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Three SIM Won’t Activate? How To Activate In 5 Quick Steps

Three SIM Won’t Activate? How To Activate In 5 Quick Steps

Is your new or replacement Three SIM not working? Are you gutted that you still can’t browse, make, or receive calls on your Three SIM card? Well, you are not alone. Here, we will show you how to activate your Three SIM correctly.

The Three SIM card won’t activate issue is caused when your phone is not from Three. Make sure your phone is 3G/4G enabled and unlocked, and other SIMs are compatible with the device.

Why won’t my Three SIM card activate?

Some of the significant reasons why a Three SIM won’t activate on your device are:

  • You need to unlock your phone.
  • Wrong activation procedure of your Three SIM.
  • Your device is not 3G/4G enabled.
  • Your Three SIM was not active for 180 days.
  • A software or hardware issue with your device.
Three SIM won't activate
Photo credit: Jonas Leupe on Unsplash

How do I fix the Three SIM won’t activate issue?

You can get your Three SIM working by following any or all of the steps below:

Unlock your phone to use other networks.

A device from Three’s market competitors cannot work with a Three SIM since it may be locked to the competitor’s network. You would need to contact your phone dealer’s customer care and request a Depersonalisation Control Key (DCK).

Contact the customer care of your old network provider through any of the numbers below:

NetworkContact details 
02202 from a 02 SIM. From a different network, call 0344 809 0202
SkyCall 0333 7591 018 with any network to contact them
EEDial 150 with your EE phone or 0800 079 8586 with other networks
BTCall 0800 917 0510 from any network
VirginCall 150 from a Virgin Media phone. 0345 454 1111 from other networks.
VodafoneDial 191 from a Vodafone SIM or 0333 304 0191 from another network.

You will receive a code and instructions on unlocking your network-locked device from your former network providers.

The code will arrive within five business days, depending on if your former network provider needs to contact your device manufacturers for the code.

a sim card

Follow the right way to activate your Three SIM card.

After ensuring that your device is unlocked and that a Three SIM card can work on it, follow the correct step to activate your SIM. These simple steps are:

  • Correctly insert your Three SIM into your device and power it on
  • Three will send an automatic text to you to acknowledge that they are about to activate your SIM.
  • After some minutes, you will receive a second message asking you to restart your device.
  • Once you restart your device, Three will send a second message to you to confirm your SIM activation.

The above simple instruction works fine on most devices that are 3G/4G enabled, as Three doesn’t work on 2G phones. 

Ensure that your phone is not 2G-only enabled

Three SIM cards only work on a phone that is 3G/4G enabled. So, if your device is an older version of a 2G-only phone with no option of switching to 3G or 4G, Three won’t work on your phone.

Three focuses primarily on fast data connections rather than voice calls. Allowing their SIMs to work only on 3G and 4G networks proves their data-driven goal. However, suppose your phone falls among the 2G-only generation. In that case, a device change might be necessary before Three can activate your SIM.

 An inactive Three SIM might have been deactivated. 

For inactive Three SIM cards, deactivation happens after 180 days. Suppose you purchased or had an unused Three SIM card. In that case, activation will require a complex process of contacting Three’s customer care. There’s, however, little chance of reactivating an inactive Three SIM as your number may have been recycled and sold.

Visit a phone software/hardware engineer.

If all of the above solutions fail to fix your Three SIM won’t activate, take your phone to a professional. A certified phone engineer will look at your SIM card tray and slot something behind the SIM to enhance its connection with your phone.

Suppose you are technically inclined and your phone’s components are not sophisticated. In that case, you can put a tape on your SIM to press it down on the connectors. Cleaning the “gold” side of your SIM can also improve connectivity and solve the Three SIM won’t activate issue.

However, don’t take unnecessary risks with your phone as you fix the Three SIM won’t activate issue. Instead, take your SIM card and the device to an authorized Three outlet.

man using mobile phone
Photo credit: Freestocks on Unsplash


With Three’s great data offers and speed, experiencing the Three SIM won’t activate issue on your phone can be annoying. But, carefully following our detailed guide can help you activate your Three SIM fast.

Don’t hesitate to comment below on how you fixed the Three SIM won’t activate issue. Also, for Vodafone users, check out our guide on the same topic for Vodafone SIM.


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