requires to have a Cédula de extranjeria, a bank account, and a credit record.
It is also useless in my opinion.

Regarding cell phone, pretty easy. There are 4 major players, plus MVNO's (Mobile Virtual Network Operators).
Major players: Claro, Tigo, Movistar, ETB.
Major MVNOs: Uff, Virgin Movil.

The easiest way to get a mobile number is to buy a prepaid sim card.  Operators require identification of the line owner.  They usually accept a foreign passport as a proof of identity. Local branches of operators enforce the rule more strictly than the small shops.
Sim card costs around 3000 pesos (1 USD).

From there, it is very easy to buy credit in virtually any store, and then affect this credit to voice, sms, data, or voice/data bundles.

Getting a post paid plan (paying voice and data consumption end of month) is as difficult as getting a land line: Cédula de extranjeria, bank account, and credit record.

Budget varies with usage. Data plans are still pretty expensive.  For instance, with Claro, a 1 month or 2 Gb data plan costs 41,000 pesos (around USD 15).  I am a heavy data user, and 2gb usually last two weeks only.  So would represent USD 30 per month for me.

I agree with previous post, you don't need a landline here and too much hassles to get it.
As far as the mobile operators go, Virgin mobile is by far the cheapest. I pay 35000 pesos a month for 150 voice minutes to any number in Colombia and the USA or Canada. It also comes with 750mb of data, free whatsapp and 50 sms's.
I make all my international calls with skype credit. If you buy a bundle the rates are really really cheap, including even for phonecalls inside Colombia.

Agree on the lack of need for a landline and, besides, I believe you have to be seeking some form of residency to obtain your cedula, which is required for the contract (I'm married to a Colombian and I'm required to get one, but it makes every transaction easier).  I have Tigo, pay $80,000 COP per month, 400 minutes includes calls to the U.S., 2 GB data (which I never use up), only 10 messages, but I use WhatsApp for that, so no problem.  I hear from friends and family that different carriers have different qualities of clarity and connectivity when you travel the country, but Tigo is fine for me here (San Andres Isla).

Magic jack.  Unlimited calls to U.S.

The cheapest is to use Skype. 1 hour to u.k cost about £1.00!

Oovoo which in my experience is better than Skype, costs nothing - all you need is an internet connection (a sufficiently fast one, though) and a supported device (computer/tablet/smartphone).  We use it several times a week to do video calls with family in Cali, from the US.  It also works just fine to make video calls in-country (either country).

Of some use to us also is Ooma - we can bring the Telo device with us to Colombia along with a landline-type phone connected to it, and it's just the same as if we are in the US with it, as it is a VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) device.  So we can make and receive calls while we are in Cali to/from any US numbers at no cost, just as if we were still physically in the US, using the internet connection.  Ooma costs us about $4/month just for US phone taxes. … aQodOBAFXA

Feb 2020 I think i was charged $10. I mostly used WhatsApp

Many mobile providers in other countries like the U.S. have roaming agreements set up in Colombia. ... The GSM 850 and GSM 1900 bands are used in Colombia for cell phones. If your unlocked cell phone supports GSM 850 and GSM 1900 bands it should work in Colombia. Most noteworthy, a CDMA phone will not work in Colombia. psiphone for pc jiofi.local.html

Not every cell phone is authorized by Colombia for use in-country.  You can check to see if your cell phone is on the authorized list: … homologada

If your phone is not on the list there is a process for getting it approved: … -colombia/

Although the article claims this 5-step process is easy, it also says it may take up to 15 days before your previously-unapproved phone will appear on the list of authorized phones.  If your current phone is not on the approved list, consider buying a cheap phone in Colombia to avoid all the hassle.

Be careful using your cell phone in Colombia, check with your cell phone company if it will work and how much it will cost per minute.  If you don't check you may get a bill when you get home for more than a dollar per minute.

I have to jump in here.   I have spent just under 1/2 of each of the last 3 years in Colombia.
Back in the US my mobile provider is T-mobile which I understand is part of the same global telecom giant as Claro.
I have the international travel package and it allows me virtually unlimited data and texts.  The only limitation is on voice calls.  Its quite easy to skirt that since everyone in Colombia is using WhatsApp and/or Signal.  Very handy since no adjustments or notifications are necessary.  Interestingly, the coverage and service is better here than in the US PNW.  When I was in Spain the coverage/service across Northern Spain from Irun to Fisterra was absolutely incredible. Almost no dead spots.  The only place I ran into real issues was last February in the Galapagos Islands.  But, everyone else I met seemed to have the same issues including the locals in Puerto Ayora

I'm kind of lost on that post.
I have Tigo for 75.000/mo that allows me unlimited calls to/from the US (and Mexico and Canada I think) as well as unlimited data. Contract required.

Does your Tigo service work the same, with no additional charges or fees if you are in the US?  Canada? Spain? UK?

Marquezdl wrote:

Does your Tigo service work the same, with no additional charges or fees if you are in the US?  Canada? Spain? UK?

Never tried but I doubt it.

I won't repeat what's already been said but let me add to all the post.
I have two phones, my US is with T-Mobile and works at 3G networks around the world no extra charge, except for calls which Cost 25 cents a minute but Whatsapp works perfectly and never had a need to actually make a call but sometimes I do need to answer a call.

My second phone is a Colombian with Claro, even if your phone from another country works here, keep in mind that unless you are a tourist you are going to need a local number just for verification purposes. Any entity in Colombia will want a local number.

Landline. I have one, if the house or apartment where you live ever had one, it's not that hard to get it, however, as it was said you do need a cedula, a bank account is not required. Why do I have a Landline? Using the phone as a hot spot in my house to connect the computers, and TVs is very expensive, my phone company also supplies the internet.

The US is shutting down 3G service, so how does that affect you? Would Colombia do the same anytime soon?  How does this affect your service?

Just adding,. We did not need anything, but a cedulo. No credit card or bank account ever

I would expect 3G to be around for a while, keep in mind that there is a large Colombian population that still uses old phones and can't afford new technology, also prepaid continues to be used by most people. Whenever you stop seeing vendors on the streets selling cell phone minutes will be the day most people can afford better phones and lower rates. Let's see what happens.

@Maximilien agreed with others.  Who uses landlines ? WhatsApp or Google Voice with your mobile have the world on your fingertips


I have and use the simplest solution out there, for international calling from Colombia. 

Calls are clear as a bell, and never fail. 

And you can make video calls as well as voice calls.

It's a simple and FREE app called WhatsApp.   Give it a whirl!!

Ken in Cartagena



         Actually many have given up their landlines here the cell phone is the # 1 way to communicate here , if you need the use of a landline there are many places you can pay to use one . This has nothing to do with a jiho but consider purchasing a VOLPE they come in mighty handy if you need to call outside Colombia .