iMessage Waiting for Activation? 4 Ways to Fix!

What to Know

  • If you get an iMessage waiting for activation error, check for software updates, make sure your iPhone has an internet connection, and that the date and time are correct.
  • Learn how to fix an iMessage Activation error by making a few adjustments in Settings, or signing out of and back in to iCloud. 

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

This article shows how to activate iMessage and FaceTime, even if you get a FaceTime or iMessage activation error message. Here's how to fix the Waiting for Activation, Activation Unsuccessful, Unable to Connect to the iMessage Server, and other error messages.

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How to Fix a FaceTime or iMessage Activation Error on an iPhone & iPad

FaceTime or iMessage not activating? According to Apple, it can take up to 24 hours to activate iMessages and FaceTime. If iMessage or FaceTime won't activate after 24 hours, it’s safe to assume iMessage and FaceTime are not working. Here's how to fix an iMessage waiting for activation and similar errors.

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Keep in mind that this is different than FaceTime not working or iMessage not working, though many of the fixes are the same. Check out our free Tip of the Day for more Apple troubleshooting guides.

FaceTime & iMessage Activation Error Messages

You may encounter several different FaceTime and iMessage error messages, but don't worry; we'll show you how to solve all of these iMessage activation errors:

  • Waiting for activation
  • Activation unsuccessful
  • iMessage Activation An error occurred during activation. Try again.
  • iMessage is Signed Out
  • Could not sign in to iMessage, please check your network connection and try again.
  • iMessage Activation Unable to connect to the iMessage server. Try again.

Easy Ways to Fix a FaceTime or iMessage Activation Error

There are several easy ways to fix things when FaceTime or iMessage won't activate. First, check the Apple System Status page and make sure there's a green dot by iMessage and FaceTime. Next, make sure your iPhone or iPad has the newest iOS update or iPadOS update. Then, make sure you are connected to Wi-Fi (or at least have a solid cellular connection). Also, update your carrier settings. Finally, make sure that your cellular carrier that supports iMessage. All major carriers (Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, etc.) support SMS messages, but if you use a small or regional carrier, be sure iMessage is supported. 

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 plan that might be interfering with your FaceTime or iMessage activation.

Make Sure Your Time Zone Is Correct

If you're getting the iMessage waiting for activation, or another FaceTime or iMessage activation error, check your iPad or iPhone's Date & Time settings. To do this:

  1. Open the Settings app.

    Open the Settings app - iphone waiting for activation no service
  2. Tap General.

    ipad and iphone general settings
  3. Tap Date & Time.

    tap date and time in general iphone settings
  4. Make sure Set Automatically is toggled to green and your Time Zone is correct in Date & Time Settings. 

    make sure date and time are correct on iphone or ipad

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Turn Off & Restart iMessage & FaceTime

If FaceTime and iMessage won't activate or iMessage activation failed, you should turn off and restart iMessage and FaceTime, and also turn on AirPlane Mode and turn off Wi-Fi, then reverse the process. To do this:

  1. Open the Settings app.

    Open the Settings app - iphone waiting for activation no service
  2. Tap Messages.

    Scroll down and tap Messages - waiting for activation iphone
  3. Toggle iMessage off. It will be gray when toggled off.

    Toggle off iMessage - facetime activation unsuccessful on iphone
  4. Go back to Settings.

    Go back to Settings - error text message iphone
  5. Select FaceTime.

    Select FaceTime - why won t my imessage activate
  6. Toggle off FaceTime. It will be gray when toggled off.

    Toggle off FaceTime - imessage and facetime not working
  7. Go back to Settings and scroll to the top.

    Go back to Settings - error text message iphone
  8. Toggle on Airplane Mode. It will be green when toggled on. Doing so will turn Wi-Fi off.

    Toggle on Airplane Mode - facetime activation unsuccessful
  9. Tap Wi-Fi.

    Tap Wi-Fi - iphone imessage waiting for activation
  10. Toggle Wi-Fi on. It will be green when toggled on.

    Toggle Wi-Fi on - an error occurred during authentication
  11. Go back to Settings.

    Return to Settings - facetime an error occurred during activation
  12. Select Messages again.

    Scroll down and tap Messages - waiting for activation iphone
  13. Toggle iMessage on. It will be green when toggled on.

    Toggle iMessage on - how to activate imessage with phone number
  14. Go back to Settings.

    Go back to Settings - error text message iphone
  15. Select FaceTime.

    Select FaceTime - why won t my imessage activate
  16. Toggle FaceTime on. It will be green when toggled on.

    Toggle FaceTime on - imessage says waiting for activation
  17. Go back to Settings and scroll to the top.

    Go back to Settings - error text message iphone
  18. Toggle Airplane Mode off. It will be gray when toggled off.

    Toggle Airplane mode off - how to fix imessage on iphone
  19. If a message pops up that says your carrier may charge for SMS, tap OK.
  20. Give iMessage some time, and it should activate.

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Sign Out of Your Apple ID & Sign Back In

When you sign out of your Apple ID on your iPhone or iPad, iMessage and FaceTime will have to reconnect when you sign back in.

  1. Open the Settings app.

    Open the Settings app - iphone waiting for activation no service
  2. Tap your name in the banner at the top of the screen.

    tap the banner at the top of settings
  3. Tap Sign Out.

    tap sign out to sign out of apple id
  4. Choose the data you want to keep copies of on your device, then tap Sign Out, and Sign Out one more time to confirm.
  5. Once you're signed out, reverse the process and open Settings, tap the banner at the top of the screen, sign back in to your Apple ID, and follow your device's directions to complete the sign in and merging process.

    sign back in to apple id

Hopefully, this will allow you to enable iMessage and FaceTime. If you are still receiving any iMessage activation failed error messages, we have more methods to try!

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Check Your Apple ID Send & Receive Settings

If FaceTime or iMessage activation is still an issue, make sure your Apple ID is set to send and receive iMessages; here's how:

  1. Open the Settings app and tap Messages.

    tap messages in the settings app
  2. Tap Send & Receive.

    tap send and receive in messages
  3. Make sure that your phone number and the email address associated with your Apple ID are checked in You Can Receive iMessages to and Reply From. Make sure your phone number is checked in Start New Coversations From.

    make sure you can send and receive from your apple id

Reset Network Settings

If you keep getting the iMessage is signed out error, or another iMessage not activating error, it's time to Reset Network Settings. This process will not erase any information from your iPhone except Wi-Fi passcodes and Bluetooth pairings. When logging in to Wi-Fi networks, you’ll need to re-enter any passwords your iPhone may have otherwise remembered and re-pair with any Bluetooth devices.
​​​
Tap Reset Network Settings.

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FAQ

  • Why is my iMessage not activating? To activate FaceTime and iMessage, you need to be connected to a Wi-Fi or cellular network, SMS messaging needs to be enabled by your cellular provider, and the Apple systems that support iMessage and FaceTime need to be up and running. Also, it takes up to 24 hours to activate iMessage and FaceTime.
  • Why does my iPhone still say iMessage activation unsuccessful? This may be a glitch; disable iMessage and FaceTime, reboot your iPhone, and re-enable both features.
  • Why won't iMessage activate still? If the iMessage activation is unsuccessful, contact your cellular service provider. You can also restore your iPhone from a backup, or even factory reset your iPhone. Contact Apple Support if all else has failed. 

Which method made your FaceTime or iMessage activation successful? Let us know in the comments. Also, please share any other ways you’ve been able to fix a FaceTime or iMessage error message in the past.

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Author Details

Conner Carey's picture

Author Details

Conner Carey

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.