T-Mobile’s SIM Unlock Policy Changes Begin Tomorrow, August 24th

Screen Shot 2013-08-23 at 7.20.50 AM

You’ll have to excuse the Mr Blurry-cam shot, but some changes to T-Mobile’s SIM unlock policy are set for tomorrow. These changes come after a change to the long-standing unlock policy went into action this past May. T-Mobile then altered the new rules  a few days later after a petition was floated as a small group found the new set of policies to be less than agreeable. With the arrival of Simple Choice, T-Mobile changed up the SIM unlock policy to help avoid customers unlocking devices prior to paying off the full price of the device. T-Mobile included an international exception a few days later for customers often traveling overseas.

The new changes include:

  • 40 days active service required for prepaid, this changes from 60 days and better aligns with the post-paid unlock policy
  • 2 unlocks per year, per line of service, this changes from 90 days and is likely being changed to fall in line with JUMP!
  • International exception still includes customers having two full months of monthly recurring charges (MRC) + EIP payments

As far as the reasoning for the 40 days? T-Mobile will instruct its staff to say it’s an anti-fraud measure, changing from the previous reasoning of buyers remorse. Truthfully, it is anti-fraud in a sense and I don’t see any issue with customer reps describing it using that verbiage. I’m not sure what brought about another set of changes in the SIM unlock policy necessitating a change tomorrow, other than the arrival of the JUMP! upgrade program. Still, I’m glad to see the international exception left intact allowing customers to travel without being concerned they can’t use their own smartphone.


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  • RedGeminiPA

    “30 days active service required for prepaid”

    You might want to fix that. The image clearly states 40 days.

  • trife

    Nice. I thought these policies were already active, so I requested that 2 iPhones be unlocked for international travel last week. Got denied a few days later based on still owing on the EIP.

    Looks like I’ll be trying again tomorrow.

  • Jessicad

    Dam I need that on my xperia Z since im going to Mexico in october/November. Last time I went last year I took my tmobile s2 I got a HUGE bill. Btw I was in san ysidro last week and my xperia Z and my mans tmobile galaxy s4 were displaying TELCEL lol funny thing we were still in the US side :s there was just no way to change it back to T-Mobile, on tmobile it would get one bar then it would switch to TELCEL and get full bars.

    • Chris

      I’ve never been to Mexico, but my experience with T-mo’s sim unlock is pretty good so far. I’ve heard people say they get charge when they request the unlock code, but I’ve never had that issue. But then again, I only request unlock code on phones I have owned for a while.

      • Jessicad

        Im gonna try that because last time I went I got a huge bill for roaming in Mexico, tmobile works fine in mexico it roams on telcel And telcel has coverage everywhere in mexico I had coverage in Mexico city,Guadalajara, michoacan but dam my bill was 3,000 bucks.. so ima try that thing and hopefully they unlock it so next time I go I can buy a telcel sim card over there.

        • TylerCameron

          Did you actually have to end up paying $3000 to T-Mobile?

    • There SHOULD be a way under the mobile network settings to disable roaming where it will ONLY stay on T-Mobile towers. No once you’ve unlocked the device and have a local Mexican SIM in it you probably want to turn this feature off.

      • Jessicad

        I tried that on my xperia z and my mans galaxy s4 problem was tmobile coverage was so weak in the border the phone chose telcel instead since Tijuana was across the street Im sure telcel had more towers there in the border so when we chose tmobile ALL OUR CALLs would drop and data didnt work so we just ended up using telcel even tho we were in the US side since it worked better for calls.

        • GiraffeandtheStone

          So get coverage at terrible international fees or deal with some dropped calls? I know what my choice would be.

        • Jessicad

          Well easy for u but I had no choice I needed my phone to call I had a family emergency someone had an accident and tmobile totally CRAPPED out in san ysidro so I had no choice than to use the Mexican network since it worked much better.

      • josephsinger

        I guess it depends on the device, but most devices allow you to manually choose the operator (as opposed to automatic.) If you manually choose an operator such as T-Mobile in the US it cannot connect to any other network other than the network you chose in the US which would have been T-Mobile. I don’t even know if you’d be able to make 911/112 calls in that instance though I know you can make those kinds of calls with no SIM at all in most countries (with exceptions such as the UK.)

  • S. Ali

    There is almost no benefit to unlocking of you are going overseas. T-mobile needs a better international plan (they charge 0.59/min and $10/MB for data!) for Mexico and Canada. At these rates you are better of buying a local device and sim card. ATT at least has international plans.

    • Confused

      What do you mean there is no benefit to unlocking? You stated “you are better off buying a local device and sim card.” Well, if you can get the device you already own unlocked, then why buy a local device? The idea is you just buy a local sim card and use it with the (now unlocked) device you already own.

    • I think you have it backwards… If the roaming rates are outrageous then unlocking is ALWAYS your best bet…

  • CPPCrispy

    What does it mean by 2 unlocks per year? Is there a time limit for each unlock or is a unlock country specific? I guess my question is how is the unlock implemented so that they can limit it to 2?

    • Baxter DeBerry

      its two PER line.. doesn’t matter if its days apart..

      • CPPCrispy

        I understand that it is 2 unlocks per line. My question is how is it unlocked? If, for instance, I was going to Germany, will they unlock it for Germany only or is it for all of the EU? Is there a time limit for an unlock? So if I unlock it today, will that unlock last for the life of the phone or will the unlock expire in a few months? Also, if the unlock is for the life of the phone, are the unlocks cumulative? If I get Germany unlocked, will it be locked down when I get France unlocked?

        • Baxter DeBerry

          This doesnt apply to eu or germany this is tmobile usa

        • GiraffeandtheStone

          It’s either locked or it’s not, and it’s without stipulations – there is no regionalization of the process. So get your phone unlocked, to go Germany, and if you feel like visiting France while you’re there, use your phone with a local sim there too.

          Lucky guy, I can’t legitimize a trip to Europe, much less using a cell phone during such a trip.

  • Craig

    I don’t see anything about those who paid full-retail up front for their phone. Those should be able to be unlocked from day one upon request. I hope, anyway…

    • Andromedo

      Nope. You are subject to all of the requirements, including a completely arbitrary judgement made by the “SIM Unlock Team” that you cannot communicate with directly.

    • conservative_motorcyclist

      I bought a TMO iPhone 5 for my Fiancee on AT&T. I paid the up front price of $579. The SIM Unlock Team unlocked it with no questions. I had to fax them the receipt.

      This was before all the policy changes, but YMMV.

      Back in the day, It used to be quite painless…you would simply email SIM_Unlock@t-mobile.com with a PDF of your receipt and all pertinent account info, and they would spit back an unlock code in a day or two!


  • Jlaorm

    I just picked up a Lumia 521 to use as a second phone with the ultimate goal of getting it unlocked and the Customer Service Rep said for a phone on my line to be unlocked. I will need to meet the following criteria
    1. 40 days since activation and 7 days of consecutive use in that time frame.
    2. I get two unlocks per year per line

    I did ask about if I paid off my EIP off the phone will still have to follow the 40 days rule.

  • Hopefully if you meet all those requirements, they will make it a smooth process.

    • Andromedo

      Good luck with that. My unlock (that everyone at T-Mo acknowledged as meeting the requirements, including paid-in-full at time of purchase) took weeks, hours on the phone, and management escalations.

      CS would say, “yep, you meet the requirements” then send it off to the “SIM Unlock Team” who would deny it with some made up BS reason.

      The SECOND time I was denied for no proper reason came back as “you have 43 days of active service. We require it to be 7 days. Denied.” I kid you not.

      There is no way to directly talk to the SIM Unlock Team to even ask them to explain their nonsense. All the CS rep can do is resubmit.

      • oryan_dunn

        Same story here. I paid for my phone in full, all the CS reps said there should be no reason for a SIM denial. After 3 times faxing in my receipt, and every CS rep saying I should have no problem getting it unlocked, the SIM unlock team always denied it.

        What worked…. I emailed Mr. Legere, and someone from his office called me back, after I talked with his assistant for just a couple of minutes, I got the unlock code 2min after we hung up.

  • 21stNow

    I disagree with the limit of two unlocks per line per year. Even the “evil” AT&T allows me five.

    • kev2684

      Damn you buy 5 phones from one line each year? I am jealous.

      • 21stNow

        I don’t buy five on one line in a year, but I may buy more than two. I’ll have to keep playing my games with T-Mobile and spread my unlock requests across the three lines that I have. The only problem is that I may not use one phone for 40 days straight on any particular line.

  • Zac

    David does “active service” refer to general account activity or does that man 40 days of IMEI usage for the device being requested for unlocking?

    • Zac


    • Andromedo

      It may mean on the same phone number. I had an issue where ONLY the phone number was changed on a phone and it reset the counter to zero days.

    • oryan_dunn

      It sure reads as 40days active service on the account, but I think they mean of IMEI usage. I bought the One in full, and I eventually got it unlocked, but it took an assistant to Mr. Legere to push through the unlock request. His assistant did say that the device needed to be 40 days, so it would be past the return period.

  • Does the rules apply to people who pay the full price of the phone? I hope that a fully paid phone can be unlocked no matter what the circumstance.

    • Andromedo

      The rules still apply. Paying full price to T-Mo subjects you to these rules, and the arbitrary and inconsistent enforcement of them.

      I won’t by phones from carriers anymore because of this.

  • Oh gotta call in today and get my LG L9 unlocked before this kicks in.

    • And…DONE! :) Request put in.

      • Mack

        My money is on it not getting approved, but I hope it does. This department is the worst at TMo.

      • landmarkcm

        Oh good you got it done. If you want it done pretty much instantly you can go to http://cellunlocker.net/ ya it’s like 14.99 but there good and that’s not to bad. I ordered an L9 from Qvc on the cheap im going to unlock :)

  • OZ

    What’s the current policy for post-paid? 40 days?

  • Mack

    TMobile manages to make this policy worse and worse. This “40 days” is 40 days of IMEI usage! So if you go and buy a phone at full price they make you wait 40 days! This is so out of step with the competition it’s now ridiculous. Verizon iPhone 5 is UNLOCKED out of the box. I can get an AT&T iPhone Unlocked in under an hour. Now TMobile takes their already horrible policy even further into the woods. If you don’t trust your customers with phones, stop doing EIP altogether. How about some slack for customers who have been with TMo for a year or more? I should be able to Unlock a phone the day I buy it as a loyal customer. Handset fraud almost exclusively occurs on new accounts. If people leave or don’t come to T-Mobile because of this, how much money are you saving on preventing fraud in spite of customer interest?

    • steveb944

      Since you’re referring to the iPhone, I believe you can purchase it in an Apple store unlocked and then finance it there.
      Regardless, if it’s a major issue for someone buy the hardware elsewhere, there’s no way around it when you’re being given a phone for free/very little due to the inexpensive system T-Mobile has.

      • Mack

        My point is, Steve, they aren’t competitive in the marketplace when it comes to their SIM Unlock Policy. They have the harshest policy in the country, which is an un-uncarrier position to be in.

      • Zac

        They have Credit Checks and IMEI Blacklisting to protect them on this front. Why inconvenience your good loyal customers with this garbage? As another commenter said, at&t gives you 5 per line per year. Why are they going in the other direction?

    • josephsinger

      Verizon’s iPhone 5 is unlocked only because the feds mandate that because it has access to the 700 Mhz frequency part of the deal with using that frequency is that your devices that use that frequency have to be unlocked. It’s certainly not because Verizontal is a beneficent entity.

  • landmarkcm

    Plenty of online sites avail for unlocking. Right now im happily using ATT go phone 60.00 smartphone plan sim. I like how they allow youmail call forwarding & better coverage.. I also like how I can use a Tmobile branded phone. Aww the beauty of gsm :) Is it just me to or Tmobile is the worst at porting numbers. I tried to port back to them recently and they caused me such a headache. And of course you call and get the phillipines etc which is fine if they did there jobs properly. Att in stores. Instant! port done they use tablets and get you right up and running. Maybey one day ill try Tmo again..

  • TmoRep

    As a rep fraud is still a big time concern here. The reason for the changes are actually not that hard to understand, as T-Mobile has huge deals with foreign embassies and the world Bank organization.

  • TmoRep

    And a question, if you can just buy the phone factory unlocked from a carrier, what’s the point of even getting the service in the first place? The unmarried strategy is more about being transparent about what customers are paying for, not completely getting rid of what makes the company it’s profits.

  • josephsinger

    Another change to unlock policy changed happened though I’m not sure when it went into affect is that if you want an unlock for a device that device has to be in service and you using the device. You cannot ask for an unlock for any device you are currently not using. So, if you have an old Nokia 3390 sitting in a drawer somewhere and you’d like to use it in Canada on Rogers you can only get the unlock if that is a current device. I guess you could temporarily put your SIM in, make the request and then switch it back to the “real” phone you use most of the time, but it’s an additional PITA you have to deal with.

    • Andrew

      Yep, I ran into this issue myself. I tried to unlock a family members phone that wasn’t on my account. It got rejected since I wasn’t using my SIM on that phone.

  • Jessicad

    Eh wateva I just got my xperia z and my mans s4 unlocked for 30 bucks good thing I live in LA were I can go to east la and many stores will unlock phones for 15 bucks. They charged me 15 for each but it was worth it they now fully unlocked both I put an At&t, h20 SIM and they work fine on both phones… No more waiting for tmobiles lame policies . .

  • Don Kim

    Why are people complaining and whining about the unlock policy?
    If you’re not gonna use T-Mobile variant phones on T-Mobile, then just get an unlocked version instead, and stop whining about not being able to use T-Mobile phones on AT&T for 40 days.

  • JJCommonSense

    The GS4 can be unlocked manually… and quite easily.. google it

  • Georgie1234

    No duh. If you want to use your phone on another carrier tham why buy a tmobile phone to begin with???

    • iKool

      To have more control over our phone’s potential and how we use it in the USA and any other country. The lock and unlock policy is a ridiculous excuse existing only on the USA.

  • Mindtrouble

    I bought my GS4 straight out. I’ve been a T-mo customer for 10 yrs without past due or late payments. I had to call T-Mo to request the unlock and was told the phone had to be in-service for 7 days before I could make the request to unlock my phone.This part of the policy is not posted on any customer facing documents. Once the 7 days had past, I requested again and was informed that T-Mo had to request the unlock code for my phone from Samsung and that it could take up to 2 weeks. I actually go it in 2 days. You will also need a non T-Mo sim card to do the unlock.