imessage waiting for activation - imessage not working fix

6 Pro Tips to Fix iMessage Waiting for Activation Issue in iOS 14

Maybe you have recently switched from Android to iOS or upgraded from an old iPhone to a new one and are setting up everything, including iMessage. But, you seem to have run into a problem. Your iMessage is stuck on the “Waiting for Activation” error screen and doesn’t want to work even after multiple tries and hours of wait. If my prediction is spot on, here are 6 tips to fix the iMessage Waiting for Activation issue in iOS 14 or iPadOS 14.

Tips to Fix iMessage Waiting for Activation Issue

When activating iMessage on iOS, you might run into 5 familiar error messages:

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

Irrespective of which of these error messages have popped up on your iPhone or iPad, the following solutions can help you resolve iMessage activation issues on iOS 14 or previous versions.

Things to Keep in Mind If iMessage Not Working on Your iPhone

First and foremost, make sure you have ticked off the basic requirements since they play a key role in successful iMessage activation.

  • iMessage activation requires a stable internet connection. Therefore, make sure your device is connected to a cellular or Wi-Fi network.
  • You will require SMS messaging to activate your phone number with iMessage.
  • The iMessage activation takes up to 24 hours.
  • Make sure your carrier allows you to send and receive SMS messages.
  • Just in case your carrier has not been mentioned on Apple’s wireless carrier support page, ensure that you can send and receive international SMS.
  •  Apple also lets you use your email address with iMessage.

1. Turn on/off Airplane Mode

The very first tip that you should try is to turn on/ off Airplane mode. While it may sound funny, Airplane mode can help fix random network-related issues. So, before trying out other solutions to troubleshoot the iMessage activation issue on your iPhone/ iPad, make sure to give it a shot.

Airplane mode on iPhone

  • On iPhone and iPad with Face ID: Swipe down from the top right corner of the screen to access Control Center. Next, tap on the Airplane mode button to turn it on.
  • On iPhone and iPad with Touch ID: Swipe up from the bottom to access Control Center and then hit the Airplane mode button to activate it.

Wait for some time and then disable Airplane mode. Now, head over to ‘Messages’ under the Settings app to check if the iMessage waiting for activation error is gone. If the issue is resolved, you are good to go!

2. Turn Off/On iMessage and Restart Your Device

If the first trick did not help you resolve the iMessage activation issue on your iOS 14 device, then turn off iMessage and restart your device. At times, simply turning the iMessage toggle on and off lets you sort out this error.

Solutions to fix iMessage activation issue on iPhone and iPad

First, head to ‘Settings -> Messages’ and turn off the toggle next to iMessage. Then, follow the steps below to restart your iPhone or iPad.

  • On iPhone X, 11, and 12: Press and hold either the volume down or up button and side button. Then, drag the power off slider to shut down your device. After that, press and hold the side button to restart your device.
  • On iPhone SE 2, 8, or Earlier: Press and hold the power button and then drag the power off slider to turn off your device. Next, press and hold the power button to turn on your device.
  • On iPad without Home Button: Press and hold either the volume up or down button and the top button. After that, drag the power off slider to shut down your iPad. Then, press and hold the top button to turn on your device. 
  • On iPad with Home Button: Press and hold the top button and then drag the power off slider to shut down your iPad. Next, hold down the top button again to restart your device.

Once your device has restarted, go turn on the iMessage toggle. Now, wait for some time to check if the iMessage activation is successful on your device.

3. Ensure That Your Time Zone is Set Correctly

Apple recommends users set the time zone correctly for the successful activation of iMessage. So, make sure to checkoff this essential box to steer clear of the Waiting for Activation error. To do so, navigate to Settings -> General -> Date & Time. Now, turn on the toggle for Set Automatically.Set your time zone correctly on iOS


  • If there’s an available time zone update, you will get an alert for that. Make sure to allow your iPhone or iPad to use its current location to determine the correct time zone.
  • To get it done, head over to Settings -> Privacy -> Location Services -> System Services and then turn on the toggle next to the Setting Time Zone option.

4. Check Apple’s System Status for iMessage

Whenever Apple’s system hits an outage, many of its essential services and features, including iMessage, come to a standstill. Therefore, make sure to check Apple’s system status for iMessage to determine whether or not it’s operating normally.

Apple's system status for iMessage not working issue - fix

Navigate to Apple’s system status page. If the circle next to iMessage is green, that means it’s functional. However, if there is a red or yellow circle next to iMessage, it means the service is facing an outage. Now, all you can do to get rid of this issue (you guessed it!) is to wait for the back-end issues to get resolved.

5. Reset Network Settings

As outlined above, a sloppy internet connection could be one of the main reasons for iMessage not working as intended on your iPhone/iPad. So, ensure that your Wi-Fi or cellular connection is up to the mark. If you find your internet connection is weak or it doesn’t seem to work well, you can reset the network settings to try and fix this issue.

Reset Network settings - iMessage Waiting for activator error fix

To do so, go to the Settings app on your device -> General -> Reset. Now, tap on ‘Reset Network Settings,’ enter your device passcode, and then tap on Reset Network Settings again to confirm the action.

Bear in mind that your iOS device’s network settings will reset to factory default, and you will need to enter your Wi-Fi password again. Now, activate iMessage, and the Waiting for Activation error should be gone.

6. Update Software

If none of the tricks mentioned above help solves the iMessage Waiting for Activation problem, there is a high chance that the outdated software is the culprit. So, what’s the solution? Pretty simple, check for a software update.

With every software update, Apple silently releases several bug fixes and performance enhancements. So, hopefully, updating your iOS device to the latest software version could solve the issue.


Go to the Settings app -> General -> Software Update. Next, do the needful to update the software on your iOS/iPadOS device.

Resolve iMessage Waiting for Activation Issue on iPhone

That’s pretty much it! I guess you must have finally resolved the iMessage activation issue on your iOS device. From what I can tell based on my experience, these tricks often fix the iMessage not working error on my iPhone. Moreover, many times, simply turning on/off the iMessage toggle and rebooting the device does the trick. If you are still facing any issues, let us know in the comments, and we will be happy to lend a helping hand.

Now, if iMessage is working fine for you, but your iPhone is restarting randomly, then do check out our handy guide to fix the issue. You can also improve the security and privacy of your iOS 14 device using the linked article.


  1. Make sure you have the latest software installed as well as unlinking each account with the phones then also toggle each switch Imessage and facetime and the airplane mode helps as well and also try removing the sim card

  2. After trying all of your suggestions I am still getting the error message “an error occurred during activation process”.
    I really don’t know what else to do.
    I have also contacted my network provider who gave me a suggestion to try and sent me the setting again, but again nothing, still this flipping error message.

    Has anyone has any success in fixing this issue at all??

  3. For my fellow Indians….If you are on airtel carrier and unable to resolve the issue even after trying everything,
    I would like you tell you the simplest thing which worked for me and no one seems to be mentioning it. After you ensure that you have enough main talktime balance (not the unlimited pack one) to send an international message (it will cost 5 Rs exactly), connect your phone to wifi, keep it on and pull out sim card and insert it again while wifi is on. A pop up will ask your permission to start imessage service. Click yes and your message will be sent after 5 rs deduction. Voila…..iMessage/facetime will be activated.
    Thank me later.

  4. Tried ever bit of it. Nothing helped. I even reset entire settings. Still “activation failed” error.

  5. Hi Rajesh
    Thanks for the fool’s guide in attempts to resolve imessage problems. Very easy to follow, although as I make this note the issue still persists. Will wait for 24 hrs to see if it is resolved. Keep well

    1. Hi Themba, I’d like to ask if these tips worked for you because mine is still stuck on waiting for activation and I can’t seem to sign in with my Apple ID.

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