When visiting Uruguay, will you need a Movistar SIM card and an eSIM for your phone? Movistar Uruguay is one of the leading service providers for travelers and tourists in Uruguay. This comprehensive tutorial can teach you all you need to know about traveling to Uruguay using a Movistar SIM card and eSIM.

Movistar SIM Card

I. Quick facts about Movistar

Movistar is one of the major telecommunications providers in Uruguay. Here are some key facts about the company:

  • Founded in 1994 as a subsidiary of Telefónica
  • Full company name is Telefónica Móviles Uruguay S.A.
  • Main brand name is Movistar
  • Movistar means “mobile star” in Spanish
  • Key services offered include mobile voice, messaging, mobile internet and fixed broadband
  • Has over 2.2 million mobile subscribers as of 2022
  • Covers 98% of the Uruguayan population with its network
  • Has over 90 Movistar-branded stores and other retail outlets
  • 24/7 customer support offered in Spanish
  • Received Leading Digital Operator award at 2022 Digital Awards Uruguay
  • Key milestones include launching 4G services in 2011 and 5G services in 2022

II. Uruguay Movistar Coverage and Speed

Movistar has extensive network coverage across Uruguay, able to provide fast and reliable service.

1. Movistar coverage in Uruguay

Movistar coverage in Uruguay
Movistar Mobile Coverage in Uruguay

With over 1,300 base stations, Movistar covers 98% of the population in Uruguay. Its mobile network reaches all 19 administrative departments of the country.

Both 3G and 4G/LTE services stretch across all major cities and towns such as Montevideo, Punta del Este, Colonia, Maldonado, and Salto. Movistar also covers all major roads and highways of the country.

This means you will have a Movistar signal across almost all tourist destinations and routes in Uruguay. Rural areas have slightly less coverage but are constantly being improved.

2. Movistar speed

Movistar speed
Movistar Mobile Speed

In cities and large towns, Movistar offers high-speed 4G/LTE up to 300 Mbps down. Its 3G network offers up to 42 Mbps down whereas 4G is not available.

Real-world speeds on 4G average around 20-50 Mbps down in Montevideo and other cities which is sufficient for applications like web browsing, video streaming, gaming, and calls. Congestion may be experienced during busy tourist seasons.

Movistar launched 5G services in 2022 which offer even faster speeds up to 1 Gbps down in limited parts of Montevideo currently. Expansion to other cities is ongoing.

III. Movistar connectivity options for travelers to Uruguay

As a tourist visiting Uruguay, you have two main options to connect to Movistar’s network:

Form Characteristic Advantage Disadvantage

- Use the same SIM card that guests are using when they travel to establish a connection to the Uruguay network.

- You don't have to worry about losing the primary SIM because it doesn't need to be taken out. Use the same number each time you make a call.  

- The expenses are substantial

- Not all operators have partnerships or affiliations with Uruguayan airlines.

=> Risk of not having enough time to explore once you get there.  

Prepaid Uruguay SIM card

- Make use of a genuine tourist SIM card from your own country. It is necessary to remove the original SIM card and insert this one.

- You must unlock the phone.  

- Fairly priced

- A range of choices to satisfy any need  

- Installing a SIM needs labor, whether you buy one or wait for it to be delivered.

- The primary SIM is easily misplaced when removed.

- You cannot use a phone that has more than one SIM card slot unless the second sim is removed.  

Free Wifi

Enjoy Uruguay's free WiFi in places like such as shopping centers, eateries, and cafés.

- Free if you pay for a coffee to gain access to Free Wifi.

- Youv have to fill out a registration form before using the WiFi 

=> time-consuming

- Be not utilize the Internet when you are necessary

- Information security risks

Pocket Wifi

- It works as a network sharing device with a SIM card fitted, allowing it to share the network with adjacent devices.

- The phone does not need to be unlocked in order to access the Internet.

- Easy to use; simply turn it on and proceed.  

- Exorbitant costs for the purchase or renting of equipment - Must visit the store and bide their time till delivery

- Always have it available Requires using a backup charger or power source

- If rented, needs to be returned at the end of the trip.

- There must be a minimum distance between the wifi transmitter and the phone.

- Due to the transmitter's limited capacity to handle several devices at once, the internet performance is subpar when there are a lot of users.  

Additionally, travelers visiting Uruguay can think about utilizing eSIM due to the following advantages:

  • Purchase Movistar SIM cards online at any time, from any location.
  • All you have to do is scan the QR code without removing the SIM card to obtain it.
  • Take note that US-market iPhone models, particularly those in the 13–14 range, only permit the use of eSIMs; physical SIM slots are not accessible. Use two sims at once (or one physical sim + one eSIM or two eSIMs). From now on, make use of the device’s primary SIM card.
  • Depending on the kind of device, you can install multiple data plans on the same phone, but you can only activate one or two data plans at once.
  • Depending on the phone’s memory, a maximum of 20 eSIMs may be installed.
    Since Esim is affixed to the device, there is no chance that it may disappear.
    Even if the primary sim is turned off, you can still access Facebook, WhatsApp, and Zalo through the smartphone.

With all of the advantages mentioned above, it’s clear that eSIM is the greatest option for tourists visiting Uruguay.

IV. Best Movistar SIM cards for tourists & cost

For tourists visiting Uruguay, the Movistar SIM Card is a great choice. Advantages consist of:

Data Validity Price ($)
3 GB 7 days 235
4 GB 7 days 335
6 GB daytime + 12 GB nighttime 7 days 169
6 GB daytime + 12 GB nighttime 7 days 179
12 GB daytime + 30 GB nighttime 7 days 280

It’s excellent value for a week of connectivity and suits most visitor’s needs. Top-ups extend their validity.

Movistar SIM cards can be purchased right upon airport arrival from booths or Movistar stores all across Uruguay.

Bring your unlocked phone and passport to buy a SIM Card at the airport.

V. Does Movistar Uruguay support eSIM?

Yes, Movistar Uruguay does support eSIM functionality.

eSIMs provide digital SIM profiles that are embedded into your phone instead of using a physical nano-SIM card.

Benefits of eSIMs:

  • No need to physically swap SIM cards
  • Ability to store multiple SIM profiles
  • Remote provisioning and setup
  • Convenience for frequent travelers

Consider using an eSIM from a top eSIM provider in Uruguay – Esimuruguay.com which offers eSIM data plans for tourists visiting Uruguay. You can purchase an eSIM from our website if you need cellular data during your trip to Uruguay.

Plan that may interest you

Uruguay eSIM 7 Days Plan
Uruguay eSIM 7 Days Plan
From $9.90
Uruguay eSIM 15 Days Plan
Uruguay eSIM 15 Days Plan
From $18.90
Uruguay eSIM 30 Days Plan
Uruguay eSIM 30 Days Plan
From $26.50

VI. Where can you buy a Movistar SIM card and eSIM?

It’s quite easy to find Movistar stores and retailers to purchase SIM cards across Uruguay. eSIM support is still limited.

1. Where to buy Movistar SIM for Uruguay

There are a few convenient locations to purchase a Movistar Uruguay SIM card:

a. Upon Arrival

Carrasco International Airport (MDV)
Carrasco International Airport (MDV)

The easiest is to buy a Movistar SIM card right upon airport arrival in Uruguay. Booths and stores are available at:

  • Carrasco International Airport (MDV)
  • Punta del Este Intl Airport

SIM card prices may be slightly higher than in cities but provide convenience. Bring your passport to complete the purchase.

b. Movistar stores

Movistar stores
Movistar Stores in Uruguay

There are over 90 official Movistar stores (tiendas) across Uruguay selling Movistar SIM cards. Major cities have multiple locations – just search “Movistar store” to find ones nearby.

3. Other authorized retail stores

Many convenience stores, supermarkets, and newsstands also sell Movistar SIMs. Ask for “Movistar Prepago Turista SIM” and the staff can assist you.

2. Where to buy Uruguay Movistar eSIM

You may buy Movistar eSIM for prepaid plans online without going to a physical store. Using your passport, you will finish the digital verification process.

Regretfully, esimuruguay.com is not currently able to provide Movistar eSIM products due to various reasons. We provide an alternative network is Antel. Antel is the most popular network in Uruguay. It is very affordable and has a lot of interesting plans.

VII. How to activate Movistar Uruguay SIM/eSIM

Activating a regular Movistar SIM card is very quick and easy in Uruguay. Follow these steps:

1. How to use Movistar Uruguay SIM card

You only need to follow these simple steps and everything will be ready:

Insert the Movistar SIM card: Locate the SIM card slot on your device, make sure it is unlocked, then gently insert the standard-size SIM card.

Power on your device: Turn on your phone and tablet the SIM card to be recognized.

Activate the Movistar SIM card: Movistar Prepago Turista SIMs are pre-activated so no extra steps are needed.

Set up APN settings if prompted to connect to mobile data. The correct APN settings for Movistar Uruguay are:

  • APN: movistar.com.uy
  • Username: Movistar
  • Password: Movistar

Check your services: Make calls, send texts, and use mobile data to verify everything works!

Contact Movistar customer support if you have any activation issues.

2. How to activate Movistar Uruguay eSIM

To activate an eSIM profile for Claro Uruguay, users need to consider things below:

  • To add a profile, use the eSIM app or scan the QR code.
  • Start the eSIM activation process and connect it to the plan.
  • Configure eSIM: Comply with the instructions to enter payment information and verify activation.
  • Start using: eSIM will connect to the Claro network once it is active.

Make sure you have enough time, a suitable device, WiFi, and a full charge before beginning.

VIII. Uruguay Movistar Call & SMS rates

Movistar Uruguay offers reasonable calling and SMS rates, especially on their tourist SIM cards:

1. Outgoing calls

  • Local calls – $0.04 per minute
  • Calls to USA & Canada – $0.05 per minute
  • Other international calls – From $0.10 per minute

2. Incoming calls

  • Completely free on the Prepago Turista SIM card

3. SMS rates

  • Local SMS – $0.01
  • International SMS – $0.03

So calling locally or back home is affordable. Receiving calls from friends/family abroad is also free which helps save costs.

Rates do vary on other Movistar plans so check fine print for exact pricing. 

IX. Useful Movistar Uruguay USSD codes

Movistar has various USSD codes that can be dialed to check account status, enable services and more.

Here are some of the most handy Movistar Uruguay USSD codes for tourists:

  • *111#: Check the SIM card number
  • *222#: Check account balance
  • *611#: Enable or disable voice calls
  • *622#: Enable or disable data
  • *633#: Enable or disable outgoing SMS
  • *134#: Activate roaming

Dial these shortcodes directly from your device to manage your Movistar account without needing to use clunky phone menus.

X. How to top-up Movistar Uruguay SIM/eSIM

To extend the validity and add more data, minutes & SMS to your Movistar Uruguay SIM card, you’ll need to add more credit through a top-up.

There are several convenient ways to recharge/top-up:

  • Using cash at any Movistar store or many partner retailers – look for recarga signs.
  • Via online platforms like MercadoPago
  • Movistar TopUp app for international credit cards
  • Vouchers from stores

When topping up at stores, you’ll need to provide the cell phone number along with payment. Online platforms require entering your phone number also.

Once the refill is processed, new data allowance and validity will be instantly added to your SIM based on the amount.

XI. Alternatives to Uruguay Movistar

The main alternative operator to Movistar in Uruguay is state-owned ANTEL. They offer both prepaid and postpaid plans.

Some key differences:

  • ANTEL has slightly wider 4G and 3G coverage and better rates on local calls
  • But Movistar has faster top speeds in cities and better international call rates

So both networks have tradeoffs. For tourists, Movistar tends to be preferred thanks to good urban speeds, value roaming packs, and wider international calling support.

Other networks like Claro used to operate but pulled out leaving just two main players. Major MVNOs also lack a presence currently in the market.

So Movistar or ANTEL are your two best connectivity choices when traveling or living in Uruguay as of 2023.

XII. FAQs about Movistar in Uruguay

Does Movistar have good coverage in rural areas?

Yes, Movistar covers 98% of Uruguay’s population including decent rural reach on 3G. Some deep remote areas lack signal.

Can I use Movistar SIM abroad?

Yes, Movistar SIMs and plans from Uruguay do work in other South American countries and destinations globally through roaming. Extra charges apply.

How long is Movistar Prepago Turista SIM card valid for?

The initial validity is 7 days. This can be extended up to 180 days (6 months) by doing regular top-ups.

How to check data balance on my Movistar SIM?

Dial *222# to see your remaining minutes, SMS, and internet balance. Or access Mi Movistar app.

How to contact Movistar Uruguay support?

Dial *611 from your Movistar phone. Support is 24/7 in Spanish language. English may have delays.

How to refill the balance on an eSIM?

The top-up process is the same. Enter your phone number associated with the eSIM profile for the credits to be applied.

XIII. Final words

Movistar delivers excellent network coverage and speeds across Uruguay suitable for tourists.

Physical Movistar SIM cards are readily available at the airport and across Uruguay. eSIM support exists but options are still limited for visitors. Pick up a regular SIM card upon arrival for the best connectivity experience.

Stay in touch with friends and family back home, easily access maps & translations, and share your Uruguay adventure online with a Movistar SIM card.