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Unlocking a Cell Phone in Canada

Unlocking a Cell Phone in Canada

There are many reasons to unlock your smartphone. Maybe you are looking to sell your used phone and interested in unlocking it to improve resale value. Perhaps you are buying a phone second hand and you want to be sure it will work with your current mobile provider.

Whatever the reason may be, we’ve got you covered!

In this blog post, we’re going to break down everything you need to know about unlocking a smartphone, along with instructions on how to do it.

Even if you’re not especially tech-savvy, don’t worry about it! Unlocking a cell phone in Canada is about as simple as it gets, follow along and you’ll be done before you know it.

Do You Need to Unlock Your Cell Phone?

First of all, here’s some great news – all mobile phones sold in Canada after December 2017 are already unlocked or include free unlocking instructions! That means there’s a good chance that your phone is already unlocked and always has been! Older devices though, or some devices purchased internationally, are often initially locked to their original carrier. That means you may still need to unlock your phone.

A mobile device that’s locked cannot connect to a mobile network other than the one operated by the original carrier. This means that a locked phone cannot send or receive calls or texts and cannot use any data, unless it’s on the network it has been locked to.

In order to use a cell phone with a different mobile provider, it will first need to be unlocked. Once a device is unlocked it will work with any mobile network as long as it has a functional SIM card installed.

One of the many great benefits to this is if you’re travelling internationally, you can avoid roaming charges by taking out your home SIM card and plugging in a pre-paid SIM for the local area!

Man unlocking cellphone in canada

Unlocking a Cell Phone in Canada

Here are the quick steps to follow for unlocking a cell phone in Canada:

  • Check if the phone is locked to a network by plugging in an activated SIM card for a different network
  • Write down your IMEI number (dial “*#06#” on the phone, the IMEI should be displayed)
  • Contact the mobile provider to request the phone be unlocked

To unlock your phone, the first (and really only) thing you’ll need it’s IMEI; an IMEI is the phone’s unique identification number. On most mobile devices the IMEI can be easily displayed by dialling “*#06#” into the dialer as if you were calling that number. Write down the IMEI once it’s displayed so you have it on hand for the rest of the process.

If the steps described above doesn’t result in the IMEI being displayed on your device’s screen, you can find it in the settings by going into your Settings app on your phone and following these steps: ‘Settings -> General -> About -> IMEI/MEID’ on Apple devices, and ‘Settings -> About Phone -> Status’ on Android devices.

Once you have the IMEI on hand it’s time to contact your mobile provider and request the device be unlocked. Be ready to provide the IMEI when it’s requested, and follow any further instructions that the service provider gives.

So long as your account is in good standing and the phone hasn’t been reported as stolen, your mobile carrier is legally obligated to unlock it for you free of charge – even if you’re still currently in a service contract with that provider!

Once Your Phone is Unlocked

Although there are numerous third-party services that unlock phones online for the price of a small fee, after December 2017 all Canadian mobile providers are required by law to unlock devices for their owners free of charge so there’s no sense in unnecessarily paying money to anyone, much less a third-party service that may or may not be entirely trustworthy.

After following this easy process you should have a newly unlocked phone in your possession, ready to connect to any mobile provider across the globe. Did this guide help you or a friend who needed their phone unlocked?

Share this guide with your friends so that more people can benefit from having an unlocked cell phone in Canada! Give us a shout anytime for your cell phone needs.


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