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How to activate a new SIM card

Get your mobile plan up and running…


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Please note: This article talks about products sold at Carphone Warehouse is part of Currys.

So, you’ve just received your brand new SIM card. Nice! But before you can start making calls, sending texts and putting your lightning-fast data to the test, you need to know how SIM card activation works. That’s where we come in – with this handy guide to walk you through the new SIM card process step-by-step, and get you fully up and running.

Reasons why you need to activate a SIM card

You might need to activate your SIM card when you get a new SIM. This usually happens either because you’ve decided to switch mobile network (to take advantage of a SIM only deal perhaps), or you got a new SIM from your current network provider when you upgraded to a new deal.

An activated SIM card is an important thing to have for several reasons. The main one is authentication. Activation verifies you as the proper user of the SIM card, which helps prevent any unauthorised use of your number. Plus, SIM activation establishes a connection with your network provider’s services – giving you the power to make calls, send texts and access mobile data when you’re on the go.

Why is my SIM card not activated?

There are a few reasons why you might have problems trying to activate your SIM card:

  • Network issues. Sometimes network related problems can affect activation. So make sure you’re in an area with good network coverage.

  • Timings. SIMs can sometimes take up to 24 hours to activate, although it’s usually quicker.

  • SIM compatibility. It’s important to check that your phone model is compatible with the SIM card you received. Some older phones don’t work with newer SIM cards.

  • Damaged SIM. If your SIM is damaged in any way, you should call your network provider and arrange to get a new one. Head to their website to find out how to get in touch.

Can you activate a SIM card online?

The process for activating your SIM card varies from network to network, but you’ll almost always be able to activate it online. It’s the same for contract phones and SIM only deals such iD Mobile or Vodafone SIM only. Check the details that come with your SIM card (you’ll need the code that’s printed on there) or visit the relevant ‘how to activate SIM card’ section of your network website if you’re unsure.

How to activate a SIM card

Each network does their own thing when it comes to SIM activation. Find your network below to find out how to get connected.

When you insert your Vodafone SIM into your phone and switch on, you should be connected straight away as the SIM card is already active. eSIM cards can be activated by using the MyVodafone app. Check the relevant Vodafone activate SIM section of the Vodafone website for more details.

If you need to fire up a VOXI SIM card, all you need to do is find the number code. These are the 10 digits on the second and third lines of numbers on your VOXI SIM. Enter these numbers in the space provided on the activation page of the VOXI activate SIM section of the VOXI website.

iD Mobile
iD Mobile SIM only cards are easy to use as they come ready activated. Pop it into your mobile phone and you’re good to go. If you’re already an iD mobile customer and you’ve received a new SIM as a replacement for one that was damaged or stolen, you’ll need to visit the iD Mobile activate SIM section of the iD app to finish the activation process.


How do I check if my SIM card is active?

To check if your SIM card is active, simply insert it into a compatible phone, turn it on and try to make a call or send a text. If your SIM card is active, you should be able to do this. You’ll also see signal bars and the name of your network provider at the top of your phone screen.

Can two SIM cards be active at once?

A lot of smartphones now support Dual SIM functionality, allowing two SIM cards to be active simultaneously. Dual SIM phones are useful if you want to use two different phone numbers or plans on a single device – for example, if you’re using the same phone for both work and personal use. If you think you’d like to use the Dual SIM feature, check that your smartphone supports it.

Can I activate my SIM abroad?

Some network providers offer international activation services, while others need you to activate the SIM card in your home country before using it abroad. Check with your network provider for details of what you need to do before you head abroad.

Can I activate a SIM card on a different phone?

You can activate your SIM card on a different phone, as long as it’s compatible with your network provider. You might have to unlock your phone to do this, which involves calling your network and giving them your IMEI number. You can get it by entering *#06# on your phone keypad. The IMEI number will usually appear on your screen as soon as you’ve typed in the code, so you don’t even have to press ‘call’.

Can I activate an old SIM card?

The process to activate your SIM card usually has to take place within a certain amount of time. Depending on the network, this could be anywhere between 90 – 180 days. If you try to activate a SIM card after that period, you may well be out of luck.

How long does it take to activate a SIM card?

The time it takes to activate a new SIM card can vary depending on your network provider. Usually, activation takes just a few minutes. However, it could take up to a few hours due to network congestion or any additional verification that needs done.

Need any more help?

If you’re thinking of going SIM only but want more information, check out our SIM only or pay monthly to find out the benefits of each type of contract.

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