**Updated February 13, 2023
The good thing is that SIM cards are relatively cheap in Peru. The not-so-good thing is that they don’t make it easy to buy a SIM card at the Lima airport. First thing’s first – do NOT approach the Claro counter in the baggage claim area (pictured below – you can see baggage carousel #1 in the background for context) or in the little holding room before exiting to the arrivals area. These counters rent out temporary SIM cards (the cheapest of which is S/.80.00; 80 Soles), which is more expensive than actually purchasing a SIM card for yourself (what a local Peruvian would do). And yes, I did confirm that you can get a SIM card with just your passport; you don’t need a Peruvian identity card.
If you’re looking for a Peru money exchange booth, stay in the baggage claim area, and click on the link for more information on options. Otherwise, read on for what to do next to get a SIM card at the Peru airport in Lima.
After you exit the baggage area and enter arrivals, do NOT exit the airport building (see the red “X” in the image below). When I was there, they weren’t letting people back into the building without a departure ticket. Instead, look for one of the little gates to enter the main airport area. Sometimes, the little gates are closed (especially if you’re one of the first people out), so you may need to ask someone to open one of the little gates for you (see the red circle in the image below).
Once you’re in the main airport area, look for escalators that will take you up to the 2nd floor. You can’t get lost because the airport is relatively small, and there are only 2 floors. On the 2nd floor, find the little Be Smart shop by the entry to the departure gates (near Dunkin Donuts and the food court; see the featured photo at the very top of this post). I used to get sim cards at the Claro shop a few stalls away, but this shop has since been permanently cosed.
Now that you found the right place, here are my Lima Airport SIM card tips:
- There’s a chance that the sales associate won’t speak English at all, so you may need to whip out your Google Translate.
- You’ll need to show your passport to buy a SIM card.
- If you can wait, you can buy a SIM card in the city. If you want to go this route, you can search for any Claro (my preferred cell phone company), Movistar, Bitel, or Entel shop or booth in Google Maps anywhere in Peru that’s not at the Lima airport.
- The computer system may be down during certain times of the day, during which time, the shop will be open, but they won’t be able to give you a SIM card. You’d have to wait until the system starts working again.
- The person at the shop may sell you on a more expensive package. Check packages online first (I usually look for data-only packages), so you can ask for a specific package.
- Download the Bitel app on your phone so that you can top up on packages or data using your credit card whenever you need to. Another option is to top up at any Bitel shop or booth anywhere in Peru.
- What are other options instead of a local SIM card?
Here are options I've heard about from other travelers (these are not affiliate links): Airalo, GlocalMe.
- How do I get from Lima Airport to Miraflores?
The easiest way to get from Lima Airport to Miraflores is by taking a taxi or Uber. Right after the baggage claim area, there's a small room you pass through before exiting to the arrivals area. In that small room, there are trustworthy taxi options, although these are normally double the price of an Uber. Usually, I call for an Uber once I get to the arrivals area because sometimes, they're already waiting there.
- Does Lima Airport Have WiFi?
Yes! Lima Airport has WiFi and it's been completely free without any time limits since April 2021. See my post on “Is Lima Airport WiFi Free?” for more details.
- How Far is Lima Airport from the City Center?
The Lima Airport is around 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) away from the City Center (west to east), but you may not actually be referring to the City Center. Most people don't stay in the City Center of Lima (where the Plaza de Armas is found) because it can be dangerous at night time. Instead, most people stay in the neighborhood of Miraflores (around 18 kilometers or 11 miles away; north to south), which is a very safe area to walk around at any time of day.