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iPhone and iPad: Using cellular networks while in another country

Learn how to use your iPhone or iPad on other carrier networks when traveling in another country.

Many carriers offer international voice and data plans. Always contact your current carrier for details about international-roaming countries, SIMs, rates, and policies before you travel to another country. While you may not need an international plan to use voice or data roaming on your iPhone or iPad, your carrier may charge additional fees or higher data rates if you don't have an international plan. 

When talking to your current carrier, please be sure to mention the following items to ensure a great traveling experience:

  • The country or countries to which you'll be traveling.
  • Does your carrier allow international-roaming with your plan for the country to which you'll be traveling?
  • Does your current plan have an international-roaming agreement?
  • Does your carrier have a data-roaming agreement in that country?
  • Which carrier partners are supported in that country?
  • What are the rates for voice and data roaming?
  • Are there other fees or charges while roaming?
  • What are the international numbers for voicemail and customer support?

Additional Information

Tips when traveling internationally

When roaming in another country, iPhone and iPad will automatically select the best network for use while roaming. However, you can manually specify a network using the following steps:

  1. Tap Settings > Carrier and turn off Automatic. Wait until available networks appear (this can take up to two minutes).
  2. Tap the carrier you wish to use.
  3. Return to the main Settings screen. 
    Note:
    This setting may appear only when you’re outside of your carrier’s network and other local carrier networks are available. 

If you don't have an international data plan, turn off Cellular Data and Data Roaming to avoid data roaming charges:

  • iPhone: Tap Settings > Cellular
  • iPad: Tap Settings > Cellular Data

When data roaming and cellular data are off, the cellular-network indicator in the status bar should be hidden.

Note: CDMA iPhone models have a Roaming setting with separate options for voice, data, and international CDMA.

Troubleshooting roaming issues

  • If your date or time are incorrect after arriving, verify Automatic Time Zone is enabled in Settings > General > Date & Time > Set Automatically.
  • When traveling abroad, Visual Voicemail and customer-service features in Settings > Phone > Services may not be available. Contact your carrier for other methods of accessing these services while traveling.
  • If No Service appears on your iPhone when traveling abroad, contact your carrier to confirm international roaming is enabled for your account and for the country you are in.
  • AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint customers can enable Settings > Phone > Dial Assist to automatically add the correct international prefix when dialing from abroad. If you encounter issues sending SMS/MMS or making calls while traveling abroad, try disabling International Assist to resolve your issue.
  • If your iPhone supports both CDMA and GSM roaming, you can use Settings > Cellular > Roaming > International CDMA to control which network your iPhone uses:
    • International CDMA > On: iPhone will attempt to use an available CDMA network instead of GSM.
    • International CDMA > Off: iPhone will use only GSM networks.
  • CDMA models: If you're having issues rejoining a CDMA network after manually selecting a network or using GSM roaming, turn on airplane mode for thirty seconds, turn it off again, and then let the iPhone automatically select the optimal network.
Last Modified: Sep 24, 2013
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  • Last Modified: Sep 24, 2013
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