In this short guide I’ll explain my experiences in getting a Verizon phone sim unlocked, and how this process will benefit you. (Sim unlocking WILL NOT allow your Verizon phone to be used in the USA on T-Mobile/ATT/Etc, that capability was disabled via a radio lock. There has been limited luck in reversing that lock.)
In preparation for an upcoming overseas trip, I wanted to have the ability to stay in touch with friends and family back at home, as well as my contacts within the countries I was traveling to in case I encounter problems. If you’ve read my other related post about activating a smartphone without a data plan, you’ve probably noted that I am on the Big Red (aka Verizon) network. I first visited the Verizon site (http://www.verizonwireless.com/wcms/global.html) and clicked on the “International Trip Planner” link where I determined that my current phone, the iPhone 4 (CDMA only) would not work in one of the countries I was traveling to. And the country that it did work in would cost $1.99/min for voice, $0.50 to send a text message, and $20.48/MB.
For a fee you can upgrade to a global ready phone, but your still paying the fees through Verizon. The best, most economical way is to either borrow, buy, or rent a global ready phone like the Droid 2 Global, iPhone 4s, or Droid 3. There are many choices, just make sure they are “Global Capable” or Quad Band. (Check your potential phone against this list http://allworldcellphones.com/gsm-frequencies-list.htm). These phones have sim cards inside them, usually behind the battery, or on the side of an iPhone 4s which store the necessary information that allows your phone to connect to a network. Sim cards can typically be purchased in corner stores, airports, or any electronics store in whatever countries you may be visiting. Many travel forums will give advice as to where one may located Sim cards. Once you obtain a card with minutes/text credits, it’s as simple as inserting it into your unlocked phone. Speaking of unlocked phones…
There are two ways to unlock a Verizon Wireless branded cell phone; the free(-ish) way, and the paid (inexpensive) method. I suppose there is a third way, just buying a previously unlocked phone, but then of course you wouldn’t be reading this post! (Note – the method for unlocking iPhones involves connecting it through iTunes, but Global services can assist you with that.)
Lets start with the free way:
- In order for Verizon to even think about unlocking your phone you’ll have to have been a customer for at least 60 days (and have no outstanding balances, charges, etc).
- The phone you are attempting to unlock has to be currently active on your Verizon plan, and the account holder has to be the one speaking to the customer service representative.
- Place a call to Global Services at 800-711-8300 and explain that you are traveling overseas and want to be able to use a non Verizon sim card, and thus, want to get the phone sim unlocked.
Assuming you speak to a representative that understands your question properly, this should be a fairly quick process, and may at some point require them asking for an IMEI #, which is typically located behind the battery of the phone. You will receive a numeric code from the representative. When you insert a FOREIGN sim card into your phone a box will appear asking for this code. Be sure to input it carefully, as too many failed attempts can permanently lock the phone. Once inputted correctly your phone should be able to make/receive calls normally!
And now for the paid, but inexpensive way.
This is the method that I personally used as I was not the main account holder, and I would have also had to active the phone on Verizon which I did not wish to do at that time.
- You’ll first need to determined which brand/model phone you wish to sim unlock.
- Visit Google or eBay and search for “your phone name/model” and “unlock code”.
- This should bring up auctions for services that unlock your phone. I paid roughly $5 USD for the code which was delivered in under 24hrs via email.
- The process is similar to the *official* Verizon method, and you will likely need your IMEI # of the phone, which the auction will instruct you on how to find.
- Like the first method, once a foreign sim is inserted, you will be prompted to enter the code. Assuming the code works correctly (mine did for my Droid 3) your phone will become sim unlocked.
These eBay/website unlocking services seem shady, but they do work 99% of the time. It helps to buy through eBay, where if the code doesn’t work you can easily get your money returned to you.
Note that you must insert a foreign sim card to get the prompt for the sim unlock code. I purchased a few sims off ebay from providers in the UK well in advance of my trip, for just a couple bucks + shipping. As always, Plazor takes no responsibility for the damage that may occur as a result of this guide.
Questions? Comments? Problems? Be sure to leave your thoughts below!