iMessage “Waiting for Activation” Error on iPhone [How to Fix]

Stuck at iMessage "Waiting for Activation" on iPhone running iOS 11 or earlier? The issue might be due to a number of things like poor Internet connection and hence you might have to try out more than one solution to fix this issue on your iPhone and iPad. Read on to cut the chase and start using iMessage without any problem at all.

Tired of iMessage waiting for activation error in iOS 11, iOS 10, or iOS 9 on iPhone? Or is it just draining the last ounce of patience left in you? Despite our “been there done that” experience, we’re equally skeptic about how to activate iMessage.

Sometimes it works just perfectly, but sometimes it drives us crazy. There are quite a lot of fixes recommended almost everywhere but most of it doesn’t work. That’s what prompted us to test with a lot of iPhones and we ended up activating iMessage successfully.

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Before You Start To Fix iMessage “Waiting for Activation” Issue on iPhone running iOS 11 or Earlier

You’ll need to sort these things out:

  • Make sure in the Phone app, you’ve got your number listed. On top of ‘Contacts,’ you should see your number listed (My Number:). If not, you’ll need to go to Settings → Phone → My Number and enter your number.
  • Make sure Date & Time (under General) are correct. Set to “Set Automatically” make sure the Time Zone is correct and the iPhone holds the right time.
  • Also, make sure you’ve got a working network. Wi-fi issues can cause iMessage activation problems so have cellular enabled.
  • In some cases, iMessage activation may take up to 24 hours. If it doesn’t get enabled even after a day, contact your carrier.
  • For some users, the message sent out for activation goes out as an international SMS. Make sure your carrier permits these and you have sufficient amount to send them.

How to Fix iMessage “Waiting for Activation” Error on iPhone

Solution #1. Check Out Internet Connection

Both iMessage and FaceTime require a very good internet connection to work properly. Hence, make sure your internet connection is up to the mark.

Open Settings → Wi-Fi/Cellular → turn off the switch, reboot your device and turn on Wi-Fi/Cellular.

If it doesn’t work, then try to reset network settings. It will delete all the existing network settings and return them to factory settings. Settings → General → Reset → Reset Network Settings.

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Solution #2. Contact Your Carrier

First of all, make sure that your carrier supports iMessage or not. Contact your Carrier support team and verify any limiting condition on your for iMessage, blocks, or filters on text messages.

Solution #3. Turn Off/ON iMessage and Hard Reset Your Device

Step #1. Open Settings app → Messages → Turn off iMessage.

Step #2. Now, reboot your iOS device by holding ON/OFF button and Home buttons at once for about 10 seconds.

To hard reset iPhone 7/7 Plus, press and hold volume down button and Home button. To force restart your iPhone X, iPhone 8/8 Plus, head over to this post.

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Step #3. When your device has restarted, turn on iMessage.

Solution #4. Update Your iPhone’s Carrier Settings

Step #1. Make sure Wi-Fi or Cellular is enabled on your device. Open Settings → General.

Step #2. Tap on About. If there is any update available, you will get the option to update it.

You can see the version of the carrier settings next to Carrier.

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When you insert a new SIM card into your iPhone, you need to download the carrier setting for your new carrier.

Solution #5. Apple ID Sign-out, Sign-in

Sometimes, you just need to sign out of your Apple ID and then log in again.

Step #1. Under Settings → Message, scroll down to where it says ‘Send & Receive’ and tap on it.

Step #2. Tap on the Apple ID and then press Sign Out.

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Step #3. Switch off iMessage now.

Step #4. Wait for a while (turn on/off Wifi) and then switch ON iMessage.

Step #5. Enter your Apple ID details now and try to reactivate iMessage

iMessage Settings

Solution #6. If Nothing Works…

If all the solutions as mentioned above have failed to fix the problem, then update your device to the latest version. Tap on Settings → General → Software Update.

If there is no update available, then restore your iPhone with iTunes. Make sure to take a backup of your device before restoring it.

Restore iPhone Using iTunes on Mac or Windows

You can also contact Apple for help if the problem continues even after the software update or restoring your device.

Also, contact your carrier to ensure you can send/receive SMS.

Watch out how to fix iMessage Not Working issue on your iPhone:

Apple tries to let users enjoy a seamless iMessage experience, but one thing that’s clear is that setting up and activating iMessage doesn’t usually work smoothly for all users. Try these methods and let us know if any of it worked. And we’re looking for more solutions too so let us know.

Wrap Up

I’m sure the above solutions can help you fix the iMessage/FaceTime activation error on your iOS device. Being a common problem which many iPhone users (including me) have encountered at some point or the other, it should get resolved—without much pain.

You might also want to check out these posts: iPhone contacts disappeared issue, iMessage not working, how to get back lost iCloud contacts, Bluetooth not working, and Wi-Fi not working on iPhone and iPad.

Do share your feedback with us in the comment, on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus. Also, download the iGB app for free in the App Store.

Jignesh Padhiyarhttps://www.igeeksblog.com
Jignesh Padhiyar is the founder of iGeeksBlog.com who has a keen eye for news, rumors and all the unusual stuff that happens around iPhone and iPad.

136 COMMENTS

  1. #1 and #2 didn’t work for me. And I’m bit ready to Ho through the trouble of wiping/restoring!

    I’ll see whether apple techs have another solutions.

    Thx for s recommendations though.

  2. neither worked, i dont want to restore to factory settings but i’m almost ready to. it will not verify my phone number (all grey digits) in FaceTime and wont even show the number in the iMessage

    • I can’t even add my number in Settings > Phone > My number, as it’s greyed out. Another slowclap for Apple. What’s the point in such a large scale beta rollout when issues like this are still unresolved when the full release rolls around? Absolute garbage.

      Thanks for the tips though. I’ve tried all of them, and despite the fact they didn’t fix my issue, they’ve clearly worked for others :)

      • Strange. I know it sucks when you’ve got core issues like these…

        Did you try doing a full restore via iTunes? May be backup data in iTunes and then restore it again to check if the problem is resolved?

  3. I found that the problem with iMessage not activating was an error during the installation of iOS 7 to my device as it worked on my iPad but not my iPhone. Also, I was not receiving push notifications on my iPhone. A restore of the phone so that it re-installed iOS 7 and restore from backup was the only thing that fixed it.

  4. I have done everything and still not able to get iMessage or FaceTime to work on my Iphone 5 even after doing everything that Apple chat told me to.

  5. Just to let all know, even though my phone says it is waiting on activation for iMessage and FaceTime, I can send messages and use FaceTime, I tested it with my husbands phone, he hasn’t upgraded to iOS 7 yet

    • my iphone5 says waiting for activation. Sending messages works for some phones but not all. One friend has a iphone4s and she receives my messages but i cannot receive her messages. Another friend of mine, we have no problem sending messages back and forth. Dont know what is wrong.

  6. the reboot seems to work best, but i keep having to do it several times. i get knocked off imessage once or twice an hour. my internet connection is solid. i hope i won’t have to continue rebooting my phone like this

  7. I have GPP from sprint to tmobile. I did the update because I didn’t know I couldn’t please advise!!! I got to work the calls using the Irose patch. but I can’t get to work data and SMS.
    if anyone knows
    thank you

  8. Go into settings, click on messages, scroll down to ” send & receive’ and make sure the number shown is yours. Click on “send & receive” then click on ” use your apple ID for message”, this is to make sure your apple ID is correct and if it isn’t this where you will change it. Back out and go into “general”, scroll all the way to the bottom and click on “reset” then click on “reset network settings”. This worked for me hope it helps.

  9. I had this problem, and found that the problem disappeared after sending only one message as plain SMS (so green message). After that, Blue iMEssages suddenly also got sent…

  10. Here’s what worked for me: Go to . Click on the “Manage my ID” button. Make sure your email address and phone number are correct. Then click the “Save Changes” button. I didn’t change anything but as soon as I clicked the “Save Changes” button, my iMessages instantly activated. Thank God I’m bald or I would have pulled all my hair out until I did this.

  11. After trying for a long time i finally got it!!! I cant thank you enough! wile it was Activating i tried to text another iPhone and it finally sent! Thank you veeery much! i will pass this along to friends!

  12. My phone is currently deactivated bcuz I am stationed overseas.. This may sounds stupid, but is the reason why mine isn’t working is bcuz my phone is deactivated? I’ve tried everything and my phone number continues to stay gray.

  13. None of these worked for me, instead I tried doing them at the same time. First, I signed out of both iMessage and FaceTime and turned them off. Next, I restarted my phone, (held the home button and the lock botton) and then when I turned my phone on again, it prompted me to ‘sign into imessage’ and my phone number was activated!!!

  14. Just got iPhone 6 I’m trying to reactive iMessage on my iPod touch. When I click verify it just spins. Am I supposed to get a text message on my iPhone with a verification link???

  15. iphone 5, has th wrong mobile number in the “send and Receive” how do I change that mobile number. I message is waiting for activation. the right mobile number is in the contacts and settings

  16. How about if I want to use my old iPhone 4s as an ipod? I recently upgraded and want to give my mom my old phone so she can facetime with us. I erased/reset the 4s and signed in with her apple id. It is set to receive messages and facetime at her email address. I can’t get the imessage and facetime to activate, it has the ‘waiting for activation’ message. I read other places to connect the phone to a computer with itunes, I have done that as well and it still isn’t working. Ideas??

    • even it has “waiting for activation”, still you can use apple id to send imessage and facetime. Tested and worked

  17. I can’t even turn iMessage on cause every time I try to turn it on it instantly says “an error has occurred” and when I press “ok” it says waiting for activation. I don’t have a SIM card in my iPhone 4s so I don’t have a phone number meaning none of these obviously won’t work but I tried anyways and guess what? It didn’t work. Please help, I don’t know what to do and I need some way to text people.

  18. I went crazy with my iPhone 6 and iMessage. Nothing worked. Than I changed the carrier and within seconds, iMessage was activated and the sms forwarding to my iPad Air 2 can be used. The signal of the new carrier is much stronger, maybe this was the reason for the activation problems! I changed from Cellcard Cambodia to Smart Cambodia and of course my phone number changed unfortunately too.

  19. Hello,
    Great article…this is the farthest I’ve gotten so far, but am still having one more issues and am hoping you can help me.

    Just got iPhone 5s, followed all the instructions above, however under Settings–>Phone–> My Number it says Unknown and will not let me add my number.

    Do you have any suggestions?

    Many thanks!

  20. Hi I justfixed my iMessage activation error problem Yay!!!! I tried all the log in and out advice in these blogs sites but it did nothing to fix it. The problem after weeks of investigations and a replacement sim, trip to the genius desk, calls to the carrier, callls to the service provider, new hardware, etc..you name it I tried it… was actually with the port service between carriers. When your number is ported the new carrier has to tell all the other carriers that they now have your phone number for routing. When my number got ported no one told vodaphone, or told them and they didn’t act on it. So anyway I actually wasn’t receiving any calls or texts from vodaphone customers as well as not being able to activate iMessage and Facetime. Anyway once the vodaphone issue was fixed my iMessage activated straight away and I got in touch with all the people in my phone book with a 0414 vodaphone prefix and explained what had happened.

    • Hi Jana77, just wondering what you asked Vodafone when you called? I am having the exact same issue after switching from Vodafone to O2 (O2 handled the whole change over).

  21. Hi ! I just found out for the network carrier “Airtel” that it takes 24 hours from the time of SIM activation to enable SMS services in case of a SIM swap. I had swapped my micro sim for nano sim and hence this delay. The carrier confirmed that though I would be able to receive / make calls, the messaging activation takes 24 hours. Anyways thanks a ton for providing solutions for this issue.

  22. None of these techniques worked for me over the last 36 hours, but I figured one out that did:

    I finally just tried again and succeeded. I made sure “”MMS Messaging” and “Group Messaging” were both off. I then turned iMessage off and back on again. It immediately activated iMessage and stayed activated after I switched them both back on too.

    • Thank you so much! I have been trying for days to get mine to work after updating to IOS 8 and none of the other stuff worked. I couldn’t believe it when I read your comment and figured I would try it. It worked right away!!

  23. IMessage and FaceTime activated immediately following your simple directions. Very, very much appreciated. Thanks.

  24. I tried both. The second one my number appeared but then it just left. It still says waiting for activation. Is it because my phone was cut off two weeks ago. I was still able to receive iMessages at that number until I reset my phone.

  25. Having tried all the fixes none actual got iMessage to work correctly. Getting iMessage to work via your apple id is one thing but getting it to work sending via your iPhone number seems to be the main problem. The difference being that apple id looks like an email and the other looks like an SMS. I have found that using the SIM card from an iPhone 5 and putting it into an iPhone 6 will stop iMessage from activating. Got a new replacement SIM from my carrier and as soon as i activated the new one (deactivate the old) iMessage fired up immediately. Worked on two phones. Seems that the activation may be getting conflicting info from the iPhone.

  26. I had a guy approach me about this same issue. I just went to General – Reset – Reset Network Connections…the phone rebooted and was able to log in. Might work for some of you.

  27. hello guys
    i m not updating my iphone in wifi.i m doing it through itunes.and when ever i try to activate my iphone to 7.1.2 its showing a popup IPHONE COULDNT BE ACTIVATED DUE AN UNKNOWN ERROR 8000000004 its showing me from past 3 days please tell me the solution guys

  28. For the ones who tried everything (inc. reset and/or restore) but still couldn’t activate iMessage and FaceTime with their cellular number, I strongly suggest you to major on your mobile phone network operator. Even if you have an active international sms plan that charges the activation sms’s, there might be a problem(I have no idea why but some kind of line forwarding/redirecting problem) about your line. Especially the ones who travels internationally much. For your information…

  29. This what worked for meAfter doing “Before You Start To Fix iMessage “Waiting for Activation” Issue”,
    sync to itunes
    turn off imessage and facetime.
    Restart phone.
    Turn on imessage.
    Restart phone
    Turn on facetime

  30. I’ve been trying all these steps for long hours now and still have no luck. I did a hard reset as well. My phone number simply doesn’t appear. I cannot even see “Start a new conversation from”. I recently changed carriers, from B back to A. A used to work just fine before. Switched to B as I went abroad, everything worked there. When I came back and switched to A, everything stopped working! Please help!!!

      • I spent 6 hours with Apple’s rep chatting. As per their instructions, I’ve switched off iMessage, leaving it off for 3 days. They said that should take the number off of their servers. Let’s see what happens.

        • Ah what i did is i turned off imessage. Waited 1 hour, i switched back on and went to sleep so within 7 hours imessage finally is activated.

          • ah wow :
            Well my options:
            Give is a restore
            turn off imessage for 1-3 days and then turn on
            try resetting network settings
            contact ur carrier
            For me i got lucky when in Australia. I was about to go sleep, i turned on imessage and leaved it to be. After waking up in morning, imessage was successful and i was so damn happy!.

  31. No No No. The solution above does not work. The problem is the iOS, not a setting, so the only way is to delete everything and set up as new. Trust me, I did this and it worked like charm:
    1/ Plug your phone into your computer, do a full back up
    2/ Unplug your iPhone, go to Settings –> General —> Reset –> Erase All Content and Settings
    (This step will wipe out everything in your phone, so make sure you have performed a full backup)
    3/ When your phone is on again after the reset, choose to restore iphone via iTunes, then plug into your computer, choose the backup you want to restore your phone to.
    (this step will take about 10-15 minutes)
    4/ When your phone is done with back up and is on again, go to Settings –> General –> Reset –> Reset all network settings
    5/ DONE, you’re iMessage and Facetime should be on the next time your phone is on.

      • well besides the fact that its a definitive fix it also clears up that bar that says other which is generally junk files that apple is too stupid to make a cleaner for :p

    • Nothing works here, not even that. But I found out that Nepal’s government considers the Apple protocol used illegal, so no Telcom has implemented it. It’s never gunna work here unless there is a change in government. Really sad…

    • Tried everything else, but this worked. Thank you x100 for this great solution. You’re a gentleman and a tribute to humanity!

  32. I have tried everything. Even went to Apple, and they could not get it to work, so gave me a new phone. Still does not work. Now gonna push for another new phone from the carrier i bought it from, but not an apple. I am sure once I leave apple….and therefore Itunes… I will be a happy man.

  33. Nothing works… “Waiting activation” still goes… SO ANNOYING! apple used to be simple and smooth… now it’s just shit

    • Same for me – imessage AND facetime both still say waiting for activation BUT I got a message on my laptop saying that my iphone had signed into imessage and another one saying my iphone had signed into facetime AND my phone number turned from grey to black in the ‘send and receive’ list so I’m just ignoring the ‘waiting for activation’ message on my phone.

  34. I’m currently visiting Brazil and iMessage stopped working as soon as I got here (it works for everyone else in my family). I tried method 2 the first time and it worked for about 2 hours. But when I tried sending a message later, iMessage stopped workin. Method 2 didn’t work when I tried it again, and method 3 didn’t work either. So I decided to reset network settings and it finally worked. But for some reason, I’m only able to message one person. All messages to other people keep failing and I have no idea why. I don’t know if this was the case the first time because I only messaged one person that time.

  35. I used tips number 3 to sign out and sign in back apple ID and surprisingly it worked for my iphone 6plus. Yeay.. Thanks a lot =D

  36. I’ve followed this twice now, with success, but I’ve had to do the airplane thing AND log out log in thing to get it working. next time I’ll try the log out log in without first doing the airplane mode thing.

  37. I tried all the methods and the Fourth one is the one that worked for me. Sort of an inconvenience but I’m glad it works now. Thank you!!

  38. Did not work any of the given tricks. Just a waste of time. I bought an iphone for facetime and imsg but this inconvenience of apple disappointed me. Now what?!

  39. The airplane mode worked for me. i just got a new phone and different number. although the old number is still showing up (greyed out) it is working after switching on the airplane mode. i was skeptical but it worked!

  40. thank you so much for this!!! I’m in colombia traveling for three months and relying on my imessages and was desperate for a solution! #3 worked for me! Gracias!

  41. Haha strange as it sounds, after hours of trying many things, i came to this site, read the airplane mode trickt, did it and my imesage problem instantly fixed. Have no idea how and why. But thanks.

  42. This shit works as hell, after trying out all sorts of things. This airplane mode stuff coupled with wifi made all the things work for both the facetime and imessage services. I was even able to change the phone number, thanks guys. thumbs up.

  43. I tried everything on this page and nothing worked for me! Not sure what is wrong with my phone!? Any suggestions??

  44. I just fixed my i6. Simple. Sign out of account. Turm off wifi. Turn off messaging. Turn off phone. Turn on phone and turn on messaging sign in. Turn on wifi and it worked.

  45. Here’s a fun variation on the problem: whether I go into Airplane mode or not, iMessage and FaceTime will not accept the password I’m entering for my Apple ID. And yes, I have verified that it is the correct password. Those two dialogs are literally the only places on or off my iPhone where my Apple ID and password are not accepted.

    I don’t think Apple should be writing software anymore.

  46. I just updated to the iOS 9 today, iMessage failing to work ranging from ‘waiting to activate’ to the error message. Tried all of this and still doesn’t work :(

  47. For me it was the VPN settings. I had downloaded the “TunnelBear” app which I had forgotten to turn off. After turning off the VPN option I finally got my imessage to work again. Settings -> General -> VPN. Make sure that it is not trying to connect. If it is, turn it off.

  48. I have tried every thing!!! (a few times) including updating to 9.0.2 and my imessage activation still doesn’t work…..

  49. Make sure you can send international text to apple otherwise you cant activate imessage i have found this out from Apple and confronting AldiMobile which tell me i have to pay more money just to send 1 text to activate imessage.

  50. Thank you! the number in my contacts was wrong – it had kept the number from a previous sim card. Sweet diagnostic skills guys!

  51. just so y’all who are jailbroken know if you give up all hope don’t upgrade and lose your jb, get the tweak called remote messages ios-(your ios) from cydia it wont help with your phone but it’ll give you the opportunity to use your computer until a perm. fix is out there. just a heads up from soulbound ^_^

  52. i could not do it, because as the primary condition says, my number should display under my name in contacts. However it does not appear even after I am done with the phone>my number method.

  53. i tried airplane mode but it didn’t work the first time. When i went to date and time I had to change it to set automatically then airplane mode worked like a charm! even though my time was right it needed to be on “set automatically”

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