How to fix iMessage Waiting for Activation error

Are you trying to activate iMessage on your iOS device but it’s still not working due to some stupid reasons?

Let’s see. Is it getting stuck on ‘iMessage waiting for activation’? And after a while, it ends up showing the messages such as ‘Activation unsuccessful’ or ‘An error occurred during activation’?

If these are exactly your problem, then you’re in the right place!

There are a lot of users who are encountering this problem every day, just like you. So it really prompted me to create a complete tutorial on how to activate iMessage and fix this common issues, with the hope of helping you guys get rid of this stuff permanently.

These solutions are based on Apple-recommended procedures, workarounds from other iOS users who have dealt with the similar trouble on their device, and from my experiences after tons of tests as well.


Before starting with any of the solutions below to fix iMesseage “Waiting for activation” issues, you’ll need to make sure these things:

  1. Your device has Internet access and there are no connectivity issues either on cellular or Wi-Fi. iMessage cannot work without a stable network connection. Just try to activate iMessage with another network and see if it works.
  2. The Date and Time are correct: Navigate to Settings > General > Date & Time. You should turn on the ‘Set Automatically’ toggle to select the correct time and Time Zone.
  3. Your ‘My Number’ is setup properly: If ‘My Number’ is set, you should see your number located on the top of “Contacts” tab in the Phone app. If not, navigate to Settings > Phone > My Number and fill in your number.

If all the things I mentioned above look fine but iMessage still gets stuck on ‘Waiting for Activation’, here are the best solutions I’ve discovered and tested. Let’s take a look and try them out.

1. Restart iMessage and Facetime

Sometimes, there might be some temporary bugs that cause the Activation error. You can simply turn off iMessage and Facetime, restart your device and turn them on again. This will help clear out bugs and restore the services.

  1. Go to Settings > Messages/Facetime > disable the toggles
  2. Now restart your iOS device, just turn it off and turn on again using the power button.
  3. Go to Settings and enable iMessage/Facetime again to see if it’s working

2. Try AirPlane Mode

This is a trick I found in a discussion on the Apple communities. It may sound strange but surprisingly, this act really works and helps many users, who had the same trouble with you. Here is how to do it:

  1. Navigate to Settings > Scroll down to find Messages > Turn iMessage off. You should also disable FaceTime
  2. Turn on Airplane Mode in Control Center
  3. Then, right in Control Center, turn on Wi-Fi
  4. Head back to Messages under Settings and turn on iMessage again
  5. If you haven’t added an Apple ID yet, you’ll be prompted for it.
  6. Now swipe up to access the Control Center and turn off Airplane mode
  7. If prompted with a notification that says, ‘Your carrier may charge for SMS’ tap OK to proceed. If not, you have to go back to Messages, turn off iMessage and turn it on again
  8. iMessage will be activated in a short while


3. Sign out and sign in again your Apple ID

Maybe there is an issue occurred with your Apple ID so that you cannot receive the response from iMessage server. In this case, all you need to do is sign out your Apple ID and then log in again.

  1. Navigate to Settings > Messages > Send & Receive
  2. Tap on your Apple ID > Sign Out
  3. Now turn off iMessage
  4. Turn off your Wi-Fi or Cellular data, wait for a little while and then turn back on.
  5. Now turn on iMessage, enter your Apple ID and see if the Waiting for activation message is gone.

4. Reset Network Settings, or Restore

Reset Network Settings: If the error still persists, you’ll need to reset your iPhone or iPad’s network settings. This will restore the network settings back to factory defaults and often times, will resolve issues with iMessage.

Navigate to Settings > General > Reset and choose ‘Reset Network Settings’.

Note that after you reset network settings, all the saved Wi-Fi passwords on your device will be removed. If you don’t remember the password of one of them, then read this article: How to Find WiFi Passwords on iPhone

Restore: If resetting doesn’t work, you may need to restore your device completely. Before attempting to restore, don’t forget to backup your device.


5. Downgrade or Upgrade Firmware

If you see this error after upgrading to newer firmware version, chances are this update comes with some issues within it, thanks to Apple.

Now the first solution is you can downgrade your device to the previous iOS version, where iMessage had worked flawlessly. If you just upgraded recently, the previous firmware is probably still being signed so that you can download and use iTunes to downgrade firmware.

downgrade iOS firmware

If you don’t want to downgrade, or the previous firmware is no longer signed, head to Settings > General > Software Update and check to see if there are any iOS updates for your device. Apple routinely pushes out updates to address iMessage issues with various carriers.

Final words: I hope these troubleshooting steps can help you resolve the issue you’ve been having with iMessage. If any of them work for you or you know better solutions, do share with me and other iOS lovers your experiences in the comment section below.

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