How to Change an ESN on Verizon

By Jean Sommer

A unique ESN, or electronic serial number, is assigned to wireless phones to help identify the phone on the network. The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) controls the numbering system for manufacturers. The ESN is associated with the wireless phone itself and set by the manufacturer, not the mobile service. Verizon, like other wireless providers, uses a mobile identification number (MIN) in conjunction with the ESN to identify phones on their network. Changing your ESN is to change the phone that is associated with your account, and you can make the change in a store or online.

Things You'll Need

  • New phone with ESN
  • Verizon Wireless calling plan

Step 1

Using your Internet browser, go to Go to the "My Verizon" link at the top of the page to log in to your account. Turn off both the phone currently associated with the phone number being transferred and the new phone that will be replacing it.

Step 2

On the "Overview" page, choose "Activate My Phone" under the "Quick Links" heading on the right.

Step 3

Two steps appear on the page. You will need to click on "Get Started" in Step 1: Back up your contacts if you wish to have them automatically transferred to your new phone. If you do not wish to use this service, you can skip this step.

Step 4

Under Step 2, "Activate Your Phone," input the ESN from the phone into the box on the right and then choose the phone number on your account that will be associated with the phone. Click "Continue" to finish the process. A mobile phone's ESN number is located on the back and beneath the battery. For additional assistance, consult your phone's documentation, or click the "Need Help" link near the bottom of this section.

Step 5

To change your ESN without using a computer or the Internet, find a local Verizon corporate store or a Verizon authorized retailer. You will need to bring the new phone with you. Speak with a Verizon agent to change your wireless number and plan to the new phone. The agent will change the ESN for you, program the phone for the network (if needed) and activate your service. Most places do charge a onetime fee for this service.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can schedule automatic updates with Verizon Wireless' Backup Assistant that will keep your contact list current.