What can you do in French Guiana? Cayenne is full of colonial forts and street markets. Remire-Montjoly has beaches and lovely turtles, and the same applies to Awala-Yalimapo.
In this article, I will go over everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in French Guiana. Let's do this.
Telecom Providers in French Guiana
French Guiana has 3 telecom providers: Orange Caraïbe, SFR Caraïbe, and Digicel Caraïbe. All operators have 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE networks. They also have a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) called La Poste Caraïbes Mobile, which is run by the local post office.
Do note that these operators also operate in other countries in the French West Indies/French Caribbean/French Antilles. They offer the same packages for the same prices and can be used in other French West Indies destinations without a surcharge. Additionally, free roaming is offered in Sint Maarten (the Dutch side of St. Martin), St. Eustatius, and Saba.
What SIM card should you buy when visiting French Guiana? If you want to buy a SIM card in French Guiana, I would recommend going with Orange because they have the best coverage. If you are on a budget, consider Digicel.
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Mainland France is part of the European Union (EU). As of June 2017, a new regulation has been enforced, which is known as roam at like home, meaning that those with a European Union (or EEA) SIM card should be allowed to use (some) of their data allowance in other EU/EEA countries without a surcharge.
As French Overseas Departments are considered to be part of France, the roam at like home rules apply in French Guiana, meaning that those from the EU/EEA can use their SIM cards in French Guiana without a surcharge, and you can use your French Guiana SIM card in the EU/EEA as well.
However, make sure your operator has included French Guiana (usually named French West Indies or French Antilles) in their roam like home destination page, as they sometimes “forget” to do so, which could result in high roaming charges.
In terms of coverage, it should be fine with all providers along the coast. You should not expect any signal in other parts of French Guiana.
As data prices are relatively pricey in French Guiana, especially compared to mainland European standards, those from the EU/EEA may want to roam with their provider in French Guiana instead.
With that said, let’s see what French Guiana has to offer to us.
Tip: Looking for cheap flights? Book with AirWander and add stopovers! Not in a hurry yet? Set up flight alerts with Airfarewatchdog and get notified when ticket prices for your preferred route(s) drop!
Orange Caraïbe, just orange, is run by France Télécom. It is loved by customers in French Guiana because of the fast speeds Orange provides, but it is also the most expensive operator in the country.
You can get an Orange SIM card, called Card, for €15 in Orange stores. They come in 2 variants: Card Classique and Card seconde. It does not matter which SIM card you choose if you are mainly interested in data.
Orange top-up cards are sold from €5 to €100 in Orange stores, but you can also top-up online with a credit card. When using a reload voucher, you have to dial *#124#VoucherCode#. For example, if your voucher code is 123456, you would dial #124#123456. You can check your Orange credit balance by dialing #123#.
Recharges Internet, Orange’s data bundles, come in these variants:
- €5: 200 MB for 7 days
- €10: 500 MB for 10 days
- €15: 1 GB for 20 days
You can get activate a Recharges Internet top-up online.
Orange also sells a data-only SIM card, called Pass Internet Everywhere, for €19. You will get 1 GB for 30 days. You can add more data:
- €2: 100 MB
- €4: 300 MB
- €6: 500 MB
You can use your Orange data allowance in other French Overseas departments, France, and other EU/EEA countries without a surcharge.
SFR Caraïbe, just SFR, is a slightly cheaper alternative for those visiting French Guiana, while having slightly worse coverage than Orange.
SFR SIM cards, called SFR La Carte, are sold for €15 in SFR stores, and they come with €10 in credit. You can get the Carte Classique and Carte Smile. It does not matter which SIM card you get if you are planning on using data packs.
SFR top-up cards are sold from €5 to €40 in SFR stores and post offices.
The following SFR data packs are available:
- €3: 150 MB for 3 days
- €5: 250 MB for 5 days
- €10: 600 MB for 10 days
You can also get an SFR data-only SIM card, called Carré Internet en mobilité – the sans engagement version (prepaid). You can get it for €15, which comes with 1 GB, or €25, which comes with 10 GB. If that is not enough data, then these add-ons, Carré, can be added:
- €5: 250 MB for 15 days
- €10: 500 MB for 30 days
- €20: 1.1 GB for 60 days
- €40: 2.2 GB for 90 days
SFR data packs are activated by calling 224.
SFR data packages can be used in other French Overseas Departments, the French Caribbean, France, and EU/EEA countries without a surcharge.
Digicel French Guiana
Digicel Caraïbe, just Digicel, is the cheapest option in French Guiana, but they also have the “worst” coverage in the country too.
Digicel SIM cards, called a Carte, are sold for €15 in Digicel stores and come with 100 MB, 20 SMS, and €5 in credit for 10 days. You will get another €10 if you top up at least €10 within 30 days.
Digicel SIM cards come in two variants: Classique and Extra. Like with the other operators, it does not matter which SIM card you get if you plan on using data packages.
Digicel recharge cards are sold from €5 to €40 in various stores, or you can reload online. If you use a voucher, you have to dial *133*VoucherCode#. For example, if your voucher code is 123456, you would dial *133*123456#.
The following Digicel data packs, called Recharge Internet, can be activated:
- €2: 100 MB for 7 days
- €5: 500 MB for 20 days
- €20: 1 GB for 45 days
- €40: 3 GB for 60 days.
You can activate a Digicel data pack by dialing *123# and selecting your pack from the menu.
Your Digicel data allowance can be used in other French Overseas Departments, France, and other EU/EEA countries without a surcharge.
Digicel also sells a travel SIM card called the Travel Pack. It can be bough for €40 and comes with 2 GB and 30 international minutes.
La Poste Caraïbes Mobile
La Poste Caraïbes Mobile, mainly known as Poste Mobile, is the first and only MVNO in French Guiana. They use the Orange network, meaning that you can expect good coverage with them.
Poste Mobile SIM cards are sold for €10 in post offices and a few other stores, and they come with €5 in credit to be used within 15 days.
There is a registration process you have to be aware of if using a Poste Mobile SIM card. Make sure to call 555 within 24 hours after using your Poste Mobile SIM card. Otherwise, your line will be deactivated. Also, you have to send them the activation form and a copy of your passport within 15 days. Else, they will deactivate your line.
As a reward for going through all the hassle, La Poste will give you €10 in credit once they have processed your form.
With Poste Mobile, you can use Orange top-up cards to recharge your SIM card. You can also go to a post office to reload your balance.
La Poste has a few data packs, called recharges Internet mobile, you can activate:
- €5: 200 MB for 5 days
- €10: 500 MB for 10 days
- €15: 1 GB for 20 days
You can activate any Poste Mobile data pack by dialing #124#.
Your Post Mobile data allowance can be used in other French Overseas Departments, France, and other EU/EEA countries without a surcharge.
Other Ways to Stay Connected When Traveling in French Guiana
So far, you have been informed about the SIM card options in French Guiana. However, that is not the only way to be online in French Guiana. I have already briefly mentioned that you can roam with your provider, although it can be expensive in most cases. Besides that, you can use free WIFI connections, mobile hotspots, or international SIM cards.
Roaming in French Guiana with Your Provider
Roaming is a term used in wireless telecommunication that indicates a mobile device is outside the range of its home network and has connected to a different, available cell network. Let’s say your provider is Nextel from Brazil, then you would be roaming with Nextel in French Guiana.
You may have read horror stories of people coming back from a lovely holiday, only to be confronted with a roaming bill in the thousands. This can still be the case if you do not review your roaming options before going on a holiday. Luckily for you, I have written about the roaming options you have with various providers around the world, which you can read here.
Some operators offer roaming plans. Others allow you to roam for free in French Guiana, while several operators let you use your plan’s allowance for a daily fee. As you can see, roaming does not have to be a horrific experience. If your provider is generous and lets you roam for free in French Guiana, then you do not even need a local SIM card (although I would still recommend doing so, as your connection speed will be much slower as a roamer than someone who is a customer of the network).
No idea how roaming works? I made this comprehensive guide about what roaming is and how it works. It is worth the read – promised!
Pay As You Go roaming should be avoided, as that is how travelers get high roaming bills. One provider charges you about 1000 USD per GB in certain destinations, which is insane. If you really want to roam, check whether your provider has attractive roaming plans. Else, you will be better off with buying a local SIM card.
Using Free WIFI connections in French Guiana
This does not require a lot of explanation, but using free WIFI connections is the cheapest way to connect to the internet because you do not have to pay anything. Nothing beats free stuff, right? Well, not so fast.
First, you need to find hotspots in French Guiana. In some countries of cities, you will find so many hotspots that you can try them out one by one and find the one with the fastest speeds. In other places, however, WIFI connections do not seem to exist.
In the case of French Guiana, you can find some hotspots, but they will not be fast.
Additionally, public WIFI hotspots are unsecure. They are a prime target for hackers to steal your data and use it for illicit purposes. That is I use, and would recommend you to start using, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) if you connect to a public hotspot. What a VPN does is creating an encrypted tunnel between your device and the hotspot so that your data will stay private. I use NordVPN, and you can get up to 70% off when you get a NordVPN subscription. Get your subscription now or learn more about NordVPN.
Using a Pocket WIFI (Mobile Hotspot) in French Guiana
Pocket WIFI is a portable, battery-powered wireless router that allows you to connect your phone, laptop, or tablet without needing multiple SIM cards for those devices to be connected to the internet. They are compact and lightweight so that you take them along with you whenever you need internet access on the go.
Many companies have created mobile hotspots (just have a quick search on Amazon, for example, you will find many). Skyroam and Vision Global Wireless are reputable pocket WIFI providers I know. You can get a discount if you rent a router through Skyroam by using coupon code PHONETRAVELWIZ. Cellular access with Skyroam starts at $8 a day while using a Vision Global device starts at $2 a day. Both services cover more than 130 destinations around the world.
I often recommend mobile hotspots to those who are traveling in groups or with families. They can save groups a lot of money if they are visiting destinations where buying multiple SIM cards would become an expensive endeavor.
I recently wrote an article analyzing the 7 Best Mobile Hotspots for Travelers like yourself, which should be an interesting read if pocket WIFI is something you are considering. I do reviews of individual devices every now and then, so check out my mobile hotspot category to stay up to date.
Getting an International SIM card for Traveling in French Guiana
International SIM cards are, as the name implies, SIM cards for international use. Well, that does not explain anything. Although most providers allow you to use your card abroad, some actually restrict this possibility. An international SIM card lets you go abroad without having to change SIM cards when visiting multiple destinations. They have been made with the traveler in mind.
All of this sounds lovely, but international SIM cards are much more expensive than local SIM cards in French Guiana. Not only that, some offer poor service as well for high rates. Some reputable companies I know are OneSimCard, SimOptions, Surfroam, BNESIM, or SimCorner.
International SIM cards are appealing to those who travel frequently or are visiting multiple destinations in one trip. Some countries in South America require you to register before you can use a SIM card, which can be a hassle for some. Additionally, the language barrier may be off-putting to some travelers, which is why an international SIM card can be handy. You order it before you depart and can use it in various destinations.
My recommendation, however, is to get a local SIM card if you are only visiting one destination. If you are visiting multiple ones, an international SIM card could be handy. If you want to learn more about international SIM cards, check out my international SIM card comparison article, where I analyze 10 international SIM card providers so that you do not have to.
The Best Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in French Guiana
Getting a SIM card from Orange is your only when considering a SIM card from French Guiana. Be sure to explore the roaming options your provider offers you, as they may offer free or cheap roaming bundles.
You could also consider getting an international SIM card or using a portable hotspot. International SIM cards are attractive for those visiting multiple destinations at once or within a year. Portable hotspots will be useful when traveling with multiple people so that not each individual has to get a SIM card but can use the hotspot.
Visiting other countries in South America? Check out my South America SIM card buying guide, covering other South American countries, such as Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, and Uruguay. Going to other places around the world? Then you should also check out my sim card buying guides for other destinations around the world.
What is next?
Looking for the best companies and gadgets to enhance your travel experience? Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! Save money on plane tickets, bus rides, cruises, and accommodation. Besides that, I also list services and items I use to make my life easier – and I believe they will help you too!
Book Your Flight for French Guiana
It is time to book your flight. Find cheap flights with AirWander so that you can add free or cheap stopovers in destinations you have not considered yet before going to French Guiana. If you are not ready to take off yet, set up flight alerts with Airfarewatchdog, and they will notify you once ticket prices to French Guiana drop.
Book Your Accommodation for French Guiana
I am a huge fan of Airbnb because it allows me to live with a local or get a local place for myself. Staying in someone’s house or apartment feels much different than being in a ho(s)tel, especially in French Guiana. At least, that is how I see it. Moreover, Airbnb can often be much cheaper than staying in a hotel.
Get Your Travel Insurance for French Guiana
You will regret not having travel insurance once you actually need it and “forgot” to get it. Nowadays, travel insurance is cheap and comprehensive unlike back in the days. World Nomads is by far the best travel insurance for adventurous travelers like yourself. You can even get insured WHILE already traveling in French Guiana, which is not something many insurance companies allow you to do.
Get a Travel Debit Card
Travel Cheques are outdated. Paying with your credit card or debit card can be expensive because of all the exchange commissions banks charge you. TransferWise allows you to convert your main currency to Euros for a small fee (up to 8 times less than with your bank!) Getting a Transferwise Borderless account is FREE, so you will get an instant return on your investment.
Enjoy your trip!