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How to check if iPhone is unlocked to use abroad

Just bought a new iPhone and you want to know whether it is unlocked or not? Here you can learn everything about how it works!

Julio Osuna

March 14, 2023

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A smartphone is now an essential part of our daily lives, all thanks to the ever-evolving communication industry and the way we connect with many people around the world, as well as keeping up with everything that happens internationally through the news. Thanks to the internet and apps, we have everything at our fingertips. However, it’s also important to know whether our iPhone is unlocked or not.

When you buy a new phone, you always want to get the best of everything that comes included and the specs. This happens with the iPhone, Apple’s main product, but if you’ve never used an Apple product, you may not be sure about how to use it. The main question that everyone has is how to check if their iPhone is unlocked. And here, we will show you and explain the most important aspects that must consider.

Remember to follow very carefully all the advice that we here at Holafly will give you so that you can take full advantage of all this information and don’t make any mistakes along the way.

Did you know?

With an unlocked iPhone, you can use an international eSIM for your next trip.

And best of all, without a physical card! You get a QR code in your email and that’s it.

What does it mean when an iPhone is unlocked?

Use concerned that their iPhone is not unlocked

If your iPhone is unlocked, you can use any operator without a problem. If not, once your phone is unlocked, you can set it up to switch between operators. Either in your country or abroad. Let’s see how you can verify if your iPhone is unlocked so you can use it abroad.

How to check if iPhone is unlocked

Even for old iPhone users, finding this information can be tricky, specially when you want to switch operators to get a new cellular plan. Through this guide, we’ll show you several common questions and doubts when navigating through your new iPhone and we’ll also give you the answer and take you step by step so that you can check whether your iPhone is unlocked.

Even if you’re told at the store that the phone comes unlocked from the factory, you still want to confirm just to make sure that you can install any eSIM or SIM chip card. Or if it is unlocked directly for use internationally. Up next, all those concerns will be resolved.

Check if the iPhone is unlocked with a SIM card

The fastest and simplest way to know if an iPhone is unlocked through a SIM is by inserting other chips belonging to different telephone companies. If you only have yours, you can use one of your friends or relatives who have another carrier with a SIMs other than yours. You can verify everything by following these steps:

  1. Turn off your phone.
  2. Remove your SIM from the phone tray with the ejector pin.
  3. Insert another SIM card that does not belong to your same telephone company.
  4. Press the power button once the new SIM is inserted in your phone.
  5. Once the phone is turned on, you will have an immediate notification advising if the new SIM card is compatible with your device. In case it is not, you will also get an alert letting you know.

In other cases, you will want to know how to check if the iPhone is carrier unlocked. You can go directly to the general settings of the phone and check. If you see “No SIM restrictions”, your iPhone is unlocked. Otherwise, you should contact your carrier and tell them about the issue and ask how you can unlock your phone.

Check if iPhone is factory unlocked.

Usually, when people buy a new device, they are informed by the suppliers that it comes unlocked from the factory. That helps to avoid having to change your line if your current one is incompatible with your new iPhone.


Example: Check if your iPhone is unlocked from the factory.

In case you are not well-informed, or if the phone is second-hand and the previous owner doesn’t provide you with sufficient information about it, you can quickly check using the IMEI Number that comes with your phone. This will be explained later.

How to check if your iPhone is unlocked with your carrier

One of the most accurate or precise ways to know that your iPhone device is unlocked, or to get it unlocked, is to call your carrier. Remember that this option takes a bit of time since they work with a fairly large database. Also, when contacting your carrier you can also get detailed information regarding your phone. Keep in mind that the information that you’ll get is exclusively about your cellphone.

The fastest way to contact is through your carrier’s websites, in the case of AT&T:; and for Verizon: This way, you can get accurate information and know if your device is unlocked. Remember that you will need your iPhones’ serial number, as well as the IMEI, to get additional information.

How to request iPhone unlocking with a cellular operator?

To request the unlocking of your iPhone you must contact your cellular operator. Apple has a website that gives you direct access to the list of cellular operators that offer eSIM services.

You can find this page as: eSIM Operators Apple Support. You will see that some of these operators have the direct access link to the frequently asked questions about the process of unlocking a cellphone.

Below we will share some examples of the unlocking process with some cellular operators in the United States so you can see how it works:

Unlocking iPhone with AT&T United States

To get your iPhone unlocked with AT&T, you must meet the following requirements:

Have an AT&T device and is not active with another account on the same carrier.
If you have an installment plan through your monthly bill. The request can be made starting with the next billing period.
If you paid in advance, the assigned phone number must be active for at least 60 days. Then wait 48 more hours and then send the unlocking request.
If you paid cash for the device, you must wait 60 days from the date of purchase.
It must not be reported as lost, stolen or involved in any fraud.
You cannot have past due balances
The AT&T Prepaid® device must have at least six months of service on the AT&T network.
After that, you must complete an online form with the required information for this application. This includes the IMEI number of the device. AT&T will process the request and you will also find a link to check the status.

Important Notice!

The iPhone 14 models (A2650, A2651, A2649 and A2632) being sold in the US no longer come with a physical SIM card slot. In other words, they will now only be compatible with eSIM. In addition to this, they will only be activated with AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon.

You may be interested in: How does the eSIM work on the iPhone 14?

Unlocking your iPhone with T-Mobile United States

Below are the eligibility requirements for unlocking iPhone devices with T-Mobile:

Device must have been sold by T-Mobile
Cannot be reported as lost or stolen
The account associated with the smartphone must be in good standing
Must meet unlocking requirements for prepaid and postpaid plans.
*Device requirements are:

Must be active for at least 40 days before the line is unlocked.
If the device was financed it must be fully paid.
If the device is associated with another account, it must be zero-rated
T-Mobile may request proof of purchase.

Important Notice!

For devices linked to prepaid plans, the device must remain on the T-Mobile network for a minimum of 365 days. If less, you must have at least $100 USD of top-ups during that period for each active line on the account and no more than two unlocks in the last 12 months.

Use IMEI to check if your iPhone is unlocked

All iPhones have an IMEI Number, which is a unique 15-digit code. This IMEI number is permanently synchronized to the device and can be used to confirm if it is connected to the network. In some cases, you register your iPhone with it’s IMEI and if at some point you lose or someone steals your device, you can report it and prevent it from being activated. Additionally, you can also check if a second-hand is in good standing or if someone is trying to sell you a stolen phone. In addition to that, you can also use the IMEI Number to activate second-hand devices.

Currently, there are many tools to check if your iPhone is unlocked through the IMEI Number. These tools are usually premium paid, and in some cases, the free ones are not very reliable at all. You can verify this by following the steps below:

  1. Look for the tool you want online. Go to their official website. In this case, we will recommend IMEI.Info, which is a paid version but does a full review.
  2. Go to your iPhone and then open Settings, followed by General.
  3. Tap About and scroll down to the IMEI number.
  4. Enter your IMEI number into the search bar of the IMEI web service.
  5. Tap Check and then fill in any verification information the website asks for.
  6. If you enter all the information correctly, you will be able to review all the information related to the legal standing of your iPhone. And, specifically, to know if it is unlocked.

What other options do you have to get the IMEI?

You can dial *#06# from your iPhone, or go on to Apple services, through Log in with the Apple ID you use on your iPhone, go to the “devices” section, select the device and you will get the IMEI number.

Finally, if you still have the original packaging of your iPhone, you will find a label with different barcodes. One of them contains the IMEI information.

How to check if I can use an international eSIM on my iPhone

In this type of situation, the main problem is knowing if the country where you are has the technical infrastructure and support for you to be able to use an eSIM, for example. This happens with devices like the iPhone 14. There are no problems to mention here or ways other than those we already know about how to verify if our device is unlocked for use abroad. The important thing is to know if the country we are in has a signal for eSIMs.

How to check if an iPhone is unlocked for international use?

When you buy a new phone, the ideal is that you’re certain that the device is unlocked. Both to use in your country and to use it abroad without any problem using SIMs from those countries to which you travel to be able to make calls and surf the internet without any issue. You have to know that the device is unlocked for international use before using a new phone line and avoid a headache.

It is evident that if you leave your country, your iPhone will no longer have a signal since the telephone lines in other countries are different. You can use any of the following options in this case:

  • Activate the roaming services offered by your domestic operator and use the SIM that you already have. Clearly, this will have an excessively expensive service. But it will allow you to use your SIM without any restrictions with your regular plan.
  • You can buy a new SIM at your destination. This way, you will be able to make calls with no issues. The benefit is that you’ll be able to continue using the messaging applications where your original number is registered, like WhatsApp. And there will be no need to change it.

Remember that you can use your iPhone abroad if it is already unlocked by the time that you leave home. Thus, you won’t end up having any issues or ending up with a headache on your trip and no problems when using a SIM from another country.

A person charging their iPhone while traveling. Source: Pexels.

Which operators support eSIM with data plans for international travel?

One of the best options you can use to stay connected on your trip is Holafly. They have eSIM and data plans for more than 170 destinations, including unlimited data, coverage in entire regions such as with the Asia eSIM, and multiple benefits.

Their eSIM packages are easy to get and use, as long as you have an iPhone compatible with the technology. Within their virtual store you just have to search for the destination country of your adventure and you will see all the available plans.

Do you want to know how to buy an eSIM? Well you do not need contracts or other registrations, select your plan, check out and you will be receiving the eSIM as a QR to your email. Additionally, if you have iOS 17.4 or higher, you can install the service from the Holafly App without scanning the QR code, using the new automatic installation function.

As you can see, it is convenient to use Holafly as your operator for international travels!

Frequently asked questions about unlocking an iPhone

Can I unlock an iPhone by myself?

Only your carrier can legally and directly unlock your iPhone device. Remember to contact them and request to unlock the phone. After this, it will take a few days for the process to be completed. Remember to be in constant contact with your carrier so that they complete your request. In some cases, manually unlocking an iPhone can lead to the permanent blocking of the device if it’s not carried out by an authorized legal entity.

Can I unlock my phone directly with Apple?

In case the device is purchased directly from Apple, most of them come fully unlocked. Otherwise, if you buy them with another provider or telephone company like Verizon, they are blocked, restricted to the vendor carrier.

Would it be possible to update the software of an unlocked iPhone?

If you update an iPhone that was originally sold unlocked or unlocked by the carrier, it won’t cause any problems. If the device was unlocked by jail-breaking or another app and you update it, it may cause a permanent lock of the device or other problems.