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Unlocking your phone means having the ability to switch to a different wireless service provider without having to buy a new phone. If your phone is locked to a wireless service provider’s network, it must first be unlocked before switching providers. In Canada, wireless service providers must unlock phones on their network for free. 

Find out if you can get out of your phone contract early?

New Phone Unlocking Laws

In 2017, the laws for unlocking phones changed. The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) created a Wireless Code to better inform consumers of their rights in the wireless service industry and to make the industry more consumer-friendly.

Phone carriers used to charge consumers to unlock their phones, but now any phone a service provider sells must be provided unlocked.

If a phone is locked or becomes locked to a service provider’s network, if the owner requests that it be unlocked, the service provider must do so for free. 

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How do You Unlock Your Phone?

To unlock your phone, you’ll need three things:

  • Your phone’s IMEI number – This 15-digit number is a unique identifier assigned to your phone.
  • A SIM card from another wireless service provider – You’ll need a SIM card from the wireless service provider whose network you want to join.
  • Account information – You will need to provide your wireless account information, such as what device you have, to your wireless service provider.

A special note for iPhones: iPhone unlocking is completed by Apple, not a wireless service provider. Apple must process the unlocking request from your wireless service provider, which may cause delays. The provider can tell you the unlocking status while you wait.

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Unlocking Your Phone With Canada’s Largest Service Providers

Each of Canada’s biggest phone carriers has a different process for unlocking your phone.

Bell

Apple devices purchased from Bell after January 1, 2014, are already unlocked. Any other device, from a provider that is not Apple,  purchased after November 30, 2017, is already unlocked.

To get an unlock code from Bell, which you can use once you enter a non-Bell SIM card into your device, either go to the MyBell unlock device page or contact the customer support line. You will need your IMEI number. You will receive a confirmation email with your unlock code.

You can call Bell’s technical support line at 1-800-667-0123.

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Bell MTS

Bell MTS devices purchased after December 1, 2017, are already unlocked. Devices purchased before this date may still be locked.

To unlock a Bell MTS phone, log into your Bell MTS MyAccount and request a mobile device unlock code. For business customers, complete the Bell MTS Mobile Device Unlock Request form. Once you have your unlock code, insert a non-Bell MTS SIM card into your device and enter your unlock code when prompted.

For customer support, call 1-204-225-5687 (if you’re in Manitoba) or 1-800-883-2054 (if you’re outside Manitoba).

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chatr

Any chatr device sold after December 1, 2017, should either already be unlocked or have an unlock code sticker on the side of the box. If not, then you need to bring your IMEI to a chatr retailer to get your device’s unlock code.

Once you have your unlock code, you can unlock your phone yourself. Insert another carrier’s SIM card into your phone and you will be prompted to provide your unlock code.

For customer support, dial *611 from your chatr phone, Tweet @chatrmobile, or contact chatr on their Facebook page.

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Fido

You need to contact Fido with your IMEI number. For Apple devices, Fido will unlock your device remotely. For non-Apple devices, you need to insert another carrier’s SIM card and then enter your unlock code.

Fido’s customer service number is 1-888-481-FIDO (3436) if you need help.

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Koodo

All Koodo devices sold after December 1, 2017, are already unlocked. 

If your phone is not unlocked, you can unlock it yourself online. You need to log into your Koodo Self Serve account, then choose “Mobile services” from the Self Serve dropdown menu. Beside “Unlock your phone”, select “Unlock”. Enter the required information when prompted and submit it. You’ll get a confirmation email with your unlock code.

If you have questions, you can chat with a Koodo Digital rep online using Koodo Assist.

Like mobile device insurance, check out these other undervalued forms of insurance.

Virgin Mobile

You can unlock your Virgin Mobile phone either online using your Virgin Mobile My Account or by contacting the customer support number at 1-888-999-2321.

Rogers

You need to contact Rogers with your IMEI number. For Apple devices, Rogers will unlock your device remotely. For non-Apple devices, you need to insert another carrier’s SIM card and then enter your unlock code.

Contact Rogers Technical Support at 1-888-ROGERS1 (764-3771) for assistance.

Want mobile device insurance? Check out the BMO eclipse Visa Infinite Card.

TELUS

To unlock a phone with TELUS, call 1-866-558-2273 for assistance. They don’t allow you to unlock a phone yourself.

Your phone must be locked to the TELUS network and not be flagged as lost or stolen. 

Videotron

All Videotron phones should have been unlocked since December 1, 2017, but if they weren’t:

  • For an Android device, enter your phone’s IMEI number on the Videotron site.
  • For iPhones, call the Videotron customer service team at 1-877-512-0911.

Unlocking a Cellphone FAQs

Can my cellular service provider refuse to unlock my phone?

Your phone provider could refuse to unlock your phone if you haven’t paid your bills or if the phone is stolen. They may also refuse to unlock it if you bought it from a private seller, and the carrier cannot contact the seller. Otherwise, if your account is in good standing and your phone has never been reported stolen, you should have no problems getting your carrier to unlock your phone.

Do I have to unlock my phone if I just bought it?

If you bought your phone new from a wireless service provider, the Wireless Code requires that it come unlocked. Usually, that requirement means that the phone will be unlocked when it is sold to you.  Sometimes, older phones will still be locked. In that case, the service provider will provide you with an unlock code and instructions so you can unlock the phone yourself for free. If you bought your phone used or from a third party, such as from an online marketplace or from an electronic retail store like Best Buy, make sure that the seller unlocks it first. Sometimes service providers may not unlock a phone at no charge if they cannot contact the original owner.

What does jailbreaking or rooting your phone mean?

Jailbreaking lets you run unauthorized software on an Apple device. On Android devices, this process is known as rooting. Doing so can add extra features to your phone, but since the software is unauthorized, it can be malicious and harm your phone. You don’t need to jailbreak or root your phone when switching it to another phone carrier.

Bottom Line

In Canada, you have the right to have your phone unlocked for free so you can switch to other wireless service providers. Your account with your wireless service provider must be in good standing, and your device cannot be flagged as lost or stolen. Each provider has its own rules, but unlocking your phone is a relatively painless process.

Matthew Taylor avatar on Loans Canada
Matthew Taylor

Matthew joined the Loans Canada writing team in 2021 while was finishing up a Bachelor's degree at the University of Saskatchewan. It was there that he discovered his love of writing. His work has appeared in several publications, including the Canadian Student Review and NewEngineer.com. In his spare time, Matthew enjoys reading, geocaching, and spending time with his family and pets.

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