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My friend and I have a sim from say country A. If my friend goes to country B and temporarily uses a sim from country B (I.e. not data roaming with the original sim), can I still use iMessage given that I only have the original number from the country A sim?

  • The number from country B would get registered to iMessage. Would you be fine messaging using the new number? If you can add both the numbers from country A and country B into a single contact card of your friend, chats with both the numbers would appear under the same thread in the Messages app. – Nimesh Neema Dec 10 '19 at 7:26
  • Well I only have the current number, and I don’t have their iCloud email so I can’t contact them to get the new number – mr-matt Dec 10 '19 at 8:04
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    Attempt to send an iMessage to their current number. If the number/contact remains Blue (when starting a new chat) or if the message shows delivered (in an existing chat thread) it would indicate that iMessage is active on the old number. If iMessage is unavailable on the original number, the contact name will change to green (when starting a new chat), indicating that the message will get sent as an SMS, or the message won't get delivered (when attempting to send in an existing chat thread). – Nimesh Neema Dec 10 '19 at 8:07
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Yes, you can still use iMessage in this case.

The phone number used in country A is registered with Apple's servers, so when you use iMessage to message that number, they'll send the message to the devices logged in to iCloud with the account that has that phone number registered for iMessage.

Your friend can register multiple such numbers, and from the Settings => Messages on his iOS device choose which numbers to actually use for sending and receiving.

If your friend does not want this to be possible, he needs to deregister his phone number from iMessage. He can do that by following this guide from Apple.

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  • So that would mean plugging out a SIM card and replacing it with another one won't automatically de-register the former contact number from iMessage? – Nimesh Neema Dec 10 '19 at 13:16
  • No, not as far as I know - that haven't happened for me. Apple details that you need to disable iMessage on your iPhone to deregister (or alternatively use their web form). I have updated my answer to include a link that details how to deregister. Just popping out the SIM-card doesn't deregister the phone number. – jksoegaard Dec 10 '19 at 13:25
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Your situation is similar to "my contact switched to Android, but all of my texts are continuing to send via iMessage rather than SMS":

In your case though it's a positive. iMessage delivery will continue until/unless your contact deregisters their number from iMessage — even if they swap SIMs.

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