Costa Rica Cell Phones
If communication for you is equivalent to using a cellular, Costa Rica may prove to be something of a challenge. Communications systems in Costa Rica are owned by the ICE, The Costa Rican Institute of Electricity. This government owned monopoly is in charge of telecommunications, giving out phone lines and some types of internet access. Many ticos have come to depend on their cellular, since up to a short while ago it was easier to get a cell phone line than to have a land line installed in Costa Rica. Cell phones currently run on two main technologies: GSM and TDMA. GSM phones run in the 1800 MHz frequency and TDMA phones run in the 1900 MHz band. How to recognize them? GSM phones use a chip called a SIM to contain your phone information. When you change phones, you just remove the chip and insert it in the new GSM phone. TDMA phones do not use a chip: the information is contained in your phone itself. Coverage is still not 100% throughout the country, and it could be common to find yourself in an area without coverage both in and out of San Jose
If you are only in Costa Rica for a little while, you may wish to use your overseas cell phone in Costa Rica using the roaming plan your service provider has available. If you don’t want to pay roaming charges, then the best choice would be to rent a mobile phone during your stay, and we could gladly help you with arranging all necessary details for you to get your cell phone. Costa Rica is all in the same area code, so all you need to dial is the 8 digits after the country code once you are within the country. Calling Costa Rica from the US you should dial
011 (506) 8 digit phone number
Calling from Costa Rica to the rest of the world you need to dial:
00 (country code) (area code) (phone number)
Which are the requisites for getting a cellular phone line in Costa Rica?
If you are looking for a personal cell phone line, you have two options: to do it at the ICE offices if you already have an authorized cell phone, or to do it at the authorized dealership where you buy the cell phone.
If you decide to show up at the ICE, you’ll need the original and two copies of the sales slip or receipt for the telephone. This should be an official numbered receipt provided by the Costa Rican tax recollection system with the working permit number, name and ID of the store, salesperson or organization who sold you the phone, the net rate for the phone, applicable taxes, sales price and sales tax, in addition to the rest of the requisites. If you decide to get the line installed at the store, you won’t have to worry about the receipt.
In either case please have with you:
- 1. Phone and receipt (with copies if needed)
2. Your cédula (Costa Rican ID) or residency cédula
3. The name and Costa Rican ID number for the beneficiary of the cell phone line
4. Guarantee fee of ¢12.500 (approximately $30 as of 11-05)
5. Original or copy of a utility bill with a set address
• How much does it cost?
There are two separate fees: From Monday to Friday from 7am to 7pm each call is ¢30 per minute and the rest of the time and on holidays it is ¢23 per minute. The basic rate is ¢2900 (about $6 as of 11-05) and includes voicemail, call waiting, call transferring and three way conference call. Each text message has a cost of ¢1.5
• What about payment?
Between 15 and 30 days after your service is installed your bill will be ready. Because the service is considered a private service, you will not receive an invoice at your house. However, you can call 187 or 193 and find out what the total is, and the bill can be paid in most banks, supermarkets or at the main offices. Another option is to sign up for the PAR system where the total amount gets deducted directly from your bank account.
• Which are the allowed cell phones in Costa Rica?
The ICE has two lists where you can check and see which cell phones will work in Costa Rica.