How to Unlock Your Phone in Canada

If you have your phone from a carrier, then you have a good chance you’ll need to get it unlocked if you want to use it on any other network. However, it is very easy to do so, but it will cost money and require you to contact your carrier personally.

Unlock Your Phone in Canada

Before we get started

It is possible to take your phone & unlock it by yourself; this can also save you money from paying the unlocking fee. However, if you do this, it may also often void your device’s manufacturer’s warranty, leaving you 100% culpable for all the faults that happen from now on. If the phone is still within warranty, it’s good to follow official carrier channels & pay them unlocking fee, keeping yourself covered.

Why Unlock?

You may need to unlock your phone for a many of reasons. Perhaps your friend or relative may be passing on their old handset, but it is locked to a different carrier. If so, you will need to unlock it if you want to stay with your current plan.

Alternatively, coming to the end of a 2-year contract or you may be about to pay off your Tab. If this is the criteria, you will save your money by switching to a BYO Phone Plan. It tends to carry a monthly cost which is lower and offers many options in the number of carriers who provide them. They also operate on long-term contracts which are also on a month-to-month basis. This means that now you can switch between carriers in search of the best coverage, or you may also sign up to a new contract at short notice in the future if you decide that you do want a new subsidized phone, after all.

Is your phone locked?

First of all, you need to know whether or your phone is locked or not. It’s very easy to check. Get the similar-sized SIM card from a friend or family member or colleague, and now use it on your phone. If necessary, Reset the device, then try to make a call. If it is not working, wait about a minute and try once again to make a call. If it still not works, your phone is probably locked.

According to unlocking page of Bell’s own, “Most of the tablets, Microsoft Nokia Lumia phones, and Android Nexus series devices are sold unlocked from the factory”. iPhones that are sold from the Apple store & are not attached to a plan at the time of sale should also be unlocked.

Once it’s unlocked, will it work on any carrier?

Probably, but not necessarily. Nowadays, most of the phones are compatible with a more commonly-used 3G and 4G frequencies. There’s a good chance that your phone may operate over any Canadian carrier network.

If thou live further out & you rely on 2G for messaging & calls, then the story is going to be very different. Various Carriers in Canada rely on two incompatible mobile network technologies when it comes to 2G: GSM and CDMA.

  • Rogers, Fido: GSM
  • Telus, Koodo: CDMA
  • Bell, Virgin Mobile: CDMA

If you were not on the one of major 3 or any one of its subsidiaries, an easy way to check your carrier’s 2G technology is by searching it up on Wikipedia. Do a search within its Wiki page for “CDMA” or “GSM” and see what comes up.

Remember: This is only an especially important if you stay in an area with no mobile broadband reception and where only text and voice do support.

Am I eligible for unlocking?

You must have an active account with the carrier. If there is no active one, then at least you need to be a past customer with no outstanding debts with your account.

  • If the phone has bought on a subsidized contract, or if you received a rebate, it needs to be in the active mode for at least 90 days on the network. If under 90 days, then you are not eligible for unlocking.
  • If the device was acquired outright, for total price up-front, or if you have grabbed it on a tab & had paid off the entire tab, you might be eligible for unlocking.
  • If you are of a prepaid account, you need to 9have sufficient prepaid credit to cover the unlocking fee.
  • The device must not be reported as lost or stolen (apparently)
  • Your account must be in good standing.

There are a few differences across carriers. Here are some of the more only cautions.


  • Your account need to be active
  • Your account must be associated with the device


  • If you are no longer a current customer of Bell, you have to pay an excess fee


  • The account need to be associated with the device
  • If you bought the device from a 3rd party, it must have been registered through your account more than 90 days ago.


  • If you have a negative TAB balance, you must have been active on the Koodo network for at a minimum of 90 days
  • If you have a positive balance you can unlock any time

How do I get it unlocked?

This one is rather standard across carriers: visit the nearest store or call the customer service center. You can also find this number on your provider’s website.

If you’re using WIND, you will handle the procedure yourself. Follow the guidance on the company’s website.

How much does it cost?

Unless you’re a special-circumstances case, it costs upto $50 to unlock from a major carrier.

WIND charges only $30.

Bell and Virgin will charge you upto $75 if you are an ex-customer with a device tied to an old account, or upto $150 for devices “under contract and subject to credit conditions such as a credit limit or credit deposit: $150 + applicable taxes”.

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