How to Unlock a Contract Phone

By Thomas McNish

If you want to keep you cell phone, but want to break loose from your service provider, you'll have to unlock the phone. This allows you to use pre-paid SIM cards from other service providers without having to sign a new contract. Only GSM phones are able to be unlocked. Look under your phone's battery to see if there's a removable SIM card. If so, you probably have a GSM phone.

Things You'll Need

  • Pre-paid or foreign SIM card

Step 1

Get your phone's IMEI number by typing "*#06#" into the keypad. It's this unique serial number that allows either your service provider, or an online remote unlocking site, to calculate your unlock code.

Step 2

Call your service provider's tech support and ask for an unlock code. If they need a reason, tell them that you're traveling abroad or you're planning to sell your phone. Company policies vary, so if your service provider refuses to give you an unlock code, just buy one from a company like,, or

Step 3

Retrieve the email that was sent to you, containing the unlock instructions. Depending on your phone and your service provider, the instructions will vary.

Step 4

Cancel your contract and use your unlocked phone on the service provider of your choice.

Tips & Warnings

  • If your phone doesn't unlock properly, contact your service provider or the company that provided the code. Many phones have a limited number of unlock attempts, so trying to put the code in too many times could cause your phone to become hard-locked -- or unable to ever be unlocked.