iMessage Waiting for Activation? How to Fix iMessage Not Working Errors on Your iPhone (2019)

* This post is part of iPhone Life's Tip of the Day newsletter. . *

iMessage not working erros are a big problem on the iPhone, especially with new iOS updates like iOS 12. In this article, we'll cover all the reasons why iMessages might not be working and how to fix the problem. We’re also going to look at a similar error: FaceTime waiting for activation, which many users are also struggling to resolve. If you’re having problems with FaceTime or iMessages not activating and wondering why they won’t work, this is the post you need. Here’s how to fix the iMessage waiting-for-activation error on the iPhone.

Related: How to Enable iMessage on iPhone, iPad, and Mac (iMessage vs SMS)

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Unlike most errors, there are quite a few different reasons why your iMessage or FaceTime may not be activating. If you see an "iMessage waiting for activation" error, it could be a problem with your cellular company or simply a bug that's easily remedied. When your iMessage or FaceTime won't activate, we reccomend running through a few different possible fixes.

In some cases, it may just take a while for iMessage to activate. But how long is too long? iMessage can take up to 24 hours to activate, according to Apple. But at a certain point, it’s safe to assume iMessage is simply not working. If you receive a message that says "iMessage (or FaceTime) waiting for activation," you may want to go ahead and try the troubleshooting methods listed below.

Oftentimes, when iMessage or FaceTime won't activate, you can resolve the problem by turning certain settings on and off or signing out of iCloud and back in. However, when I upgraded to the iPhone X, I saw the iMessage waiting for activation error and the only fix involved speaking directly with my cellular company—the problem was on their end. I tell you this to say that if the following solutions don't activate your iMessage, the problem and solution is likely in the hands of your cellular carrier. 

iMessage Waiting-for-Activation Error Messages, According to Apple

  • Waiting for activation
  • Activation unsuccessful
  • An error occurred during activation
  • Could not sign in, please check your network connection

Steps to Take Before You Begin:

  • Make sure your iOS is up to date. Do this in Settings by selecting General and Software Update.
  • Make sure you are connected to Wi-Fi (or at least have a solid cellular connection), which you can check via Wi-Fi in Settings.
  • While in Settings, go to General and make sure Date & Time are correct. It’s easiest to simply toggle on Set Automatically.

It’s also important that you have a carrier that supports iMessage. All major carriers (Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, etc.) support iMessage. If you try all the methods below and wait 24 hours but iMessage still isn’t working, contact your carrier to make sure there aren’t any limits on your SMS text message plan that might be interfering with your FaceTime or iMessage activation.

*All of the methods below can be used to fix FaceTime waiting-for-activation error too.

How to Fix iMessage or FaceTime Waiting-for-Activation Error: Method 1

  • Open Settings.
  • Tap Messages. Toggle off iMessage.

  • Go back and select FaceTime. Toggle off FaceTime.

  • Go back and scroll to the top of Settings. Toggle on Airplane mode. Doing so will turn Wi-Fi off.
  • Tap Wi-Fi and toggle Wi-Fi on.

  • Go back and select Messages again. Toggle on iMessage. 
  • Go back and select FaceTime. Toggle on FaceTime.

  • Go back and scroll to the top of Settings. Toggle Airplane mode off.
  • If a message pops up that says, Your carrier may charge for SMS, tap Ok.
  • If not, toggle iMessage and FaceTime off and on again, in their respective places within Settings.
  • Give iMessage some time and it should activate.

This method for fixing iMessage waiting-for-activation error was originally discovered by users in an Apple forum. It may seem like a strange solution, but it has been one of the most successful ways to get iMessage or FaceTime working.

How to Fix iMessage or FaceTime Waiting-for-Activation Error: Method 2

  • In the Settings app, select Messages.
  • Tap Send & Receive.
  • Tap your Apple ID at the top and press Sign Out.

  • Toggle off iMessage. (or FaceTime, if not working)
  • Go to Wi-Fi in settings and toggle Wi-Fi off and back on.
  • Wait a few minutes, then toggle iMessage back on.
  • Tap Send & Receive.
  • Tap Use your Apple ID for iMessage. Enter your Apple ID information.

  • Tap Sign In.

Hopefully, this will allow you to activate iMessage. If not, we’ve got two more methods still to try. If you’re trying to fix FaceTime waiting-for-activation error, be sure to toggle FaceTime on and off instead of iMessage.

How to Fix iMessage or FaceTime Waiting-for-Activation Error: Method 3

  • In the Settings app, tap Messages.
  • Toggle off iMessage.
  • Go back and select FaceTime.
  • Toggle off FaceTime.

  • Restart your iPhone by pressing and holding the Sleep/Wake button on your iPhone. Then swipe right when your screen says, Slide to Power Off.
  • Turn your phone back on. Then open the Settings app again.
  • Tap Messages, and toggle iMessage on.
  • Go back and select FaceTime, and toggle FaceTime on.

How to Fix iMessage Waiting-for-Activation Error: Method Four

  • Open the Settings app.
  • Tap General.
  • Scroll down to the bottom and select Reset.

  • Tap Reset Network Settings.
  • Enter your passcode.

This will NOT erase any information from your iPhone except Wi-Fi passcodes. When logging in to Wi-Fi networks, you’ll need to re-enter any passwords your iPhone may have otherwise remembered. But it does not erase your iPhone

I’m Still Getting an iMessage Waiting-for-Activation Error, What Do I Do?

If none of the previous methods worked and you’re still having activation problems, give your iPhone 24 hours to activate iMessages. All of the troubleshooting you just did may not make iMessages work immediately, but it might be able to kick in sometime during that 24 hour period.

If after 24 hours you are still not able to get iMessages working because of an activation error, contact your cellular carrier service. It’s possible the trouble you’re having with iMessages is in-part or entirely because of it. You may also try restoring your iPhone from a backup, which you can learn how to do here



Which method worked for you? Let us know in the comments! And share any other ways you’ve been able to fix this error message in the past.

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Conner Carey's picture

Conner Carey's writing can be found at conpoet.com. She is currently writing a book, creating lots of content, and writing poetry via @conpoet on Instagram. She lives in an RV full-time with her mom, Jan and dog, Jodi as they slow-travel around the country.