How to unlock your iPhone on Verizon

(Image credit: iMore)

Unlocking your phone from Verizon can give you the option to shop around for the best plans at any of the other carriers. Keep in mind, not all carriers will accept all unlocked phones, so, if you have a carrier in mind you want to switch to, it's probably best that you check with them to make sure your phone would be compatible with their network before you jump overboard.

When it comes to Verizon, there isn't too much information you need to know in order to unlock your iPhone.

What requirements do I have to know?

Unfortunately, Verizon has gone away from its older unlocking policy where the carrier unlocked all phones within 24 hours starting several months back. According to Verizon (opens in new tab), they now require 60-days after phone is purchased before they unlock the device. To quote them directly:

After 60 days, we will automatically remove the lock. Following the 60 day lock period, we do not lock our phones at any time.

That means that any iPhone that was bought with Verizon or any of its retailing partners such as Best Buy, Target, or Walmart will be locked. However, Verizon does not require the device to be fully paid off before requesting an unlock, which is great for those who are on an installment.

As for the other major carriers, including AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile, the requirements vary. AT&T not only requires 60-days of active service, but for the phone to be paid off (including installments). Sprint requires 50-days, plus device paid off, while T-Mobile wants 40 days of active service with device paid off.

Surprisingly, this slightly makes Verizon the easiest carrier with the loosest restrictions when it comes to unlocking your phone.

How do I request for my phone to be unlocked from Verizon?

So, if you bought your phone outright; or, just wait the 60-days, you shouldn't have to request Verizon to unlock your iPhone — it should already be ready to roll onto another carrier's service. However, you don't have to take our word for it: contact Verizon customer support (opens in new tab) and inquire about unlocking your iPhone.

Chuck West
  • It was part of the FCC mandate when Verizon wanted to buy more spectrum. They had to leave the SIM unlocked, so you can take your Verizon phone to any GSM carrier and it will work. However I believe the CDMA side of the phones are still locked, so you couldn't take your Verizon phone to Sprint, for example.
  • Actually, several Verizon devices can be used on Sprint, especially iOS devices. The FCC/CTIA agreement provides a whitelist for carriers to look for a specific serial number. If you still think CDMA devices are still locked to a specific network, you must be using a mentality of five years ago, especially since most high end devices (except Windows 10 for mobile devices) use the universal GSM/CDMA/LTE radios by Qualcomm.
  • No need for the insult "mentality of five years ago" when it was just a simple mistake. I didn't say I was 100% sure, just that I assumed it to be true. It's not exactly like people were advertising it. Every article I read on the subject just mentioned GSM. I'm the victim of halfassed journalism.
  • Thank god I have the IPhone 6s Plus on Verizon :)
  • It would be more useful to explain that all Verizon iPhones since the iPhone 5 have included an unlocked GSM radio. That's really all you need to say.
  • But, from what I have read, you will only get HSPA+ on AT&T, not 4G LTE.
  • That is true for AT&T in the case of the iPhone 5 however if you have a 5S or newer LTE will work. In the case of T-Mobile a 5S or six will get you access to their AWS and PCS coverage. If you need access to their band 12 700 coverage you have to have a 6S or SE Sent from the iMore App
  • Maybe on AT&T. It's full on LTE on T-Mobile. I sometimes put my T-Mobile SIM in my Verizon phone for binge on. Just works. Sent from the iMore App
  • I had a Verizon iPhone 5 awhile back and switched it over to AT&T worked fine other than no LTE only 3G Sent from the iMore App
  • Nice article but not true. Verizon does lock their 4G/LTE phones. When I purchased my iPhone 5 they also specifically stated they don't lock the phones, especially when purchased out right from them and paid in full. Which I did!!! Which also did to locked me into a contract. Then to my surprise after 3 yrs I decided to take my iPhone 5 to T-mobile and add it as a second line. I was able to activate the phone but it would only pick up the Extended Network(2G) with T-Mobile. When I called Apple themselves to find out why it would not pick up their 4G network they checked the phone and stated that Verizon had the phone still locked. I called Verizon and they gave me the steps to unlock the phone. Which are the same as T-Mobile and most like likely like the same as everyone else. No special code or approval is needed. All you have to do is Back Up your phone in iTunes, then reset the phone to factory default. The plug the phone back to iTunes to restore from back up and you will then get a Congratulations your phone is unlocked. They tell you they have to approve it and or give a special code, yet its all lies. I purchased my iPhone 5 full price, paid in full on the spot and right when they were advertising they didn't lock phones anymore. Yet they still locked the phone. Confirmed by apple!!!!!!!!! Once I performed the steps to unlock the phone it now works just fine with T-Mobile. Of course due to it being a Verizon (CDSM) it isn't compatible with all CSM frequencies and Bands. It can't pick up LTE but will pick up 4G. Turns out its just about as fast. I have not had any issues. My next iPhones will be purchase sim free from Apple directly so I am not restricted to any particular network and frequencies.
  • From the TOS linked above: "The SIM cards used in our non-iPhone 3G World Devices are locked. We willl unlock those SIM cards at your request. Our 3G Prepaid Phone-in-the-Box phones are restricted for use with our Prepaid service for six months after activation, and are locked to the Verizon Wireless network for 12 months after activation. After six months, the restriction to our Prepaid service is automatically removed. After 12 months, you can contact us at *611 from your Verizon Wireless Prepaid phone, or (888)294-6804, and we will provide you with the programming code so that you can unlock your phone. If the user guide for your phone does not provide instructions to access the programming menu, we can help you with that as well."