How to Unlock Your Phone to Use an International SIM Card


Unlocking mobile phones and devices allows you to use your device on other compatible networks. For mobile devices with SIM slots, users can freely switch between SIM cards from different network carriers (local or international). Continue reading to see how simple it is to unlock a mobile phone in Canada or US.

Two Easy Ways to Find Out If Your Phone Is Locked

To determine if your mobile device is locked to a specific carrier, follow one of the steps below:

  1. Call your service provider

    The simplest way is to contact your carrier, provide them with your account information and inquire about your phone status.

  2. Use a SIM card from a different carrier

    If your mobile device uses SIM cards, borrow a SIM card from an alternate provider and insert it into your phone. Be sure to power down prior to inserting the SIM card. Turn your phone back on and wait a few minutes before making a phone call. If the call goes through, it means your phone is unlocked. Otherwise, your phone is locked to your existing carrier.


Unlocking A Phone in the US

In 2014, the CTIA (Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association) legalized the unlocking of phones in the US. Service providers who signed onto the CTIA Consumer Code for Wireless Service allow the unlocking of a mobile device. If your device is eligible to be unlocked, visit one of your carrier's stores or call the customer service line and they will provide you with an unlock code or software updates to complete the unlocking process.


General Eligibility Guidelines for Unlocking a Phone in the US
*applicable to participating providers who signed onto the Consumer Code for Wireless Service

  • Postpaid devices are eligible for unlocking after the applicable service contract has been fulfilled, completed the device installment plan or paid an early termination fee.

  • Prepaid devices are eligible for unlocking within one year of initial activation, consistent with reasonable time, payment or usage requirements.

  • Existing or former customers who are eligible for unlocking the device may not be charged an additional fee for this service.

  • Device compatibility with the carrier's network.


Top 5 US Phone Carrier's Unlocking Policy

Each service provider has their own unlocking policy. Before you request for the unlocking service, make sure you check your mobile wireless provider’s unlocking policy.





US Cellular


Unlocking A Phone in Canada

In Dec 2013, the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) created the Wireless Code. The code applies to handsets subsidized by the provider or immediately if the device is paid in full. If your account meets the carrier’s criteria, you can visit one of their stores or call the customer service line and they will be able to unlock your phone. Your device will be unlocked by entering unlock codes or other software updates provided by your carrier. Note that there is a fee associated with this service and may vary depending on your provider. However, the CRTC is banning the charge of unlocking fees starting December 1, 2017.


Summary of general eligibility to unlock your phone

  • Your account with your provider must be in good standing with no outstanding debts

  • A device subsidized by the carrier, must be active on their network for at least 90 days

  • An unlocking fee must be paid, however, starting December 1, 2017, there will be no charges to unlocking your cellphone.


Top 3 Canadian Phone Carrier's Unlocking Policy

Since each provider has its own policies, check the links below for "unlock" eligibility:





Unlocking an eligible mobile phone gives you the flexibility and freedom to use any compatible wireless network provider. Unlock yourself from a specific service provider and prepare your device for future travels. Make it compatible with an international SIM card and save on call and data rates.