Telephone numbers in Brazil
The Brazilian telephone numbering plan uses a two-digit area code plus eight-digit local phone numbers for landlines and nine digits for mobile lines. Public utility services use short phone numbers (usually three digits), always starting with 1.
|NSN length||10 digits (landlines) |
11 digits (mobiles)
|Typical format||AA NNNN-NNNN (landlines)|
AA 9NNNN-NNNN (mobile lines)
|Country calling code||+55|
|International call prefix||00xx|
As established by ANATEL, the Brazilian federal telecommunications regulatory agency, the format for a local phone number is nnnn-nnnn (eight digits) for landlines, and nnnnn-nnnn (nine digits) for mobile lines. The first digit identifies the service associated with the phone number:
0 is reserved for long-distance calls and cannot be used as a local initial digit (see below).
Until 2008, the initial digit 6 was used for landlines in some parts of São Paulo and neighbouring cities in area code 11, but Anatel demanded that 6 was to be released for mobile use. Fixed-line numbers starting with 6 in that area were gradually changed during 2008 to new prefixes starting with 2. In other areas of Brazil, the initial digit 6 was not in use at that time, so no change was necessary.
Until 2005, some localities still used a seven-digit local number (nnn-nnnn). Until the 1990s, there were also certain regions with three-digit area codes and five- (n-nnnn) or six-digit (nn-nnnn) phone numbers. Even shorter numbers used to exist in previous decades, especially in small towns and before direct distance dialing became universal.
Numbers starting with 300n and 400n are reserved for a special case of non-geographic numbers (see below).
Numbers starting with 1700 are used by some Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to provide dial-up Internet access. Those ISPs have special pricing agreements with local landline operators and customers are charged less than the price of regular local calls when calling such dial-up access numbers.
Local directory assistance can be obtained by dialing 102, but the service is charged as a regular local call in most instances except from payphones. However, all local landline telephone companies offer on-line directory inquiries on their Web sites. Mobile lines are not available for inquiry, for privacy and security reasons.
Mobile phone numbers in Brazil are assigned the same geographic area codes as fixed lines, according to the subscriber's place of residence or most frequent use. Mobile phone numbers start with the digits 6, 7, 8 or 9. These initial digits are known to the public, so one always knows beforehand if one is calling a fixed or a mobile line.
First digit 7 was reserved at first exclusively for radiophone use (iDEN technology), but soaring demand for new mobile numbers eventually forced unused number ranges starting with 7 to be released for general mobile use.
Historically, at the time mobile numbers had seven or eight digits, the higher ranges of the 9 initial digit (96-99) were originally assigned to the old state monopolies before the privatization of Brazil's telephony system, and later to their privatized direct successors. In order to create a competitive market, later the Brazilian government auctioned further mobile service licenses, filling the available number ranges backwards - first with the lower ranges of 9 (91-95), then 8, and so on.
As a consequence, in the beginning 9 was more commonly assigned to mobile operators that used older technologies such as AMPS (analog), TDMA and CDMA, while for some time 8 was specifically reserved for all new GSM licenses. Now GSM is universally adopted by Brazilian mobile operators and, combined with number portability and the inclusion of a ninth digit to the left (see below), this distinction is no longer observed or meaningful.
Ninth digit for mobile numbersEdit
Brazilian mobile phone numbers always have nine digits now, but seven digits were usual in the first years, then eight digits became the standard for several years. The last area code to convert fully from seven to eight digits was 61 (comprising the national capital city, Brasília, and neighbouring areas), in 2005.
However, the popularity of multiple-SIM mobile phones in Brazil makes the country have more active mobile lines than inhabitants (as of November 2016, 248 million vs. 206 million), and by 2010 the country's most populous and economically important area code, 11 of metropolitan São Paulo (an area where over 20 million people live), was getting close to exhausting its available mobile numbers. Overlays and extra area codes were considered, but deemed confusing and impractical for local conditions.
So, on December 10, 2010, ANATEL announced the inclusion of a ninth digit (in the format 9nnnn-nnnn) to mobile phone numbers used in the São Paulo metropolitan region (area code 11). This change was meant to increase the numbering capacity in metropolitan São Paulo from 44 million to 370 million, thereby eliminating the perennial shortage of available numbers in that area.
Telecom providers would have 24 months to implement the ability to dial a new digit to the left of all cell phone numbers of area code 11, but the measure ended up being implemented a few months ahead of that initial schedule, on July 29, 2012. On that date, the digit 9 was added to the left of all existing mobile numbers in the 11 area code, regardless of their former initial digits. So, for example, mobile number (11) 9123-4567 became (11) 99123-4567.
In order to standardize the mobile numbering plan in Brazil, ANATEL started gradually rolling out the change to nine digits in other area codes and states as well. The last three states to implement the ninth digit in mobile numbers (the Southern states of Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul, corresponding to area codes 41 through 55) did so on 6 November 2016. Initial digits 6 through 8 remain reserved for mobile lines, but as of August 2018 all mobile numbers in Brazil still start with 9 after the ninth digit was added, and it was not yet necessary to use the other reserved initial digits.
Landline numbers (starting with 2, 3, 4 or 5) and trunked radio mobile telephony (iDEN) numbers were not changed and remained with eight digits. As iDEN numbers had the same format as the former 8-digit regular mobile numbers, and some old 8-digit standard mobile numbers also used the initial digit 7 of iDEN numbers, some confusion happened for some time, with people adding an initial 9 when calling iDEN numbers, which would not allow the call to be placed. This is no longer a problem, as iDEN service was discontinued on 31 May 2018. On that date, users who still had iDEN phones had to replace them with standard phones with GSM/3G/4G network support, and the number with one in 9-digit format.
The format for public utility service phone numbers is 1nn. It includes all emergency (as well as some non-emergency) services, such as:
- 100: Human Rights Secretariat
- 112: emergency number in European countries (redirects to 190)
- 128: standard emergency number in Mercosul (in Brazil, redirects to 190)
- 136: Ministry of Health hotline
- 147: Digital television transition hotline (2010–2023)
- 153: Municipal Guards
- 181: anonymous crime reporting (some areas only, others may use different, more miscellaneous numbers)
- 188: Centro de Valorização da Vida (Suicide prevention helpline)
- 190: Military Police
- 191: Federal Highway Police
- 192: ambulance
- 193: firefighters
- 194: Federal Police Department
- 197: Civil Police
- 198: state Highway Patrol
- 199: Civil Defense
- 911: emergency number in the United States (redirects to 190)
Most citizens only know the 190 (Military Police) number for emergencies, but 192 (ambulance), 193 (firefighters) and 199 (civil defense) are also commonly known. Usually a call to 190 (military police) describing an emergency with a non-criminal nature will be redirected to the proper number or provide assistance if they are qualified to (as in cases of choking children).
By law, 136 is printed on the packaging of all tobacco products sold in Brazil, so it is usually thought to be just a smoking cessation help hotline. That hotline does exist and can be accessed by this number, but 136 is actually a more comprehensive contact channel between citizens and the Ministry of Health.
In 2013, a law was approved that added two new numbers, 112 and 911, to mimic the emergency numbers from European countries and United States, respectively. A call to those numbers is redirected to the same lines as 190. The law was made because of the large number of foreign tourists expected for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, so the redirecting numbers were initially reachable only from the 12 World Cup host cities, but later the change was extended to the entire country.
Some states and municipalities may have additional short 1nn public utility numbers for other services. For example, in many cities, such as São Paulo, one can get information, make requests and complaints about most services and issues with the municipal administration by dialing 156. Regional utilities for services such as electricity and water supply may also have short access numbers starting with 1. In contrast to emergency numbers, which are always toll-free, calls to such services may or may not be charged.
Landline telephone companies' customer service numbers have been normatized as 103, followed by a two-digit code. For example, Embratel customers contact the company's customer service dialing 103-21. For most mobile carriers, the number is 105, followed by a one-digit code (e.g., 105-2 for Claro). For cable and satellite television operators, the number is 106, followed by a two-digit code (e.g., 106-21 for Net and 106-11 for SKY Brasil).
The Brazilian system for long-distance dialing is relatively unusual and somewhat confusing, insofar as the choice of long-distance carrier determines the actual digit sequence to be dialed.
The standard format for writing down — but not for calling — a long-distance phone number in Brazil is (aa) nnnn-nnnn, where aa is the area code and nnnn-nnnn is the local phone number. Due to persistence of old habits from the time when carrier codes were not used (see below), the format (0aa) nnnn-nnnn is still commonly seen, but this usage is discouraged, since it may confuse customers when actually calling. Area codes are distributed geographically. See the list of Brazilian area codes for a full list.
To dial a long-distance number within Brazil, one needs to use a carrier selection code, in order to choose which long-distance carrier will be used. The carrier selection code is specified before the area code; so, to actually place a call, one should dial 0-xx-aa-nnnn-nnnn, where xx is the two-digit carrier selection code. Because of that, sometimes long-distance phone numbers are written down as (0xxaa) nnnn-nnnn, with two actual letters x as placeholders, which the caller will replace by a carrier code.
For example, to call the number 2222-2222 in Fortaleza (area code 85) using the long-distance carrier Oi (selection code 31), one would dial 0 31 85 2222 2222.
The use of carrier selection codes can be very confusing, because of the obvious added complexity, the different rates charged by different carriers, and even which long-distance carriers can be used to place the call, since not all of them service the entire Brazilian territory, and some are only available from mobile or from VoIP lines. For example, Embratel (selection code 21) is available from any telephone line in all of Brazil, but Sercomtel (code 43) only in Londrina and some neighbouring cities.
ANATEL's Web site used to have a useful on-line system where the standard rates of all available carriers could be compared for the particular long-distance call one wants to place, but it was taken down in March 2013.
Some examples of carrier selection codes are:
- 12 Algar Telecom
- 14 Oi (formerly Brasil Telecom)
- 15 Vivo
- 21 Claro
- 31 Oi
- 41 TIM (Telecom Italia Mobile)
- 43 Sercomtel
Area codes in Brazil are popularly known as "DDD codes" (códigos DDD) or simply "DDD", from the initials of "direct distance dialing" (discagem direta à distância in Portuguese). This was how the service was first advertised when it first appeared in the late 1960s, and the name stuck.
As of January 2009, Embratel is the only carrier offering operator-assisted long-distance calls, by dialing 0800-703-2110. Long-distance directory inquiries can be made dialing 0800-703-2100. However, subscriber numbers can also be obtained by a search at the destination telephone company's website. See the "External links" section below for a useful site with links to Brazilian directory assistance pages.
In Brazil, collect calls are automated. The phone number to be called is prefixed with a special code. Then, as the person being called answers the telephone, he/she listens to a short standard recording informing him/her that it is a collect call. Next, the call is established and the caller is supposed to say his/her name and location within the next six seconds. If the person being called hangs up within those six initial seconds, nothing is charged. Otherwise, the remaining time of the call is charged to the recipient's phone line.
This used to cause problems with answering machines and faxes, but the switch to digital voice mailboxes operated by the telephone companies largely eliminated that problem. Also, the widespread use of caller ID combined with the easily recognizable electronic tune played before the collect-call warning makes many people hang up immediately if they hear the tune and the number has not been recognized.
Local collect calls are dialed with the 9090 prefix; so, to call nnnn-nnnn collect, one would dial 9090-nnnn-nnnn.
For long-distance collect calls, 90 is used instead of 0 as the trunk code, and a carrier selection code must still be used. So, to call (aa) nnnn-nnnn collect, one would dial 90-xx-aa-nnnn-nnnn, where xx is to be replaced by the selected long-distance carrier's code.
International collect calls, for countries for which it is available, are not automated and must be placed through Embratel's international operator, dialing 0800-703-2111. One can also call an English-speaking AT&T operator directly by dialing 0800-890-0288.
Non-geographic numbers have a three-digit prefix and a seven-digit number. They are usually represented as if the leading 0 prefix were part of the three-digit prefix (like with long-distance numbers), resulting in the format 0ppp-nnn-nnnn. Some 0800 numbers are 6-digit only, For example, CELESC (Centrais Elétricas de Santa Catarina) has 0800-480-196.
The currently allocated prefixes are:
- 0300: local-rate calls
- 0303: televoting, charged at local rate
- 0500: premium-rate telephone numbers for charity donations, with a maximum of R$ 30.00 per donation (the telephone number is assigned to a donation value) + R$ 0.50 for call costs.
- 0800: toll-free telephone numbers
- 0900: premium-rate telephone numbers
A special case of non-geographic numbers are eight-digit numbers in the form 3/400n-nnnn. They are dialed as local numbers, without any trunk, carrier or area codes, and calls to them are always charged as local, regardless of where the answering call center physically is.
Such numbers differ from 0300 numbers in that the latter in the past were not charged as local calls and had their own rates (not always really flat and sometimes more like premium-rate numbers), which by law must be informed when advertising the number. 0300 numbers are often used, for example, by low-cost airlines' reservation systems, whereas 400n-nnnn numbers are used by large but cost-conscious companies that do not wish to bear the full cost of a nationwide toll-free system, yet still do not want their customers to be put away by having to pay long-distance rates. 3/400n-nnnn numbers are also often used by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) for standard dial-up access.
As of January 2009, 3/400n-nnnn numbers are not yet available for access from all area codes or localities, but they are available in all state capitals and other major cities. The company (especially in the case of ISPs) may also specify localities where the service will or will not be available, providing an alternative long-distance or toll-free number for such cases. For example, the country's largest bank, Banco do Brasil, offers the number 4004-0001 for its clients to access its home banking services in major cities (where most clients are) paying local rates, and the toll-free number 0800-729-0001 for clients elsewhere in the country.
Outbound international calls use a 00 trunk prefix, followed by the carrier selection code (same as in domestic long-distance calls) and the international telephone number. So, to call the international telephone number +cc-aa-nnnn-nnnn (where cc is the country code and aa the area code), one would dial 00-xx-cc-aa-nnnn-nnnn, where xx is the carrier selection code. Since international telephone numbers can have up to 15 digits, the maximum number of digits to be dialed is 19.
Again, selecting a carrier can be tricky, since they charge different rates, not all of them operate in all of Brazil, not all forward international calls, and some do not put calls through to some remote or rarely called countries. ANATEL's Web site had (cancelled March 2013) a useful on-line system (in Portuguese) where the standard rates of all available carriers could be compared for the particular international call one wanted to place.
There is a special exception for foreign visitors who are using international roaming in Brazil. They can use the standard dialing format to call abroad from Brazil (+cc-aa-nnnn-nnnn).
As of August 2016, Embratel is the only carrier offering operator-assisted international calls, by dialing 0800-703-2111. International telephone number inquiries can be made dialing 0800-703-2100 (same number as for domestic directory inquiries). Embratel also offers radio calls to sea vessels in Brazilian waters by dialing 0800-701-2141, in addition to INMARSAT service, which works like any regular international call and can be placed through any major long-distance carrier.
Inbound international calls use +55 aa nnnn nnnn as the international telephone number, where aa is the two-digit Brazilian area code and nnnn nnnn is the 8-digit local number (9 digits for most mobile numbers). This must be preceded by an international call prefix specific to the country where the call is being placed from (e.g., 011 from the U.S. and Canada, 00 from most other countries, or the actual "+" sign from many mobile networks). If the number in Brazil was supplied with an initial 0 and/or carrier selection codes, those must be omitted.
For example, to call the number 5555-5555 in Rio de Janeiro (area code 21) from the United States, one would dial 011 55 21 5555 5555.
In September 2008, ANATEL started the use of number portability in Brazilian territory, but the existing rules of the numbering plan were kept. Fixed-line customers can keep their numbers when moving their address and/or when switching telephone companies within the same municipality, and mobile lines customers can keep their numbers provided they stay within the same local area (i.e., the portion of the area code where calls are charged as local).
- "Anatel - Regulamento de numeração do serviço telefônico fixo comutado" ["Numbering regulations for commuted fixed telephone service"] (PDF) (in Portuguese). 1998-12-30. Retrieved 2009-01-16.
- ""Anatel - Nono dígito - Portal Setor Regulado"" ["Anatel - Ninth Digit - Regulated Sector Portal"] (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2016-08-08.
- "Anatel - Regulamento de Numeração do Serviço Móvel Pessoal - SMP" [Numbering regulations for the Personal Mobile Service] (PDF) (in Portuguese). 2002-06-20. Retrieved 2009-01-16.
- "Anatel - Telefones de Utilidade Pública" [Public Utility Telephones] (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2009-01-16.
- "Embratel - Mudança de prefixo" [Embratel - Prefix change] (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2009-01-16.
- "Brasil registra quase um milhão de novas linhas móveis em novembro" [Brazil computes almost a million new mobile lines in November] (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2017-01-05.
- "Projeção da população do Brasil e das Unidades da Federação" [Projection of population for Brazil and its federative units] (in Portuguese). Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE). Retrieved 2017-01-05.
- "Nono dígito elevará a capacidade de numeração na área 11 para 370 milhões" [Ninth digit will raise numbering capacity in area 11 to 370 million] (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2011-01-20.
- Fraga, Nayara (2012-07-29). "Nono dígito entra em vigor em São Paulo; veja os principais pontos da medida" [Ninth digit comes into effect in São Paulo; see the measure's main points]. O Estado de S. Paulo (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2012-07-29.
- "Portal Brasil - Discagem para polícia poderá ser feita pelo 190, 112 e 911" [Portal Brasil - Calling the police will be able to be done using 190, 112, and 911] (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2014-11-23.
- "Prefeitura da Cidade de São Paulo - Assuntos Atendidos pela Central 156" [São Paulo City Administration - Issues Addressed by the 156 Call Center] (in Portuguese). Archived from the original on December 26, 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-16.
- "Anatel - Código de Seleção de Prestadoras" [Anatel - Carrier Selection Codes] (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2009-01-16.
- "Embratel - Mundo via 21" [Embratel - The World by 21] (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2009-01-16.
- "Embratel - Serviço Móvel Marítimo - Como Fazer Ligações" [Embratel - Maritime Mobile Service - How to Place Calls] (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2016-08-08.
- "Anatel - Portabilidade" [Anatel - Portability] (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2009-01-16.
- Anatel - Brazilian National Telecommunications Agency (in Portuguese)
- List of all area codes (DDD codes) in Brazil (in Portuguese)