Need to unlock a Verizon phone? Here’s how!

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Jul 29, 2020 — 5 min read

Looking to break the chains on your smartphone? Learn about all the different policies for unlocking Verizon phones.

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Unlocking a Verizon cellphone simply means you aren’t tied to Verizon’s service. An unlocked Verizon phone is especially useful if you’re traveling internationally or want to take your phone to a different wireless carrier.

Locking phones is one way the company limits theft on new devices, as well as keeps customers within the Verizon network. But Verizon’s locked-phone policy is exceptionally easy to navigate and requires virtually no work on your part. So if you want to know how to unlock your Verizon phone for international travel, move to a new service provider and more, keep reading to find out exactly how it all works. 

How to unlock a Verizon phone

Verizon Wireless is unique when it comes to unlocking cellphones. If you have a Verizon phone on a Verizon plan, the phone automatically unlocks after 60 days. The company started this policy in July 2019 and it covers new and existing customers. This policy also refers to prepaid and postpaid phones.

If you’re unsure of the differences between prepaid and postpaid phones, it’s actually quite simple. Prepaid phones and plans are the ones you pay before using. So you might prepay for a certain amount of data per month and that’s how much you’re able to use. Postpaid phones and plans are the ones that you get billed for at the end of the month for your usage. 

Phones on both of these plans qualify to be unlocked after 60 days, but it depends on what you purchased and where you purchased it from. If you purchase a postpaid phone from a Verizon store, the 60 days starts at the time of purchase. If you purchase a postpaid phone from a Verizon retail partner, the 60 days starts when the phone is activated. Prepaid phones purchased from both Verizon stores and Verizon retail partners start the 60-day clock from the time of activation.

The 60-day policy also counts if you’re porting your Verizon service to a different carrier — the device won’t unlock until you’ve hit 60 days. Even if you cancel your Verizon service before the 60 days have been met, your device will remain locked until you’ve reached that threshold. 

Your account also has to be in good standing for Verizon to unlock your phone automatically. That means your bill is settled on time and there’s no fraudulent activity on your account. Also, if Verizon suspects the phone was obtained illegally (i.e., stolen), you run the risk of not having it unlocked after 60 days. As long as everything is on the up and up, the phone unlocks after 60 days and you’re free to do with it as you please.

How do I know if my Verizon phone is unlocked?

It’s easy to find out if your Verizon iPhone or Android phone is unlocked. If you try to put in a new SIM card and you get an error, that most likely means the phone is still locked. The error message will vary based on what phone you have, but it will say something along the lines of “SIM not supported.” 

Will an unlocked Verizon phone work with any carrier?

Not every phone will work with every carrier, so do some research before taking your unlocked Verizon phone elsewhere. Verizon is a CDMA carrier, but other major carriers, like T-Mobile and AT&T, are not. However, 4G LTE phones and beyond are more likely to work on a variety of carriers on different spectrums. Sprint is CDMA but that doesn’t always mean a Verizon phone will work there either. Just make sure you’ve cross-checked the phone and the carrier before trying to take a Verizon phone to a new company.

Military exemptions for unlocking Verizon phones

Those in the military are exempt from Verizon’s 60-day unlocking policy. If you’re active military and are relocated outside Verizon’s coverage area, contact the company to have your phone unlocked, regardless of how long it’s been since you got it. The company can override the locked phone to provide coverage outside the standard service area.

Alternative methods to get a Verizon phone unlocked

Though at this point all the smartphones Verizon sells are under the 60-day lock policy, you might still run into trouble. Say you have an older phone and you’re not sure if it’s locked or unlocked. Specifically, if you have an old 3G World Device through Verizon, that may require a code to unlock it, as that was an old policy the company had in place. Try using the Verizon unlock code 000000 or 123456 to unlock the device.  

If all else fails, you can call Verizon to unlock the phone. Customer service is there to help you. Call them any time at 800.922.0204 or try chatting on the Verizon website. Go to Verizon’s contact page for more information on how to chat with them or call them. The company typically has customer service agents available at all times through the virtual chat function, and they can help solve problems with you. They should be able to access your account and will know why your phone is still locked (if it shouldn’t be) and what to do to unlock it. 

Advantages of an unlocked Verizon phone

A huge advantage of having an unlocked cellphone is the freedom to use it internationally. If your phone is locked and you travel internationally, you’re tied to an international plan through Verizon. If your phone is unlocked, however, you can use an international SIM card, which could potentially save you money and provide you better service.

Another advantage of an unlocked phone is, of course, the ability to take the Verizon phone to a different carrier. Whether it’s because you are looking for better coverage or you want a cheaper plan, you can do either of those things with an unlocked phone, assuming the phone is compatible with the new carrier. Similarly, if you switch to Verizon from another carrier, you’ll likely have to go through a similar unlocking process.

For more tips on wireless phones and coverage, be sure to stay connected to our Resource Center.

By Hedy Phillips

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