Correo Argentino, the Argentine post office, is more reliable than in the past, but it has once again reverted to state control. Domestic services remain generally cheap, international services more expensive. Major international couriers provide fast, reliable services at premium prices.
General delivery at Argentine post offices is lista de correos, literally a list arranged in alphabetical order. There is a small charge for each item addressed to you.
By custom, the number follows rather than precedes the street name; instead of “1343 Washington Avenue,” for example, a comparable Argentine address would read “Avenida Callao 272.” Argentines and other Spanish speakers normally omit the word calle (street) from addresses; where an English speaker might write “499 Jones Street,” an Argentine would simply use “Tucumán 272,” for example. It is not unusual for addresses to lack a number, as indicated by s/n (sin número), especially in small provincial towns.
Telephone and Fax
Argentina has two major telephone companies, Telecom (north of Avenida Córdoba in Buenos Aires) and Telefónica (south of Avenida Córdoba). The country code is 54; the característica (area code) for the Capital Federal and Gran Buenos Aires is 011, but there is a bewildering number of area codes for individual cities, smaller cities and towns, and rural areas. All telephone numbers in the Capital Federal and Gran Buenos Aires have eight digits, while those in other provincial cities and rural areas vary. When calling out of the area code, it’s necessary to dial zero first. In addition, certain toll-free and other specialty numbers have six or seven digits with a three-digit prefix.
Cellular phone numbers in Argentina are all prefixed by 15. Some landlines are blocked from calling cell phones directly, but phone cards may be used for such calls.
Public telephones are abundant; some operate with coins only, but most also accept rechargeable-account cards. The basic local phone rate is Ar$0.25 (about US$0.10) for five minutes or so; domestic long-distance is considerably more expensive. Phone cards are convenient for in-country calls but less useful for more-expensive overseas calls.
For long distance and overseas calls, as well as for fax services, it’s simplest to use locutorios (call centers), which are abundant in both Buenos Aires and the provinces. Prices are increasingly competitive, and usually much cheaper than placing cobro revertido (collect) or tarjeta de crédito (credit card) calls to the United States or any other country. Calls are more expensive during peak hours, 8 a.m.–8 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m.–1 p.m. Saturday.
It’s also possible to make home-country credit card calls through overseas operators.
Travelers interested in having a cell phone while in Argentina will find that opening an account without a permanent Argentine address is something of a nuisance, but it’s easy to purchase a rechargeable prepaid phone (though calls are more expensive than on a plan). Some upscale hotels include cell phones in their rates, but rentals are available through Nolitel (Ricardo Rojas 401, 11th floor, Retiro, Buenos Aires, tel. 011/4311-3500, www.nolitelgroup.com.ar).
In the last few years, public Internet access has become both abundant and so cheap that, if price trends continue, providers will soon be paying customers to use their services. Rarely does access cost more than US$1 per hour, and it’s often even cheaper. Many locutorios offer access, but there are also numerous Internet cafés, and Wi-Fi is also becoming widespread.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Argentina, 3rd edition