How to activate a phone that was not scanned

Sometimes, you may encounter a situation where your phone was not scanned at the time of purchase. This can lead to complications during activation, but don’t worry—there are still ways to activate a phone that was not scanned. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the necessary steps to activate a phone that wasn’t scanned, whether it is an Android device or an iPhone.

Before diving into the activation process, understand why scanning is necessary. Retailers typically scan phones during purchase to tie the device’s unique identification number (IMEI) to the purchaser and to register the phone with the carrier. This process allows the carrier to enable services such as voice, data, and text messaging on your device.


How to activate a phone that was not scanned

If your phone wasn’t scanned, you might encounter issues when attempting to activate it with a carrier, but these can often be resolved with the right approach. Do the following to activate a phone that was not scanned:

1. Determine the carrier and plan

The first thing you need to do when activating a phone that was not scanned is to determine the carrier and plan you want to use.


There are several major carriers in most countries, and each one offers different plans and services. Research the available carriers in your region and choose one that fits your needs and budget. Consider factors such as coverage, data limits, and pricing.

2. Gather the necessary information

Before starting the activation process, make sure you have the following information:

a. The phone’s unique identification number (IMEI)

This can be found on the box of your device, under the battery (if removable), or in the device’s settings.


b. Proof of purchase

This may include a receipt, order confirmation email, or any other documentation proving that you are the owner of the device.

c. Carrier account information

You’ll need your account number, PIN or password, and any other relevant information about your carrier.

3. Purchase a SIM card (if necessary)

If you don’t already have a SIM card from your chosen carrier, you will need to purchase one. SIM cards are available at carrier stores, authorized dealers, and online. Make sure to buy the correct size (nano, micro, or standard) for your specific phone model.

4. Contact the carrier

Once you have gathered the necessary information to activate a phone that was not scanned, contact your chosen carrier to initiate the activation process.

You can visit a carrier store or authorized dealer to activate your phone. The store representative will guide you through the activation process, help you choose a plan, and set up your new account.

Alternatively, you can call the carrier’s customer service. Most carriers have dedicated customer service lines for activating new devices. Call the carrier’s customer service number and follow the prompts to reach the activation department. Be prepared to provide the required information.

Also, some carriers allow you to activate your phone online. Visit the carrier’s website, create an account (if necessary), and follow the on-screen instructions to activate your device.

5. Activate the device

If the carrier can activate your phone remotely, follow their instructions to complete the activation process. This may involve inserting a SIM card, entering specific codes, or following a series of prompts on your device.

For Android devices:

  1. Power on the device and ensure it is connected to Wi-Fi or mobile data.
  2. Insert the SIM card provided by your carrier into the appropriate slot.
  3. Navigate to “Settings” and then “Network & Internet” or “Connections.”
  4. Select “Mobile Network” or “Cellular Networks.”
  5. Look for “Network Operators” or “Carrier” and select your carrier from the list.
  6. Follow any on-screen prompts to complete the activation process.

For iPhone devices:

  1. Power on your iPhone and connect to a Wi-Fi network.
  2. Insert the SIM card provided by your carrier.
  3. Follow the on-screen setup instructions, including signing in with your Apple ID and selecting your carrier.
  4. Wait for the activation to complete. This may take several minutes.

6. Set up your device

With your phone activated, you can now set up your device. This process may vary depending on your phone’s operating system and manufacturer, but it generally involves:

a. Selecting a language

Choose your preferred language from the list of available options.

b. Connecting to Wi-Fi

If you have access to a Wi-Fi network, connect your phone to it to minimize data usage during the setup process.

c. Signing in with your Google or Apple account

If you’re using an Android phone, sign in with your Google account; if you’re using an iPhone, sign in with your Apple ID. This will allow you to access your contacts, email, and other information associated with your account.

d. Restoring data from a previous device

If you’re upgrading from another phone, you may be able to restore your data, including contacts, messages, and apps, from a backup.

e. Customizing your device

Set up security features (such as a PIN, password, or fingerprint), adjust display settings, and customize other aspects of your phone to your preferences.

7. Test your phone

Once your phone is activated and set up, it’s essential to test its functionality to ensure everything is working correctly.

Make a test call and try calling a friend or family member to ensure you can make and receive calls without any issues.

Also, try sending and receiving text messages to confirm that this feature is functioning correctly.

You should also try using mobile data. First, disable Wi-Fi and use your mobile data to browse the internet or download an app to verify that your data plan is working.

Set up your voicemail if you haven’t already, and ensure that you can access it without any problems.

Finally, test other features such as GPS, Bluetooth, and the camera to ensure your phone is functioning correctly. If you encounter any issues during this testing phase, contact your carrier for assistance.

8. Contact the retailer

If you have tried all the troubleshooting steps and are still unable to activate a phone that was not scanned, it may be time to contact the retailer where you purchased the phone, for instance, Walmart. Explain the situation, provide proof of purchase, and ask for assistance. In some cases, the retailer may be able to scan the device for you, which would enable activation with your carrier.

9. Consult a third-party service

In some cases, third-party services may be able to assist with the activation of an unscanned device. These services typically require payment, and their legitimacy and effectiveness may vary.

Research any third-party service thoroughly before using it, as there may be risks associated with providing your device’s information to an unknown entity.

Read also: watch out for phone pickpockets


I’ve encountered this issue before, and it’s due to a PIB lock on the phone. To resolve it, you’ll need to release the EMEI and have the barcode on the box scanned. If you still have the barcode, hold on to it, as you’ll need it. If not, you can retrieve it through your phone’s recovery mode.

Dealing with Verizon can be quite challenging, but for carriers like TracFone and Straight Talk, you can often resolve this issue online through email. The tricky part is obtaining the receipt. However, if you paid with a credit or debit card, there should be a record. The store where you bought the phone might also be able to provide a duplicate receipt. Alternatively, they might agree to scan the barcode if you can prove your purchase through your credit card history.

If all else fails, some people might be tempted to forge the receipt, but this is not advisable, as it is unethical. Unfortunately, honest people face such difficulties due to the negligence of an employee and the store’s unwillingness to provide assistance. In any case, explore all legitimate options before resorting to any extreme measures.

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